Motorcycle battery activation
The battery, after being filled with acid needs to be initially charged to avoid the risk of sulfation. There are two common types of batteries convention lead acid batteries and sealed batteries also known as absorbed glass matt(AGM) batteries.
The battery is stored without sulfuric acid (electrolyte) and to activate it acid is added. Without acid it has an indefinite shelf life.
Conventional Battery ActivationEdit
A conventional battery is normally filled with acid at the place you buy it from. They should allow 30 minutes to let all the air bubbles escape from the battery while filling it and fill it exactly to the upper line. Yuasa actually recommends that the initial charging be done on the battery without the caps on. They recommend you charge it at an amperage equal to 1/10 of the batteries rated capacity, but in practice most people will only have a 2amp option available to them. They then recommend that you top off the acid level and this is the last time you will ever add electrolyte to the battery. Any additional top off should be pure water.
Sealed Battery ActivationEdit
First of all only use the acid pack that comes with the battery do not add any additional acid or water. After the acid pack is completely drained you should let the battery sit for 20-60 minutes (high performance batteries 1-2 hours). This allows the electrolyte to permeate into the plates for optimum performance. After the electrolyte is added your battery will have about 75-80% of its potential charge. On new motorcycles many manufacturers require the battery to be fully charged with the cap off with a deep solid state trickle charger to be eligible for warranty replacement. If you don't have a fancy automatic charger you should refer to any instructions included with the battery and aim to have a voltage of 12.8v after the battery is fully charged. The idea behind charging the battery is to further distribute the electrolyte's charge more evenly within the battery.
Riding the bike to charge batteryEdit
It is true that often people ride their bike to charge the battery, but the main problem with this method is its not exact. For a dealership which has many bikes they don't ride, they HAVE to charge the batteries before hand. You can properly charge a battery by riding the bike, but in general its probably better advice not to. Why would you want to waste your $60-100 because your idea of "long enough" was not actually adequate. Remember your bikes electrical system charges at a different rate than a battery charger, and these vary from bike to bike, so what may have been good for your friend may not be good for your setup.