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Which type of Battery?

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by ~DadAgain~, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. So after the bike drop and the three week wait for mirror and footpeg replacements the bike wouldnt start... The engine turned over - but didnt quite 'catch' (none of that really dead battery 'click click click' noise).

    Having my suspicions about the battery I whipped off the seat and popped on my charger to find only 1 red light (theres 4 lights on the charger - 3 red, 1 green)..

    So I left it charging for a couple of hours and then tried turning it over again... and once again the engine turned over - but without enthusiasm and did not fire up.

    When I reconnected the battery charger, once again it was down to 1 red light (and I'd only cranked the engine for about 5 seconds) - but came back to green within half an hour.

    So - I'm thinking theres something wrong with the battery and it needs replacing. [feel free to offer other explanations of what might be wrong]

    Looking at batteries is a painful task. My experience with all kinds of automotive batteries is that they tend to be rubbish - I've spent $500 on 4WD battries, $250 on family sedan batteries and $70 on bike batteries before and it doesnt seem to matter whether I buy 'good' ones or cheap ones they all die far sooner than my ever decreasing expectations.... but despite that theres something niggling away in me suggesting that buying the cheapest may not be the best idea.

    Here are my choices:

    "Roadstar" YTX9BS from Teammoto - $70
    "Yuasa" YTX9BS from Super Cheap - $125
    ? fancy talked up "gel" battery from eBay - $90
    Gel Battery from Batterywork - $165 (WTF is a gel battery? and why is it good?)

    Do expensive batteries really last twice as long? (perhaps they last BEYOND their warranty by more than a month? :|)

    Should I just get the closest and cheapest and get myself on the road asap - or should I 'shop smart' and get a sophisticated battery from eBay - or are sophisticated batteries just sophisticated in their ability to extract more cash from unsuspecting motorists?
  2. I've always tended to buy branded batteries and, in contrast to your experience, mine have always lasted well in spite of being neglected, flattened, left to stand around for months at a time on occasion, topped up with crappy tap water and recharged when necessary with an ancient, buzz-box charger with no charge control devices. Maybe I've just been lucky.

    So my recommendation would be to buy a recognisable brand name (not that unbranded are necessariy bad, I just haven't much experience with them).

    As for gel-cell vs lead-acid, the only gel-cell I've had was the (presumably ball-shrinkingly expensive) OEM BMW one in my R1100. The date stamps showed that it was probably the 6 year old original when I bought the bike and it was fine. It was still mostly fine 2 years later when the bike was written off, in spite of having been flat due to standing at least once during that time and recharged with the aforementioned crude buzz-box. At the time of the crash I was contemplating replacement because, when starting on cold mornings, battery voltage would drop far enough for the ABS warning light to decide there was a fault. A few minutes warm up and recovery would see it OK again though. Based on that, I'd say they're pretty robust.

    Big advantage of the gel-cell is that, baring total destruction of the casing, they can't leak and are, effectively, maintenance free.
  3. Generally, Yes. Brand names typically use higher quality chemicals that are more pure. Impurities reduce the life. Cheap Chinese batteries are usually made out of whatever chemical they can source for the cheapest, which is usually quite impure.
    They are a fairly new type of battery. Instead of a liquid solution, it is a fumed silica. Higher current discharge, smaller size for Ah rating, if the case cracks there is no leakage, they require a lower voltage to charge. For automobile use, not worth it. They are only mainstream now because of the current trend of solar cells.
  4. Yuasa will last 3-4 years. Roadstar (chinese) will last less.

    If you have a habit of leaving your lights on and flattening your battery get the gel battery. They're also known as AGM batteries and are more tolerant of being highly discharged. I say more tolerant; that's not the same as being 'immune to'.

    Considering they're all so cheap I'd go the Yuasa. I did on my VTR250 (replaced the roadstar the previous owner put in it) and haven't looked back.

    You mention a charger with 'lights' on it. If you have a habit of flattening your batteries, get a CTEK or similar charger which will be able to repair some of the damage that flattening a SLA battery causes.
  5. I was discussing this with a colleague here who suggested that since moving to QLD from VIC he and his brother have both had multiple issues with short lived batteries. Ok its a small sample size - but is it possible that theres a climate factor in play here? - too much humidity?

    Another factor that may well play into the short life of my batteries is that I have always had a short commute - its actually quite rare that I do any journeys longer than 10 minutes on the bike and although longer car journeys do occur any car I have does a LOT of 2 minute runs to the shops, 2 minute school runs etc etc - So perhaps my batteries are simply never given a chance to charge up?

    either way - I'm thinking that the $70 el cheapo battery is the way to go for now - possibly spending the extra on a trickle charger with permanently mounted 'pigtail' leads so I can boost the battery over weekends and make sure its kept ok when I go on holiday for a month over xmas!
  6. Go to hiside and see if he has a Motobatt (gel/fiberglass) that suits, I have had a good run with them.
  7. Might be. My experience is spread between WA and the UK. Whilst the UK gets quite a bit stickier than WA, it certainly doesn't get to the tropical extent seen in north-east Oz. Gets bloody cold though :D.

    Could be. You certainly won't put back what a start takes out in less than maybe 15 minutes or so. Frequent restarts also mean frequent large discharge currents which will also stress the battery.
  8. New cheap battery is now in place and on a trickle charger.

    I'll give it a cranck in the morning and see if I'm all good - then the only thing I've got to do is work out how to put the bike back together!

    Everything is bolted back in place - but one of the tank restraining bolts on the side stops nearly 1cm shy of being flush where it should be. Why does kwaka have to bury the battery so deep in the bowels of the bike?

    I guess I have to loosen it all up again, shake it into position a bit and try and tighten it up.... Wish me luck!
  9. I find that there's always something like that with damn near everything I pull apart and put back together - like you said, just loosen the other bolts, hold whatever you're putting the bolt through flush to the threaded hole, and put that last bolt in.
  10. So the new battery was left overnight on the trickle charger and in the morning looked good to go...

    I gave it a crank AND....

    ...exactly the same as before (which leads me to think perhaps there was nothing wrong with the previous battery after all DOH!!!) - it turns over but doesnt fire up.

    I guess I'm gonna have to pay someone to come and get me back on the road :-(

    (Couldnt come at a worse time with $1000 of various vehicle regos, wifey just picked up a $340 speeding fine and at some point I need a new set of tyres. Seriously running out of money here :-/)
  11. More googling suggests that perhaps my problem might be spark plug related. Since I'm due for a minor service anyway - I figured perhaps its time to attempt and oil and plug change myself....

    I've loosened up the tank again (and in the process found a rubber washer/grommet thing that had slipped last time I tightened it up) and propped it up... Next step as far as I can see is to remove the significant large black plastic mass between me and the spark plug.. (I'm assuming this is something to do with air/fuel - but my mechanical knowledge and understanding of internal combustion engines stopped when cars moved away from push-rods and distributor caps - so I I'm not really sure whats going on here!)

    Am I on a fools mission to destroy my bike if I start disconnecting stuff in an attempt to get to the plug?... Who knows..... I'm getting nervous about this! lol
  12. #12 ~DadAgain~, Oct 1, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    OK.... latest update (if anyones still reading):

    I finally managed via lots of googling to work a few things out.

    I removed the fuel tank and set it down to one side dripping slowly...
    I got the air box off and finally had access to my plugs. after a trip out to get supplies (including a plug spanner) I changed the plugs and put everything back together.

    This time the reconstruction went beautifully (although it took me a few attempts to work out how to reconnect the fuel line with that funky orange clip) - eveyrthing lined up - all the screws and bolts sat nicely and it all looks good.

    Unfortunately the damn thing still doesnt fire up...

    I had planned to do an oil change whilst I was playing - but since I cant fire up the engine and warm the oil up, I decided to wait and insteadn used the time for some serious cleaning.. I've just discovered my wheel rims actually SHINE once you wipe the grime away! \\:D/

    So all up I've spent a ton of money on battery, trickle charger, plugs, plug spanner, oil and filter (unused) - and spent about 5 hours today working throught stuff and I'm pretty much back where I started. A bike that doesnt fire up..... (although I've got a much better idea about the internal structure of my bike now!)

    Since I *know* there is spark (I tested by sticking a screwdriver down the 'sick coils' and watching it spark from screwdriver to frame when I hit the starter). The next best theory I guess is that theres a fuel problem? Theres plenty in the tank - so what next? Is there a fuel pump that can be checked?

    Heres a short video incase theres some tell-tale sound that I'm missing:
  13. Why do people always want to replace batteries when a bike won't start.

    If the battery was turning the starter, then I suspect the battery was probably ok although perhaps a bit down after a three week gap in running. And after you tried unsuccessfully to start it a few times I would expect it to be down in charge.

    It may have been the battery but could also be quite a few other things and before you replace a battery you need to check those out or you are just wasting money.

    So if it is still cranking over and not starting back to basics - do you have spark? do you have fuel? (that means getting to the cylinders not just fuel in the tank although check that as well) and do you have air?

    Personally after a three week gap I would guess lack of fuel as the fuel in the bowls may have dried out. Try some start-ya-bastard or something simlar in the airfilter and see if you can get it to fire up. Even if it kicks a bit but doesn't fire, this would probably mean fuel and keep trying this.
  14. OK - reasonable enough. I know I have spark - and I'm confident now that the battery is ok... (and yes money spent on the new battery may well have been wasted - but since every man and his dog suggested a dead battery - at least I know that I've ruled that out).

    So - it seems the on the 'back to basics' principals its fuel or air...

    So how do I check for fuel at the cyclinders since the only way of looking at cylinders is to remove the fuel tank (at which stage obviously lack of fuel is a somewhat expected problem).

    Air ya say? - How does that come into things - would an old 'nearly time to be replaced' air filter mean that not enough air is coming through? Other than replacing the air filter - is there a way to check these things?

    Out of interest - after googling around I rather desperately tried opening the fuel filler cap and trying to start the engine. Oddly enough it *almost* started. There was a low pitched rumble for a split second before it returned to the wheezey cranking as seen in the video. So I'm starting to put a bit of weight into fuel being the cause - I just dont know what or where the problem is, how to diagnose it and how to fix it.

    How does 'start-ya-bastard' work? Were do you spray it - if I need to remove the fuel tank to get to the air filter that doesnt make sense does it? Or do you just spray it into the air intake at the front of the bike (which surely would just clog the air filter)?

    Sorry for the n00bish questions - this is a bit of a voyage of discovery for me!
  15. You can check for fuel by first checking you have fue in the tank, then removing a fuel hose from the carby and checking it is getting to the carby and then cranking a few times with choke on and pull a spark plug. If fuel is getting to the cylinder and the engine has not fired, the plug should be wet. Makes sure you either wait a while or dry them off before you try to start again.

    A dirty air filter will affect the bike's running and make it difficult to start. It could be the culprit but usually if lack of air stops starting you are looking for something more obvious like a blockage of the air intake. Trying to clean up the filter or replace it if it is due will not hurt.
    Start ya bastard and similar products are basically an ether rich aerosol. Normally you spray it directly into your air filter intake if that is accessible. It provides enough "fuel" to get the engine started if fuel delivery is a problem and once started the hope is that the engine is able to then start its own fuel delivery properly, which depending on the problem doesn't always happen.

    If you have your tank off you can spray directly into the air intake throat of tha airfilter. Sometimes these are in an awkward position to spray into and you may need to get creative with some tubing to try to dribble the ether in their, but once their it will vapourise and act as fuel.

    Last time I had a fuel blockage even with the tank off and fuel diconnected I was able to get enough fuel down th throat of the carbies to get the motor running and by doing that for a bit was able to clear the blockage, so that I could reconnect the tank.

    If you have checked for spark, (presumably by removing the sparkplugs, you can also spray a small amount directly into the cylender, Problem is that this is unlikely to allow th engin to run more than one or cycles, but again may be sufficent, depending on the problem.

    Now back to what you said. If the engine fired after you removed the fuel cap, it is possible you had an air lock in the tank which is stopping fuel getting through.
  16. Thanks for the advice - I've decided my capabilities and free-time have run out and I'm going to pay a guy to come and look on Wednesday afternoon.

    When I described the sequence of events he seemed pretty confident and said theres a few things to check, but he's sure it'll get going easily enough and not take too long. $55 call out fee + $60 an hour... I'll strip the fairings off myself (again) to cut down on the time it takes!

    Stay tuned - I will update the thread later this week!
  17. Good luck

    Wait with interest to see what the issue was.
  18. Holy dooly.... all fixed....

    Mechanic came round and did some freaky 'motorcycle whisperer' nonsense the had it started in 30 seconds! lol

    Turned out that just cranking, cranking and cranking together with some delicate 'tweaks' on the throttle were all that was required to get it going - and then once it fired up he revv'd the crap out of the it for 10-20 seconds and from that point onwards it was fine - restarted reliably every time thereafter.

    His theory? Insufficiently charged battery prevented it starting after the three week 'rest' - and the failed attempt to start had fouled the plugs (he inspected the old plugs I had taken out).

    So turns out my 'new battery' and 'new plugs' approach was pretty damn close to the money - I just didnt have the magic touch (or persistence?) to get the thing started thereafter!

    Anyway - I'm back running again... have found a mechanic who seems to be ok and doesnt charge the earth. He also looked at my service history and said theres no way I need to be servicing so regularly and suggested that I'd been conned by the whole '6000km or 6 months whichever is sooner' BS - He claimed that unless a bike sits unridden for ages servicing can be done strickly on mileage regardless of the passage of time. He looked at a few bits and pieces (brake pads, tyres etc etc) and suggested I'm probably good to go for a while before needing another service - so should keep my unused oil and filter for another day.

    I am, perhaps, a little wiser for the experience - and if this guy is to be believed his advice today will pay for itself in no time by me not pissing money away giving it away on services every 2,000km!
  19. Hmmm. Not sure about this. For some stuff I'd agree (air filters for example) but used engine oil can get quite acidic from traces of combustion products. Whilst I've got away with having such stuff sitting inside engines for long periods, I'd no regard it as a brilliant idea.
  20. True Pat but we are prabably now just arguing about what really constitutes an age in " unless a bike really sits for ages..."