What’s the first thing you think of when you jump on your Harley-Davidson to go for a ride?
Your destination, most likely, and you probably think about what you’ll be doing when you get there. You probably also think about the roar of the engine, the precision handling, and the attention you’ll attract, but it’s safe to say you don’t think much about your battery or how much a Harley battery costs.
But you should. The simple fact is that if you don’t have the right battery for your Harley or it’s not adequately charged and working properly, you’re not going anywhere.
So let’s take a closer look at what you need. What follows is a breakdown of how your Harley-Davidson battery works, some of the specs you need, and how much you should expect to pay when you go to replace it.
Know the Right Specs
No one likes to play games with a dodgy motorcycle battery, but the unfortunate fact is that it does happen. Typically, one of the signs that you need a new battery for your Harley is when you go to start your bike and you hear an annoying click rather than the familiar roar of the engine.
Once this happens, your choices are limited. You can remove the battery and charge it, but that’s a temporary solution. The only real solution is purchasing a completely new battery, so let’s look at some of the things you’ll have to consider.
Start with the cold cranking amps (CCA), which is the amount of power your battery can put out when you start your motor.
CCA is actually a simple, linear measurement—the higher the CCA number is, the more power your battery will be able to produce. The minimum required CCA is 300, so that’s your starting point.
In some conditions and situations, though, the extra power you get from a higher CCA might be necessary. If you’re starting an older Harley or a vintage bike, for instance, you may be dealing with components that have aged to the point where they require extra power.
These include the alternator, the starter, and your wiring, so if you’re having issues with any of these, it’s generally a good idea to spend a little more for a battery with a higher CCA.
Accessories can take a toll on your battery’s power output as well. If you’re the kind of rider who likes bells and whistles—think upscale sound systems, winches, lighting kits, and so on—these, too, can drain your battery, so make sure to factor any accessories into your CCA equation.
Testing the CCA
One of the most common questions about which battery is better for your Harley is about testing. Specifically, how is it actually done?
In this case, the “cold” in CCA is literal. Battery tests are typically conducted at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, or -18 degrees Celsius.
Once the battery is chilled to that temperature, the discharge load of the battery is measured when the motor is cranked for approximately 30 seconds.
To pass the test, the battery has to maintain a terminal voltage that’s equal to or higher than 1.2 volts per cell. While you’ll probably never ride in those kinds of conditions, you can take comfort in the fact that your battery will perform like a champ if you do decide to go there.
How Does the CCA Rating Play Into Battery Quality?
Another common question that typically follows the “how are batteries tested” query is whether a higher CCA number automatically means you’re getting a better battery.
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, but something along the lines of “sometimes, but not always.” If you’ve got a lot of accessories or an older or vintage bike, then yes, that higher rating means you’re getting a better battery. Once again, the key number to look for is 300 CCA or more, so that’s your baseline number.
However, if you’ve got a new Harley with no or few accessories, the quality formula changes some. In that scenario, the higher CCA won’t help you much, so there’s no need to go beyond a stock Harley battery from your HD dealership.
Battery Cost: To Get the Best, Go With Your Dealership
Now that you know most of the battery basics, you get to make your choice. If you decide to shop-til-you-drop for your new Harley battery, you may end up driving yourself crazy.
There are a lot of choices out there, and while there are some aftermarket companies that offer good HD batteries, there’s one path you can use to guarantee quality.
Simply put, the best way to make your decision is to work with your dealership and go with what they recommend—that way you know you’re getting a battery that’s ideally suited to your Harley, which is a precision machine that needs a high-performance battery to work properly.
Now let’s talk specifics. Harley Davidson uses batteries made by Deka—East Penn Manufacturing, which is their official manufacturer. The standard size for an HD Lithium Life battery includes a height of 146 mm and a width of 150, and the battery will measure out at 87 mm from front to back.
The cost ranges from $60–$400, depending on the model you ride and the specs you’re after. You should replace the battery every two years, more frequently if you ride hard, you ride frequently, or if you do a fair amount of riding in rough weather.
Harley Davidson does offer both lithium and regular batteries, but lithium is typically recommended. The only restriction relative to lithium is that if you’re riding a vintage bike built before 1980, some of the charging specs are slightly different, so you should check those carefully and check in with your local dealership when you go to buy a battery.
If you’re at all confused about what kind of battery you need, you should pay a visit to your local dealership. Our techs will talk to you about your specific model and make the appropriate recommendations, and they’ll make sure you get the battery that will give you the best performance, with no compromises.
If you’re a Harley rider in Texas in the Houston area, your one-stop shop for batteries is the Harley Davidson of Kingwood. You can get all the information you need by visiting our website, and we can get you the right battery for your Harley when you stop by and talk to one of our techs.
Harley Davidson of Kingwood
Harley-Davidson of Kingwood is your #1 Texas Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealer. Our full-service facility offers new and pre-owned motorcycles, parts, maintenance, riding apparel, and everything else you need to get your Hog on the road. As a winner of the Harley-Davidson Gold Bar & Shield Circle of Excellence, we’re committed to providing top-notch customer service every day of the week. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of Kingwood Showroom on Northpines Drive in Kingwood, TX!