Every motorcycle enthusiast knows that regular bike maintenance is critical. It makes for a safer ride, plus it ensures that all mechanical parts run optimally and last longer. One of the most time consuming aspects of regular riding is caring for the motorcycle battery.
A motorcycle battery must be charged regularly in order for the bike to perform properly. (Few things are more annoying to the frequent rider than having his bike die in the middle of traffic.) How frequently it will need to be charged depends on a few things, particularly:
* How often you ride.
* How long your bike sits between uses.
* The type of motorcycle battery you have.
The conventional style (sometimes referred to as "flooded") is what you'll find in a majority of bikes. They contain six cells. Each has a positive and a negative charge.
The cells are submerged in acid (referred to as the electrolyte), a mix of lead and sulfuric acid. This is what generates electricity when the starter is activated.
The second type of motorcycle battery is the AGM ("absorbed glass mat"). It's a relatively new invention compared to the conventional kind (first patented in 1972).
This kind is sometimes referred to as "maintenance free". It's similar to a conventional one in most ways, except for one. This type is not flooded with liquid electrolyte.
Instead, its electrolyte is contained (absorbed) inside of a glass mat that's found between the plates of the battery. Overall it requires much less electrolyte, and the small amount it does use is completely encased. Besides this difference, the AGM motorcycle battery functions in much the same way as a conventional one.
Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Here you can find a comparison of the two types on four major points:
1) Charging: Frequency of charging will depend largely upon how much you ride, as already noted. It will also depend on how long your bike sits between rides.
Overall, the AGM requires less frequent charging. This is because it discharges at a lower rate than a conventional motorcycle battery. It will retain its charge longer even if left sitting for an extended period.
The risk of overcharging is greater, though, with an AGM than with a conventional type. The user must be careful with the motorcycle battery charger during the charging process. Otherwise the unit will be ruined.
2) Installation and maintenance: You run the risk of spilling electrolyte when you install or remove a conventional motorcycle battery. This is because, as already noted, it's filled with electrolyte and isn't completely sealed. This fluid will leak if the battery is tipped even slightly.
Leakage of this fluid can be hazardous, both to the environment and the person handling the battery. Extreme caution must be taken when handling a conventional motorcycle battery. The acid is poisonous and can burn the skin.
AGM batteries, on the other hand, are completely sealed other than a small relief valve opening. Plus, it isn't filled with electrolyte. Therefore, there is very minimal risk of acid exposure, even if the battery cracks or breaks.
The conventional motorcycle battery needs to be filled with water from time to time. If left to run out of water, damage will result.
By contrast, AGMs don't have to be filled with water. The naturally produce water as a by-product, another reason they are considered "maintenance free."
3) Cold weather performance: For riders in cold winter weather areas, freezing of electrolytes is common. The motorcycle battery can crack, warp or break if this occurs. This could result in leakage of the fluid once it thaws out again.
The AGM type does not have this problem in cold weather, since it contains no liquid. Riders don't have to worry about heating their garages or covering their bikes when not in use in winter.
4) Price: Conventional batteries are significantly less expensive than AGMs. However, AGMs last longer, require less maintenance and hold a charge longer.
Dollar for dollar, they tend to get at least the same return on investment as the conventional motorcycle battery. Usually they end up being a better deal when it comes to longevity in comparison to conventional types.
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