Ah, if only we could ride our motorcycles every day, what a wonderful world it would be. It would be even better, for those who own more than one, if we could ride all of our motorcycles every day…and someone else paid for the gas. And gave us a foot massage.
The point is that if you can’t ride every day, you probably keep your bike’s battery on some kind of maintenance charger, right? Good for you. You want it to be in tip-top shape when you can go for a ride, and motorcycle batteries are just too expensive and finicky to be subjected to the dumb circuitry in a trickle charger.
What’s the difference between a trickle charger and a good maintenance unit like the Deltran Battery Tender? Simply put, trickle chargers lack sophisticated electronics, so that even when the current “trickles down” to what seems to be a safe level for the fully charged battery, the output voltage rises to 15 or even 16 volts. That’s well above the “gassing” level of the battery, potentially damaging it in short order.
A Battery Tender operates differently–kind of like a massage for your bike’s battery, in fact–in that it delivers 1.25 amps during bulk charge mode, levels off to a constant 14.4 volts DC in the interim “absorption” phase, then automatically switches to a float charge mode when the battery charge current drops to 0.1 amp. During float charge mode, the output voltage of the Battery Tender is 13.2 VDC, well below the gassing voltage of a lead acid battery. This keeps the battery “topped off,” yet minimizes any detrimental effects due to gassing (wish it worked on my dogs, sheesh). You’ll still want to keep an eye on it and the battery occasionally, of course–batteries can fail for other reasons–but I know from personal experience you can put a standard lead-acid battery on a Battery Tender and ignore it for weeks before it needs any attention, maintenance-free batteries even longer.
You can read more of the technical details on the Battery Tender website. I want to tell you about a specific BT model, the ultra-cool 4-Bank Charger, one of which is quietly blinking away in the rafters of my garage. Now, I never thought I’d need four Battery Tenders, but–having failed to quell my moto lust with golf on TV and huffing New Car Smell–my motorcycle collection just grows and grows somehow, like the cast of Lost each week. And they all have batteries that demand my attention (my bikes, that is–pretty sure the castaways are all radiated).
The BT 4-Bank Charger is essentially four Battery Tender units in a single, heavy-duty 9 x 7 x 3.5-inch plastic case that weighs less than 3 pounds. Lugs on each corner let you mount the unit to a wall or ceiling if desired, and the 6-foot AC power cord has a three-prong plug. Four 4-foot battery leads exit the front of the case under a pair of indicator lights for each, and I have optional 25-foot extensions for these so that I can run one to any corner of the garage over the rafters and drop it down to a bike like an IV of electrons.
Looking up I can check the indicator lights for all four bikes with one glance–yellow flashing (power on, no battery connected), solid yellow (charging), green flashing (charged enough to use), or solid green (fully charged, storage mode). Combinations of the above indicate problems with the battery or connections. What could be simpler? Four sets of fused pigtails with SAE connectors and positive/negative clamps allow temporary connections, or bolt one of four ringed pigtails to the terminals and leave it on the bike.
The Battery Tender will safely charge all maintenance-free, flooded and AGM batteries. Like all BTs the 4-Bank is spark-proof and reverse-polarity protected, and puts out so little heat it won’t even warm your hands. The $259.95 price includes a two-year warranty. And if it’s the one thing you manage to grab before you flee to South America, no worries, the U.S. model operates on 100-240 VAC anywhere in the Americas, and Deltran has models for Continental Europe and Japan as well.
For more information: Contact Deltran Corp., 801 U.S. Highway 92E, Deland, Florida 32724; (386) 736-7900; batterytender.com