Thankfully the winter is now in our rear view mirrors however it was almost tropical compared to the previous two winters. Now it’s March, I’m starting to see a lot more bikes coming out of hibernation and onto the roads which is a great sight.
Last weekend I took part in the first ever “Bike Safe” day hosted by Thames Valley Police and held at my Traffic Base at Taplow. It was an enjoyable day and all eleven candidates gave very positive feedback to the organiser Sgt Grant Thomas. I urge all of you to seriously think about signing up for a Bike Safe course (TVP charge only £50). Not only do you get a very thorough classroom based training session, but you also get a full assessment on your riding skills at the conclusion of the course. Oh and not forgetting freebies and lunch provided as well! Also if you’re really fortunate, you could get me or Del as assessors, you lucky people!
This month I’m focusing on the charging system of your bike and how you can fully maintain it very cheaply.
The cold can play havoc with batteries especially when your bike has been stored for a period of time. Bike batteries vary in physical size, Amp Hours (power) and what they consist of however all are maintenance free these days. Always have the correct size battery for your particular model of bike though. A bike shop that’s “worth its salt” will recommend a quality battery that will both suit your machine and your pocket. Most modern day batteries contain Gel electrolyte acid which is basically acid soaked into a fibre weave. This allows the battery to be sat upright, on its side or even upside down if needed without the risk of leaking acid.
The downside with modern day batteries is they are totally sealed and cannot be touched. Once they completely discharge, they’re dead. You cannot add distilled water or acid if they run low and once they reach a depleted state, they cannot be recharged again. The amount of year old batteries I’ve thrown away because I forgot to disconnect them whilst storing my bike during the winter is shocking!
However all is not lost. There are several battery conditioners on the market that will save your battery time and time again. A colleague at work because he uses a conditioner all the time when his bike is laid up, has had the original battery for seven years and its still going strong.
The two main conditioners on the market in my opinion are:
The Optimate 4 which is priced around £49.00 and the Oxford Oximiser priced around £44.54.
The two units are really excellent products and priced around the same as a quality bike battery.
Both systems come with two ways of connecting to your battery. One attachment uses a set of crocodile clips that connect temporarily to the + and – sides of the battery which is ideal if you are considering charging the battery whist it is detached from the bike.
The other attachment which comes in the package is the permanent solution. With your battery secured in place the permanent solution bolts to the + and – sides of the battery, the umbilical wire which has a waterproof capped connection at the end, hangs lose under your fairing ready to be connected to the conditioner when needed. This type of connection allows you to charge/condition the battery quickly with very little fuss.
The conditioner itself has a “plug and play” style operating system. As soon as you connect the conditioner to your battery the system conducts a diagnostic check on the condition of the battery. It will then bulk charge the battery if it’s low and continues until it is fully charged. Once charged, it monitors the power level and then “trickles” power into the battery when the charge drops slightly. The conditioner can stay connected indefinitely if that’s what you require.
In conclusion, both products are as good as each other and are a “must have” if you store your machine for any period of time.