A dead battery is about the most frustrating thing that can happen to you on your motorcycle. However thanks to the latest battery technology, portable motorcycle jump-starters are now smaller and more powerful than ever.
They’re not only good for jump-starting bikes with dead batteries but they also double up as a powerbank, meaning you can charge all of your devices on the go.
Some even come with additional features such as a torch (useful if you’re camping) and a range of USB adapters to enable you to charge all your electronic devices.
If you’re going on a big tour, these portable battery boosters are a no-brainer as they can be stashed in your luggage and will come in handy for the day-to-day stuff, not just for emergencies.
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You don’t have to buy a portable motorcycle jump starter
Before you buy a portable battery starter, you should know that you don’t need a powerful portable jump starter to get your motorbike running. However it is a very reliable and simple way to get you out of trouble.
Here are the other ways you can try.
1. Bump start
This involves pushing the bike with the ignition on and dropping the clutch to engage the drive from the rear wheel to turn over the bike.
You can either run alongside the bike or have someone push you. You can have the bike in neutral, build up speed, jump on and quickly select 1st gear and drop the clutch. Once you get the technique it’s actually easier to push the bike yourself and hop on.
Top tips when bump-starting your motorcycle:
- If you are in full bike gear you will end up getting hot and pretty frustrated. So strip off what you can.
- Gravity helps, so if you are on a gentle slope use it to your advantage!
- While it sounds sensible to push your bike (as there’s one less thing for you to have to go), you’ll have a a lot more drag on the drive system so neutral is best to build up speed.
- When you dump the clutch time it with dropping your bum onto the seat to help the rear wheel grip.
- Don’t try this on loose surfaces or wet surfaces as the rear wheel won’t grip.
2. Use your battery charger
If you are at home and you have access to a battery charger, if you have time, you can just plug the battery charger in for 40 minutes to boost the battery. If your motorcycle battery charger has a car mode, this will use a higher amp output so keep it on this for 5 minutes.
However if you don’t have time, plug the charger in, let it charge for 1 minute and then try and start the bike with the charger connected. This isn’t the best thing for the charger to be doing but using it in this way once or twice should be fine.
Workshop grade chargers will have a BOOST button (or similar) that increases the amps the charger forces into your battery. These can be used to rekindle a dead battery but shouldn’t be left on for longer than a minute or you can overcharge the battery, causing it to fail.
3. Jump start from another motorcycle
You need a set of jump leads for this one. Connect your black (negative) terminal to your mate’s bike’s negative terminal. Then connect the red (positive) terminal to your mate’s red terminal.
Start up your mate’s bike and let it run for a minute. Then get your mate to pick up the revs on their bike, 2-3,000 rpm ought to do it. Then switch on your ignition and fire up your bike.
Once your bike is running you can disconnect the leads (negative first). Let your bike run for 5 minutes at tickover to charge the battery. If the bike won’t start again, you might have a battery issue or more likely the bike’s charging system, the regulator/rectifier might be dead.
4. Jump start from a car
This is an almost identical approach to bump-starting your motorbike from another bike. However a good rule of thumb is that if the car has an engine that is double the size of your bike’s engine, you don’t need to have the car’s engine running when you go to start your bike. A car battery has a far larger capacity than a bike battery and so starting your bike won’t drain the car battery.
Some people worry that jump-starting a motorcycle from a car will damage the bike’s electrics. This is unlikely to happen as the bike will only draw what it needs from the car battery.
5. Use a portable jump starter
A portable jump starter will fire up your bike, even if the battery is kaput. They’re small in size but they use a lithium battery similar to that used in a mobile phone, so you have the equivalent of 20 mobile phone batteries in your hand. They pack a punch!
They’re really good because they prime your bike’s systems before you go to start the engine, so the bike will start just as it should. Sometimes when bump starting a bike by hand you can fire the engine up but the systems haven’t booted up in the order they want to, and so you might get a warning light.
You connect up the powerbank and press the button to get it to prime itself. Then you can switch the ignition on.
On a lot of these portable jumpstarters the lights flash which indicates you have a time-limited window (usually 5-10 seconds) where the powerpack is ready to dump its power. You press your bike’s starter button and boom, it’ll spring in to life!
As you can see, a portable motorcycle jump-starter is a great option. If you’re going to carry jump leads you might as well carry the powerbank as it’s the same size and weight and can do so much more.
The two types of motorcycle jump starters
My old wired battery charger and jump-starter vs the modern day portable battery booster sat on top!
PORTABLE – This guide is all about portable jump starters. These are compact and light enough to cary in a rucksack, stashed under your seat or in your luggage. Some can also act as a powerbank to charge your other electronic devices and some come with a torch too, making them a handy bit of kit for the modern biker.
WIRED – A wired-in jumpstarter obviously doesn’t have the benefit of being portable (they are usually really hefty, heavy things). However they do double-up as a trickle charger and they can often charge any battery, meaning you can use them for your car or van as well as your motorcycle or scooter. A wired charger with a boost function like this one means you can keep your battery in good condition, meaning you ought not to need a portable jump-pack.
What to look for in a portable motorcycle jump starter
It sounds silly but not all the devices sold as jump starters are 12v. Some are just mobile phone charging batteries which only operate at 5v so make sure yours is capable of running at 12v
Generally speaking the cheaper the charger the lower its total capacity and the lower is Amp output. The higher the Amp output the bigger the bike engine it can turn over. The milli-Amp-hour rating also tells you how much capacity the battery has. A cheap portable starter will have an 8-10 mAh rating but a quality one will have 15+mAh rating.
Again, it sounds silly to have to mention this but some 'jump starters' are actually just big external batteries. You need crocodile clips to be able to connect the powerpack to your bike's battery.
The main issue here is to prevent you from accidently connecting your terminals up the wrong way, which can kill things like your ECU and other onboard sensors.
This enables you to use your powerbank as an external battery pack, meaning you can charge all your devices when you're off the bike.
It's handy to have a torch, just in case you break down when it's dark. Of course your phone will have one too but when it's built into the powerbank you don't need to worry about your phone falling off your tank as you try and position it to see what you are doing. Handy when camping too, as you can hang it from your tent's roof.
Our best-rated motorbike jump starters
Versatile and well-built
NOCO produce a great range of home and professional battery chargers. Their new BOOST range of jump starters are quality bits of kit. Their smallest offering, this SPORT model can start any motorbike engine multiple times from one charge (it is rated to a 4.0-litre car engine). It also comes with a USB port to charge your devices, it charges via a micro-USB (sipplied) and it also features a torch. It’s very well built and compact too.
Compact and capable
Small enough to fit in your jacket pocket yet big enough to start any motorcycle battery. This motorcycle jump starter also comes with crocodile clips, a USB charging port and a torch. You could jump start a motorcycle multiple times and charge your devices, from just one charge.
Motorcycle Portable Jumpstarters FAQ
Can I charge a motorcycle battery with a car charger?
Absolutely. However most car chargers charge at a higher Amp rate, usually around 5A. Motorbike chargers tend to charge at 1-2A, so a car charger will hit your battery hard. It will still charge it, just be sure to check it’s not fizzing or building up a lot of heat.
Can I use a car battery to charge my motorcycle battery?
Yes you can. If you connect the posititve terminal of the car battery to your bike’s posititve and the same for the negatives the power will flow from the charged battery to the battery with a lower charge. It will need to be left overnight in most cases but if you have no other options, it will definitely boost your motorbike’s battery voltage.
Does a motorcycle charge its battery when riding?
Yes it does or at least it should do. You can check if it is by using a voltmeter. When the bike is running the reading should be at least 14v which indicates the bike is capable of charging your battery properly. Any less and it might highlight an issue with your charging system. If it’s working properly, your bike should replace the power used to start the bike within 20 minutes or riding.