3 Battery Charger
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
Summary: Compact motorcycle
battery charger is claimed to have the ability to
de-sulfate batteries in addition to its normal battery
maintenance charging duties.
UPDATE: See our
Optimate 4 review
I can't think of a reason why a motorcycle owner
wouldn't want to keep their bike on a battery charger.
Wait -- that's a double negative, so let
me try again: I'm always surprised to learn of a motorcycle owner who
doesn't use a battery charger on a regular basis.
The motorcycles in the webBikeWorld
garage have everything from lead-acid to gel internals,
and they all go on a charger just as soon as their parked
for the day. The Battery Tenders we've been using
have been in continuous operation now for over 8 years without a hitch.
The motorcycle batteries seem to last forever, and I
credit the maintenance chargers for that miracle.
But I don't know how much longer the
Battery Tenders will last. An unheated garage
probably isn't the best environment for electronics; it
gets way hot in there in the summer and frigid in the
winter, and the humidity can sometimes make it feel like
rain will drop from the ceiling at any moment.
So we're always looking for something
new and different, and I picked up this OptiMate 3
battery charger at a local shop a few weeks ago to give
it a tryout.
The OptiMate 3 is one of the most
popular motorcycle battery chargers in the UK, although
it probably is not as well known as the Battery Tender
brand in the U.S.A. Perhaps that's because buying
an OptiMate 3 can be a bit confusing -- online retailers
sometimes mis-label it by calling it an AccuMate battery
charger, and I've also found it labeled as a TecMate
The manufacturer of the OptiMate 3 (and
the brand new OptiMate 4; more on that in a minute) is
TecMate International, S.A., headquartered in Belgium,
with North American offices and distribution located in
TecMate makes industrial-grade battery
chargers like the AccuMate Pro series; the AccuMate V, a
fast battery charger; the TestMate, a cool-looking
little battery analyzer that can be connected to the
motorcycle's electrical system; the AccuMate 6/12 Mini,
a 0.9 Amp charger and lots more, including motorcycle
battery chargers labeled for Honda. Thus the
possible cause of confusion over the names...
The OptiMate 3 battery charger shown
here is probably the most popular unit used by
motorcyclists, and it's claim to fame is that it "will
save neglected, deep discharged batteries other smart
chargers can’t!", according to TecMate.
The OptiMate 3 is labeled as a "Desulfator-Charger",
and although I hope to never let a battery become so
neglected that it suffers from deep discharge and
sulfation (and if I did, I'd simply buy a new battery),
it's nice to know that the OptiMate 3 is up to the task.
OptiMate 3 Description
As a motorcycle battery maintenance charger and as a
potential replacement for the Battery Tender, the
OptiMate 3 has proven to be a very nice system. It
has a compact heavy plastic body, measuring about 160 mm
by 60 mm by 53 mm at its widest point (6-3/8" by 2-1/4"
It weighs about 565 grams (1 lb., 3-7/8
oz.), not counting the wires. The electric cord is
about 1.7 m long (6' 6") and it's permanently attached
to one side of the unit, while the working end is the
same length and includes a two-pronged adapter on the
The OptiMate 3 comes with a short 230 mm
(~9") adapter that converts the SPT-2 two-prong plug to
an SAE Battery Tender type plug, so anyone with an SAE
harness already attached to their battery will be all
TecMate also provides a nice SPT-2
two-prong harness with a water-resistant inline fuse
holder, which includes a 15A fuse. This harness
could be attached to the battery also to use in place of
the SAE adapter if desired (see photos below).
They also throw in a set of Alligator
battery clips with the SPT-2 two-prong adapter on the
end ($9.90 if you had to buy it), and the box shown here
also includes a free wall hanger, which is an $11.90
option if you had to buy it. I proceeded to
immediately lose it somewhere though, yet to be found.
TecMate is serious about the North
American (and European, for that matter) market, and all
of the parts and many accessory SAE and SPT-2 cables and
adapters are readily available for sale online.
TecMate also has service centers in the
North American and European markets if any repairs are
needed. The OptiMate 3 comes with a 2-year
They said that the company strives to
maintain a "strong emphasis on service, whether in
response to technical enquiries or in providing
after-sales back-up" and that they also focus on
maintaining a high level of quality, which has given
them the ability to partner with several original
equipment motorcycle manufacturers to offer the chargers
under the various brands.
It's pretty hard to run a proper
evaluation on a battery charger; for our purposes, it
either works or doesn't. But this one works well;
something about it makes it easy to use and the unit
seems more robust than -- I hate to admit this -- the
The instructions that came with the
OptiMate 3 are relatively easy to understand, although
like any new electronic device, I read through them
slowly a couple of times to make sure I understood
everything. The instructions are written in
English, French and Spanish.
Using the OptiMate 3
The instructions state that the charger should be first
connected to the battery via the wiring harness of
choice before the unit is plugged into the "mains",
i.e., the electrical outlet. UPDATE: Battery
Tender Plus instructions are similar; they read "Do not
connect the charger AC power plug to the electrical
outlet until all other connections are made."
The OptiMate 3 has 6 LED lights in
various colors on the front panel. Turn it on and
the light on the upper left (left photo above)
immediately glows green; it's the light next to the "I"
bar inside a circle.
The yellow-orange "Charge" light
displays after the unit goes through some checks (middle
photo) and if the battery is accepting the charge.
The OptiMate 3 averaged about 1 hour of
"Charge" time on each of the four different motorcycles
we connected it to, all with batteries at different
levels of charge, having sat in the garage for various
amounts of time. This seems slightly longer than
the Battery Tender to run the checks and before it
indicates that the battery is charged, but that's not a
problem, just a curiosity.
If the battery is "Weak", the red light
next to the "Weak" logo will glow instead of the "Good",
which glows after the battery is fully charged.
The light at the lower left is the
reverse polarity indicator; if the positive and ground
wires get crossed somehow, the OptiMate 3 has a lock-out
protection that will prevent any damage and the reverse
polarity LED will glow.
If the battery is discharged or
sulfated, the "Desulfate" LED will glow yellow-orange
and as long as the battery has 2 Volts or more.
The OptiMate 3 will provide up to a 20V charge maximum
at 200 mA to try and force a charge. As soon as
the battery will take a charge, the "Desulfate" light
will go out and the "Charge" light will go on.
Note that if the battery is in a serious
state of discharge, it should first be removed from the
motorcycle before the charging attempt is made.
The instructions say that during the
charging state, the OptiMate 3 will deliver a constant
current of 0.6 Amps to the battery "whose progressively
rising impedance will cause the charging Voltage to
increase (to) 14.3V, when the OptiMate 3 will start the
absorption and verification stage".
The unit is programmed to check for
Voltage drops and other indicators to make sure that the
battery becomes fully charged and can be maintained.
During the maintenance, or "float"
stage, the OptiMate 3 checks the battery Voltage every
30 minutes to make sure everything is OK.
Finally, the red LED next to the "Weak"
logo will glow if the Voltage can't be maintained or if
the battery could not be saved due to things like a
short-circuit (fairly common in motorcycle batteries and
can happen suddenly) or total sulfation.
Alligator battery clips provided with the OptiMate 3.
This is the SPT-2 battery wiring harness with fuse block
provided in the kit.
SPT-2 Adapter ends (for illustration; these are on the
supplied SPT-2 wiring harness).
The SPT-2 (white) to SAE adapter cable.
By the way, the OptiMate 3 understands
that the motorcycle may need to draw up to 200 mA of
current each 30 minutes to support any accessories, such
as a clock, alarm system or other losses due to wiring
problems, so it takes that into consideration in the
The instructions say to first disconnect
the OptiMate 3 from the "mains", or electrical outlet,
before removing the connection to the battery. I
think this is pretty typical for battery chargers, but
I'm not sure how many owners really follow this advice.
And about that OptiMate 4: it's brand
new to the North American market, and it has a
sleek-looking new case. It has 19 different LED
indications, and it will time out after 48 hours if it
can't get a battery recharged. It has several
other features, but so far TecMate is still selling the
OptiMate 3, which seems simpler and possibly easier to
use. We'll plan on a follow-up with an OptiMate 4
just to compare.
UPDATE (December 2008): See
our Optimate 4
That's about all there is to it; the OptiMate 3 works
really well, it's smaller and more compact than our old
Battery Tender and it works with just about any size
battery, from 2 Amp-hours to 45 Amp-hours, according to
TecMate, although the company says it will also work on
larger batteries but may take longer to bring them to
I can understand why the OptiMate 3 has
become one of the most popular motorcycle battery
chargers in the world; it's easy to use, the indicators
are bright so you always know what it's doing, and it
The warranty is shorter than the Deltran
Battery Tender Plus, which has a 10-year warranty, which
I suppose is something to consider.
Review: OptiMate 3 Motorcycle Battery Charger
Retail Price: $59.90
|Review Date: August
More: See the
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►Your Comments and
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Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
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From "D" (12/08): "I was perusing
the pages and came across your reviews on the OptiMate
3, and to be honest i am in agreement totally with the
general information on them.
I have been running one on my bikes for 4 years now
without problem, and have revived a deep cycle 75ah
leisure battery that was expected to be thrown, it now
performs as new thanks to the OptiMate 3.
I have never had a start problem nor had reason to doubt
the OptiMate, I would recommend this unit 100% to
From "S.C." (9/08): "I have had the
OptiMate 3 charger for a couple of years now, its
maintained my car's battery during the summer and the
motorcycle's during the winter. Its brought back
to life the car's battery from complete drain when I
left the inside lights on the car for over a week...
Never had to purchase a new battery since I bought the
Optimate, frankly with the options that came with it as
noted in the review, I have been totally satisfied from
From "R.O." (9/08): "I have the
OptiMate 3, after replacing my (Yamaha) R1 battery twice
due to the LoJack system. I have to admit it’s
very easy to use, because I have the pigtail I used it a
lot. I never have a weak start or dead battery
again. My friend had a dead battery that was 4yr
old that the service (departments) said had to be
replaced, well after leaving it overnight he is using
the same battery and he has strobe light, (and) LEDs
with an alarm. And so far it been working real
good, no issues. Take that stupid service
From "T.B.": "I have the ubiquitous
Battery Tender Plus. I don’t have the instructions
in front of me, but I believe Deltran recommends
plugging the unit into an outlet first then connecting
Having read the opposite in the OptiMate 3 review, I
would be less than enthusiastic about this product out
of shear convenience. Often, as in my case, the
outlet is nowhere near the unit nor the battery being
From personal experience, the reason for the Battery
Tender purchase was for the car after the purchase of my
first bike. What happened was that the car got so
little use over the first 8mo that the battery started
to fail. This was demonstrated by the fact that
the accessories would not work for more than a minute
without the engine running.
After being on the Battery Tender for about a week,
the car would start without struggle. Now, and ever
since, the car’s battery has been great with normal
accessory capability and strong starting power.
It seems that TecMate may want to review their
procedure if they want to successfully penetrate this
market, in my opinion."
Editor's Reply: Battery Tender
instructions read "Do not connect the charger AC power
plug to the electrical outlet until all other
connections are made."