Do you own a Harley-Davidson bike, and you’re unsure about how many volts is the battery of your bike? If yes, then you are in the right place, as you’ll get to know how to find it out here.
How many volts is a Harley-Davidson battery is something that every Harley biker must know, especially when they’re looking to replace the battery. Harley-Davidson motorcycles either use a 6V or 12V battery. Harley-Davidson bikes that were manufactured after the early 1960s use 12V batteries, while Harley-Davidson bikes before the early 1960s used a 6V battery. If your Harley-Davidson was manufactured in the last 40–50 years, it comes with a 12V battery.
In this article, you will get to know all about how many volts is a Harley-Davidson battery, how to find if your bike has a 6V or 12V battery, does it matter if your bike has a 6V or 12V battery, how to maintain your motorcycle battery, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.
How Many Volts is a Harley-Davidson Battery
If you’re wondering exactly how many volts is the battery in your Harley-Davidson bike, then it is easy to figure out. All Harley-Davidson motorcycles either use a 6V or 12V battery. If you are riding a classic Harley-Davidson bike that was manufactured before 1965, then your bike will likely have a 6V battery. On the other hand, any bike manufactured after that time comes with a 12V battery. So, why did Harley-Davidson decide to switch to a different battery?
As technology improved and more electronics started to be included on motorcycles, it has become almost impossible for a 6V battery to successfully operate the motorcycle. As a result, the company switched to a larger battery with more volts so that the bikes were able to perform more efficiently.
You might have heard that your Harley-Davidson bike has what is referred to as an AGM battery. In some cases, it will, but that is not the case all the time. It is important to remember that Harley-Davidson doesn’t use the same type of battery for every motorcycle that comes off the assembly line. In fact, the manufacturers choose the battery based on the specific needs of the bike. It will come down to the engine size, the room that they have for placing the battery, and the number of electronics included in the bike.
After factoring in everything, they decide which battery will work the best, and then they go from there. As a result, some Harley-Davidson bikes indeed use an AGM battery, but this isn’t always the case. With that said, you will be more likely to find an AGM battery on one of the newer Harleys than you would on something that has been around for years.
The AGM battery is an absorbent glass mat variety designed to stand up to the wear, tear, and punishment that modern-day bikes typically put a battery under. These batteries are designed specifically to be used in Harley-Davidson bikes. AGM batteries are commonly used in other types of motorcycles, especially the ones manufactured by European manufacturers. However, the AGM batteries that are used for powering Harley-Davidson bikes are made specifically for them.
If you have to replace your battery, and you end up going with a standard 12V battery instead of the AGM battery, your bike will still function. However, the battery isn’t going to last as long nor will it perform as well. This is because the AGM battery is designed in a way to withstand the vibrations and electrical demands placed on it by the bikes that are currently being manufactured.
In some situations, you may be riding a Harley-Davidson bike that uses a lithium battery. While the AGM batteries are an improvement over the standard 12V batteries, the lithium battery is definitely a big improvement. In fact, there are a couple of benefits to having a lithium battery on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The first one is that you’ll get more cold cranking amps, something that will genuinely benefit you if you have left your bike sitting outside on an especially cold night.
The second one is that the lithium battery lasts at least 2x as long as the most advanced AGM version available. Granted, these batteries will not come cheap. In fact, a lithium battery created for modern-day Harley-Davidson bikes is going to cost you around $300. With that said, it isn’t that bad when you consider that you can run it 2x as long as an AGM battery and a lot longer than the standard 12V. When you consider all the things, it is definitely the most cost-effective option available.
Most Harley-Davidson riders have one thing in common. They have a tendency of taking care of their precious bikes as if they were taking care of their child. They put a great deal of time and effort into it to ensure that everything works exactly the way it was designed.
Using a cheap knockoff will likely get you where you are going, but only for a while. With that said, you cannot realistically expect the bike to perform at the same level as the batteries that Harley-Davidson recommends for any particular bike it sells. The last thing that you will want to do is end up being stranded on a dark highway with a battery that doesn’t work and a motorcycle that will not turn over.
The best way of avoiding this would be by using the equipment recommended by Harley-Davidson and sticking with it. It may cost you a bit more money in the short term, but it will definitely save you money eventually. Besides, your peace of mind will be worth a lot more than the cost of having to buy a new battery. Knowing that you’re keeping your bike in pristine condition will buy you the sort of peace of mind that you simply cannot get through any other means.
How to Find Out if your Harley Battery is 6V or 12V
The first way of getting a good idea of whether your Harley-Davidson bike uses a 6V or a 12V battery would be to consider the year that it was manufactured. Harley-Davidson bikes manufactured until 1965 used to run on 6V batteries. However, Harley-Davidson bikes manufactured after that started using 12V batteries.
Both the motorcycle and car industries have slowly switched to 12V systems since the early 1960s. So if your bike was made before 1965, it is almost guaranteed that your bike used a 6V battery.
Meanwhile, if your bike was manufactured during the 60s, then you might have to do additional research. If your bike was made in the last 40–50 years, then it probably uses a 12V battery.
While the tips mentioned above can help you identify the battery voltage even without having to look at the battery, it’s still a good idea to have a visual inspection of the battery to confirm what you are dealing with. After all, it would be best if you aren’t having to rely on guesses.
Of course, a 12V battery is typically larger than a 6V battery. However, there can be exceptions, so this rule might not always help. There are a few ways of checking how many volts is your bike’s battery.
1. Check the owner’s manual
The type of battery your Harley-Davidson bike is using will be stated in the owner or service manual. This is the easiest and most reliable way to find the voltage of your Harley-Davidson bike’s battery.
2. Check the label on the battery
The next thing that you can do if you aren’t sure what year your bike was manufactured in, and you have lost your owner’s manual would be to check the battery’s label.
Often, motorcycle manufacturers will mention different specifications like the rated ampere-hours (Ah), cold cranking amps (CCA), voltage (V), and other details like the best charging method, time for charging, and the type of battery.
3. The number of vent caps
Motorcycle batteries are made up of several cells, each of which contains around 2.1 volts. This means that 12V batteries have 6 cells, while 6V batteries have 3 cells.
A quick visual inspection of the number of vent caps in the battery will allow you to tell if your Harley-Davidson bike uses a 6V or a 12V battery. Batteries that are 12V will have 6 vent caps on top in accordance with the six cells in the battery, while 6V batteries will have three vent caps.
4. Check the body of the battery
If, for some reason, you aren’t able to use the methods mentioned above, there’s another way to tell how many volts your bike’s battery is.
You need to inspect the body of the battery carefully. Usually, there will be slight dips (or discolorations in some cases) to the outside molding where the battery cell walls are present. Using these dips in the battery’s wall, you will be able to tell how many cell components are there in the battery.
5. Measure the electrical system
Lastly, if you aren’t able to tell the battery’s voltage using the methods mentioned above, you can always measure the motorcycle’s electrical system via a voltmeter or multimeter.
Does it Matter if your Harley-Davidson Battery is 6V or 12V?
Knowing the right voltage for your bike’s battery is necessary, as mismatching the battery’s voltage with the charging system and the motor can easily lead to major problems.
A Harley-Davidson bike is designed to run on 12 volts, which means you will need to use a 12V battery and charge it with a 12V battery charger. Vice versa for 6V batteries.
Putting a 12V battery on a bike designed to run on 6 volts can either damage or fry the electrical system and the motor. Alternatively, a 6V battery wouldn’t be able to power or start a motorcycle designed to run on a 12V battery. If you try to charge a 12V battery with a 6V charger, you won’t be able to charge the battery at all, as the charger wouldn’t be able to provide enough voltage.
Charging or jump-starting a 6V battery with a 12V charger can be quite dangerous, as it can quickly damage or kill the battery completely. Even though it isn’t recommended, a 6V battery could be jump-started with a 12V battery but usually, this should be done while you’re exercising extreme caution and while the other vehicle is completely turned off.
Moreover, you can also find 24V batteries and battery chargers. These are not actually used on Harley-Davidson bikes, but on heavy trucks. However, if you try to jump-start or charge your Harley-Davidson bike with a 24V battery or battery charger, it can quickly damage or even destroy your bike’s battery.
6V batteries are smaller and usually come with three cells, as opposed to 12V batteries, which are made using six cells. If you’ve purchased a 12V battery for a Harley-Davidson bike that has a 6V battery, you might find that you wouldn’t have enough space to fit in the battery.
Overall, knowing which battery your bike uses, you will be able to avoid doing any unintentional damage to your bike. You’ll know what replacement battery to buy, how to recharge the battery the right way, and how to jump-start your bike.
However, you should keep in mind that the voltage isn’t the only aspect of the battery that you should consider. The battery should also provide the appropriate levels of cold cranking amps (CCA)and ampere-hours (Ah).
How to Maintain your Harley-Davidson Battery
You can avoid damaging fluctuations and make sure of normal charging voltages by maintaining your Harley-Davidson bike’s battery in these ways –
- Inspect the bike’s battery biweekly and clean the terminals
- Top the battery with distilled water when you feel that the battery needs it
- Make sure that the wiring and cables within the battery aren’t lost
- wash your motorcycle regularly and keep the battery fully charged
- Check for battery leaks and fix them in case you find any
- Charge the battery properly
- Lastly, if you notice something wrong with the battery, you should consider replacing it immediately
Are motorcycle batteries universal?
No, motorcycle batteries aren’t universal. Generally, there are 3–4 groups of motorcycle batteries. These groups are further divided by means of CCA and physical size. You must buy the type of battery that is recommended by your motorcycle manufacturer.
How long do Harley-Davidson batteries last?
On average, a Harley-Davidson battery will last for two to five years. However, the battery can last much longer if you’re using the battery properly.
Will the battery charge while you’re riding your Harley?
Yes. Similar to cars, the batteries do get charged with you’re riding your Harley-Davidson bike. There is an alternator fitted with a regulator, which helps ensure that the battery charges while running.
Do Harley-Davidson bikes use Lithium-ion batteries?
Yes, some models of Harley-Davidson use Lithium-ion batteries. However, owing to the expensive pricing, this is not always the most feasible option.