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Discussion Starter #1
This is my 1st FI bike. Are there any "Warning Signs" that a battery is on it's way out?
The battery will be 3 years old come April. I keep it on a battery tender when I'm not riding.

Thanks,
Rick
 

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Mine worked until it didn't. I had no warning signs. I went out for a Toy4Tots ride and nothing. Lights looked strong but I have LEDs so they don't need much power. I bought the bike used 4+ years ago and I don't know how old the battery was at that time. Luckily Wally-World had the suggested (from Wiki) replacement and I still made the ride.
 

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Normally not much warning. Sometimes it will become a little slower to turn over the engine before it gives up. I usually get 3 to 4 years out of a battery. My last few batteries have been gel batteries, they are sealed and you don't have to check water level.
 

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a lead acid car or motorcycle battery tends to last about 4 years for the standard battery, about 5 if you get the better (long life, super duper..) battery for twice the price

it doesnt seem to matter if you ride the bike a lot or a little

the one thing you need to be careful of: dont let the battery go dead and sit for more than a day without recharging it. If you are having trouble getting the bike to start and you crank the battery dead, put it on a charger as soon as you can - if you wait a week or more the battery will be shot, because the lead plates oxidize when the battery is dead, and it cannot be un-done.

If you are in a hurry go to Interstate Batteries if there is one near you and get the standard - it will be $80 to $100 depending on your bike

if you have time BatteryShark.com has excellent OEM quality batteries for about $40 to $50 with free shipping, and somehow they arrive UPS ground in a few days.

There is no need to get a "hi performance" battery for a stock motorcycle - the OEM replacement will last 4 years. The battery is sized for the 80 to 100 amps the starter needs when its cranking the engine over - once the bike starts its mostly running on the alternator, so a "Hi Performance" battery will not make your bike run any better, faster, or more efficiently. It will just cost you $200 or more.

When the battery starts to fail the bike will crank slower and slower, sometimes you dont notice the subtle difference. The electronic ignition needs the battery to be above 10V to fire the spark plugs, so eventually the bike will crank (a bit slow) but the plugs will not fire and it will not start. Your battery is spent at that point.

If that happens you can push start the bike (bump start) - google it if you dont know how - because the starter puts a heavy drain on the battery and pulls its voltage down below the level needed for the electronic ignition to work - if you turn the key on and push start the bike, it will fire right up.
 

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Check the level in the battery. Assuming it is lead acid. There is not a lot of room for electrolythe due to the number of plates. If you keep it topped off with “distilled“ water you can extend the life.

Even a “maintenance free” battery needs distilled water added to make it last as long as possible.
 

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If your bike is a little slower to start, and many FI engines need to crank a few more than carbs do, you can probably hear the slower rotation. Bikes that snap to attention and start at the touch of the button, those are the ones that sneak up on you. If you have doubts about a battery, I would suggest you just pull it and get a load test at any auto parts store.
 

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My 9-fiddy always starts immediately. Like on first plug fire. I did something wrong a couple of times and it didn't catch so I had to hit the starter again and on those occasions it took two or three revs to start.

One warm, sunny day I decided to ride and it seemed to turn over noticeably slower. Later that day, at a gas station, it wouldn't turn over at all. Not much warning.
 

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This thread answers my question regarding the battery in my vstar 650. After reading these posts there is no early warning signs the battery is on its last leg. Turns out I have no clue when was the last time it was replaced, so far so good. This gives me only two options, I either keep driving my bike until the day the battery decides to quit working, I just hope it is not going to be one those things that I will be 100 miles away from home. The other option, obviously , just go ahead and replace the battery with a new one, that will give the confidence my battery will be good for at least 3 yrs. But at the same time I'd hate to replace something that it's still working, and who knows, the battery may work for the next year or so, or quit working one of these days. I hate this feeling guys.
 

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3rd option Rob, pull it and get it load tested.

The only 2 ways I know to really check LA batteries are load tests, and testing specific gravity of the electrolyte. Checking the SG of a bike size battery is a PITA if you can even do it. Anyway, pulling and load testing is the perfect Saturday DIY job, and you can clean up the contacts nice an shiny while you're at it, which might be the best thing you can do.

Harbor Freight sells a load tester that I've heard does the job just fine. I haven't got around to picking one up, and it's an easy thing to put off since stores test for free. It's something I would like to own.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, to all of you.
 

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Unfortunately there is not a 100% correct answer. A battery can actually test good, then 1 minute later it's bad. The plates in the battery have a paste on them. The paste eventually loses it adhesive to the the plates and becomes detached. At this time the battery has "died". There are other conditions that a battery can be bad, but this is the most common. From a battery supplier site:
When the active material in the plates can no longer sustain a discharge current, a battery "dies". Normally a car (or starting) battery "ages" as the active positive plate material sheds (or flakes off) due to the normal expansion and contraction that occurs during the discharge and charge.

90903

Usually the better batteries use a thicker paste (gel batteries) which have a longer life. Heat and vibration are the top enemies of a battery, both can be severe on a motorcycle. That is why, in my opinion, gel batteries are a must on motorcycles. Are they a little more expensive, yes, but the longer life is worth it. If you have a standard acid battery and let the fluid level get low and expose the paste you have significantly shortened the battery life. I personally never replace a battery until it "dies" and yes, it's always at a bad time.
 

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Yes, if not going down hill better have a young and strong pusher.
 

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Anyone here ever bump started one of these cruisers?
yes, both my 650 and Royal Star (when the batteries died from age)

slight downhill, 10mph in neutral, clutch in and kick up to 2nd gear, let the clutch out and keep it out

easyf

Ive also pushed/bump started pretty much every car Ive owned with a manual transmission

including 2004 Saturn Vue
and 1967 VW camper that had no starter for 2 weeks - always parked pointing down hill, till I got paid (once a month) and got a rebuilt starter

being able to push start a manual transmission vehicle is one of the big benefits of driving a stick (or a motorbike)
 

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Yes, if not going down hill better have a young and strong pusher.
One time my brother borrowed my truck and gave me his harley to use. It was about 30 years ago and it wouldn't start so i push started it. It took me about a block and a heart attack but i got it. Yes the key is second gear.
 

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i'll be the young whippersnapper here and shed some light on the tech that may be pushing lead acid and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries to the side soon, and what i've been using the past few years: lithium iron phosphate batteries, or LiFePO₄, not to be confused with lithium ion batteries - Lithium-ion vs LiFePO4 vs….

some advantages lithium iron phosphate has over lead acid and AGM batteries:
1)less maintenance (no dealing with distilled water and filling it up and such, or trickle charging)
2)lasts up to a year on a single charge without having to recharge or maintain (as long as there is no draw from the vehicle it is housed in)
3)significantly lighter and smaller. my OEM YUASA battery is 6 in. x 3 7⁄16 in. x 4 3⁄8 in., 8.6 lbs. my shorai is 3.4 x 5.8 x 3.5 in., 2.45 lbs
4)lifespan can be up to 10 years, compared to 3-5 years for the others
5)warranties - because of the longer lifespan, a lot of companies selling these are offering longer warranties. my current shorai battery has a 5 year warranty. i've seen some companies offer an 8 year warranty. before i re-wired my bike's LED lighting system it would somehow turn on while i was at work and drain my previous shorai battery. i was able to jump start it and use it for a few days after but the damage was done. shorai replaced it without me even having to send in the bad battery.
6)higher tech - chargers and computers on the batteries themselves can provide info on the charge/voltage/current
7)quicker, and dependable starts. LiFePO₄ aren't susceptible to cold mornings and start up just as quickly as on a hot day with no hesitation.
7b)has more cold crank amps. my OEM YUASA battery has 230 cold crank amps. my shorai has 285
8)you can choose which side to put which polarity when you order

cons:
1)currently LiFePO₄ batteries are considerably more expensive. my shorai battery cost about $150
2)can be more temperamental. if the battery does go dead or overdrained even once, it could be permanently damaged as noted up above
3)lead acid chargers won't work on these. but there are numerous charger options that can do both lead acid and LiFePO₄ battery charging for about the same price


there's probably more, but i think these are the main ones.
 
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