Motorcycle Battery-Starting Problems

What happens when you replace a motorcycle battery that smokes with a new battery, but the bike still won't start? One of our live Q&A viewers encountered this problem with a Honda motorcycle.

Partzilla's motorcycle expert John Talley livestreams question and answers sessions on our YouTube channel every Friday at 3pm Eastern. In this edition, John gives his troubleshooting tips on battery problems with a Honda VTX1300 that won't start.

Motorcycle battery problems Q&A

Honda Motorcycle Battery Problems

I recently bought a Honda VTX 1300. I let it sit for a few weeks and then it didn’t start. When I went to ride, it cranked a little slow but wouldn’t start. All the lights went out and I got smoke from the battery. The positive terminal on the battery had melted. I put in a new battery and it still won’t start. Any ideas?

John Talley: Something put a really heavy load on that battery, beyond what it could deliver. I’m wondering a couple of different things. First of all, you said the bike sat for a while, but where did it sit? I’m thinking maybe a critter had access to it and did some damage to the wiring. You put in a new battery and it won’t start at all, so I wonder, I guess it’s possible that just by sitting that the starter has failed. It’s unusual for a starter to fail just because it’s sitting still. But depending on what environment it’s in, maybe it got wet, and if it’s in a coastal salt air environment, I guess I could see that. I would probably look at the starter first, but frying a battery like that tells me you have a resistance level that is way too low. So in other words, it’s a direct short either A. in your cabling or B. in the starter itself.  

Watch the video above to learn how to troubleshoot battery problems with a Honda motorcycle.

Buy a battery tender

Buy a battery tester

Watch the video below to learn how to troubleshoot starting problems with a Honda motorcycle.

Motorcycle Battery Charging Amps

Why does a motorcycle battery charge have an amp range for the batteries they charge? I don't mean charger output, but battery amps. 

John Talley: Typically that tells you how hard your charger has to work. And as that amperage comes down, it’s coming back to an equilibrium or a charged state. So if you flip it on and it’s reading 15 amps, it’s working hard. When it gets down to zero, that means the battery’s charged. 

Watch the video above to learn about motorcycle battery types and how to charge them.

Want to see more live repair questions answered? See more motorcycle and ATV repair questions answered here.  



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