How to Convert a Motorcycle to Battery Powered

Written by william machin
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How to Convert a Motorcycle to Battery Powered
Convert an older dirt bike to battery power for better performance. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Older motorcycles had a magneto that provided spark to the plugs and powered the lights when the motorcycle was running. Due to limited output, magnetos are not capable of powering accessories found on newer bikes. The advent of motorcycle batteries opened the doors for electric starters, electric fuel pumps, electronic ignition, indicators and lighted gauges. If you prefer battery-powered, pull the engine, install an electric motor and mount a 12-volt truck battery in place of the gas tank. Otherwise, save time and costs by purchasing a motorcycle battery, a 4-coil flywheel rotor and convert your magneto motorcycle to battery power.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Standard gauge sockets and ratchet
  • Pneumatic driver
  • Air compressor
  • Tire levers
  • Battery straps
  • Wire pliers
  • 12-gauge insulated wire (red and black)
  • Ring wire connectors

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  1. 1

    Remove the timing cover and set it aside. Fit a standard gauge socket onto one of the outer magneto rotor nuts. Set the ratchet lever for tightening, or clockwise.

  2. 2

    Set up a pneumatic driver with a socket that fits the main magneto bolt on the end of the timing cam. Connect a compressed air line to the driver and the air compressor. Set the driver to loosen, or counterclockwise.

  3. 3

    Hold clockwise pressure on the ratchet handle as you loosen and remove the main magneto rotor bolt with the pneumatic driver. Remove the smaller rotor bolts counterclockwise with the socket and ratchet.

  4. 4

    Pry the magneto out of the timing housing using two tire levers. Work the unit out in small increments to prevent damaging the outer edges of the timing housing.

  5. 5

    Remove the ignition coil wires from the magneto rotor plate. Depending on the manufacturer, remove the wires by de-soldering the connections or loosening brass screws.

    Flywheel and Battery

  1. 1

    Connect the ignition coil wires to the new 4-coil flywheel. Install the flywheel in the timing housing using the saved rotor plate bolts and main bolt. Tighten the bolts clockwise with the appropriate socket and the ratchet. The pneumatic driver is not needed and may over-tighten or strip the bolts.

  2. 2

    Establish a location for the new 12-volt motorcycle battery. Typical locations are under the rider's seat or within a side cover. Secure the battery in place with battery straps.

  3. 3

    Assemble a positive (red) battery lead using 12-gauge insulated wire with crimp-on ring connectors at both ends. Connect the lead between the positive terminal on the battery and the positive terminal on the ignition coil.

  4. 4

    Assemble a negative (black) battery lead using 12-gauge insulated wire with crimp-on ring connectors at both ends. Connect the lead between the negative terminal on the battery and a frame bolt for ground.

Tips and warnings

  • Include a new CDI box with engines larger than 250cc.

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