Dirt bikes are complicated, and many people don’t understand how dirt bikes start or have power for ignition.
Unlike cars, many dirt bikes can run without batteries. Dirt bikes that have any sort of electric components such as lights, electric start, or electronic fuel injection require a battery, and therefore dirt bikes with batteries are becoming more common.
Most modern dirt bikes have some sort of electric component, most commonly the electric start.
Why Some Dirt Bikes Have Batteries
To understand why so many modern dirt bikes are designed to use batteries, it is helpful to understand how they work.
The battery in a dirt bike doesn’t power the engine. Normally the spark plugs are powered in a way that is very similar to a lighter, where the engines mechanical power creates a spark by pushing a small generator type mechanism. This way, the bike can run whether or not the battery of the bike has power or not. That being said, many bikes use their batteries to get a more stable ignition, in which case a charged battery is required to run the bike.
In general, batteries store and then discharge energy; different types of batteries are suited for different purposes based on factors such as capacity and whether they are rechargeable or not. A dirt bike uses a battery that has a large capacity and charges as the engine runs.
A dirt bike with an electric start uses a battery to quickly start the engine by immediately releasing the stored energy. This takes far less time than manually kick-starting the engine, and is an especially huge advantage in races, where every second counts. It also takes less effort in general for riders to start a bike with a battery, which is why many riders nowadays prefer to at least have the option of an electric start. For this reason, manufacturers are releasing fewer and fewer bikes without electric starts.
Many other electronic components require a battery to function. For example, in order to be street legal a dirt bike requires a battery operated light system. Many bikes come pre fitted with this sort of thing, and therefore all dual sport bikes are fitted with a battery.
Different Types Of Batteries
There are several different types of batteries that a dirt bike might use. Broadly speaking, though, the two main kinds are lead-acid and lithium-based.
Lead-acid batteries used to be the standard for dirt bikes; they’re also cheaper than lithium-based batteries and they perform better in cold weather. There are a couple of specific kinds of lead-acid batteries, including Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. These are becoming more commonplace and are considered by many riders to be the best batteries for dirt bikes. AGM batteries are safer and more reliable than traditional lead-acid batteries and are fairly easy to manually charge.
Lithium-based batteries are a fairly recent invention and aren’t yet as common in dirt bikes as lead-acid batteries. However, a lot of modern riders prefer lithium-based batteries, even to the extent of replacing their current battery with one. This is because lithium-based batteries are lighter, last longer, and hold a charge better than lead-acid batteries.
So, which battery is best, and what should you look for when buying a bike? It really comes down to personal preference. Even though lithium-based batteries are lighter and more high-tech, a lot of riders still prefer lead-acid batteries, and especially AGM batteries, because they run so much cheaper and don’t need a special charger like lithium-based batteries.
How To Maintain A Battery
A well-maintained battery will last longer and be more reliable, so no matter how good of a battery your dirt bike has, it’s important to take care of it properly.
If you’ve ever seen someone trying to jump-start their car during a snowstorm, you probably already know that batteries and cold don’t get along. The battery on your dirt bike is no different, so where you store your bike can potentially affect its battery life.
Of course, you don’t need to worry if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that’s warm and sunny year-round, but in areas where the temperatures drop below zero during the winter, you’ll want to make sure your bike doesn’t get too cold for too long. This means storing your bike in an attached garage, or even in your house – just don’t leave it outside or in a shed.
It’s also crucial to keep your bike’s battery charged. This is more or less important depending on the type of battery, but in general, batteries don’t do well if they’re left unused for too long. I found that out the hard way last February when I tried to start my car for the first time in a few months. Winters in northern Idaho can be bitterly cold, so I’m used to having trouble getting car batteries to start, but that time, none of the usual tricks worked. I ended up having to replace the battery (which was almost brand-new) entirely because it had sat empty for too long.
It might not be as expensive to replace the battery for a dirt bike as it is for a car, but it’s still a lot of money and hassle. If you can’t ride your bike very often you’ll need to know how to charge its battery in other ways.
How To Charge A Battery
The best way to charge your dirt bike’s battery is by using it. In order to keep it well-charged, you’ll need to ride it fairly often – a good rule of thumb is at least every 30 days. If necessary, though, it is possible to charge it yourself.
It can be a pain to manually charge your bike’s battery, so if it’s both a few years old and constantly refusing to start, it might be better to just get a new battery. However, if your bike’s battery is relatively new, or if it usually starts normally and has just been sitting in the cold or unused for too long, it’s a good idea to try re-charging it instead.
The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out what type of battery your bike has. If it’s lithium-based, you’ll need to get a special charger. Otherwise, you can use a standard charger, most often a float, trickle, or smart charger. Trickle chargers are probably the simplest to use, though