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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks:

Writing to you from the crazy Mexico City. I'm leaving Mexico City today and headed south to Oaxaca. It's going to be the last point in time that I will be able to go to a Suzuki dealership in Mexico (as there are no further dealers south). Additionally; I don't believe they sell the V-Strom in Central America (Guatemala through Panama) so this is kind of my last chance to buy from a dealer.

In any case, I bought my '05 V-Strom second hand with 30K miles. I don't know the last time the battery was replaced. It's always started right up. I do have a voltmeter installed. I have had the bike sitting for the last few days here in Mexico City. I checked the volts two days ago and it was 11.9V. This morning (as I prepare to leave for Oaxaca), it's also 11.9V.

Being the noob that I am, I'm not quite sure when you know it's time to replace a battery (other than if it won't start at all even after you've been riding).

1) How long can a battery sit without being ridden or battery tendered? 1 week? 1 month?
2) How can you tell your battery needs to be replaced other than it being hard to start?
3) Is my resting voltage too low?
4) What is the minimum level of resting voltage for the bike to start up?
5) When your bike's not in use, do you use a battery tender product?

Best,
David
 

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I'm sure you've read it dozens of times ... with the battery fully charged, have it load tested - period. This will tell you if it needs replacing.
 

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If it's the original battery, which it probably is, replace it before your trip.

Four years is pushing it on a motorcycle battery, and you're at six years. Heat is also very hard on a battery.

Also, 11.9V is very low for resting voltage. It should be 12.8 or so on a new battery, and definitely not below 12.4. Your battery is either nearly dead or your bike has a charging problem.


As Ozart stated, load testing is the only accurate assessment of a battery's condition.

You can fake a load test by monitoring voltage while the bike is cranking the starter. (You may need a meter with a needle, since the voltage changes too fast for a digital.) If it drops below 11V while cranking, it's definitely on the way out. A healthy battery will stay at or very near 12V while cranking.

Check charging voltage while you're at it, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks folks. I will get it load tested and potentially replaced today at the Suzuki shop. Probably one of the things I should have done prior to the trip.

It sounds like the battery was replaced around December of last year. How long do batteries usually last?

Best,
David
 

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Bike batteries can easily go four years if they're treated right.

If yours was replaced less than a year ago, then it's probably OK as far as age.

However, that low resting voltage (assuming it's not a typo) gives me serious doubts -- please check your entire charging system carefully before you head out and make sure that the root problem (either weak charging or weak battery) is cured.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bike batteries can easily go four years if they're treated right.

If yours was replaced less than a year ago, then it's probably OK as far as age.

However, that low resting voltage (assuming it's not a typo) gives me serious doubts -- please check your entire charging system carefully before you head out and make sure that the root problem (either weak charging or weak battery) is cured.
Bike batteries can easily go four years if they're treated right.

If yours was replaced less than a year ago, then it's probably OK as far as age.

However, that low resting voltage (assuming it's not a typo) gives me serious doubts -- please check your entire charging system carefully before you head out and make sure that the root problem (either weak charging or weak battery) is cured.
Finally found the Suzuki dealership in Oaxaca. Of course they had the wrong address on their website leading to 30-40 minute detour. And I also think I'm coming down with a fever and was battling some Montezuma's revenge earlier today.

In any case; we took at look at the battery. They don't have a load tester (fail!) but we did look directly at the volts of the battery via a voltmeter.

It turns out when I was reporting the resting voltage; I was using my Datel voltmeter; which is on a switched circuit to when the key is turned on. It's 12.0-12.3V there because the lights and accessories were on.

When we measured the battery directly it was 12.8V and never dropped below 11 when starting up. So according to the poor man's load test; it should be just fine. They tell me that Suzuki sells the bike in Guatemala too so should be able to find another battery if I need it. But I doubt I'll need one.

Total to check the battery and replace my rear brake pads with a spare set I have: 200 Mexican Pesos... about $15-16. Gotta love the labor rates down here.

PS: How much do rear OEM brake pads go for in the States? Down here they were 1400 pesos ($106). Good thing I have packed a spare set of EBC pads just for this purpose. I'm going to try to get the spare set "refilled" which I hear they do in Central/South America.
 

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replace a battery every three years...

I had two old mechanics tell me that one should replace a car battery every three years...even if it is a seven year battery. The reason....they short out internally and then the alternator is on constantly. Then, the battery dies...and shortly after the alternator dies.
Both told me that if one changes a battery every three years they think alternators will last almost forever.

The issue is that a battery sulfides betweent he cell and causes a short curcuit. A good bike battery has materials in it to stop such an issue....but I would still replace a bike battery every three years also. It is much cheaper than to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery. A new battery is cheap riding insurance.
 
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