Just because you ride motorcycles, it doesn't necessarily mean that you know what type of battery your motorcycle takes right off the top of your head. Think about all the people that drive automobiles on a daily basis, yet a rather large percentage of that group can't tell you what type or size of battery the car takes, nor even what size engine the car has. When you think about it in that context, it's not really all that surprising that you may not be able to recite the type of battery that your Harley-Davidson motorcycle has without going and looking. If you're curious, here is some information that you can use to get started. The hope is that this will give you a better idea of the type of battery that your own Harley has and what you need to do if it's almost time to replace it.
How Many Volts is Your Battery?
If you're wondering how many volts your battery is for your Harley-Davidson, it's relatively easy to figure it out. All Harley-Davidsons use either a 6-volt or 12-volt battery. If you're riding a classic that was built before 1965, your Harley most likely uses a 6-volt battery. On the other hand, anything made after that time is going to use a 12-volt battery. Why did Harley-Davidson switch to a battery with more volts? As technology has improved and more electronics have been included on motorcycles, it has essentially become almost impossible for a 6-volt battery to successfully operate the motorcycle. As a result, Harley-Davidson switched to a larger battery with more volts so that the battery could do its job more effectively.
You might have heard some talk that your Harley-Davidson motorcycle has what is frequently referred to as an AGM battery. In some cases, it does but that isn't always the case. It's important to remember that the motorcycle manufacturer doesn't use the same battery for every motorcycle that comes off the assembly line. In fact, they choose the battery carefully based on the specific needs for that motorcycle. It all comes down to engine size, the amount of electronics included on that particular bike and the room that they have to place the battery. After they factor everything in, they decide which option will work the best and then go from there. As a result, some Harley-Davidson motorcycles will indeed have an AGM battery, but that isn't true in every case. That said, you're a lot more likely to find one on one of the newer bikes than you are on something that's been around for a few years. If you're curious to know more, the AGM battery is an absorbent glass mat variety that is designed to stand up to the types of punishment that modern-day motorcycles typically put a battery under. These particular batteries are specifically designed to be used in Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It's important not to get confused here. AGM batteries are used in other types of bikes, especially those made by European manufacturers. However, the AGM batteries used in Harley-Davidson motorcycles are made specifically for them. If you need to replace your battery and you decide to go with a standard 12-volt battery instead of an AGM, your Harley-Davidson will still function. That said, the battery isn't likely to last as long, nor is it likely to perform as well. That's because the AGM battery is designed to withstand the vibration and the electrical demand placed on it by newer Harley-Davidson motorcycles that are currently being manufactured.
In some cases, you might be riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that uses a lithium battery. Why all the AGM batteries are a definite improvement over standard 12-volt batteries, the lithium battery is a bigger Improvement still. In fact, there are two main benefits to having a lithium battery on your Harley-Davidson. The first is that you get more cold cranking amps, something that can genuinely benefit you if you’ve left your Harley sitting outside on an especially cold night. The second is that the lithium battery tends to last at least two times as long as the most advanced AGM version available. Granted, these batteries don't come cheap. In fact, a lithium battery made for modern-day Harley-Davidson motorcycles is going to run you right around $300. That said, it's really not that bad when you consider the fact that you can run it twice as long as an AGM battery and several times longer than your standard 12-volt. When all things are considered, it's definitely the most cost-effective option available.
Most motorcycle riders have one thing in common. They have a tendency to take care of their motorcycle as if they were taking care of another human being. They put a great deal of time and effort into it in order to make sure that everything works exactly the way it was designed to work. Using some cheap knockoff will probably get you where you're going, at least for a while. That said, you can't realistically expect it to perform at the same level as the battery that Harley-Davidson has recommended for any particular motorcycle that they sell. The last thing you want to do is end up stranded on some dark highway with a battery that won't work and a motorcycle that won't turn over. The best way to avoid that is to use the equipment recommended by the manufacturer and stick with it. It might cost you a little bit more money at the moment, but it's sure to save you money in the long run. Besides, your peace of mind is worth a lot more than the cost of a new battery. Knowing that you are keeping your motorcycle in pristine condition will buy you the kind of peace of mind that you simply can't get through any other means.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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