Motorcycle Electrical System Glossary

Here in this informative piece, we will acquaint you with the basics of a modern two-wheeler’s electrical system.

VOLTAGE

In simple terms, Voltage is the pressure from an electrical circuit’s power source. This pressure pushes the charged electrons (termed as current) through the circuit, and makes it perform any specific work, like running a fan, or illuminating a bulb. This electric pressure is measured in volts (V).

​The Voltage of a battery goes down when the battery is used and loses its charge. Similarly, when an electrical application draws power from the battery, the voltage goes down.

WATTAGE

Wattage is a unit of power, or in simple terms, of the rate at which energy is consumed. One watt is one joule (a unit of energy) consumed per second (1 W = 1 J/s). So for example, if a light bulb, rated 100W runs for 10 hours, it would have consumed 100W x 10 hours = 1000 Watt-hours = 1 kW-hour of energy. Fun Fact: KW-hour is the unit used for power consumption in our houses as well.

AMP-HOUR

A battery’s Amp Hour rating describes how long it will last while discharging at a fixed rate. For example, a 12 Amp-Hour battery can discharge 1.2-ampere current for 10 hours. If you double the current discharge to 2.4 ampere, the battery will discharge in half the time, or 5 hours, and so on. Can you imagine?

AMP-HOUR

A battery’s Amp Hour rating describes how long it will last while discharging at a fixed rate. For example, a 12 Amp-Hour battery can discharge 1.2-ampere current for 10 hours. If you double the current discharge to 2.4 ampere, the battery will discharge in half the time, or 5 hours, and so on. Can you imagine?

THE COMPONENTS OF A TWO-WHEELER’S ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

A two-wheeler gets its electricity from two sources – a battery and an alternator. The battery stores charge, maintains a specified voltage and keeps the electrical system working when the engine is switched off and no fresh electricity is being generated.

The alternator, on the other hand, generates electricity when the engine is switched on. It takes care of providing electricity to various electrical devices and also charges the battery on the go. Let us take a more detailed look at the various components of your two-wheeler’s electrical system:

BATTERY

A typical 12-volt motorcycle battery is a six-cell unit and is made of a plastic enclosure with each cell having a set of positive and negative plates immersed in an electrolyte. Each cell has a voltage of around 2.1 volts when fully charged, leading to a combined battery voltage of about 12.6 volts. The battery delivers Direct Current (DC) to the motorcycle’s electronics when the engine is turned off. Battery also provides the current to crank up the engine when you push that electric start button on the switch gear.

ALTERNATOR

The Alternator generates electricity once the engine is started. In simple terms, it utilizes the engine’s crankshaft to turn the magnets and produce electricity as an electromagnet. The alternator, however, produces alternating current (AC) which needs to be converted to direct current. This is achieved through a rectifier / regulator which not only converts AC to DC but also regulates the amount of current that is sent to all the electronics present on a motorcycle.

WIRING HARNESS

The current produced on a motorcycle is channeled to the electronic components through a wiring harness. The wiring harness is a set of wires, terminals and connectors, designed specifically for a two-wheeler model to supply electric power. It plays a pivotal role in connecting various electrical and electronic components on a two-wheeler.