As I mentioned in my 'must-have accessories for beginners' blog a battery tender like an Optimate is a really useful thing to own.
Not only can it charge up your battery when its run low but by attaching a permanent SAE connection lead to your bike, you can simply plug it in whenever it’s not in use.
The Optimate will drip feed the battery, ceasing the charge whenever the battery gets full so as not to overcharge it (or waste electricity). It will keep it topped up ready to go and even extend your battery's lifespan.
Additionally, although not quite as important, you can get a SAE USB adapter for about a tenner and charge your phone from the bike's battery when you’re out and about which can be handy, especially if your using it for GPS.
Fortunately, setting this up is really easy and relatively cheap. Battery tenders come in a range of sizes and costs so shop around for one to suit your needs and budget. I'm using the Optimate II, it cost me around £30 and came with all the leads and connections included.
First thing you will need to do is get to your bike's battery. This is something that varies a fair amount from bike to bike, but again, it should be relatively easy. Check your service manual, a google search can be very helpful if you’re unsure how to access yours. In my case it’s under the seat and just needs 2 plastic panels removed (you can see this done in our how to change a battery guide blog here [link]). The whole process requires bare minimum tools, as pictured this is everything I needed - a flat head screwdriver, a couple of Allen keys, a 12.5mm spanner and of course the lead itself. Once you've located your battery it’s time to attach the lead.
To start you will need to disconnect the battery, always start with the negative cable - this should be black with a ''-'' symbol on it. With the negative cable removed it breaks the circuit thus removing any risk of grounding the positive terminal by accident and blowing a fuse. Simply unscrew it at the terminal and be careful not to drop the screw into a dark crevice in your bike, never to be seen again.
Once both cables are disconnected, grab your SAE lead. You can see from the previous image, on one end you have the SAE socket, on the other it splits into a positive and negative connection with a small loop on the end of each. This time we are starting with the positive (this should be red with a ''+'' symbol), take the screw you removed from the battery terminal and thread it through the loop on the SAE lead's positive connection. Next, put the positive cable in place and screw it back into the battery terminal. It should look something like the image below with the SAE lead connected above your bike's positive cable. Once that's done repeat for the negative side and we're almost done.
The last thing to do is to tuck the SAE connection somewhere out of the way but where it can still be easily reached once everything is back in place and you need to charge the bike. As shown in the images, I've tucked it along the side of the frame where it will be covered by one of the plastic panels I removed earlier. Once the panels and seat are all back in place it ends up looking like the image below and can be plugged in whenever the bike is not in use.
There you have it, the whole process can be done in about 10 minutes and keeps your bike ready to go when you need it.