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Aging & Worn
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Because I had that weird start-up situation recently, I'm suspicious that the battery (even though I have been fastidious with the Tender on it) may not have a long life left after three years, based on some of the input in here, and my own suspicions.

In a conversation with a buddy of mine here, who has been an 'owner/rider" for many years, he recommended the price on the motorcycle batteries at Walmart ($40?) over the cost of a battery at a Parts Store.

He stated that the Manufacturer (who's name I don't recall at the moment) was the same one who manufactures the OEM Batteries; but the price at Walmart was the best.

So, "just on priniciple," I'll buy and install a "new" battery. Anything about the Walmart battery that rings any warning bells for anyone?

-Soupy
 

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Gone.
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17,873 Posts
Walmart batteries are made by Johnson Controls. I don't have any input on them. I don't know who made your OEM battery, but a lot of metric guys like the Yuasa batteries, which have a very good reputation for use in many different brands.

For my bike I buy Deka batteries, which are some of the very best available. They also make the OEM Harley battery.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Batteries, chargers, etc.

Soup -

I gotta scold you, buddy. Instead of buying new chargers, batteries, etc. you need to learn how to TEST what you've got.

Any auto parts / battery store can LOAD TEST a battery for you, tell you what it's got. Basically they apply a big fat load (just like the starter does) and watch and see how much the voltage drops. If it drops below around 9V, it's time for a new battery.

A lot of electronics today, like ECM's, etc simply won't function, fire the injectors, etc. if the cranking voltage drops below 8-9V.

You can put a voltmeter on the battery terminals ON YOUR BIKE while cranking and do the same thing. Of course it helps to have a helper! And it's also useful to have tested a few before, to have a "feel" for it.

You can measure STATE OF CHARGE simply by putting voltmeter on the battery with the bike off. 12.6 or above is fully charged (for a lead acid battery), 12.3 -- 50%, 12.1 90% discharged.

Now switching your DMM to AMPS, you can measure your trickle charger and see how many amps it's charging your battery with, confirming it's still working. You should see 200ma up to 1A, depending on the size/strength of the charger.

But you don't even have to measure amps, with the bike OFF, if the battery alone measures 12.5, and you see 12.55 with the charger connected, you know it's charging.

A lot of guys can measure resistance and volts, but can't successfully measure amps with their meters. Couple of reasons. One is you have to put the meter IN SERIES with the circuit. Other is guys will pull 10A through their meter while the meter is set on 100 milliamps and MELT THE FUSE inside the meter.

So you ALWAYS start at the top of the scale (10A) and work downwards to make an amps measurement.

As far as "brands" of batteries, it's true, virtually ALL batteries are made by the same factories, Johnson Controls, & others. Take care of a cheap battery add water PROVIDED it's not a sealed battery) and never let it sit discharged, and it'll last as long as an expensive one.

Sitting discharged for long periods of time (days or weeks) kills a battery faster than anything else you can do to it.

I personally PREFER car & motorcycle batteires with caps I can add water to once a year.

Cheers!
 

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I have heard the same thing about Yuasa batteries. As far as "principal" goes, l do not shop at Walmart. I don't like how they treat their employees, and l don't like how they go into communities and put ma & pa out of business. I would rather spend a bit more and buy the battery from a local guy who has a parts franchise, so long as he is willing and able to get for me what l am looking for.
 

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Soup -

I gotta scold you, buddy. Instead of buying new chargers, batteries, etc. you need to learn how to TEST what you've got.

Any auto parts / battery store can LOAD TEST a battery for you, tell you what it's got. Basically they apply a big fat load (just like the starter does) and watch and see how much the voltage drops. If it drops below around 9V, it's time for a new battery.

A lot of electronics today, like ECM's, etc simply won't function, fire the injectors, etc. if the cranking voltage drops below 8-9V.

You can put a voltmeter on the battery terminals ON YOUR BIKE while cranking and do the same thing. Of course it helps to have a helper! And it's also useful to have tested a few before, to have a "feel" for it.

You can measure STATE OF CHARGE simply by putting voltmeter on the battery with the bike off. 12.6 or above is fully charged (for a lead acid battery), 12.3 -- 50%, 12.1 90% discharged.

Now switching your DMM to AMPS, you can measure your trickle charger and see how many amps it's charging your battery with, confirming it's still working. You should see 200ma up to 1A, depending on the size/strength of the charger.

But you don't even have to measure amps, with the bike OFF, if the battery alone measures 12.5, and you see 12.55 with the charger connected, you know it's charging.

A lot of guys can measure resistance and volts, but can't successfully measure amps with their meters. Couple of reasons. One is you have to put the meter IN SERIES with the circuit. Other is guys will pull 10A through their meter while the meter is set on 100 milliamps and MELT THE FUSE inside the meter.

So you ALWAYS start at the top of the scale (10A) and work downwards to make an amps measurement.

As far as "brands" of batteries, it's true, virtually ALL batteries are made by the same factories, Johnson Controls, & others. Take care of a cheap battery add water PROVIDED it's not a sealed battery) and never let it sit discharged, and it'll last as long as an expensive one.

Sitting discharged for long periods of time (days or weeks) kills a battery faster than anything else you can do to it.

I personally PREFER car & motorcycle batteires with caps I can add water to once a year.

Cheers!
Hey Wade, you always share a lot of knowledge regarding topics like these, especially when it comes to electrical stuff and startup issues. Would you be willing to make some videos where you demonstrate how to perform these tests? I think they could really be helpful, and you would be very good at it.
 

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American Legion Rider
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18,626 Posts
I have heard the same thing about Yuasa batteries. As far as "principal" goes, l do not shop at Walmart. I don't like how they treat their employees, and l don't like how they go into communities and put ma & pa out of business. I would rather spend a bit more and buy the battery from a local guy who has a parts franchise, so long as he is willing and able to get for me what l am looking for.
Good for you hawk. I despise that company. They came to this area which is 35 miles away from any other town, put up one of their super stores and now not one small business is operational. Only antique stores and an Ace. I get everything I can from the Ace. But I'm forced to walmart for groceries or drive 35 miles to get milk and canned goods.

If milking wasn't such a daily pain I would take the drive. They took 3 grocery stores and another old old hardware story out when they moved in. The kind of hardware store where no matter what it is they have it. If they can just remember where it is.:D Loved that store.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Hawk, I just don't have the time or skills to edit video. If you want to Skype or Facetime me, record an interview, and have someone to edit it and produce final videos, I'd be glad to contribute content.

So let's talk about batteries, lead acid, SEALED lead acid, gel-cell, Advanced Glass Mat, and so on.

These ALL use the same lead/lead oxide plates, and sulfuric acid electrolyte.

Almost all of them are VENTED. Truly SEALED batteries, perhaps some of the AGM's are sealed, bu tthe rest are VENTED, basically to allow hydrogen gas to escape and A) prevent an explosion, B) prevent the thing from swelling up like a balloon when gas IS produced.

And every lead acid battery WILL dissosociate/produce SOME hydrogen gas. while charging. It's the nature of the lead-acid battery.

Even if the lead and acid are bound up in a "glass mat."

So you ARE going to lose SOME hydrogen, SOME water vapor, when a lead acid, ANY lead acid battery gets charged. The only issue is the rate at which it's lost.

And whether or not you can replenish it.

I commonly get 7-9 year life out of UNSEALED lead acid batteries in my car where I can top up the water once a year or so.

Water is lost A) during charging, especially if you left the lights on and heavily discharged it, and B) simply due to low humidity weather. Evaporation.

Never heavily discharge a battery, never have to heavily charge it, and you'll never lose as much water.

But on a SEALED lead acid, a glass mat, etc. once that water is gone, it's gone forever. The battery life has been shortened.

Commonly with UNSEALED lead acid batteries, if the electrolyte (water plus sulfuric acid) EVER gets below the level of the plates, that battery is doomed.

Little "fingers" of lead will grow between the plates and short cells out.

Cannot tell you how many friends cars, I check the oil before a trip, whatever, and can see metal when I pop the battery caps.

Truth be told, SOMETIMES adding water to a battery that's already got exposed plates HASTENS it's demise.

So when you add water TO a battery, it weakens the electrolyte. You could top up a battery and watch the voltage go from 12.6 down to 12.4 volts!

Solution? Charge the battery, or go for a nice long drive AFTER you top up a battery, any battery.

More info. Don't use your car (or your bikes" alternator to charge a discharged battery! Alternators are expensive!

If you find you've got a discharged battery, use a battery charger, NOT your alternator to charge it up!

And if it's unsealed, check the water before AND after charging!

So the future of bike batteries is clearly Lithium Ion batteries. They have greater charge density. That is, they can hold the same amount of charge as a lead acid in a much smaller space, and weight.

But should you put a Lithium Battery on your current bike? Hell no! The charging "regime" is different for a Lithium and a Lead acid battery, and your alternator, voltage regulator, etc. was all designed for Lead acid!

Not to mention that trickle chargers, etc. for Lithium batteries are at least TWICE the price as those for lead acid batteries.

For ME, the cheapes, longest lasting alternative is UNSEALED lead acid batteries, and cheap Harbor Freight chargers. And water now and then.

Buy whatever you want. Spend as much as you want. But have sound reasons for what you do!
 
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