Care and feeding of your scooter’s battery

Unlike my 1960s Lambretta scooters, modern scooters come equipped with electric starters powered by batteries, very much like a car. Actually one of my Lambrettas has a battery, but it is only 6 volts and only powers the brake light, horn, and parking light. No fancy electric starter on these old bikes.

We get a lot of calls from customers whose scooter won’t start. After making sure that the kill switch is set to on, we then ask how long it has been since the scooter was last ridden. If it is a long time, chances are high that the battery has discharged to the point that it 1) Doesn’t have enough power to run the starter and 2) Probably needs to be replaced. The lead-acid batteries used in scooters and motorcycles (usually) will not hold a charge if they are discharged too far.

Although scooter batteries are being constantly recharged while the engine is running, they are only receiving a ‘top up charge’. Scooter batteries are not rechargeable like mobile phone batteries, which run almost completely flat then can be recharged. Once a scooter battery drops below the level required to start the motor (usually around 12.4 volts), it means that the battery is starting to fail and is going to have to be replaced because it will no longer hold a charge. Unless you are a diehard scooterist who rides almost every day, you should get yourself a battery charger. (We sell them, of course. A great one costs only about $30.) The battery in your scooter will lose between 1/2% to 1% of its output PER DAY. The rate is very sensitive to temperature, too… The discharge rate at 95F is TWICE as fast as 77F and 130F is pretty much lethal. Our desert summer temperatures are very hard on batteries.

The best (and most fun) thing you can do to ensure a long life (up to 3 years) for your battery is to ride your scooter often. If you aren’t going to do that, your best bet is to get a charger.

Here’s a nice long article that goes a lot deeper into the chemistry and theory behind scooter and motorcycle batteries: