Running a Motorcycle with Dead Battery: Tips & Tricks!

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Have you ever been caught in a situation where you are trying to start your motorcycle and the battery is dead? Many people end up pushing their motorcycles or getting a jump start from somebody nearby. Ask anybody who’s experienced it and they will tell you that it’s very frustrating!

A motorcycle will run on a dead battery provided that it has a jump start or some way of turning over the engine. Once the engine has been turned over the alternator will power each of the necessary components and will run even if the battery is dead.

Let’s explore a few ways that you can run a motorcycle with a dead battery…

Push Start

A push start is just what it sounds like, you use your body as the engine to get your bike started. Make sure that you’re wearing proper shoes for this kind of work! To perform a push start:

  1. Line your bike up so that you can get a good amount of momentum, a hill is perfect for this!
  2. Clutch In, change gears to 2nd & release Breaks.
  3. Whilst sitting on your motorcycle start pushing your bike forward. Collecting the momentum of the downhill if possible.
  4. Once you’ve been moving forward for long enough, give your bike some gas and release the clutch!
  5. Hopefully, you’ll get a burst of speed going and your motorcycle will start. If not, repeat the process ensuring that the hill is steep enough to allow for a good speed increase on your push off.

Pro Tip: Make sure that when you release the clutch it’s done in one swift motion, don’t ease off or stop as this will cause stalling.

Use a Bike Jump Starters

If you’re looking for something more convenient than push-starting, consider investing in one of those contraptions that you hook up to your motorcycle’s battery and it gives a bit of power for you to get on the road. These are often referred to as jump starters.

Make sure that you read the instructions to ensure that you know how much power the jump starter puts out, some only put out enough for starting a bike with an extremely dead battery but do not supply enough juice for running once started.

  1. Open your seat or gas tank and touch one end of the cables (usually red) to where your battery is located and the other end (usually black) onto where you would normally attach jumper cables from another car.
  2. Try turning over your motorcycle, if all goes well you should be able to start it.

To see our recommended bike jumper starters see our best portable chargers page.

Use another Battery to Jump Start your Bike

Another trick to try is attaching a small battery charger (like those that are used to recharge cell phones) to your motorcycle’s dead battery. Make sure that the charger doesn’t have too much power or else you’ll end up with a fried battery.

Just make sure that you check which terminals on the battery are positive and negative before hooking it up since these chargers may fry your electronic components if hooked up incorrectly.  

Never hook up a car battery directly to your motorcycle because their internal chemistries are different and could cause explosions! The consequences of getting this wrong are usually fatal. 

Why do motorcycles need batteries in the first place?

A battery supplies power to all of the electrical components on your motorcycle including things like your lights, gauges (speedometer and tachometer), and starter.

The battery on a motorcycle is typically an AGM (absorbed glass mat) or gel cell battery. These batteries are sealed so they do not leak acid even if you lay them on their side. Even though the batteries are sealed, they still vent gasses because the lead plates inside are “recharged” with oxygen from the air around them when you start your motorcycle by turning over the engine with a key or push button.

If your battery is dead, all of the power in it has been used up. When you turn your motorcycle over with no battery hooked up/dead, there will be no power for the starter and all of the components. This means that there will be no voltage going to your lights either, so you’ll have no way of knowing whether or not it will start until you try!

Happy riding!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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