Are Motorcycle Batteries 12V or 6V?

Motorcycle Insurance Tip!
Save on Motorcycle Insurance in Five Minutes
  • Insurance costs increased in 2024.
  • Don't let your rates go up.
  • Compare rates to save big!
Compare Rates Now Moto Image


Cars run on 12V batteries, and most appliances and gadgets inside a vehicle run on the same power supply.

But cars are bigger, which means that a motorcycle should run on 10V or 6V batteries. Right?

It sounds almost logical and most people might think that way, however, there is not much truth behind this thought.

Let’s scrounge for clues and find out if motorbikes run on 12V or 6V batteries.

And while we are at it, why not discuss the reasons behind that difference? It’s always better to find all the answers to your questions. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Voltage in a Motorcycle Battery

Typically, all modern motorcycles have a 12V battery. You will find 6V only in classic motorbikes and some dirt bikes. 

In a way, motorcycles are like cars, with fancy equipment to make them user-friendly for the rider.

The battery has to both start the engine as well as operate all the exciting and useful features, so it must hold enough power to do that.

12V is the standard today.

But why did vintage motorcycles use 6V batteries?

Well, the simple answer to that is, back then, they had electronics that ran on a 6V battery.

The system changed over time, and most bikes abandoned the 6V battery for a 12V set up.

However, classic motorcycle enthusiasts are spread all around the world.

People who love to ride their classic Harleys, Indians, Triumphs, etc and show them off may still need a 6V battery to do so.

If you have a motorcycle made in the 21st century, then chances are that it has a 12V system.

Are 12V Motorcycle Batteries Universal?

Unfortunately, while pretty much every modern motorcycle uses a 12V battery, the batteries themselves are not universal.

Motorcycle batteries differ in:

  • Type (lead acid, gel, absorbed mat, lithium, etc.)
  • Size and dimensions.
  • Cold cranking amps (CCA).

You’ll need to select the type of battery that fits into the battery box on your motorcycle and has enough cold cranking amps to start the engine.

How to Tell if Bike has 12V or 6V?

If you aren’t sure about the type of battery your motorcycle uses, then there are some easy ways to find it out.

Look at the Existing Battery

If you’re restoring an older motorcycle and are unsure what type of battery it takes, the first place to look would be the battery that’s currently in the bike.

Many batteries should have a label that will include information about the voltage, make, and model of battery.

If the label is worn off, you can always test the voltage too.

If the battery is dead or missing, you’ll need to try another method.

Check the Owner’s Manual

Another easy way to find out more about your motorcycle battery is to search the manufacturer’s service manual for the bike.

It has all the necessary information concerning your bike, and therefore, is your best chance at finding out which battery works on your bike.

Forums

Most classic bikes and many modern bikes have dedicated forums where motorcycles owners come together to share their thoughts.

However obscure your question may be, you’ll just need to find a forum dedicated to your bike.

You can ask relevant questions over there and ask about the battery the bike takes.

Check with Peers

Your last resort is to look around and search amongst your peers.

There is a chance that somebody has the same bike or had owned one in the past, or just has more experience wrenching.

They can give your more information about your bike along with useful tips that you can use to maintain your motorcycle.

Can You Use a 6V in Place of a 12V or Vice Versa?

6V batteries are typically cheaper (and smaller) than 12V batteries.

So, if you’re looking to save space and money on your motorcycle project, you may be wondering if you can swap the two?

To answer it simply: no, you cannot use a 6V battery in place of a 12V battery or vice versa.

Since a motorcycle is designed to operate with a certain battery, it wouldn’t work.

Too much voltage in a 6V system will fry your electronics and wiring. Too little voltage in a 12V system and your bike won’t start or run.

The electronic components would not work properly, and chances are that your bike won’t start at all!

For a swap to work, you’d need to rewire and re-engineer the entire electronic system.

Do Electric Motorcycles use the same battery?

Photo by Kumpan Electric on Unsplash


Electric motorcycles come with either a 48V or a 52V battery since their function is to power the bike and the electronics.

A 12V battery or even a 6V battery won’t work here at all. They would be too small or too inefficient to work on an e-motorcycle.

12V and 6V batteries only work on conventional motorcycles that use a combustion engine for power.

Can a Motorcycle Run Without a Battery?

Modern motorbikes cannot run without a battery.

They have too many electronic components that require a power source to work.

However, some old bikes can actually work without a battery.

But how is that possible? Well, some of these vintage motorcycles use a kick-starter for ignition.

A dynamo is used to power anything electronic, like headlights, taillights, and speedometers. The small device transforms kinetic energy into electrical energy for the motorcycle.

It’s pretty amazing if you ask us. But the system is archaic and not in use anymore. So, unless you have an old motorbike or do some custom wiring, you will probably need a battery.