How Does a Battery Tender Work – Guide To Use Them Properly!

How Does a Battery Tender Work – Guide To Use Them Properly!

For many riders, there will be long stretches of time that your bike will have to live in storage without being ridden. When a bike sits for a long time, several components get affected, but none of them quite so much as the battery. When a battery is left to sit for a long time, it will gradually lose its charge and become unable to provide enough power to start the bike. 

Fortunately, there is a device that can keep this from being a major issue. Motorcycle battery tenders exist to keep the battery’s charge at an optimal level, even when sitting idle for the winter. In this article, we’ll take a look at what a battery tender is, how it works, and how to use it to keep your battery in good shape over the long winter. 

How Does a Battery Tender Work?

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we continue. The name “Battery Tender” isn’t actually talking about a specific thing but rather a brand. Most of us use this brand name interchangeably with the term “Battery Maintainer” because it is the most trusted and widely used brand currently available. The brand makes several types of device that works with your battery, and those are what we will be going over. 

How Does a Battery Tender Work

Firstly, we have what is called a “standard charger,” which works by feeding a direct current straight to the battery. This charges the battery at a constant rate and will continue to do so for as long as it is powered on. With this type of charger, you will need to pay a bit more attention than with others, as it is possible to overcharge the battery, which will lead to damage.

Because they are less convenient, it isn’t very common to run across standard chargers, and if this is the type you want to use, you will have to ask for one specifically since most shops assume you will be using a trickle charger or battery maintainer instead. 

A trickle charger is an optimal choice for storing a bike over long periods of time. These chargers still supply a constant charge to the battery but at a much lower level than standard chargers. The lower current running to the battery will charge it more slowly, taking longer to reach capacity and, eventually, overcharge.

It should always be remembered, though, that a trickle charger is still supplying a constant stream of energy to the battery and can therefore still damage it by overcharging. 

Finally, the most common type of charger is the battery maintainer. This is a smarter system that reads the voltage of your battery and only supplies power when the voltage drops below the optimum level.

These chargers are what most people mean when they go looking for a “Battery Tender” and are an effective way to ensure that your battery stays healthy when the bike is spending a long stretch of time stationary. 

There are many causes if your battery does not charge properly, Your bike cannot start on low battery. And if you are suffering from the same issue you can check out Biker’s Rights article.

How to Set Up and Use a Battery Tender

Now that we know a little bit more about the three main types of battery chargers and how they function let’s take a look at how we actually hook them up to the bike. This process is meant to be extremely simple, and there isn’t much of a procedure, but there are still some steps involved and a little bit of setup before you can use your charger to keep the battery maintained.

Step 0: Make sure you have the connections

Battery wire connection

Battery chargers typically do not connect to the battery directly but through a special cable that is connected to the battery. Doing things this way makes connecting and disconnecting the charger much quicker and minimizes the need to interact with the battery directly.

The connection you are looking for will be a single cable attached to the terminals of the battery and is usually tucked away somewhere below the seat or just away from the battery itself. 

If you find that this cable is not present on your bike, never fear, you can purchase one from any motorcycle shop or an online store like Amazon for very cheap (such as this one). Installing the cable is as simple as connecting it to the positive and negative terminals of your battery.

Once you have located or installed the charging cable, move on to the actual process of connecting the charger. 

Step 1: Connect the Charger

Begin by plugging your charger into a standard wall outlet. If your charger is not completely automatic and has a switch to turn it on or off, make sure it is not powered on until it is connected to the bike. Use good quality battery tender. When connecting the charger to the motorcycle, make sure that the cables are out of the way and not positioned in a way that the cable would get tangled or damaged.

If there are any exposed wires or connections, make sure that they are away from the vehicle.

Once the charger is connected to the battery, make sure it is switched on (if it has a switch), and check the indicator lights. A typical battery charger will have red and green lights, and the indicators are usually the same for most chargers:

Flashing red light: extremely low voltage. If this continues, your battery cannot be adequately charged and will likely need to be replaced. 

Solid red light: The battery is charging! This indicator will remain like this until the battery is fully charged. 

Flashing green light: The battery is almost at full charge. At this point, it is safe to disconnect the battery and ride normally. 

Solid green light: The charge is finished, and the battery is at 100% capacity. 

Step 3: Disconnect the charger (standard and trickle chargers only)

After the charge is complete, you will want to disconnect the battery from the charger if you are using a standard or trickle charger. This is because these specific types of chargers do not automatically shut themselves off once the battery has finished charging and have the potential to overcharge and damage the battery. 

First, make sure that the charger is turned off (if it is a type that has an on/off switch), and then disconnect it from the bike. Once it is disconnected from the bike, also disconnect the charger from the wall and keep it stored until it is needed again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Battery Tender better than a charger?

“Battery Tender” is a brand name that refers to one of several different types of chargers. A battery charger can be a standard type charger that supplies constant power, a trickle charger that also supplies constant power at a much lower level, or a battery maintainer that monitors the voltage of the battery and shuts itself down when the battery is fully charged. 

Will a battery freeze if it is on a tender?

As long as your battery is charged, it is in no danger from the cold. A battery tender keeps the battery charged, and therefore it is extremely unlikely that cold will damage a battery that is being charged by a battery tender. 

How often should I use a battery tender?

In general, a battery tender should be used any time that the bike will be stationary for a very long time. This will vary greatly from rider to rider, but a good rule is that if your bike is left alone for more than a week, you should hook it up to a battery maintainer to ensure it stays charged. 


In this article, we’ve taken a look at the different types of battery chargers that are available and detailed the process for using them. While it is true that a “Battery Tender” is a brand rather than the technical name for the chargers that most riders use, there is a good reason that most riders use the brand name interchangeably with the actual name of the product they are using.

Battery Tenders are widely considered the standard for keeping a battery maintained, and you will find one in the garage of almost every motorcycle owner. 

Even though we often have to store our bikes for long periods of time, battery tenders make sure that once we are ready to ride again, all we will have to do is swing a leg over our favorite motorcycle, turn the key, and hit the road without a second thought to something like the battery.

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Ryan Christian

My lifelong love of everything on wheels began with a dusty old scooter and a set of second hand wrenches. Since then I’ve spent every moment I can spare finding new dirt paths, winding country roads, and long open highways. I write to share my passion with other enthusiasts, and maybe inspire one or two new ones along the way!