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When to replace your battery...AKA getting tired of clutch starting

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by devochka, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. :newb: alert!

    After 2 weeks of rain with my girl sitting neglected in a carpark, I've had to clutch start her 5 out of 6 times I've started her up...
    • How do you know when your battery has had it and you need a new one?
    • What's the best method of charging a battery? (Leave it on overnight until the charger says charged..and then ride it for a few hours/everyday?)
    • Does leaving the ignition/engine on, charge the battery the same as riding it? Or is it the cycles of the wheels that do it?
    • Should I be checking the liquid levels in my battery on a regular basis and filling this before I charge it?
    • Should I get a voltmeter thingie? (What are these used for?)
    • What should a newbie look for when calling around getting prices for a new battery? Any particular brands better/worse?
    • And most importantly, can you **** up your bike if you clutch start it too much/incorrectly?
  2. Hey Devo...

    Firstly, I've never heard of anyone causing damage by clutch-starting. None of the MotoGP bikes have a starter motor, for example...
    Your battery needs to "hold" 12 volts - if it doesn't, it's time for a new one.
    Yes, you should buy a Voltmeter to check the above - a "multimeter" has a voltmeter function, and Tricky Dickies usually has them fairly cheap.
    Liquid levels? Only need checking if your battery isn't sealed (ie you can't unscrew the vent caps on top...). You should check levels, if appropriate, before you charge.

    It's neither the ignition nor the wheels that charge your battery, it's the engine running (at more than idle speed, generally...). The engine has a "generator" of sorts, which feeds current back through the battery to charge it.
    If you've got a voltmeter, you can check if this is working - your battery should read around 14 volts when your engine is running at 3K RPM, or thereabouts. A simpler test is to make sure your headlight gets brighter when you rev from idle up to about 3K...
    (This last bit won't check the actual charging of the battery, just that there's enough voltage being generated to do it...).

    Hope that helps.
  3. Re: When to replace your battery...and when to keep clutch starting.

    I can probably answer a few of these, but if anyone disagrees or has any different ideas, feel free to jump in...

    When it stops acting reliably, or isn't showing consistent behaviour for no particular reason. i.e. If it is left for 6 months, there is a reasonable reason for it to not start. But if during regular use, just stops starting properly, then it is probably time to look at a new battery. When charging has no effect, then it is definitely time. Look for inconsistent behaviour IMO.

    I have mine on a multi stage battery charger all the time - that is probably ideal but not realistic for everyone. Even just charging overnight once a week, or having a good ride (hour or so) couple of times a week would keep it well charged.

    When idling, the stator will provide a minimal current to the battery but not really enough to charge it AFAIK. When you ride it and get the revs up a bit more, it provides a reasonable charging current. Just idling, generally isn't enough to charge it. Hence a reasonable ride 1-2 times a week I recommended before.

    Depends - a lot of batteries for bikes now are the sealed type, so you have no maintenance on them at all. Apart from that, check liquid levels every 6 months unless it is in particularly harsh conditions. That is just a guess though. You shouldn't need to check them too regularly.

    Voltmeter thingy? Multimeter or gauge to show the voltage? That can tell you a little bit if you know what to look for, but if you want something to check battery charge level often, you might be better placed with this: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/CTEK-Battery-Status-Monitor-Indicator-/180659146596

    Not essential, but if you ride irregularly or have issues, a fairly inexpensive option with easy to understand indicators.

    I'm more familiar with other electronics, but I'd just be looking for any of the major brands. I'd tend to stay away from the absolute cheapest or completely unknown brands perfectly. That isn't to say you should get something expensive or overpriced - I just wouldn't go for a brand priced at rock bottom of the market. I would personally stick somewhere in the middle. Bit more if it is for heavier duty applications. I follow this for most electronics... Diagnosing issues with electronics when cheap crappy stuff is used is a complete pain.

    Someone else will know - but I wouldn't think so for doing too much. Incorrectly - gearbox maybe?
  4. Just something about batteries, and I have had this before is that a battery with no load can actually show a perfectly fine voltage (i.e. 12.8V at standstill) until a load is put on it and it just dies. Voltmeter can definitely be handy, but issues can arise which won't be picked up by it straight away. Handy tool to have around in general though.
  5. Static voltage means squat voltage under load is what counts so you must check voltage when under load, normaly from the starter.
  6. Exactly, the starter will place the greatest drain (load) on your battery hence why people manage to flatten batteries when attempting to start a stubborn engine.

    As adprom mentioned, when the battery ceases to be reliable -a.k.a. when it can no longer hold a charge. Batteries of the lead/acid variety (mostly what bikes/cars/trucks/boats use) will end up having a chemical reaction where the plates become coated with lead-sulphate (sulfation). As this process accumulates, what is known as the "specific gravity" of the acid (weight compared to distilled) will decrease and as a result, the efficiency of the battery deteriorates. Charging the battery should reverse the effect (reduce the lead-sulphate plating) but this isn't the elusive oroborus effect. Eventually the acid cannot retain the required specific gravity (1250 = 1.25 times the weight of distilled water) and this is deemed that it can no longer hold a charge.

    That said, I had a battery for the Suzuki that started acting funny after about 5 months which didn't seem right considering its age. What had happened was the plates had become very badly sulphated for one reason or another and general riding was only just sufficient to allow for normal starting. If she was left for 4 days or the morning was very cold, it would require a bump start to get going. I removed the battery and "trickle" charged the battery (low amperage charging) over 3 days and brought it back from near death.

    I reckon that if you get 2 years out of a battery, you're doing well.

    The liquid contained within your battery is hydrochloric acid (H2SO4 ) and when charging hydrogen bubbles form on the plates which is vented into the atmosphere and thus lower your levels (unless the battery is maintenance-free). If your battery is very flat, the rectifier/regulator will send more voltage to battery and thus, more hydrogen is produced. The same would be true when using a battery charger. As a rule of thumb, I would check the levels every month or so and definitely if I were purposely charging the battery (throughout the entire charging cycle). Remember, you're topping up the chambers with distilled water (or use rain water - it's free) so you may have to charge for longer if you need to add a lot of water.

    Glad you're up on the technical jargon Devo, not many people know the difference between a "thingie" or a "whats-it" ;) Get a multimeter, not a voltmeter - far more useful in the long run. You can check continuity/resistance (is that fuse actually blown?), amperage as well as voltages with a multimeter. Dick Smith/Tandy/JayCar have near idiot-proof digital multimeters for around $15.

    Well, only when you drop it (the bike, not the clutch) ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Some simply answers from someone who isn't particularly mechanically or technically minded.

    1. When you need to jump start it. Or if you notice that it's not cranking the engine as easily as it should.

    2. The best, or at leas the most fun, way of charging a bike battery is to ride the bike a long long way. Or, if that's not possible buy a suitable battery charger and 'trickle' charge it overnight.

    3. Leaving the ignition on without the engine running will flatten your battery. The engine needs to be running above idle for the battery to charge.

    4. Depends on the sort of battery you have. If you can see the fluid levels and there are 'screw' holes at the top then yes check regularly and refill as required. If you have a sealed battery then no.

    5. You don't need a voltmeter thingy or a multimeter whats it.

    6. Check your manual, it will tell you what is the best battery for your bike. Personally I use Yuasa batteries. On the odd occaison I've used a different brand it hasn't lasted as long.

    One last thing, if your battery isn't very old and you use your bike daily and the battery goes dead, it might be worth getting the electrics checked out.
  8. My original battery that came with the Ducati is now five years old and still going strong.

    I don't ride the bike every day to keep the battery charged, and I only put it on the charger occassionally. The batteries in my 4WD also last five to seven years, except the one that had a fault and failed within six months. But it was replaced on warranty.

    Buy quality and never, ever run the battery completely flat. That permanently damages them, mostly through sulfation, which can sometimes be mostly reversed with a good charger. But not completely.

    So, my advice:

    Go see an autoelectrician and have them load test the battery. They will tell you if it needs replacing. Some bike shops will be able to do this test, but I like to use an independent tester if I can't test it myself. There may be a small charge, but some do it for free, even if they aren't making a sale. Just make sure it is easy to get to the battery terminals to test it.

    Check what the recommended battery is for your bike. If there is a choice, buy a sealed battery (Maintenance Free) and never have to worry about topping up fluids. If there is no recommended sealed battery for you bike, ask at a reputable battery supplier for an equivalent sealed battery to the best one recommended for your bike. (Always buy the best battery you can afford for your bike, or any vehicle. It saves money by avoiding being stuck on the side of the road! [Clutch starting aside.]) Make sure you get a battery with the correct dimensions and type of connections (posts). Smaller may be okay, or may not. You will need to check.

    I haven't bought a bike battery, except in a new bike, but I believe $70 to $120 would buy a decent one. I don't recall what your bike is, but if you confirm this, someone may be able to make a recommedation.

    If you want to buy a charger to keep the battery in good condition, read this thread: https://netrider.net.au/forums/showthread.php?t=121395&highlight=CTEK

    Oh. Yes, your battery has had it, or the charging system on your bike is no good.

  9. Get with the program - its a closely guarded secret. So far we've managed to establish it starts (no pun intended) with an H
  10. I'm not into guessing games Brmmm.

    Devochka will confirm make and model if a recommendation is wanted. The bike can't be that embarrassing, as long as it has two wheels.
  11. Put a bigger battery on the bike....

    Attached Files:


  12. Its here: there's pics and everything