How long do motorcycle batteries last?

Battery charging editorial

A lot of people wonder, how long do motorcycle batteries last? The average lifespan of a motorcycle battery ranges from 2 to 5 years for lead-acid models and 5 to 10 years for lithium-ion types. These values depend on the battery’s quality, chemistry, construction, and other characteristics. However, it’s important to note these values are determined by manufacturers or independent research in a controlled environment. In real life, factors like driving habits, environmental conditions, and maintenance determine the actual battery’s performance and durability. 

No one knows better than you how wonderful it feels to ride your bike and feel that sensation of freedom and connection with the road, the landscape, and the elements. A bad or dead battery can ruin the moment in a second, and even worse, it can leave you stranded far from home.  

At CTEK, we strive to ensure that every time you press the starter or kick your bike, you hear the marvelous sound of your bike’s engine. That’s why we want to give you an insight into how long do motorcycle batteries last and can make the most of your bike and your battery. 

Battery Types 

Knowing your bike’s battery type helps you to have an approximate idea of its durability. Also, when you are learning how long do motorcycle batteries last, knowing its kind could be necessary to choose a proper charging mode, among other considerations. 

Lead-Acid Batteries 

These types of batteries can be divided into these categories: 

  • Flooded or Wet-Cell: These are the oldest and most common batteries. They consist of a distilled water and sulphuric acid solution called the electrolyte contained by lead plates. 
  • AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat): These batteries also work due to a combination of acid and lead. However, the acid is embedded in an absorbent glass mat, preventing spills and damage that may be caused by shocks and vibrations. 

Due to their chemical composition and working principle, the plates of these batteries tend to corrode over time, losing efficiency. Also, fast or deep discharges may affect their components. That’s why their typical useful life goes from 3 to 5 years, and some models don’t last much more than 2 years. 

Lithium Batteries 

There are several types of lithium batteries, but the most commonly used are called LiFePO4. Because of their chemical composition and working principle, they have a longer lifespan than their lead-acid counterparts, which can go beyond 5 years. 

If you are unsure of your bike’s battery type, you can check the user or service manual or ask your nearest dealership to find out. 

Weather Condition 

The weather has a strong impact in answering the question “how long do motorcycle batteries last”. The optimal operating range for fully charged batteries is between 0°C and 25°C degrees. 

How Cold Affects Bike’s Battery Life 

Winter, especially with freezing temperatures, deeply impacts batteries’ life and performance. It’s also the time of year with the most battery-related issues, including starting problems and batteries with irreparable damage. Extreme cold presents several challenges for your battery: 

  • As temperature decreases, batteries must work harder to crank your bike’s engine up. The starter motor must turn more times until the engine starts, reducing the battery’s lifespan over time. Besides, when temperatures are between 10°C and lower, oil becomes thicker, putting more strain on the starter and the battery. 
  • In winter, especially when the roads are frozen, dangerous, and dark, it’s less tempting to go for a ride, so bikes often remain stored for the season, affecting the battery life. 
  • The chemicals inside the battery are affected by low temperatures, especially in lead-acid batteries, increasing their internal resistance and making them harder to charge and forcing your bike’s charging system. 
  • Fully charged batteries can withstand low temperatures better. As the batteries discharge, their internal composition is affected. The liquid (electrolyte) inside depleted flooded batteries freezes at -2°C and may result in permanent damage. When fully charged, the electrolyte can withstand temperatures up to -59°C before freezing, extending the battery’s durability. AGM batteries are less prone to freezing, and lithium-ion batteries don’t freeze, but even if they handle cold better, it’s always best to keep them charged to prevent premature wear. 

How Heat Affects Bike’s Battery Life 

You also need to learn about heat when you are learning about how long do motorcycle batteries last. Temperatures above 32°C also may affect batteries’ lifespan. Even when it’s unlikely that a motorcycle battery reaches such high temperatures while riding, it may reach or exceed that temperature in extremely hot weather or if the bike is left exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period, among other causes, reducing your bike’s battery life. 

  • Heat accelerates the chemical reactions inside the batteries, leading to faster wear and reducing their capacity to hold a charge. In this case, Li-ion batteries are more susceptible to degradation and damage caused by high temperatures than lead-acid ones.  
  • The electrolytes in flooded lead-acid batteries can be evaporated by extremely high temperatures, reducing their performance and ability to hold a charge. 
  • In lead-acid batteries, extreme heat can lead to sulfation of the lead plates, forming crystals that reduce their performance and lifespan. Another common effect of extreme heat in these batteries is corrosion of the lead plates, which is irreversible and reduces the battery service life. 

External Factors 

External factors such as humidity, exposure to rain, snow, dust, debris, and other elements also determine how long do motorcycle batteries last. Moisture and water exposure, for example, can promote corrosion of batteries’ terminals and connections, affecting their performance and lifespan. Dirt and debris can enter the battery compartment and promote pole corrosion, decreasing its performance over time and potentially reducing its lifespan. 

A good practice when charging a motorcycle battery is to clean the posts and connections from debris and any sulfation to promote better conductivity and reduce the risk of potential problems.  

Riding Habits 

Battery life is also affected by your riding frequency and habits. For example, a battery mounted in a sports bike used for sporadic short road adventures doesn’t last the same as one used to power a daily-driven bike that covers long distances and is used for more than 15 minutes each time.  

When unused, batteries have different self-discharge rates, depending on their type. Factors like cold temperatures tend to accelerate self-discharge rates. For example, a lead-acid battery can hold enough charge to start your bike for about two months, while a LIFEPO4 battery may take four to five months to become fully depleted. Whether you can start your bike or not, self-discharge affects batteries’ capacity to hold a charge over time and contributes to premature wear. Besides, leaving a battery discharged for long periods makes it more prone to deterioration due to sulfation or internal component degradation on lead-acid and Li-ion batteries, respectively. 

Charging: Making The Most Out Of Your Bike’s Battery 

In conclusion, not all motorcycle batteries last the same, and even though you can estimate the average lifespan of your battery based on the parameters described above, there is nothing you can do to control the weather and other factors. However, keeping your battery charged is the best you can do to extend your battery life and not let it be ruined by cold weather or infrequent use, among others. 

Our CTEK CT5 POWERSPORT charger is the best choice to keep your battery topped at all times so you can always have your bike ready for a pleasant ride. Besides, you can leave the CT5 POWERSPORT connected as long as you wish. Once your battery is fully charged, it automatically sets into long-term maintenance mode, caring for it until your next ride. 

Motorcycle batteries are often located in hard-to-reach places, requiring a lot of disassembly, which can be annoying and time-consuming. At CTEK, we are aware of this inconvenience, and that’s why all our CT5 POWERSPORT chargers come with our exclusive CONNECT EYELETS and are compatible with our INDICATOR EYELETS. This system allows you to install our proprietary quick-connect system to your battery so that you can charge it without dismantling your bike; you just have to connect the CT5 POWERSPORT charger to the CONNECT EYELET, and you are ready to start charging your bike in a minute. If you want to monitor your battery status in a second, our INDICATOR EYELET M6 not only allows you a quick connection but also displays your battery status using simple red, yellow, and light LEDs without connecting a charger or any other device. Charging a motorcycle battery has never been easier with the CT5 POWERSPORT charger and our practical quick connection systems. CTEK can help you answer the question how long do motorcycle batteries last and also help you with charging your battery!