In The Shop: Jump Starting A Harley

Tips on Jump Starting a Harley

We’ve all been there at some point. You turn on the ignition switch and notice that the headlight beam is dim. You take a deep breath as you depress the start button only to hear the engine struggling to turn over or, even worse, the dreaded starter clicking pulse.

Ideally, the next thing to do would be to pull the battery and replace it with a new, fully charged battery and be on your way. If you think you have more in that battery, pull the battery, charge it, and have it professionally load tested before attempting to use it. However, if you are in a pinch and do not have a better alternative option, you can attempt jump starting your Harley.

Motorcycle Battery Maintenance and Cleaning

Before attempting a jump start, it is important to know that if the motorcycle battery is too low, a jump start will not work. You can use a multi-meter or volt meter set to DC voltage to gauge the current status of the battery. If the battery’s static reading is below 12 volts, jump starting may not be an option that will have a positive outcome.

Harley Charging System Checks: Pre 1999

If, however, you have determined that the battery is only undercharged or slightly low, you can attempt a jump start. It is ideal to have access to a good set of motorcycle jumper cables. The battery terminals on your Harley Davidson can be difficult to access. Trying to use bulky automotive cable clamps can be nearly impossible. Ideally, you want to jump start your motorcycle with a portable battery jump box, with another known good motorcycle battery, or with another motorcycle.

Harley Jump Start

In the Shop

Jump starting with another motorcycle is a good option because the running motorcycle’s battery is constantly recharging as you are attempting the jump start. Connecting this way is no different than the way you would jump start an automobile. Securely attach the positive and negative cables to both batteries. Start the “live” bike and then attempt to start the “dead” bike. If starting is not immediately achieved, wait a few minutes and make another attempt. Jump starting with a jump box or with another good motorcycle battery works very well with the exception that the voltage will continuously deplete with each start attempt.

It is possible to jump start your Harley Davidson with an automotive battery.
*Fix My Hog suggests that this method is not attempted except in the case of an emergency.*
You risk damage to the motorcycle’s battery or, even worse, to the motorcycle’s electrical system. Automotive batteries have much more amperage than a motorcycle battery. This can overload the battery and even damage costly components like your starter, wiring harness, or ECM. It is important to remember that the cost of hiring a towing company may be far less costly than the damage that can be caused. This is not to say that jumping from an automobile does not work but it is definitely a gamble. If you are attempting to jump start your motorcycle with an automobile, it is important that the automobile is never started or running.

If a jump start is successful, it is a good idea to perform a quick charging test at the battery. Make sure that you can make your way down the road without getting stranded with another low battery situation. Remember, Fix My Hog always stresses the importance of using a quality battery that is maintained in good health. An OEM Harley Davidson replacement battery may be the most expensive option but it is the best battery for your Harley Davidson. If maintained properly, a Harley Davidson battery will last longer and perform stronger.

Look for our videos on battery maintenance and charging system test.

Great place to start is here.
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