Using Battery Tender on a Motorcycle

Battery Tender is a company that manufactures a line of battery chargers and accessories.  These are very commonly used with motorcycles.  It’s especially handy in colder climates where your motorcycle may not be used for long stretches of time, especially the winter months.  A lot of motorcycle owners simply attach a ring terminal harness to their battery, secure it in a safe place, and leave it plugged in to run a charger or accessory cables.  It serves a nice dual purpose as a Battery Tender charging connection as well as accessory cable.  We will explain more.

Most start with a kit such as the Battery Tender Junior.  This kit has a few important components needed to get started.  The most basic part of the Battery Tender Junior is the trickle charger.  This part plugs into an A/C wall socket and has a light on it to show that the charger is working normally.  The Battery Tender Junior runs a 4-step charging program (initialization, bulk charge, absorption mode, float mode).  It will automatically switch to float mode after fully charging the battery and when the battery voltage drops too far under load, full charging output power resumes.  It’s a set and forget kind of device.

There is a 2-pin quick disconnect cable attached to the Battery Tender Junior which is used to attach to one of two cable assemblies.  First, there is an alligator clip cable assembly which is used as a temporary connection to your battery and is used to charge your battery while parked in the garage.  When you are ready to use your motorcycle, you will disconnect and remove the alligator cable.  There is also a ring terminal harness which is made for permanent installation and can potentially be used for accessory attachments which will be explained in a bit.  The ring terminal harness is normally attached directly to your battery using a wrench or screwdriver (it varies by motorcycle model) and has a fuse embedded just above the rings.  The cable has a 2-pin connector on the other end which can connect to the Battery Tender Junior then easily disconnected when not in use.  In the case of the ring terminal harness, you will likely leave this attached to your battery when riding, stowed away safely.

The ring terminal harness can be used to attach accessories to your battery when not being used to connect the Battery Tender to your motorcycle.  The 2-pin connection can connect to a Battery Tender Quick Disconnect Plug with USB Charger to provide a USB socket suitable for attaching a micro-USB, mini-USB or Apple Lightening Cable.  This will draw the power from your motorcycle battery to charge your smartphone or GPS unit while riding.  This is an option for clean hardwire connection.  Although you can leave your GPS plugged in while the motorcycle is idle, I prefer to disconnect it to prevent unnecessary draw on the battery.

Similar to the USB attachment just discussed, the Battery Tender Female Cigarette Adapter for Quick Disconnect provides an accessory outlet to connect to the ring terminal harness.  This is especially useful for attaching devices that do not use a standalone USB cable.  I especially like these for Garmin GPS units where the traffic antenna is embedded directly into the DC car charger.

The last accessory to discuss is the Battery Tender 12.5 Foot Foot Extension Lead.  This might be required if the distance between the battery and wherever you wish to mount the device is too long for the cables that come with the Battery Tender.  Many custom installs will require this cable as it’s important that you ensure the cable installation is securely tucked away and secure.

Attachment of the Battery Tender kit and accessory cables is fairly simple but be extra sure to follow the manufacturer directions that come with these parts to prevent injuries or damage to your equipment.  You want to be sure the install is done properly and the cables are securely tucked away and not dangling.  If you do not feel comfortable doing your own work, no matter how simple it looks, call on a professional.