Winter has begun to rear its ugly head in the way of snowstorms and bitter cold in many regions of the US. Unfortunately, for many motorcyclists, that means a long depressing few months of storing away your beloved two-wheeled friend from the elements. For long-term storage, it’s best to get yourself a smart battery charger to maintain the optimum voltage level to be sure your bike’s battery voltage doesn’t drop to potentially damaging levels, leaving you unable to ride when that first nice day comes around. Remember, you want to avoid the cheap chargers that continuously charge your battery without any regard for its current voltage. These “dumb” chargers can actually damage your battery and should never be used.
We scoured the market and put together a few of the most popular units in this battery charger buyer’s guide to help you learn about different chargers and their features from various brands. Consider this a one-stop article to decide which charger is best for you and your battery.
Battery Tender is probably one of the most widely known brands to us motorcyclists. The Deltran Battery Tender company has been around since 1965 and has been stocked by powersports dealers around the country for years. The Battery Tender Junior is one of the company’s most popular models and is a great relatively low-cost ($39.95 retail, on Amazon Prime for $19.95) smart battery tender in a small package. Plug it in and forget about it.
The Battery Tender Junior incorporates a “brain” which allows the tender to detect when the battery has reached a full charge, then reverting the tender into float/maintenance mode to keep the battery at the optimum voltage. This unit also continuously monitors the state of charge and switches back to charge mode if necessary, making the unit a set-it-and-forget-it type of application. Two LEDs on the front convey the charger’s status. The Junior comes with a four-step charging program (Initialization, Bulk Charge, Absorption Mode, and Float Mode), is spark proof, and reverse polarity protected all the while coming with a five-year warranty. If you like to be on the cutting edge of technology, Battery Tender also makes the Power Plus™ 75A Booster Battery Charger w/Wi-Fi to connect your phone via the Battery Tender app to receive notifications and check your battery status with your mobile device. The Battery Tender Junior comes with a five-year warranty and can be used with AGM, and Gel cell batteries. To buy the Battery Tender Junior battery charger, check out Amazon, where it is currently listed at $19.95 with Amazon Prime.
The Bosch SmartCharge Plus is a smart charger that comes with a few extra features that make the Bosch unit stand out in a sea of chargers. First off, is the inclusion of removable clamps, and battery-mounting rings both of which offer quick connect SAE adapters for universal use if you happen to already have a set mounted to your battery. There are also cable fuses in the line for extra surge protection. Four modes allow for a wide range of charging between lower voltage batteries to higher and for those being charged in colder locations. Mode two, which charges 12V batteries with a capacity of less than 14 Ah and charges using 0.8 A to protect the battery will be primarily used for motorcycle batteries.
The Bosch SmartCharge Plus does just that, self-monitors to provide protection from sparks, overheating, reverse polarity and overcharging. When connected to a battery, the SmartCharge Plus determines whether a full charge or trickle is needed based off of the battery’s voltage. The icing on the SmartCharge Plus’s cake is the digital readout that lets you know your battery’s voltage as soon as the unit is connected. Find the Bosch SmartCharge plus on Amazon.
So you got yourself a fancy lightweight lithium Shorai battery, better get yourself a fancy lithium battery charger like the BMS01 from Shorai. Although Shorai LFX batteries can be charged with standard lead-acid battery chargers (we strongly suggest a newer “smart” charger that monitors voltage to ensure the battery’s health), the BMS01 from Shorai is designed to work specifically with Shorai batteries to charge, store, maintain, balance and diagnose your LFX battery. With charge and store modes easily identified by buttons on the front of the charger, the BMS01 is easy to use. This charger works exclusively with Shorai batteries due to the connection to the battery being Shorai’s proprietary technology. The current going rate on Amazon Prime is $69.99 (down from a retail price of $84.95).
Yuasa, one of the largest OEM battery suppliers of powersport vehicles, also makes a few different battery chargers to service its massive lineup. Keeping the theme of relatively inexpensive low amp chargers, we are looking at Yuasa’s 1 AMP Automatic Battery Charger & Maintainer because you simply don’t need a charger with more AMPs unless you need to charge a battery more quickly. If you’re just plugging your battery in for the winter to maintain it or are in no need to quickly charge a battery, one amp will do. The Yuasa 1 Amp charger is a simple smart charger with only three LEDs and two cords with an internal processor to prevent overcharging which also utilizes a three-step charging cycle to charge and automatically switch to maintenance mode.
Use of this charger couldn’t be more simple, connect the alligator clips or battery rings to your battery, and the LEDs will tell you the status of the unit: charging, maintaining, or full, as well as a fault indicator, should there be an issue with the battery itself. Yuasa does not recommend this charger for use with lithium-ion batteries. This charger carries a five year limited warranty. Find the Yuasa 1 Amp Automatic Battery Charger & Maintainer on Amazon for $34.29.
The Tecmate Optimate 3 is a robust smart charger with that touts itself as an all-in-one tool for battery testing, charging, recovering, and maintaining. The Optimate 3 can be used for AGM, Gel, Standard batteries and comes with alligator clips as well as battery rings and uses an SAE type plug should you already have a system attached to your motorcycle. Where the Optimate three stands out on this list is its ability to recover or desulfate severely discharged batteries (claimed to be able to recover batteries with voltage as low as 2V) with a seven-step recovery program. Otherwise, the Tecmate system works much the same as other chargers on our list as a smart charger with LED indicators on the front of the unit to tell you what status the charger is at when connected to your battery. Like the others, the Optimate monitors voltages to prevent overcharging and will revert to maintenance mode once the battery is fully charged. You can find the Tecmate Optimate 3 on Amazon for $56.61.