Battery Failure - Total & Without Warning - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Battery Failure - Total & Without Warning

Yesterday, while riding 100 miles or so from home, I shut down my 2008 Wee to take a picture for an ADV tag game. When I went to restart my bike, the starter ground for about 1/2 second and all electrics went blank. "What the hell", my thought as I recycled the switch and nothing. She was graveyard dead.

After several cycles of the ignition switch, a pattern emerged. Turn it on and everything on the dash went blank, as in pulling the power from the bike. Turn it off and the analog needles swung full right and returned to rest - and the clock came on. A dead battery was not considered at this time, more on that later, because it was just 6 months old, bike ridden almost daily and it is always plugged into a Battery Tender Jr. Besides, I have never seen a battery so dead that it wouldn't power something.

So my buddy and I start trouble shooting the bike, mostly in the wrong direction, but we focused our attention on the ignition switch due to the odd, dash electrics behavior. So, foolishly convinced that it was a bad, switch, I called my wife to bring the truck, 100+ miles for the rescue and I called my local Suzuki dealer of choice to inquire about a switch. My wife, bless her heart, deployed immediately and the suzuki shop parts girl wasn't in.

Still puzzled about the odd behavior, I called the shop again and this time asked to speak to the service manager, who I have dealt with for several years for safety inspections, advice, etc.. I do all my own maintenance and he is generous with his time. On the line now, I explained to him the symptoms and my suspicion that it was a bad ignition switch. He said it could be, but that I should check the battery first. He had seen this condition before and that a completely dead battery can sometimes throw a energy spike when you turn it off. That spike will be seen in the analog needles. Check the battery.

So we pull the battery out of my buddies 07 Wee, hook it up to my bike and what do you know, all systems normal. Returning the battery to his bike, I call my wife, now about 50 miles down the road to abort the rescue and my buddy Googles and calls a local shop. Fortunately we were in a decent sized town, the shop had a battery and he went to fetch it. An hour and a half later, the battery was installed and I was headed for home.

So to the battery failure. What caused it, how to prevent it, etc..? I don't know. The battery was a Bike Master Platinum II AGM battery, MS12-12BS, about six months old. It was purchased from BikeBandit, filled and charged by me per the instructions, used regularly, kept on a Battery Tender and parked indoors. My initial fear was the the stator had failed and that killed the battery. I do have an Electrical Connection LED voltage indicator on the bike, but it's difficult to see in the daylight and I frankly had not noticed what it was indicating prior to battery death. But with the new battery in, which I may have replace because it's a Parts Unlimited brand and was quickly charged by the dealer, I carefully monitored the voltage on my ride home. I was green all the way and once home checked the battery with a multi-meter. It was reading 12.8 +/- just sitting and 13.8 +/- at a 2500 rpm idle. As I turned on electrical accessories, the voltage fell as you would expect. My take-away is that the stator is good. Any comments here would be welcome as stator stuff is sorta black magic to me.

Summary (aren't you glad):
* I think the battery just suddenly failed. There had never been any signs of weakness and I had been riding the bike for over a 100 miles before I shut it down.
* BikeMaster brand - Not sure. It's not my purpose to blast them, but in many years and many battery replacements I have never had this happen. My first BikeMaster battery, my first battery failure. Just sayin... I'll be sticking to Yuasa.

And finally....
This is not a vent, when you ride thousands of mile a year, stuff happens. I have benefited greatly from things I have read on this site and thought I'd pass this on in case someone else experiences it. It might save them some time and money.

BIG kudos to Randy Houseman, 30+ year service manager at CycleMax, Wilson, NC. In an industry that is plagued with poor performance, his shop is a bright spot. Nice guy also.

Not relevant, but useful. If you have a SPOT locator, the recipients of your messages, can use the Google Map link on their smartphone, hit the "Route" icon and Google will bring them to your rescue. If you travel the boondocks, this feature alone is worth the annual subscription.

OK, I'm done.
Thanks for hanging in and keep'em upright..

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post #2 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 01:39 PM
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I've moved this to the general forum as it applies to all models. The first thing to try in such a situation is tightening the battery cable terminals. Then check the battery if that doesn't work. If the battery was the problem, make sure the charging system is working. Batteries can fail regardless of age and use.

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post #3 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 02:34 PM
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I've seen sudden, catastrophic battery failures in cars, airplanes, boats, and my own Wee-Strom about a year ago, and it was a Yuasa less than two years old.

Sometimes vibration or shock will cause the internal connections to break apart, or plates to warp and short out giving a dead cell or two, lead sulphate can build up over time and suddenly short out the cells (although the Battery Tender is designed to prevent that).

Stuff happens.

That's why one of my winter projects is to install a second battery in my truck so I don't get stranded when out hiking on back country logging roads. I wish I could do that easily on the Wee-Strom. Perhaps someday I will find a way.

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Last edited by Pirate650; 09-21-2014 at 02:37 PM.
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post #4 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirate650 View Post
I've seen sudden, catastrophic battery failures in cars, airplanes, boats, and my own Wee-Strom about a year ago, and it was a Yuasa less than two years old.
Interesting, I'd never seen it before.

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post #5 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 05:06 PM
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you have stated that you have always kept it on a tender

I suspect a malfunction in the battery tender and ruining the battery by overcharge



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post #6 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncroadtoad View Post
battery was just 6 months old, bike ridden almost daily and it is always plugged into a Battery Tender Jr.
Why do you use a battery tender on a bike ridden almost daily? Even a weekly ride of longer than an hour will completely recharge your battery. Using a tender simply adds another point of possible failure and adds no benefit to a bike in that situation.
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post #7 of 26 Old 09-21-2014, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moe Trsyklist View Post
Why do you use a battery tender on a bike ridden almost daily? Even a weekly ride of longer than an hour will completely recharge your battery. Using a tender simply adds another point of possible failure and adds no benefit to a bike in that situation.
Y'all may have a point.

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post #8 of 26 Old 09-22-2014, 11:04 AM
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Batteries will just inexplicably die sometimes. It's probably an evil spirit which crept in at the factory. There are voodoo rituals to prevent it, but washing chicken blood off the bike is unpleasant.

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post #9 of 26 Old 09-22-2014, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirate650 View Post
That's why one of my winter projects is to install a second battery in my truck so I don't get stranded when out hiking on back country logging roads. I wish I could do that easily on the Wee-Strom. Perhaps someday I will find a way.
Just installed a brand-new Scorpion AGM battery in a friend's old KZ650 this weekend. DOA. Problem is, they're one of the few AGM batteries available to fit that bike.

It happens. And suddenly dead batteries happen too -- it's a not uncommon failure mode.

The only manufacturers I've seen that take quality in motorcycle batteries seriously, or at the very least are building the things differently and a bit better than anyone else, are Motobatt and Odyssey.

I've had several Yuasas fail long before their time, and the brand is off my list -- despite their brand reputation, they're selling the same old technology and hit-or-miss quality as everyone else. No point in spending the extra bucks just for a name.



Pirate650, you might be interested in a power pack device I've seen. I can't seem to find it in a few quick minutes of googling, but maybe this will prompt a memory for someone.

Basically it's a compact case containing a lightweight lithium battery along with several adaptors. It's powerful enough to jump-start or even take the place of your bike's battery if needed, or you can use it to power an air compressor, cell phone, etc. (You recharge it with an AC adapter or from your bike.)

Of course, there are many similar devices that use sealed lead acid batteries (like the batteries in UPS power supplies), but they're a lot bulkier and heavier.

Much easier to carry and a lot less finagling than trying to figure out where to install a second battery.

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Last edited by bwringer; 09-22-2014 at 11:11 AM.
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post #10 of 26 Old 09-22-2014, 11:16 AM
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Odyssey batteries are bulletproof. I use them in all my vehicles when the oem fails. I have never had one fail. The one in my Ultra was 8 years old when I sold it and still going strong. I think they have one can be made to fit the Wee or Glee with minor cable mods.

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