q Nothing starts a day off worse for us than unloading at the trailhead and finding out one of our test ATVs has a dead battery. Wear and tear on an ATV battery is quick basically because it’s always shaking and bumping around, something most batteries don’t like. Aftermarket lights, winches, GPS units can also put a strain on your quad’s battery. Some components drain power even when the quad is not running. Since ATVs don’t have volt gauges or battery warning lights, it’s tough to know the condition of your battery at a glance. So for us, it’s imperative to keep an eye on our batteries so that our quads are in running order when we need them. To do this, we have test lights and a number of different chargers, including several Deltran Battery Tenders.
Battery Tenders are basically a low-amp, slow-charging system that will work with all 12-volt lead-acid-type batteries. The unique thing about the Battery Tender is that each unit has a built-in auto shut-off and restart feature. This means the tender actually maintains a full charge on your battery without the risk of overcharging it.
For this issue, we are testing for the first time the very compact Waterproof 800 unit. This $52 charger can be connected to your machine in a number of ways. Deltran recommends that you leave it connected to your battery and plugged in whenever you are storing your ATV. The tender plugs into any 110-volt household plug, then connects to the battery with standard alligator clips. Or to make things a bit easier, there is a ring-terminal option that allows you to permanently attach the battery leads and leave them on your ATV when you go riding. Then, every time you go to store your machine, you simply plug the connection from the tender into your quad. This is a better way to do things, especially if your positive and negative battery terminals are hard to access like they are on most ATVs.
We have actually been testing the Waterproof 800 in one of our old barns on two quads. One was an old Yamaha sport quad that gives us trouble on a regular basis. It seems that every time we leave it for storage for over a month, the battery goes dead. In some cases, the battery won’t even take a charge and has to be replaced, which really gets us mad. The other quad we connected the tender to is the project Suzuki featured in this issue. Ever since we picked the 2012 unit up, it seems to be hard to start. It always starts, but just turns over slow. Plus, the project has us installing extra lights and switches that will surely increase battery drainage.
On the Suzuki, we used the alligator-clips option mainly because the seat removes easily and the battery terminals are accessible. To make things harder on the tender, we wired a lightswitch to a pair of aftermarket PIAA lights directly to the battery, causing a small LED light to remain on constantly. After about four hours, the Battery Tender totally charged the Suzuki’s battery and made it much easier to start. The Battery Tender has an easy-to-read indicator light on the face that tells you if it’s charging or just resting. Now, we alternate the Battery Tender between this and the Yamaha sport quad every few days or so.
For the Yamaha, we monitored the resting-battery function by watching when the tender was or wasn’t working. For a few weeks, we would unplug the tender for five days, then plug it back in. Then, we would count the hours to see how long it took the tender to bring the battery up to full charge. The time actually decreased, so we learned a maintained battery is a happy battery.