Charge ahead with the best battery chargers to get you and your ride back on the road

Noco Genius 2 Battery Charger mounted to wall
Noco Genius 2 Battery Charger mounted to wall
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There’s a strong case for dedicated motorcycle battery chargers. Most batteries will become discharged if the bike is left alone for a period of time (sometimes as little as a couple of weeks), and this is particularly true for bikes that have motorcycle trackers fitted, as these inevitably draw power from the motorcycle battery to offer their protection. So although only a small amount of current is drawn, it’s inevitable that an unattended bike will have a flat battery before long – especially if you don’t know how to look after a motorcycle battery.

This can be annoying at best and scrap the battery at worst, forcing your hand in shelling out for a new one. It is annoying because you come to the garage for your first ride in some time, and the battery is dead. If you’re lucky, you can jump-start it and go for a run – hopefully, the charge you get back into the battery will see you through your ride.

The best motorcycle battery chargers at a glance:

  • Best money-no-object motorcycle battery charger: CTEK CS1 Battery Charger – view on Amazon UK
  • Best value for money motorcycle battery charger: Ring Automotive RSC806 Smart Battery Charger – view on Amazon UK
  • Best portable motorcycle battery charger: CTEK CS FREE Solar Set – view on Amazon UK

However, in the worst-case scenario, the cells in the battery can become damaged to the point where they simply cannot hold a charge, and the only solution here is to replace it. And while motorcycle batteries generally are less expensive than car batteries, for example, it’s still an expense you could do without. Here are a selection of the best motorcycle battery chargers.

The best motorcycle battery chargers

Tested by Justin Hayzelden

Motorcycle batteries can be notoriously finicky pieces of kit, leave them unattended for an extended period and chances are that they’ll let you down. That’s because the demands of the electrical system on most modern bikes means a full charge (or close to) is required for a successful start, and if the battery isn’t topped up on a regular basis it can lose the necessary voltage to fire up your ride.

This can be exacerbated in cold weather, when the chemical reaction that provides the juice slows down, so having the means to maintain, and if necessary recover, these crucial power sources makes charging equipment essential garage gear.

NOCO is a US based company that has been innovating automotive electronics since 1914, so they know a thing or two battery maintenance. Among their range of one-stop shop devices is the Genius 2, a palm sized unit bristling with useful cell-saving features, and one that has already saved me a few quid in replacement batteries.

So what does the Genius 2 do? Well, first and foremost, it restores charge, and is compatible with most 6 and 12V batteries including traditional wet-cell lead acid, gel, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat)and lithium-ion. Simply attach the supplied insulated crocodile clamps to the correct terminals on your battery, switch on and select the appropriate battery type using the ‘mode’ button. The Genius 2 will then measure the level of charge and give a visual indication on a four step display – small red light for low and large green for full.

Even though a depleted battery may not have enough power to crank over an engine, it can often still hold a charge of 50% or more. This is a typical situation that many people (myself included) find themselves in, when the headlights still come on but there’s no go. In that event I’ve found the Genius 2 takes around 4 to 5 hours to bring a 14Ah battery back to 100%. Ambient temperature can play a part in the charging time, but the unit has a built-in thermal compensation system that automatically adjusts the cycle for the most effective charge.

For very flat batteries, the Genius 2 can detect voltages as low as 1V and even has a ‘Force Mode’ to bring those back that show no charge at all. I’ve used the latter and it resurrected a ‘dead’ battery overnight, saving me the Genius’ purchase price in the process.

But the benefits don’t stop once the charging is over, as the Genius goes on to condition the battery for optimised performance. Leave it hooked up as a trickle charger (it can be left indefinitely according to the manual) and by maintaining a full charge during idle periods it prevents stratification, a condition where the acid and water separate, reducing cold cranking power and ultimately shortening battery life. There are a several different adapters available to make this easier, such as the Optimate type and a dual large/small 12V accessory plug that covers cigarette and Hella (Din) style sockets.

Measuring just 17cm long and weighing in at less than half a kilo, it’s an incredibly compact unit and comes with a handy bracket for mounting to the wall or workbench. Build quality is top notch and even the packaging has a premium feel, elevating unboxing the Genius 2 to an Apple-esque experience. When you consider the purchase price is less than the cost of most batteries, it’s a no brainer to have one in your armoury.

Pros

  • Small
  • Thermal sensor
  • Can recover batteries

Cons

  • No 12V repair mode

Best value for money motorcycle battery charger

This smart charger from Ring does basically all batteries except lithium and features a seven-stage charging process that's supposed to be kinder on your battery.

Tested by Adam Binnie for two months on one motorcycle. Quality 4/5, Value 5/5. Reading up on battery charger specs is like revising for an exam in electrical engineering. All I want is something that plugs into a three-pin socket to charge and maintain my battery.

Ok, that's a bit flippant because, in addition to those scant requirements, I also want it to be wall mounted, with a hard connection to my battery, so I don't have to faff about with crocodile clips.

I suspect my use-case is quite typical - my bike gets ridden lots over the summer, but sometimes only ten miles and back to the cafe, and then left a week or two at a time in the garage. Afterwards, it gets laid up until the slippery leaves and road salt have been swept away. So I need a charger that's simple enough to use regularly and capable of being connected all winter long.

The o-ring lead on the Ring RSC806 screws into my battery and can be stored under the seat, ready to link up to the quick connector at the end of a long lead from the unit. One button scrolls between the different modes - ignoring the car options, there are two for motorbikes, a standard charge and then cold weather mode.

It has a 6a output, which gives it a decent amount of punch when it comes to topping up low batteries in a pinch. My bike wouldn't start after a month of autumn inactivity, but a 30-minute top-up from the Ring charger had it firing on the button again. Lesson learned - just leave it plugged in.

Once full, the charger adjusts automatically to 'long-term maintenance mode' and keeps the battery conditioned and topped up, ready to go next time the sun's out. It has reverse polarity and short-circuit protection to assist non-experts like me, and is even IP65 rated for all-weather use, which is reassuring if your garage or shed gets damp.

Complaints? Very few - the holes in the o-rings are a little large but fit securely beneath the existing connections on my battery. The screen is lit for easy reading, but you have to be at just the right angle to see it, which requires bending down a bit in my garage. That's about it though - otherwise, it's a brilliant and easy-to-use charger, whether you know what you're doing or not.

Pros

  • Repair function to maintain and charge flat batteries
  • Cope with variety of battery types
  • Long-term, 'winter' charging function

Cons

  • No charging stage indicator

Best money-no-object motorcycle battery charger

Alternative Retailers
Walmart
$511.74
There are several chargers from CTEK in this list, and this CS ONE option is the top dog of the range. It's a smart charger that can repair, maintain, charge and detect bad cells, as well as a host of other features.

Tested by Richard Newland for five months across six vehicles. Quality 5/5, Value 3/5. Dead batteries are like flat tyres – utterly infuriating and one of the least glamourous replacement parts in biking. But critical to your riding pleasure. While you can't prevent punctures, you can prevent dead cells with a motorcycle battery charger and conditioner.

And this one from CTEK is superbly clever. Not only does it do everything you'd expect: charging, recovering, conditioning and maintaining whatever vehicle battery you connect it to (and yes, it does them all, from Lead Acid to Lithium-ion in all wet, AGM, Gel and other forms) – it does it without any programming from you.

Simply connect the leads – which are disconcertingly both black because the CS ONE is so clever that it detects polarity, so you can't connect it wrong however hard you try – plug it in, and it'll do the rest for you. The Adaptive Charging Technology will detect every facet of your battery and even alter its charge voltage based on the ambient temperature to ensure your battery charges at the optimum rate – and doesn't fry.

The unit then analyses and diagnoses what's needed before merrily getting on with it. The display atop the charger keeps you up to date with progress, and once you've got a full white ring of illumination, your battery is tip-top. And if you do want or need deeper intervention, simply download the CTEK app to your phone and connect to the CS via Bluetooth, giving you an on-phone control panel and additional functions. If you prefer a wired battery connection so you can just plug-n-charge without needing battery access, the required lead is £4.99 extra and extension leads are £14.99.

I've used it on four bikes with three different battery types, one old VeeDub camper and a modern family car – and it tackled all with ease.

Pros

  • Packed with features
  • Can save you money in the long run

Cons

  • Reports of issues with Android compatibility
CTEK CS ONE seat

Best portable motorcycle battery charger

If you can't plug your trickle charger into a mains outlet, then a solar version with a power bank could be the answer. The CS FREE is essentially a standalone version of the CS ONE and is a multi-function charger that's compatible with all types of 12V lead-acid and lithium (12V LiFePO4) batteries. It's also a power bank with USB-A and USB-C ports, so you can run myriad other electronics from it, too.

Tested by Richard Newland for 4 months. Quality 5/5, Value 3/5. Bike batteries are getting smaller and lighter – but the stress our bikes put on them with ever-more powerful electronics systems and auxiliary add-ons is getting greater than ever. It doesn't take much to find you're out of juice when you hit the magic starter button. But if you don't have bike storage with mains electricity, what do you do? You get one of these.

Charge the unit, and then take it on tour. Once charged, it'll hold its power for a year and will recover a dead bike battery enough to start your engine in around 15 minutes. The charge is delivered to your battery progressively, too – reducing the risk of jump-start damage. It's absolutely superb and really works. Yes, it's a pricey solution, but it works brilliantly and is invaluable if you're off the grid where your bike lives.

And if you want to go fully off-grid, you can get the very clever foldaway 60W Solar Charge Kit to keep the unit and your bike primed and ready for action. It's hernia-inducingly expensive and too big to take on tour (on a bike) – but if your remote garage has a window (or you have multiple other power needs, like a camper van), it's a seriously cute solution. Both items have two-year warranties.

Pros

  • Solar charger doesn't need the mains
  • Power bank stores energy for you to take with you

Cons

  • Too big to take with you on a bike tour
CTEK CS FREE Solar Set in use

Great for fitting and forgetting

Price: £39.99 (was £59.99)
Suitable for all 12V battery types up to 30Ah, including Gel, MF and conventional lead and refillable batteries, the Oxford Oximiser 900 can be left permanently connected to provide long-term battery care. This sophisticated battery management system provides real-time information about the battery's condition. Heavily discharged batteries as low as 4.1 V can be charged if the battery is not damaged.

Tested by Gareth Evans for six months. Quality 4/5, Value 4/5. "The Oximiser 900 is specifically for bikesized batteries, but the best thing is its simplicity. It’s very user-friendly, with a choice of crocodile clips or O-rings, plus a wall bracket to keep it positioned off the floor. It’s a plug-and-play affair, with a sixstage automated system to keep the battery cells safe and sound, and a bright blue LED screen showing charge status and other parameters, for additional peace of mind. You can use it with gel, MF or lead-acid batteries, and it’ll charge with 900mA of power from voltages as low as 4.1. Build quality feels a bit cheap, but it works well."

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Can be left connected permanently

Cons

  • Build quality is flimsy

Best solar battery charger

Tested by Simon Relph for 2 years. Quality 4/5, Value 4/5. Power points are not always available where you want them, so the Optimate Solar Duo is a great way to plug in Smart chargers. I have an old Royal Enfield sidecar outfit which is too big to fit in my garage, so it lives outside under one of those bike covers with a clear window designed for solar panels.

The beauty of this is that when I am not using the outfit, I can connect up the Optimate Solar to the supplied lead which is permanently attached to the battery, making it very easy to connect/disconnect. The battery is then charged through the hours of daylight, with a smart charger-monitor adjusting the output to meet its needs.

The solar panel itself produces 10 watts of power maximum, making between 12-12.8 volts, is waterproof and measures 390mm by 250mm by 30mm thick, a bit bigger than an A4 sheet of paper. The system is capable of charging STD, AGM and GEL 12 volt batteries from 2-40amp hour as well as Lithium LFP 12.8-13.2 volt batteries.

This one is the 10W version but is also available in a 20W 1.7A and a 40W 3.3A version should you need something a bit meatier! The whole lot comes complete with two types of battery connectors and a very neat zip up carry case.

Pros

  • Works without mains power
  • Charge controller supplies correct voltage

Cons

  • relatively low charge rate even in ideal conditions

Best for being the most versatile battery charger

CTEK has a reputation in the world of battery chargers and conditioners, and this is their flagship offering, the MXS 5.0. This model aims to be a quality, durable, and feature-rich lead-acid battery charger for motorbikes or cars. The MXS 5.0 comes IP65 rated, making it dust and water resistant. That makes it an ideal choice for leaky sheds, and you won't have to worry about sawdust or other particles clogging it up and causing damage either, which should extend its operational lifespan.

It's stand out feature is its battery maintenance abilities; an advanced eight-step charging program specifically for lead-acid batteries. This regimen not only charges but also reconditions the battery, actively combating the sulfation of battery plates. Sulfation, a common issue that can significantly diminish a lead-acid battery's life and capacity, is effectively mitigated, ensuring your bike's battery remains in peak condition for longer.

Whether for cars or motorcycles, the MXS 5.0's versatility and durability make it a standout choice. It's more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but its capability to rejuvenate dead batteries, combined with its rugged build, could well save you a lot of money in the long run.

Pros

  • Eight-step charging cycle
  • IP65 rated
  • Reliable

Cons

  • Doesn't work on lithium batteries

Best portable solar charger

Price: £27.45 (was £44.99)
Perfect for bikes kept in a shed or a portable garage-style shelter with no access to mains power, or if you just want to save a bit of money on electricity while your bike's in storage. This solar charger will trickle charge a battery to keep it healthy using just solar energy, making it a completely off-grid solution to keep your bike in ride-ready condition.

Of course, the charging rate will depend on the time of year as well as the weather, but Oxford quotes charging rates from 10mA to 100mA, and the solar panel can be fixed inside a window for convenience. It won't get the most juice out of it that way, so it is also described as 'weather resistant', for leaving outdoors where the sun's rays are strongest, without succumbing to the worst that British weather can throw at us either.

All in all this is a great solution from a reputable brand if you only need to trickle charge your bike's battery, and want to make the most of free electricity to keep your motorcycle battery in good shape. It's cheap enough that it could pay for itself pretty quick with today's electricity prices.

Pros

  • No need for mains power
  • Keep your battery topped up in a shed or garage

Cons

  • Power relies on the weather

Best budget battery charger

OptiMate's entry-level charger/optimiser makes for an accessible toolkit addition for any motorcycle owner, especially those seeking a hassle-free solution to battery maintenance. Designed with versatility in mind, this charger can handle all 12V batteries, whether they're lead-acid, AGM, gel, or lithium ion. It's a great solution for keeping your bike's battery in optimal condition on the cheap, particularly through periods of storage where battery health can decline without proper care.

It supplies a small but effective 0.8A charge rate - right in the ideal range for motorcycles. This ensures that batteries aren't charged too quickly, preserving their longevity and reliability over time. Its also quick and easy to use thanks it's fully automatic detection and operation. Plug it in and it intelligently assesses the battery's current state, delivering a tailored amount of power for your battery - no more, no less. This eliminates the guesswork from battery maintenance, providing peace of mind that your ride is in good hands while keeping you hands-free.

With its safe and straightforward operation this is a great option for the money, even if it doesn't offer a recovery mode or some other fancy features. It will still make sure your motorcycle's battery remains healthy, even during long periods without riding, so you can keep safe in the knowledge that your ride is ready to go when you are.

Pros

  • Entry level
  • Automatic operation

Cons

  • No recovery function

Best versatile battery charger

Price: £65.92 (was £99.99)
This unit is a universal charging solution that offers some versatile features for a wide range of use cases. It works with all common types of motorcycle batteries, including lead acid, lithium, and gel batteries. It also features different current modes; on top of the low-current mode for motorbikes, it also offers a high-current mode for use on car batteries too.

On top of this, it can recover deeply discharged batteries, and cycle charge them to prevent the plates from sulphating. It can offer all this without any extra faff on your end, thanks to its fully automatic operation. It utilises induction cooling to ensure it's always safe in use, and allows you to set minimum voltage limits to customise how much juice you want to have available at a minimum.

It comes with some nice extras in the box too - a wall bracket and screws, and the cables are weatherproof all the way up to the terminals, for peace of mind in leaky sheds. This includes a weatherproof fuse holder too.

All in all this battery charger covers all the main use cases you could need from a battery charger, on top of some extra features that round it off as a complete package.

Pros

  • Compatible with all battery types
  • Winter mode for maintenance

Cons

  • Leads are short

Best battery charger for recovering deeply discharged batteries

At the other end of the charging scale from Oxford is the 601, an older charger/optimiser that still rivals some newer options on features. It's designed for lead-acid and gel-type batteries, and can manage battery sizes up to 30Ah. The charger selects the appropriate charging rate automatically, and if there is a load on the battery - such as a tracker, for example - adjusts the charging rate accordingly. It will also help recover batteries that are deeply discharged, and can be left connected for long periods, such as over winter, long holidays away from the bike, or if you don't ride the bike very often.

It also offers short-circuit protection, a welcome safety feature, along with an LED charge voltage indicator so you can check how much juice you've got at a glance. This will also tell you if you've got a truly dead, un-savable battery that reads under 3V too, making it a good diagnostic tool for many of your motorcycle battery needs.

Overall this older option from Oxford still works great for its intended purpose, and it makes a great alternative compared to some newer options - especially for the price. You don't get lithium ion battery charging capabilities, but many reviews claim it's stood the test of time, so you may never need to buy another battery charger unless lithium takes over as the standard vehicle battery tech of choice.

Pros

  • Great for recovering deeply discharged batteries
  • Wall bracket included

Cons

  • Some customers report flimsy build quality

What to consider when buying a motorcycle battery charger

Not all motorcycle battery chargers are made equal, and there’s some important things to look out for when you’re looking for a motorcycle battery charger.

First and foremost, you will want to consider a charger’s compatibility with different battery technologies. Different types of battery need to be charged in different ways, and while many battery chargers on the market today are compatible with lead acid, gel, and lithium ion batteries, this isn’t always the case. Check what type your battery is, and make sure you get a charger that’s appropriate.

It’s important to consider what safety features are on offer too. Some models can automatically switch between charging and discharging, as well as reconditioning your bike’s battery, which means you can set it and forget it. You may also consider one with polarity detection, so you can’t connect the terminals the wrong way around, or automatic charge rate adjustment optimised on the fly for your battery.

Charging rate is another important consideration, since charging a motorcycle battery too fast can cause damage and reduce its lifespan. Generally between 0.75 to 2 amp charging is a safe operating range for most types of motorcycle batteries, but this can also depend on the temperature.

How to avoid flat batteries on your motorcycle

The solution, of course, is to leave your bike with its battery on charge when it’s not being used. This is particularly true for bikes that are laid up for winter, and in this case, a battery optimiser/maintainer can be useful, as it not only charges the battery but it carries out a series of conditioning cycles.

These put some load on the battery so that it isn’t simply under constant charge, as this can also, paradoxically, damage the battery and reduce its capacity as well.

One point you should consider is what kind of battery your motorcycle uses. Lithium batteries are becoming more popular as they can offer better performance than traditional lead-acid ones.

However, they require very different charging characteristics, and as such, you should be careful not to pair the wrong charger with the battery, as this can have a negative effect on the battery and can even be dangerous.

How MCN tests products

At MCN, our team of expert journalists have decades of experience gained over hundreds of thousands of miles. We don’t test our kit to destruction; we use it exactly how you do, in the real world and in all conditions. That means we can deliver impartial buying advice you can rely on.

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