:: Yamaha Virago XV Forums That Rock!!! Tech Articles Batteries/Charging Systems

#1:  Batteries/Charging Systems Author: lonestarrider Post Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:57 pm

Howdy all,

I have seen a lot of charging system/battery problems lately. It may be because of the time of year. I have fielded a lot of calls from friends, and have seen several posts on different forums that I am a member of about this same issue. So the teacher in me is coming out. Hopefully I will be able to keep this from getting too long, but I do have a good bit of useful information.

First a little about batteries. We call our batteries 12 volts, but that is not accurate. Our batteries are actually 13.2 volts when fully charged. We get this because the batteries have 6 cells in them. Each cell produces 2.2 volts which is how we get the 13.2 volts, but we round down and say each cell produces 2 volts which is how we got to calling them 12 volt batteries.

Second since the electrolyte solution has water in it then cold temperatures make it less able to produce the needed voltage/amps to crank the engine. So it is even more important to keep your batteries fully charged during the colder months.

On a side note, never add acid or electrolyte solution to a battery that has a low electrolyte level. The water in the solution is the only part that evaporates, not the acid. If you add acid or electrolyte soulution (water and acid mixed together) then the solution mixture is wrong and the battery may not be able to produce the needed volts/amps. It is also best to use filtered or distilled water. These types of water have a lot of the minerals removed. These minerals can conducty electricity internally in the battery causing problems for the battery.

So what to do if you get out to your bike and it doesn't start due to a weak or dead battery?

First charge the battery only enough to start the bike. I don't like to fully charge the battery right now because I am going to go straight into my charging tests (but I will fully charge it later before riding the bike). For the best results from my testing I want a battery that is partially discharged. This makes the charging system produce maximum current to recharge the battery. If the battery is fully charged and the regulator is working properly then we may get a false low reading because the regulator is doing it's job. If any part of the charging system is not working properly then it should show up at this time. To properly test the charging system you will need a shop manual for your bike and a voltage meter. You will need to get information from the shop manual about things like what rpm the engine needs to be running for the test and what the correct minimum charging specification is for your bike. As a general rule (very generic, but should put you in the ball park) a lot of bikes use 5,000 rpm and 13.8 - 14.8 volts. These numbers are very general and are not applicable to all bikes, but can give you a general idea. If I am working on a friends bike and do not have the manual then I only use these numbers as a guideline, not an exact. I always go and find the exact information for their bike before I have them spend any money on parts.

Second I always fully charge the battery whether I find a charging problem or not. Many times the problem is that they are not riding their bikes long enough each time they ride it to fully recharge the battery. Again another generic rule is that it takes about 20 minutes of riding for the charging system to fully recharge a battery from starting (given that the battery was fully charged before starting the bike). Also a charging system that is not producing the proper amount of current to fully charge the battery can kill an old or weak battery. That will only show up after trying to charge the battery and then testing it.

Finally if the charging system seems to be working properly and the battery will not hold a charge then have the battery tested. If you do not have the proper equipment to test the battery then take it to a shop that does have the equipment. You will not be able to properly test a battery without the right tools. If the battery is good then you have something draining the battery which gets into a whole other set of tests (not gonna go there on this post).

By the way, I also always recommend to all my friends to get a battery maintainer for their bike. I have one for each of my bikes and very seldom have a battery problem. They are available at most parts stores, and all over the internet. The last one I bought I got from e-bay. It was less expensive and brand new! I use them at least once a week (overnight) on my bikes and anytime the bike will be sitting for an extended period.

Hopefully this will help someone out there with their problems, and didn't get too long.


#2:  Re: Batteries/Charging Systems Author: lonestarrider Post Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:54 pm

I should have included this in the first post. Here is a link that SeaComms posted in another message. It is a good trouble shooting chart about solving charging problems.

Y'all have a good one now...ya hear!!!


#3:   Author: SeaComms Post Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:13 pm

Beat me to it Keith, was just about to add that in too hehe.

Well written by the way, Dave.

#4:  Re: Batteries/Charging Systems Author: lonestarrider Post Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 1:26 am

Sorry Dave,

Didn't mean to take your thunder away! naughty

Thank you for the compliment, hopefully it helps someone. I don't consider myself the expert, but I feel that I do have enough knowledge to be dangerous blasting

Y'all have a good one


#5:   Author: jgc Post Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:21 pm

i got a 82 750 what would be a good battery i blew mine up a couple of weekks a go using a grinder about 10 ft from bike spark set it off i am also looking to get a new 4 brush starter maybe santa will bring me one

#6:  Re: Batteries/Charging Systems Author: lonestarrider Post Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:30 pm

There are several good batteries out there, but don't be shocked when you see the prices. I have actually gotten them from Wal-Mart before and had very good luck with them. Just remember that I get a little anal moon about maintenance on my bikes so I usually get better performance out of things than most people do.
Somewhere I saw a posting that had a very good chart showing the battery sizing recommended for a lot of different bikes. I can't remember where I saw it right now, but if I can find it I will copy and post it here. It may have even been on this forum that I saw it.


#7:   Author: Bryan Post Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:23 am

Go buy yourself a DEKA battery , good old made in the USA . DEKA only leaves on shelf for short time then they replace and recycle them . The batteries you get from where ever have usally been setting on the shelf for who knows how long.
to find your local DEKA dealer just google DEKA BATTERIES . The site is also full of information on proper battery maitainance .

#8:   Author: jgc Post Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:58 am

thanks for the help i will look them up today i want a realy good battery to go with my new starter after these things are done i can ride

#9:  Re: Batteries/Charging Systems Author: eaglebeak Post Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 11:38 pm

Lonestar had some great advice on batteries, and maybe I can add a little to boot. There's all sorts of chargers from trickle, smart, floaters, or maintainers, but Lonestar had very good advice about simply making a little regimen of going out and hooking whatever charger you have up about once every week or two and leave it hooked up overnight - then remove it. Keeping a battery always at full charge will keep it fully charged OK, but the plates will slowly sulfate up over time; and a few months later, you'll have a fully charged battery with very little capacity - which gives you a few seconds of moderate cranking, then click click click.

The batteries that live the longest are the ones that get regular "exercising" where they're pulled down by starting and a little running at low speed with the lights on, then slowly charged back up again to a full charge again with a 20 minute ride at moderate speed or spending the night on a trickle charger, maintainer, or whatever. If you don't load one down regularly during the storage months and charge it back up again, you'll find it not to be as whoopie as it was a few months earlier regardless of what kind of charger you kept on it.

There's a few actual "smart" chargers available (think mine is a Vector) that have a 2.2 Amp maximum charge setting, that will shut completely off and stay off after the battery reaches full charge. The decent ones have an "exerciser" or "rejuvenater" setting that does just as I've described in that it slowly discharges the battery down to about 1.5V per cell (around 9V), then trickle charges it back up to full - and shuts off. If you're storing the bike over the winter and don't want to add excess moisture by firing it up every week, you need only to hook the smart charger it up about every two or three weeks for 24 hours and run it through an exercise cycle to keep a happy battery.

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