It used to be really easy to look after motorbike or car batteries. You just connected a charger that you paid a few quid for from a high-street shop and Bob is your proverbial mum’s brother. However, just as the technology involved in the batteries themselves has moved on, so has the humble charger.
Partly this is due to charging cycles that can maintain a battery over a prolonged period of time, such as when bikes are laid-up over winter. However, the newer designs of battery, and in particular Lithium cells, mean that a different kind of charging is required to the traditional wet-cell or AGM batteries we may have been used to.
This means that until recently, you needed a different charger to look after Lithium batteries from normal ones but a whole new slew of chargers are around now that will provide the necessary charging requirements to both traditional and new-generation batteries.
This CT5 charger from CTEK is one such example. It’s designed specifically for powersports vehicles, such as quads, jet skis and of course, motorcycles. As such, it is intended for smaller batteries up to around 25Ah (the capacity of the battery) and will supply a maximum charging current of 2.3Amps depending on the mode selected.
The charger comes with crocodile clips – obviously – as well as a hard-wire harness you can attach permanently to the battery so you can connect the charger with the quick-release plug in both sets of leads.
It is rated IP65 so is weatherproof and can be left outside and there are a couple of mounting holes if you want to fix it to a wall, for example. If the leads aren’t long enough, you can get extensions as well.
In addition to using the mode switch to change between the types of battery, you can also select the charging program. If you simply connect the battery and leave it, then it will start by checking the condition of the battery and go into the normal charging cycle.
This involves a series of steps, that include desulpation to reduce sulphur build-up on the plates which can reduce the battery’s efficiency and then, the charging itself. If the battery is left connected, it will pulse the charge to maintain the charge.
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There is also a Recond function, which increases the charge to generate gasses within the battery that help to stimulate the acid and recover, then maintain, the charge.
So on paper, it’s an impressive bit of kit. But what about in use? By lucky hap, the battery on a project bike I have recently acquired was in a less-than-ideal condition, having been standing for quite some time; when I put the voltmeter on it, it read 9.65 volts – pretty flat.
It made no impression when the starter button was pushed and I assumed that it would need replacing before I would be able to get on with the bike.
I disconnected the battery from the bike and connected the CT5 directly to it to see what would happen. It found the battery, checked it and immediately began the charging cycle. I looked in on it after a couple of hours and it was putting 14.5 volts across the battery – about what you would expect to see with the engine running and charging it on-board.
I left it overnight and when I came back in the morning, disconnected the charger and read the voltage of the battery, it was a healthy 12.7 volts across the terminals, indicating a full charge.
I checked it again a couple of days later and it remained at the same level (when disconnected from the bike, so no parasitic draw from an immobiliser, for example) indicating that it had done exactly the job it was designed for.
It’s not cheap as battery chargers go - £90 is a fair chunk of money – but it is impressively spec’d and will look after not just your bike but any other ‘Powersports’ vehicle (toy) you have. An impressive piece of kit.
Works with traditional and new, Lithium batteries
Charge and maintain batteries
Perfect for bikes and other ‘Powersport’ vehicles
Not the cheapest