The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dead batteries and KLR's

Well, I went to ride my KLR to work today to keep it charged up and ready to go, and the battery was dead. It shouldn't have been dead -- it's just been two weeks since I last rode it, and I rode it for about 100 miles on several consecutive days then -- so either the voltage regulator has gone kaput and it's not charging, or the battery has an internal short and is dying.

So the first thing I'm going to do is put the battery on my Battery Tender when I get home tonight and let it charge for 24 hours. Then I can unplug the Battery Tender, let the bike sit for a few days, and check the battery charge by plugging the Battery Tender back in. If the Battery Tender does anything other than cut right off after a couple of minutes max, the battery has an internal short and needs replacing. Luckily since I have the Nightstrom, I don't need this bike to commute.

Oh, here's something to remember: When you're pissed because your motorcycle won't start, don't lean it over onto the sidestand without, uhm, putting the sidestand down first :-). The KLR fell over onto the Nightstrom. Luckily the topbag hit the Givi rack and stopped the KLR from falling over all the way, giving me the chance to swing my boot out from the other side of the KLR and push it back upright again. Then I pushed the KLR back to the front of the garage, backed the Nightstrom out of the garage, and rode the Nightstrom to work. Oh well!

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

Postscript: Yeppers, the battery is the problem. I took it off the Battery Tender once it went to maintain, put it back on again a couple of hours later, and it started charging again. The Battery Tender will, with a healthy fully-charged battery, do its red light, then start flashing its green light, then within a minute go to a steady green for "maintenance"... if the battery lost enough charge in two hours to stay in the 80% flashing mode for more than a minute or so, the battery has a short and is losing charge and needs to be replaced.


Earl said...

Isn't consistency wonderful? Gravity always Rules - till you get far from major mass.

Gordon said...

How old was the battery?

Don't feel bad about failing to deploy the kickstand. we've all done it. I took a healthy swipe at the kickstand on my Triumph one time and didn't know I missed. I got about ten feet when I heard the crash. I was drinking in those days.

BadTux said...

The battery was a little over 4 years old. Given how harshly a battery is treated in a KLR-650 -- not only does the engine vibrate badly but I regularly rode the bike on washboarded dirt roads that made my teeth rattle, nevermind the battery, *plus* the KLR's voltage regulator is set too high and has a bad tendency to boil batteries out -- it lived a full life for a battery.

I really don't care if the KLR falls over, usually -- it's impossible to break the thing, it takes dirt naps all the time when I'm offroading it -- but the fact that it fell over against the Nightstrom made my butt cheeks pucker. The Nightstrom, like most street bikes with fairings, is $$$ if you smash those oh-so-fragile plastics. Luckily the Givi side bag rack on the Nightstrom caught the Givi tail bag on the KLR and propped up the KLR before it could smash its heavy metal barkbusters through the fairing plastics of the Nightstrom.

-- Badtux the Puckered Penguin

Gordon said...

4 years is damn good for a bike battery in any service, really good in a single. Stick with that brand is my advice.

BadTux said...

It's a Yuasa AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat, i.e., sealed). I brought home the replacement identical battery this evening, when I left it in the garage thirty minutes ago it was at about 80% charge according to the blinking lights on my Battery Tender. In the morning I'll finish putting the caps down on it, and it'll be completely sealed. Which is good considering how many dirt naps my KLR takes, no holes to let acid out!

Yeah, it cost $105 when a regular "wet" battery could be had for under $50. But a regular "wet" battery is lucky to last a year in a KLR, and you have to add distilled water every few hundred miles because the voltage regulator is set too high (and is not adjustable) and boils the water out. No thank you :-(.

- Badtux the Battery Penguin