There are a few problems owners of classic cars and bikes will be familiar with. Firstly, if you've got more than one, MOT tests and tax renewals seemingly come around every other month.
> Then there's the problem with storage – one garage is never enough, especially when your pride and joy has to share space with a lawn mower and BBQ coals. But by far and away the biggest problem for all owners of cherished second machines is the battery.

You see, when you use your car or bike on a daily basis, the battery that helps fire it into life gets regular top-ups. When it's left sat in your garage for weeks – or, whisper it quietly, months – that battery slowly loses its charge.

Here's a familiar scenario: I recently went to take our Project Peugeot 205 GTI out for a spin. It was in our office lock up next to my Fiesta XR2. The Peugeot was flat.


I fired the Fiesta up, moved it into a position where the jump leads would reach (which required a 14 point turn that Austin Powers would be proud of), then managed to fire the 205 into life. I reversed the Fiesta out (tricky job as it's a tight door), jumped in the 205 and pulled it forward ready for its turn at garage pirouette only for it to promptly stall. So I started all over again – and an hour later, yes, an hour – I was on the road.

It was after this Laurel and Hardy debacle that I decided to hunt for a trickle charger – and this new model from CTEK landed on my desk for testing. It's the MXS 5.0, which means absolutely nothing to you or me, but what it does have is a few tricks up its sleeve.

It's billed as the "ultimate smart charger" and uses an eight-step system for keeping any battery in shape. Not only does it recharge, it constantly monitors it too, topping up the battery when it needs it.

It will even bring back to life a cell that has fully discharged – something that many classic car and bike owners will be all too familiar with.


And the good news is, it can be used on cars and bikes of all sizes.

In the box you get crocodile clips to attach it to your battery. I found these a little small for the job on the 205, but fortunately you also get two eyelets to attach permanently to the battery's terminals that worked a treat.

The charger has now been hooked up to the 205 for two months and when I tried it, it fired up with no problems. I also like the read out on top of the charger that easily explains, at a glance, what state the battery is in. Very useful.

At £79.99 it's not cheap, but it's a small price to pay to avoid 14-point turns and messing about with jump leads. Overall we're very impressed indeed.

For more details see www.ctek.com or call 01380 722621