The motorcycle was starting to get very tricky to start — either I got it on the first or second try, or the battery would go dead, and I'd have to hook up a trickle charger. Finally, the day came when the thing went dead, even with the charger hooked up. Time for a new battery.
It was hardly surprising; this was a 2001 motorcycle, with the original battery (and, I occasionally joke, the original oil) and batteries rarely last longer than five years or so.
So, I started calling around to see who had the size I needed. I was in for several surprises. For one thing, motorcycle batteries — despite being about an eighth the size of a car battery — cost the same as a car battery. I can fit this thing on my hand, and it was still $62. And yes, that's the cheapest price I was quoted.
The next surprise I got was that the battery I got was a kit. You had the box with the lead over here, six bottles of acid, a top, and some instructions which mostly consisted of warnings. Gulp.
Fortunately, it seemed to be a fairly well-thought-out system: The bottles had foil tops, and the holes in the battery were sharp, which let you invert the bottles and push them down onto the battery, which would drain them into the individual cells. I still dressed for the worst.
Part of what I found vaguely amusing (and a little unsettling) were the warnings on the battery. For starters: DO NOT TIP. Uh, hello? This is for a motorcycle. We steer by tipping. We park using a kickstand. The battery installs in the bike at a 45° angle. How am I supposed to avoid tipping...?
The warnings about explosions were no less comforting. This is, possibly, because the battery is installed under the seat...
Despite all that, the thing works fine, and the bike fires right up. Next time, though, I might look into installing a kickstarter, instead!