Does your Harley have a weak battery? Stop me if you know this scenario. Sometimes the engine cranks just fine, but other times you only hear an annoying ‘click, click, click’ noise when you push the starter button. Love those days right.
Of course, your first recourse is to remove the battery and charge it for a couple of hours. But if your bike suffers from intermittent starting issues (even after recharging the battery and checking that the charging system is working just fine) then you have no choice but to buy a new battery.
We get lots of motorcycle maintenance questions from not just beginners but also experienced riders who want to do it themselves. Many riders in the scenario above want to know what is the best battery for a Harley Davidson is, but it isn’t that simple. The answer will depend on what type of Harley you have as well as some other factors.
Regardless, there is one important thing you need to know about buying a new battery for your Harley: the CCA, or Cold Cranking Amps. Don’t worry, we’ll explain what that is below.
Simply put, the CCA or cold cranking amps is the amount of power that a particular battery can produce when you start the motor.
A Harley battery with a higher CCA rating can produce and sustain more power each and every time. The bigger the motor, the higher the CCA requirement.
You should consider buying a Harley battery with a higher CCA rating especially if:
You have an older or vintage Harley. Critical electrical components such as the alternator, starter, and the electrical wiring will deteriorate and age along with your bike. This means that your vintage Harley will need a lot more power to start the motor or to turn on the headlights. Installing a battery with a higher CCA rating will make life easier for your aging bike.
You installed aftermarket accessories on your ride. You may not notice it, but installing aftermarket accessories such as radios, lighting kits, winches, etc. will put more strain on the battery. Choosing a battery with a higher CCA rating will help your Harley cope with the increased power demands of those accessories.
How Do They Test the Cold Cranking Amps of the Battery?
In order to determine the cold cranking amps, there are standardized tests that need to be performed by the Battery Council International (who knew such a body even existed). Each battery is exposed to a cold environment (hence the name ‘cold’ cranking amps), which is meant to imitate the worst case scenario when it comes to starting an engine. How cold? About 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius. Yeah, that’s pretty bloody cold.
Measurements of the discharge load are then taken from a brand new and fully-charged battery when the motor is cranked for approximately 30 seconds. Does this test sound familiar? Yes, of course it does, it is the same thing you do if you’re based in cold climates like we are and still ride your bike when it is frigid outside (we’re gluttons for punishment). If you ever tried starting your motorcycle, car, or truck in the dead of winter, then you’ll know what this means and you feel our pain.
During the test, the battery will have to maintain a terminal voltage that is equal to or higher than 1.20 volts per cell. All of these tests will somehow give you an idea on the kind of performance that you can expect from your brand new battery, even when your Harley is exposed to chilly weather conditions.
Does a Higher CCA Rating mean a Better Battery?
Come to think of it, yes, especially if you live in a cold climate. But buying a new battery that has 300 CCA more than the recommended battery for your ride will not exactly help a lot. Of course, if your bike has tons of power-robbing accessories, then getting a battery with a higher CCA rating is the way to go, as long as you don’t mind the price difference between an OEM and aftermarket Harley battery.
But for stock applications, there is no need to spend more dough on a bigger or heavier battery with a higher CCA rating.
However, if your Harley is heavily modified to produce more power, then you will definitely need to buy a battery with a higher CCA rating. An ordinary or OEM battery will not be able to cope with the power demands of your modified bike. It will work fine for the first couple of months, but the battery will eventually weaken or die as you ride your bike.
We researched Harley appropriate batteries and narrowed it down to the five best batteries for Harley Davidson bikes that we highly recommend. Hopefully, this will make it painless to choose the right battery for your ride.
I have heard many times that the HDX30L is an OEM Harley battery with a different name. This product is proudly made in the USA and is probably one of the best aftermarket battery for any type of Harley Davidson.
The HDX30L is perfect for the 1997 to 2016 Road Glide, Electra Glide, Road King, Ultra Classic, and Street Glide bikes. This battery comes fully charged right out of the box and is ready to install. Simply hook this up to your Harley and you’re ready to ride!
The HDX30L is a maintenance free AGM battery with a rating of 400 CCA. This means that there are fiberglass pads between the plates that absorb the liquid electrolytes for a spill-proof design. As an added bonus, the HDX30L comes with new stainless steel bolts and an 18-month free replacement warranty.
If you watch most mechanics work they will be wearing some type of gloves. They might be leather gloves, or cotton gloves, but most of them wear nitrile or latex gloves. That is because they are disposable and keep your hands from getting stained with dirt and oil.
You might not think you need them, but I’ve found that even doing light maintenance leaves me with grime underneath my fingernails that stays there for days. These heavy duty gloves are awesome. They are thick enough that they won’t tear, and they will keep your hands clean from dirt, oil, and chain lube.
I also like to keep a pair of these either in my motorcycle storage compartment, or in my leather jacket. Just in case I have to do some emergency maintenance on the side of the road. They are also ideal to use in an emergency medical situation if you have the training.
The Yuasa brand is a trusted name in motorcycle batteries. This particular Yuasa GYZ32HL is ideal for big Harley engines and touring bikes like the Road King, Ultra Classic, and the Street Glide.
The Yuasa GYZ32HL has a rating of 500 cold cranking amps. Featuring a unique lead-calcium technology that holds more power than conventional batteries, this Harley battery is fully sealed and spill proof.
There is no need to add or refill distilled water over the life of the battery.
However, there is a catch: this battery costs around $130. That’s a lot of money for a replacement battery.
The unique selling proposition of the Deka Sports Power is that this battery is designed for true riding enthusiasts. This battery is a perfect fit not only for Harley bikes, but it is also ideal for ATVs, snowmobiles, and other power sports equipment.
The Deka Sports Power features a spill-proof and leak-proof design. This maintenance-free AGM battery has a 400 CCA rating. With a molded top and side connection terminals, this battery is a versatile and durable replacement for your OEM Harley battery.
Speaking about OEM, have you heard that Deka is the supplier of OEM Harley batteries? I didn’t know that, but that’s the rumor around town. There’s no telling if this is true, but enthusiasts swear by this fact because the OEM battery is totally identical to the Deka ETX-30L, apart from the fact that the Deka has a lower price compared to the OEM Harley battery.
All of the batteries in this list are ideal for Harley Davidson bikes. They all offer a solid leak-proof and maintenance-free design. But if I were to really choose, it would be a tie between the HDX30L and the Deka Power Sports EX30L. Both batteries cost more than $100, but they offer solid features and an impressive CCA for the price.