Just a reminder that cooler weather degrades performance of your batteries. It exacerbates a phenomena common with wet cell lead acid batteries that cause them to self discharge more rapidly. As you let your bike sits when the weather is cold or inclement, a battery can lose up to a half volt per week. That may not seem like a big deal at first glance but starting batteries are not designed to be discharged beyond 10% of their capacity. At let say 13 volts or thereabouts it should not be discharged more than 1.3 volts or below 11.7 volts. At this point technically your battery is dead. Sure it may turn over albeit more slowly but you won't get too many chances to start and worse you are discharging the battery further. Once you go below 11.7 volts the battery starts building up Lead Sulphate crystals on the plates in a process called sulphation which is normal for this type of chemistry. As the salt builds up in the solution large crystals form on the plates. Charging normally converts these crystals back into acid but not when they form the larger structures. So in this scenario your battery loses capacity. It may not reach the 13 volt charge anymore and it won't deliver the amps it did when it was once new. So in a nut shell the battery is damaged. Even if it's only a month old. Can it be revived? Maybe, there are special de-sulphating chargers that produce pulsing higher voltage charges to try and break down the salts.
There is another problem with today's so called smart chargers. If the battery is too discharged, let say below 10 volts. The battery would present itself as a short to the charger and would want to draw more power than the electronic charger can handle. It will quickly change from the red charge LED to the green charged LED in just a matter of a minute. This is because it cannot handle the load. It is best not to allow this to happen in the first place but before charging you can give your battery a quick 2 minute boost off your car battery with a pair of jumper cables. The car battery is capable of charging your bike battery but since it has no monitoring or controls it will over charge it quickly, causing it to over heat and damage the cells. The boost will bring the voltage of the battery high enough so it won't overload your electronic charger. Before there were smart chargers, the world was ruled by dumb iron core chargers. These were heavy duty brute force chargers that could handle the transient demands of dead batteries. They were smart enough to taper the charge but would have to be monitored to prevent over charging, which is also not good.
An ounce of prevention is worth $100 worth of cure (the cost of a new battery). If you are not riding buy a battery tender kit with the built in pig tail that will permanently attach to your battery. The pig tail will make it convenient to connect the charger. I only takes less than 20 minutes to install the first time. After that the wall adapter plugs into your pigtail and what a tender does is keep your battery topped up. It never lets the voltage drop below a certain threshold so the battery has plenty of juice as if you rode it yesterday even tho if could be months. Most powersports batteries have very short lives in comparison to their 4 wheeled cousins. Most only last 2 years. They can last over 3 years if they are not allowed to discharge beyond a certain point.
If you live in an apartment and have no access to a wall plug the same company makes solar chargers. Don't buy the cheap ones as they don't have the amps to really trickle charge the battery.
In a future article I will discuss the benefit of an AGM battery which is the same chemistry but different and more robust structure albeit at higher cost but lower overall cost of ownership.