Motorcycle Battery - Maintenance Free Battery Installation
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
Also On This Page:
Installing a Battery Tender Plus
adapter cable | More
information on the Battery Tender | Other
brands of sealed batteries
My luck with motorcycle batteries
has been awful. If
the warranty expires in 36 months, I can guarantee that on or about
the 1st day of the 37th month, my battery will fail.
happened to me so many times, with cars and bikes, that I now
replace batteries on a regular preventative maintenance schedule
before their warranty expires.
So when I bought my '99 Thunderbird Sport, I figured one of the
first things I better do is replace the battery. After all,
the bike could have been manufactured as far back as 1998, which
would mean that the battery could be as much as 4 years old.
Some people have great luck with batteries and claim that they last
for years, but with my luck, I didn't want to take the chance.
Besides, I hate worrying about the water levels in lead/acid
batteries. And the thought of that stuff leaking out all over
my new ride gives me the creeps. They give you a vent hose on
those things for a reason! I wanted to replace it with a
sealed battery; I've had good luck (knock wood!) with the sealed
types and have installed them on all of my bikes.
I heard good things about the WestCo batteries, and I've used them
before, so that's what I bought. You can get them for various
prices at local or online dealers, but I ordered mine directly from
WestCo, figuring that they would have the freshest stock on
hand. Besides, the shipping was free!
The first thing I did was to look up the correct part number on the
WestCo website. They have an easy-to-use drop-down menu system
that helps you quickly identify the correct battery for your
WestCo sealed battery (top);
Yuasa lead/acid battery (bottom).
recommend that you double-check the dimensions of the estCo
with your current battery; they are occasionally different
enough in crucial dimensions that they might not fit, or you
may run into problems installing them.
This happened to
me on the last one I bought for my 1986 BMW R65. The
battery was a touch wider and a significant amount taller than
the lead/acid battery that was in the bike, and I had to make
some modifications to get it to fit correctly.
But checking the WestCo model number 12V14L-B, which is their
recommended battery for the T-Bird, showed that the dimensions
were identical to the lead/acid Yuasa battery that was in the
bike, and which I assume was the original equipment.
It's easy to place the order on the WestCo site; they sent me
an email with the UPS tracking number, and the battery arrived
about 4 days later, right on schedule. It's packed in a
nice, heavy-duty box with a total weight of about 11.5 pounds.
Replacing the battery on the T-Bird is really easy. Much
easier than the last couple of BMW's I've owned, and probably
the easiest battery I've ever installed on a motorcycle.
You CAN do this, even if you don't do much of your own
followed the Haynes manual and here are the steps, with
the seat and the right hand side cover. To remove the side
cover, unscrew the 5mm Allen bolt at the bottom and carefully
lift the side cover off of the two pegs located at the top of
This photo shows the seat off and the side cover removed.
I've also removed the rubber battery strap; it's hooked over the top of
the battery to keep it secure in the battery box.
First disconnect the battery cables at the battery
terminals. Disconnect the ground (black) lead first, then
the power lead. Be careful not to short anything out or
create any sparks. Don't smoke near the battery
Make sure you read your owner's manual and review all of the
cautions about working with batteries before you start!
Pull out this pin,
or if you have the version with the screw, unscrew the
retainer. The whole side panel with the fuse box will
need to come out.
Be careful with this pin; it's an automotive interior panel
pin, and they can break very easily. The pin slips into
a split expanding collet.
the side panel by lifting up and moving towards the left; then move the panel out of the way.
out the old battery and slide in the new one. This is
the new WestCo, as you can see, it's a perfect fit. The
dimensions of the battery I received are exactly the same as
the original. Even the terminals are identical, which is
not always the case when switching battery brands or types.
everything back up in reverse order. Make sure you
reinstall the battery cables; install the power (red) cable
first, then the ground (the reverse order from how you removed
Slide the cover that holds the fuse box back on, and be
careful when pushing in the plastic pin that secures the panel
-- it's very easy to break these devices. First pull the
pin out, then slide the collet into the hole, then push in the
pin, which expands the split collet and secures the cover.
a Battery Tender Plus Adapter Cable
While I had the batter out, I also installed a set of leads for a
Battery Tender Plus. I
have 3 Battery Tenders (the Plus models) for both of my bikes and my riding
lawnmower. I always leave the machines plugged in to the
Battery Tender Plus when not in use. This helps maximize
The Battery Tender Plus is made to work with any type of
motorcycle battery, sealed, GRT (Gas Recombinant Technology),
AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) or lead/acid. The original
Battery Tender will also work, but takes longer to charge an
AGM battery like the WestCo.
Battery Tender comes with a fused (8 amp automotive style)
24" adapter cable that attaches to the battery terminals on
one end and has the special Battery Tender connector on the
Slip the black (non-fused) end over the
negative terminal before you lock things down with the terminal
bolt; attach the positive (fused) side to the positive battery
The yellow arrow (photo left) points to the Battery Tender
connection on the negative terminal. The white arrow
points to the fuse on the Battery Tender's cable; it's the same
type of fuses that are used in the Thunderbird; and the green
arrow points to the Battery Tender cable. I used black
cable ties to secure the Battery Tender cable to the bike's
frame and down the side towards the bottom of the side cover.
Battery Tender cable is securely fastened with cable ties, it's
well hidden but accessible. You simply slide off the
protective cap and plug in the Battery Tender.
You can also get optional cables for the Battery Tender; there's
even a cable with a European-style cigarette lighter end that
you can plug into the Triumph accessory power outlet.
use one of those on my other bike (a BMW); it's very handy to
plug in the Battery Tender as soon as your done riding.
More Battery Tender Info: The Battery
Tender FAQ page and the Battery
Tender technical page have some good general information on
batteries and charging.
Other Brands of
Maintenance-Free Batteries: See the
Batteries page for more information on motorcycle
batteries. Yuasa makes a "high performance"
maintenance-free battery, model number YTX14AHL-BS.
It isn't clear what Yuasa means by the "high performance"
designation; however, the YTX14AHL-BS is listed at 210 cold cranking
amps, vs. the 190 CCA of the WestCo 12V14L-B. Yuasa doesn't list
the CCA number for their YB14L-A2. Also, it doesn't appear that you
can purchase a Yuasa battery directly from their site.
Note: For informational use only. All material and
photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2011. All
rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld®
page. NOTE: Product specifications, features and details may
change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read
Terms and Conditions!
Installing a WestCo Sealed Battery in a
Triumph Thunderbird Sport
Model #: 12V14L-B
Retail Price: I
bought mine directly from WestCo; they're available from other
online retailers. I paid $65.95 including shipping.
►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "A.D." (12/09): "A while ago I read ... about buying a
Westco battery for a Triumph Thunderbird. On the strength of your review,
I bought the same 12V14L-B battery for my Daytona 900, and very good it has
proved too. So thanks for the recommendation!
At the end of your review, you state:
Product Comments: Apparently made by Panasonic in the U.S.A. but there's
no mention of it on the battery or anywhere else I can find.
My Westco battery, in the small white print on the side, clearly states
(among other things) "Made in Vietnam". Maybe this info is deliberately
omitted on US-bound batteries?
Great site, I have used it to guide me on many decisions."