Out of all the tools that you will carry on your motorcycle, this is probably the most valuable item: a Portable Battery Jump Starter. Dead batteries happen to everyone at one point or another and when it happens on a road trip, it can be a real pain the the you-know-what. If, or when, it happens to you, there’s really no need to rely on finding a stranger with jumper cables, or pushing your motorcycle to try and bump start it. Packing a portable battery jump starter is all you need to do to get yourself out of a jam, safely.
Due to advances in lithium ion batteries, manufacturers are now making jump starters that are smaller in size, yet still capable of starting a variety of truck, car and motorcycle batteries.
Here are three battery jump starters that I recommend:
Noco GB40 1000amp Genius Boost
- Higher price range
- More available power 1000 peak amps means more starts per charge.
- 2.4 pounds
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 4.1 x 4.6 inches
- See the latest price on Amazon
More peak amps means more starting power. This is perfect if you have a larger motorcycle or you’re in colder weather. That extra power also means you will get more starts from one single charge compared to less expensive chargers. This one comes with a very bright flashlight at 1000 lumens with 7 different modes. It also comes with 1 USB charging port, which is less than other charger. Also, this one does not come with a case, extra cables for charging your electronics, but it does include a car lighter connector.
- Midrange price.
- 800 peak amps, 700 general amps
- 1.74 pounds
- Dimensions: 7.3 x 3.7 x 1.6 inches
- See the latest price on Amazon
This charger will start up to 7 liter gas engines, so it will have no problems starting even larger motorcycles. Also, with 700 amp output, it will have no problems starting your bike in the dead of winter. It features a LCD display showing you the percentage of charge remaining as well as other information. It features a small flash light with 3 modes; solid, flashing, or SOS mode. It also has 2 USB ports at 5 volts each to charge your electronics. Included are various connectors and a car lighter charger. The jump starter comes with a hard shell case that holds the charger and all the accessories.
- Lower price range.
- 500 peak amps, general output will be less
- 1.32 pounds
- Dimensions: 9.7 x 3.9 x 4.9 inches
This Portable Jump Starter is slightly less expensive, with lower amperage, which may translate into a less reliable product. Although, for a smaller motorcycle, it will easily provide you with the power you need to get up and running again. It comes with the usual features such as a flash light, 2 USB ports as well as a small compass which is more of a gimmick than a useful tool. It also comes with multiple connectors for a variety of different electronics, as well as it’s own carrying case.
How to Use a Battery Jump Starter
Using a portable charger is easy and very safe as long as you follow these steps.
- Make sure you keep your battery charger at it’s peak charge whenever possible to give you the most power boost possible when you need it.
- Access your motorcycle battery. How you do this will depend on your motorcycle. Follow the bikes recommended steps for accessing the battery.
- Clamp the positive lead (RED) to the positive post of your battery.
- Clamp the negative (BLACK) lead to the negative post of your battery. If you can’t reach the negative post due to how your battery is installed on your bike, you can clamp the negative lead on any bare metal on your bikes frame or engine.
- Plug the lead cable into the battery charger. The reason you do this after you connect to the battery, is to prevent any surge of power to enter your charger.
- Turn the battery charger on and press the boost button. (check the instructions for your specific charger)
- Let it set for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Start your motorcycle as you normally would.
If your battery charger has enough power stored in it, there should be little to no problems starting up your bike. At this point, without turning the motorcycle off, you can remove both positive and negative leads from the bike. Most people will find that this is surprisingly simple to start up your bike, and the most complicated part of the process is accessing your battery.
Common Features of Jump Starters
Most portable battery jump starters will come with similar extra features and you can choose your charger based on what features you are likely to use or would be nice to have.
Flashlight and safety lights. Most chargers will come with a handy light that will function as a small flashlight. This makes it easier if you ever have to jump your bike after dark. Higher lumens means a brighter light. Having this on the charger means you will never have to hunt down a separate flashlight to see. Some chargers will also come with a flashing red or orange light to provide you with a little extra safety.
Additional charging ports. Most chargers will come with additional USB charging ports and a variety of cables and connectors allowing you to charge your cell phone, tablet computer, or any other electronics that require USB.
Reverse Polarity and Overload Protection. This feature protects your battery and the charger from damage if you were to inadvertently connect the cables wrong. Also, you will not get that familiar, yet un-nerving spark when touching the cables to the battery.
Portable chargers also have overload protection. Once your jump starter reaches full capacity, it will monitor and reduce the charge coming in from a power outlet, keeping it at a float charge to prevent overloading it and to make sure it maintains it’s full charge.
Air Compressor. While a lot of larger sized jump starters come equipped with an air compressor built in, such as those designed for cars and trucks, the small size of the portable jump starter makes it impossible to fit an air compressor into the mix. However, there is one product, the Rugged Geek RG1000 Safety Plus charger, that comes with a separate 12v air compressor. The two items fit neatly into their own case providing you with double protection from dead battery and a flat tire.
Motorcycle Jump Starter Basics
How many CCA’s are needed to start a motorcycle battery?
CCA stands for Cold Crank Amps and it will vary depending on your battery. Check your owners manual to see the exact specifications or look on the existing battery to find the information.
In general, motorcycle batteries are 12 volts, the same as most car batteries. However, they require fewer amps. Applying too many amps to a motorcycle battery can fry it, so it’s important to apply only 2 to4 amps to the battery when jump starting your bike. Many battery packs designed for cars and trucks will put out too much amperage and may damage your battery. One more factor to consider; the older the bike, the more amps are needed to start it, so if you have a 20 year old motorcycle, you may need to apply up to 4 amps. Again, check your owners manual for specifics.
Can I jump my battery in cold weather?
The outside temperature will affect how quickly your motorcycle starts up, and cold weather will affect the charge of a battery. So, if you plan to do winter riding in areas where it is near or below freezing, then you may want to consider a charger that’s a little beefier, such as the Noco BG70 2000 amp charger. This is a larger version of the Noco BG40 listed above. It will give you more cranking power enabling you to start up a motorcycle at low temperatures.
How safe are battery jump starters?
They are very safe. Because they have features like reverse polarity protection, it is safer to use one of these chargers than it is to jump two car batteries together. The safety features give you room for error such as, connecting the wrong cable to the wrong terminal. (Remember, red is positive, black is negative.)
How much do they weigh?
The weight of a charger will depend on it’s size, and generally if you choose a charger with more storage capacity, it’s going to be larger and heavier. Portable chargers that would be perfect for motorcycle travel generally weigh 2 to 5 pounds and are often only slightly bigger than a large cell phone, only thicker. Again, the more power the charger carries, the larger and heavier it is. But, if you’re using it just for your motorcycle, you are safe to carry a smaller, more compact charger.
How do you charge them?
The chargers will come with an input port and a USB charging cable. You simply plug them into a wall outlet and allow them to charge up just as you would your cell phone or other electronics.
How many times will they start your bike?
Again this will depend on the capacity of the charger. But, it is safe to assume that for even smaller chargers, you can get at least 4 or 5 starts from the same charge. It’s a good idea to keep the jump starter fully charged and ready to go at all times, so, if you have to use it once, take the time to recharge it back up to capacity as soon as you can.
Can you push start a fuel injected motorcycle? Yes, you can. It is possible provided there is enough charge in the battery to run the electronics necessary to engage the fuel pump system. So, while it is possible, it’s not going to work every time. It’s easier, or more common, to push start a motorcycle with standard fuel system. You will need to push the bike up to a speed of at least 10 mph. Depending on the size of your bike, you may want to make sure you break down at the top of a hill unless you are in incredible shape.
Can you jump start a motorcycle from a car? Yes, you can. It is a little more dangerous than starting from a jump charger, but it’s easy to do. When connecting to a car battery, make sure everything is off. Connect the positive terminals on both batteries first, then both negative cables. DO NOT turn the car engine on because it will put out too many amps and can fry your motorcycle battery. Simply start your bike as you normally would as soon as you’ve connected the cables.
What does a dead motorcycle battery sound like? When you press the start button you may hear your engine trying to turn over, but it will begin to fade into a pitiful, slow, whine as the battery loses power. Once the battery is dead and doesn’t have enough charge to turn over the engine, you will only hear the clicking sound of your starter. Your lights will also appear extremely dim, or won’t come on at all. These are all sure tale signs that your battery is dead.