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Do I need a trickle charger? We look at the Optimate duo

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In short, using a trickle charger can often take the hassle out of battery maintenance. Trickle chargers are designed to be left connected to the battery long term, without causing damage, a trickle charge slowly adds and conditions the battery. We bought an Optimate Duo, to find out how it works.

The OptiMate duo provides the ultimate one-time purchase to look after your bike’s battery. Whether you use a lithium cell or lead-acid, or conventional dry cell batteries, the OptiMate Duo can handle both.

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Why is battery health important?

Quite simply, without electricity, a bike won’t run, and with more and more systems on bikes, these days, dependent on amps and volts ensuring there is enough available is critical. With the battery being hidden away under the seat it is very easy to fit and forget. But, those who neglect their batteries may see a series of problems, including failure to start the engine, dull and dim lights, fueling problems and on modern bikes issues with ECU systems.

Optimate Duo
Optimate Duo 1 battery charger

At this point, the battery can’t output enough power to successfully spark the spark plugs, crank the starter motor or prime the fuel pump. All of these will cause starting issues.

What does an Optimate do?

Batteries tend to last three to four years with general use. However, if you’ve had issues with your battery before, the OptiMate Duo can help revert some damage done to the battery, from regular use, or recharging incorrectly.

R1 Battery size
Having a small battery, looking after sport bike batteries is critical

Motorcycle batteries rely on smart chemistry, but this is susceptible to changes in temperature that occur over winter. Ever notice why your bike is harder to start in winter?

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Over time batteries will lose their ability to hold a charge

These variations in temperature suck away the batteries power, lowering the charge and shortening its lifespan. This phenomenon was discovered by a clever Swedish bloke, called Svante Arrhenius. He found that for every 10°C increase in temperature of the battery, the life of the battery would be halved.

High battery temperatures lead to internal water evaporation and degradation of the electrolyte. Without being submerged in liquid, the metal electrode grids inside the battery can become corroded. This is why, over time, a battery will lose its ability to hold and provide power.

The OptiMate Duo keeps monitoring the health and charge of the battery. When it detects lowering charge, it tops the battery back up to ensure that it’s always in perfect condition ready for when you start the bike up again.

These kinds of chargers are known as trickle chargers, as they “trickle” in power slowly into to the battery over time.

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Optimate Duo is simple to install

Optimate Duo fitting
SV650 battery fitting

The OptiMate Duo comes with a set of ring loop connectors that can simply be attached to the terminals of the battery. Plug the unit into the mains, connect the lead to the fitted connectors and it’s charging.

The set also includes a set of “crocodile clips” which can also be used if you don’t want to install the waterproof connector lead.

The waterproof connector lead works well. It’s easy to hide into a discreet place, that is still easy to access. We have routed it under the passenger seat on the SV650.

Optimate install
Sneakily tucked under for easy access under the pillion seat.

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OptiMate review

TecMate has packed their OptiMate line with special technology that not only monitors the charge of your battery but the health of your battery too. They say this is the ultimate motorcycle optimiser!

This means it can undo some damage done previously through its very smart micro-controller.

If your battery regularly needs a charge or your bike feels harder to start, the battery could have potential damage caused by temperature cycles inside the battery. This can be fixed through OptiMate’s unique charging methods.

Optimate duo in conditioning mode

OptiMate Duo: Plug it in, forget it’s there for a week, problem solved.

We’ve so far treated the GSXF’s ancient battery to some time on the OptiMate. After a few conditioning cycles, there is a noticeable change to its cranking sound. Thee optimate duo also solved intermittent starting issues with the SV650.

Overall for the small investment, it takes a hassle out of self-maintaining the battery. It is also great to have the knowledge that when you come to the bike, you know the battery will have power.