Harley Davidson Battery Life

Harley Davidson Battery Life: Is It As Good As They Say It Is?

Perhaps the name Harley Davidson invokes the elemental fanboy urges in you.

Calm down. We aren’t here to talk about motorcycles, but about Harley Davidson motorcycle batteries.

Yes. The humble storage battery that generates electrical power and takes care of the starting, ignition, and also lighting in some scenarios.

In short, not something that you can ignore.

We all know that Harley Davidson batteries are achingly expensive. 

So the common question is- how long do Harley batteries last?

Time to find out the answer.

How Long Does a Harley Davidson Battery Last?

Harley Davidson Motorcycle 1

Honestly, battery life is a tricky subject as it depends on a number of factors.

In theory, Harley Davidson batteries can last for at least 5 years. However, based on the various external factors, it varies between 2 to 10 years.

Fact is, not many batteries will have the same duration as your motorcycle’s entire lifespan.

To understand more, let’s look at the type of batteries that Harley uses.

Classic Harley Davidson of the previous era used a 6-volt battery. But as motorcycles became more dependent on their electronics, the larger 12-volt battery became more useful.

If your bike isn’t four or five decades old, it probably has a 12-volt battery. Otherwise, you can check the owner’s manual to find out.

What if you don’t have it?

The next best option is to check the battery label. 

Presently, Harley Davidson is more interested in manufacturing AGM batteries instead of conventional wet cell batteries. While conventional batteries are less expensive, they need more maintenance.

Man Driving A Motorcycle

On the other hand, AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries use the same technology but provide a longer, and maintenance-free service life.

What makes them special?

These batteries have a special glass mat separator that absorbs the electrolyte and stores it in a “suspended” state. Since there’s no electrolyte in free liquid form, these batteries are compact with no chance of spillage.

It goes without saying that the Harley Davidson AGM batteries are more expensive.

(Come on! I guessed that already.)

Beyond that, Harley has also focused on lithium batteries. These offer longer life and better cold cranking amps. In other words, they will perform better in freezing conditions.

On an aside- that’s one reason to go for batteries with a higher CCA rating. More so, if you live in a cold climate.

Besides, some high-end Harley Davidson lithium batteries come with a solid-state Battery Management System. The system prevents over/under charging and also prevents deep discharges. As a result, these batteries tend to last longer.

Men On Harley Davidson
source: pixabay user: e-zara Pixabay License

Another reason that makes Harley Davidson batteries super reliable is the fact that they are manufactured by Deka-East Penn Manufacturing.

East Penn Manufacturing is one of the largest lead battery manufacturing companies in the world. They have been in the business for more than five decades. They use advanced technologies and the highest quality standards to produce world-class batteries.

That means you can expect top-notch quality from the entire range of Harley Davidson batteries.

And even if they are expensive, they are specially integrated with the vehicle’s electrical system. Moreover, the internal components and mountings are matched to the vibration profile of the motorcycle.

Quite simply, choosing a cheaper product over the superior quality of a Harley Davidson battery will be a mistake. At the end of the day, the quality of the battery you use matters.

What it all boils down to is…

With the right amount of maintenance, a Harley Davidson battery can easily last for three years or more.

Extending the Harley Davidson Battery Life 

Harley Davidson
source: flickr user: David Merrett CC BY 2.0

What I have learned the hard way is that batteries can be finicky. However, with the right maintenance, they will last longer and won’t fail when you are out on your favorite bike road trip.

(Oh, coconuts! It happened to me once when the headlights started dimming and the horn faded)

Truth is, no matter the type of battery you choose, it will deteriorate with time. But when you are coughing up more money for a quality battery, you will end up saving more in the long run.

But here’s the thing- though the battery is a prime component of a motorcycle, it often goes neglected. Keep in mind, even if your motorcycle is turned off and parked, the battery will keep losing its charge.

Here are the top enemies of your motorcycle battery that can reduce its life.

Extreme temperatures- Excessive heat can increase the battery discharge rate. Freezing temperatures can cause the electrolyte to freeze and even crack the casing.

Sulfation– When a battery is constantly discharging or deprived of a full charge for a prolonged period, the internal components can get affected. This will cause the formation of lead sulfate crystals and reduce performance.

Vibrations- If your battery is rattling and not securely fixed, its life will come down. Vibrations can also impact the performance of lithium-ion batteries. (You know what- that’s why I don’t use the vibration setting on my iPhone.)

Harley Davidson Motorcycles On A Street
source: stockvault user: Pixabay CC0

So here are a few steps you can take to extend a Harley Davidson battery life expectancy.

  • For most riders, winter marks the end of the riding season. If you store away a partially charged Harley battery, it might get damaged. In fact, that’s the main reason behind the failure of motorcycle batteries. Removing the battery from the motorcycle and storing it in a warm and dry place is a good idea. The storage temperature should not be lower than 32 degrees. Ideally, place it on plastic, wooden, or some other non-conductive surface.
  • To keep the battery charged when the motorcycle is not in use, you can use a battery tender. It’s a smart system that automatically charges the battery to keep it working for a long period. You can also use a trickle charger. But you will need to monitor the charging process manually to prevent overcharging.
  • For lithium batteries follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions. Generally, these batteries should be stored at around 50% of their capacity.
  • Check the battery cables and connectors to make sure they are not damaged and free from cracks. Connections should always be tight to prevent the entry of dirt. Since dirt can corrode metal surfaces, always keep the battery terminals clean.
  • In case of any mechanical damage of the battery, check for signs of leakage. If you notice any signs of a leakage visit the service center without delay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Man Riding A Motorcycle At Sunset

How do I know if my Harley battery is bad?

The easiest way to know if your Harley battery is bad is by visual inspection. Check for broken terminals, leaking fluids, or a cracked or bulging casing. For more accurate tests, you need to use a battery tester.

How long does a motorcycle battery last without starting?

Generally, a motorcycle battery will last anywhere between 2 to 4 months without use. Newer batteries and batteries with a management system can last longer.

How long should I ride my motorcycle to charge the battery?

A twenty to thirty-minute drive should be good enough to charge a healthy battery. But if the battery is completely discharged or dead you’ll need to use a battery charger to charge it. Keep in mind, idling the bike isn’t an effective way to charge a battery.