If you are here, you are probably interested in finding out how long Harley-Davidson batteries normally last, or at least should last.
This topic is of interest to many riders simply because sometimes batteries do not seem to last very long, which can raise some questions.
But what exactly is considered normal?
How long do Harley Davidson batteries last? According to Harley-Davidson, a properly cared and maintained battery should last at least five years of service. However, many factors will affect how long a Harley battery can last. This is why, in reality, most Harley-Davidson riders get between 2 to 10 years out of their batteries.
Motorcycle batteries, in general, are a tricky topic, to begin with. But let’s take a more detailed look at what is considered the normal life expectancy of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s battery.
How long do motorcycle batteries last?
Motorcycle batteries will slowly go bad with time. This is completely normal and to be expected. Even if you properly care and service them and keep them on a battery tender, they will still not last forever.
Before we go into more detail about Harley Davidson batteries and how long they last, let’s first take a look at what the industry standard is in general. That way, we can compare and see how good Harley batteries stack compared to other motorcycle batteries.
According to most manufacturers, motorcycle batteries should last at least four years of service. And most riders report replacing their motorcycle battery every two to ten years.
Now let’s take a look at what we can expect from Harley motorcycle batteries.
How long do Harley Davidson motorcycle batteries last?
So how long should you expect your Harley battery to last before needing replacement?
On average, you should expect your Harley battery to last between two to six years before it needs replacement.
Usually, Harley batteries last a very long time. Most riders replace their batteries every 2 to 7 years in general. However, some factory Harley batteries can last between 9 to 15 years if properly looked after. There are also other cases where the batteries can die in less than a year.
Defective Harley batteries will also not last very long and can die in just a few months, if not less.
How long will a Harley Davidson battery last without starting?
Motorcycle batteries, including Harley batteries, will not last very long if not used. Without starting, most batteries will not last more than three to five months before fully discharging.
Allowing the battery to fully discharge will negatively affect its life expectancy and thus should not be allowed to happen. If you are not going to use your motorcycle for extended periods of time, it is recommended to use a battery tender.
How long should a Lead Acid Harley Davidson battery last?
Motorcycle lead-acid batteries can last between two to ten years in general. How long a Harley lead-acid battery will last will depend on the maintenance and care and how often it is being used. Batteries that are used more often tend to last longer.
How long should a lithium Harley Davidson battery last?
Motorcycle lithium batteries can last a really long time, between four to ten years—especially if they have built-in BMS. However, poor maintenance and care and leaving the battery to fully discharge can damage it, and it can fail in less than a few months.
Even the studies performed on this subject are not conclusive, although it is believed that motorcycle lithium batteries should be capable of lasting longer than lead-acid batteries.
That being said, lithium motorcycle batteries tend to be very expensive. The higher costs are usually enough to discourage most people from using them.
See article: How much do motorcycle batteries cost?
Do OEM Harley Davidson batteries last longer than aftermarket batteries?
This is a tough question to answer, but there is no guarantee that an aftermarket battery will last less than an OEM battery. There are many aftermarket batteries that will be just as good, if not better, than an OEM battery, depending on how they have been manufactured.
The thing with OEM batteries is that they can be held to higher standards and thus usually will last a lot longer than aftermarket batteries. On the other hand, OEM batteries will usually be more expensive than comparable aftermarket batteries.
Usually, the factory batteries that come with the Harley tend to last the longest, especially if properly services and cared for. These are the batteries that can often last between 5 to 15 years.
Aftermarket batteries can still be a viable option. However, it can be very hard to determine their quality. And because of that, it is always recommended to do additional research before going with an aftermarket item.
What affects how long a Harley Davidson battery will last?
There are a lot of factors that will determine how long a Harley battery will last. Some of these factors can be more predictable, but many of them are unpredictable and will simply vary from person to person and motorcycle to motorcycle.
Usually, motorcycle batteries do have a certain limited amount of charge and discharge cycles. However, depending on these factors, a battery can reach the end of its life sooner or later than what is expected from the manufacturer.
Not charging the battery
This is easily one of the biggest culprits behind why motorcycle batteries will not last long. Each time the battery is allowed to go dead, this reduces its capacity, and this applies to both Lead-acid batteries, LiPo batteries, and LiFe batteries.
Allowing the battery to stay discharged for long periods
How often you ride your Harley
One of the things that could sound counterintuitive is that motorcycle batteries that are used more often—read the motorcycle is used more often—tend to last longer than batteries on a motorcycle that are left to sit for extended periods.
When you are not riding, make sure to keep your Harley battery on a battery tender. Battery tenders are designed to prevent the battery from discharging.
How the battery is charged
A battery tender should not be confused with a trickle charger. Although both are designed to do the same job, a trickle charger can potentially ruin a battery by eventually overcharging it.
In other words, keeping a Harley battery on a trickle charger for too long can potentially damage the battery and reduce its life.
However, the tender’s quality is also important as cheap battery tenders can also damage your motorcycle’s battery.
The battery’s quality
Of course, one of the main aspects that will determine how long your Harley battery will last is simply its quality. Not all batteries are created equal, and you get what you pay for. A significantly cheaper battery of lower quality will simply not last as long as a higher-quality battery.
Usually, going with OEM batteries or high-quality aftermarket batteries is the best way to go. Of course, the battery should be fully compatible with your Harley and its circuitry.
See article: Is a Harley Davidson Battery 6 volt or 12 volt?
Of course, batteries are not guaranteed that they will all last a really long time; some are good and some not so good. Sometimes you can immediately tell if the battery is bad, if it takes too long to recharge after longer rides or if it feels sluggish for no apparent reason.
The motorcycle design can also impact the life of your motorcycle battery. The battery location on some Harleys may be one that predisposes the battery to higher temperatures, which can lead to a decreased life expectancy of the battery.
For example, on some of the softtails, the batteries may not last very long.
The good thing is that caring for your Harley battery is not very time-consuming. Of course, as already discussed, your Harley battery should not be allowed to discharge completely.
However, part of the routine care is also cleaning the cables and leads once or twice a year or more often, depending on how often you use your Harley. And ensuring the leads and cables are all tightly connected as the bolts can loosen with time due to the motorcycle’s vibrations.
Motorcycle batteries don’t like cold. In fact, that applies to any battery. The colder the weather, the less charge they can hold and the quicker they will discharge. A motorcycle battery can even freeze in some instances. This is why during the winter, it is not recommended to leave the battery outside as the low temperatures can end up ruining your Harley’s battery.
In some instances, Harley batteries that have been often exposed to cold temperatures can last as little as 12 months.
On the other hand, heat can do a lot of damage to your Harley’s battery, too. Frequently exposing your Harley’s battery to high temperatures can reduce its life expectancy down to two years.
Excessive exposure to strong vibrations can also lower the life of a motorcycle battery.
One of the best ways to ruin a battery is if your motorcycle’s wiring is bad. Thins like parasitic draws and ground faults can lead to the battery discharging faster and eventually reducing its life expectancy.
How a new battery is being charged
One of the mistakes many people can make is to use their battery immediately after purchasing and oftentimes not following the manufacturer’s instructions..
A new lead-acid battery (or even a lithium battery, for that matter) should be charged fully after purchasing and before using. A lead-acid battery should be charged at no more than 10% of its capacity. (Manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed at all times, and they have precedence over these general recommendations.)
The length of riding
The lenght of riding is another factor that can affecr your battery life.
Even if you ride your motorcycle every day it may still nto be enough to keep the battery well charged and in good condition if those trips are short.
Short trips of just a few miles at low RPMs will result in only draining the battery.