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Home > Tech Tips > Electrical and Lights

Run Without A Battery

By Stephen Olson

I'm all about old school, and getting rid of EVERYTHING that absolutely isn't needed off of my bikes. And for some of us, batteries aren't absolutely necessary. They're bulky, expensive, and have the nasty habit of leaking on rigids. Here are the criteria for determining if you can run your bike without a battery:


  1. Must have kick-start, unless you really like push-starting your bike
  2. Generator bike - Knuckles, Pans, early Shovels, Ironhead Sportsters, aftermarket reproductions, ect
  3. Magneto

Basically, a battery eliminator is simply a large capacitor placed in the circuit where the battery was. For a kick-only bike, you really don't need the battery for starting when using a generator or magneto. When the bike is running, the system charging system generates enough juice to keep the bike running. The capacitor does two things. First, if the bike was run recently, it will boost spark voltage as it discharges stored energy when starting. Second, it levels out the current flow, particularly when the bike is idling. This keeps the lights from flickering, and from buring out bulbs.

Several companies sell the capacitor packaged in a kit. You can find battery eliminator kit on or from other dealers.

A couple of things to consider when using a capacitor in place of a battery. First, these things get wicked hot, so don't mount one where you'll accidentally touch it. Second thing, it won't remove all light flicker, just limit it. Finally, you won't have any lights until you start this thing.

An alternative to going battery-less is to use a tiny lawn mower or dirt bike battery, and a capacitor. This can be small enough to fit into a tool pouch, are pretty cheap, and will give you light before you kick the bike over.


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