With the introduction of portable jump starters based on lithium battery technology it got me thinking that one of these would be the perfect companion when on a motorbike, especially if you’re going away for a few days. I've had a flat battery happen a few times where I've went out to use the bike and the battery has been completely flat for numerous reasons. When you’re at home it’s a pain in the bottom and if you’re on a bike trip it’s potentially a trip destroying event especially if you’re travelling on your own. As you can see from the above pics my bike lives outside currently so it's open to the elements largely, even with a cover on it is affected by the cold weather massively.
To this end I looked into the different offerings and came upon a product by a company 1byone shown here, what really appealed to me was is that it offers a few extra safety features not present on other products which I’ll show.
Step 1: Gaining Access to the Battery
Every bike is different so I can’t give conclusive instructions for all models but I shall show how it is done on my 954 Fireblade.
Access is quite simple with two bolts at the rear of the seat. They aren't immediately visible so you need to bend the corner of the seat back which will reveal a small bolt with an Allen key head. They have a round outside edge so using a spanner isn't possible, at a push you could maybe use some pliers but I’d always recommend a proper Allen key so you don’t damage the bolt. I always keep a small set of these in my motorbike tool kit under the tail storage compartment, I also keep another few essential tools under there like a leatherman and some duck tape I've wound onto a pencil. As you can see my bolts are a bit rusted but they came off ok with a little pressure.
You shall have to excuse the out of focus of me removing the bolts as my 5 year old decided he wanted to be camera man :-)
With the bolts off you should now be able to see the battery and the terminals, typically there will be a cover over the on the positive terminal which you may need to remove but it’s just a push fit so should peel back.
Step 2: Jump Starting
With the terminals exposed connect the jump start unit to the main power bank adaptor (called the mouse!) and then connect to the main battery terminals. With a traditional jump lead I would say connect positive to positive and then connect negative to negative however the great thing with this device though is that no current is flowing until you press the button on the side of the jump start unit. This is great as your not in a mad rush to go and start the bike as you normally would with jump starting a bike from a car as that always makes me rather nervous. With this device you press the button on the side and current starts to flow for 30 seconds which gives you enough time to start the bike.
The terminals are small on a bike battery and I've extra things directly connected onto the battery such as alarm/immobiliser but they were able to clip onto the terminals ok with a little wriggling.
Once you start the bike the device automatically shuts off. If you can’t get it started though it will shut off after 30 seconds to prevent any damage to either the jump starter or the motorbike and it’s battery which is a good safety feature as if it didn't start within the 30 seconds it’s most likely more serious than a drained battery.
You need to ensure that the power bank has a good charge in it before trying to start. Mine was fully charged but as you can see it still showed 100% after starting the bike!
Step 3: Conclusion
I have to say these lithium based devices are fantastic. I've done a few motorbike trips around Scotland for 3-4 days in the past and this would have been great peace of mind to have with me as an emergency backup with the added bonus if I was camping you could always top up your phone battery or be used as a torch in the evening! The thing I particularly like are the 30 second countdown timer as jump starting a bike always makes me a bit nervous, also with the added benefit of the jump start adaptor which gives polarity and reverse current protection so you’re not going to damage the battery which is especially important in a bike as while not delicate they can’t take as much abuse as say a car battery due to being a lot smaller.
Here is a video of me using the jump starter Video of jumping in case the embedded video does not show. I uploaded the second video to show that the unit automatically shuts off after you start the bike.
The killer thing though is the size, taking a portable jump starter on a motorbike would never have been feasible in the past as the lead based ones are extremely heavy and bulky but this allows you to pack it in your kit without thinking twice about the weight, especially if you’re going away for a few days where the little extra weight is far outweighed by the peace of mind.
Overall I don’t think I’ll be making a long trip without it!