Starting issues. Battery, alternator or other?

Discussion in 'Crazy-Awesome almost Dakar racers (950/990cc)' started by Rockwell, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    Been having some issues starting the bike since it got off the plane from New York to Iceland.

    The day after the bike arrived, the bike wouldn't start due to insufficient cranking power. We eventually got a boost from a car, and we able to start several times after stopping and shutting the bike off.

    The morning after, there wasn't enough cranking power to start the bike again. We needed to get another boost, which was good for the rest of the day, starting and stopping the bike until it sat for several hours.

    Does it sounds like a dying battery? Bad alternator? Or does it sound like something might be draining the battery while stopped - some sort of partial ground fault or short?

    We're sort of in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Iceland. How can I test the alternator for proper output? If I disconnect the battery leads, what sort of resistance should I be seeing from the positive terminal to ground? I haven't found anyone in this town who can do a load test on batteries, so I am going to first look into other issues. I'm also going to try to clean all connections (though I only have chain cleaner with me and haven't been able to find electrical contact cleaner).
    #1
  2. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    to solve this you will need to find someone with a battery charger, a simple volt meter and more information from you.

    could be something simple as parasitic drain that resulted in a discharged battery. KTM are not known for having much reserve capacity on battery size. if you don't see corrosion on battery terminals and bolts are tight. unlikely you are having contact problems. any wire brush will clean terminals.

    does the bike run fine after you get a jump start? that's indicating a working charging system, after bike is started.

    anyways .. find a volt meter with amp features.

    to test battery .. first fully charge battery with any automotive lead acid battery charger. then allow to rest overnight .. assuming you've got an AGM battery... 12.6v-12.8v range indicates a full charge. for LiFePO4 it's completely different.

    for the load test .. simply starting your bike will work. if say your resting voltage is 12.8v and it starts your bike. odds are your battery if fine.

    after you start your bike either with a charged battery or jump start... measure voltage at battery. your charging system should be putting out 13.8v to 14.2v at mid rpm.

    most common charging system failure is rectifier/regulator or stator.
    #2
  3. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    I have a Battery Tender Junior and a voltmeter with me.

    A lady in town offered to take the battery home with her to charge overnight (we are tenting and had no electrical outlet available). She brought the battery back this morning and said it was fully-charged. I installed it and tried to start, but there wasn't enough cranking power. I placed it on the charger after because, since I hadn't personally charged it the night before, I wanted to make sure I had a fully-charged battery.

    After a few hours, the battery tender indicated fully-charged. I attempted to start, but there wasn't enough cranking power.

    I have a Lithium-Iron battery - Shorai.

    I am suspecting a bad battery since it didn't crank over with it fully-charged, but I will charge it again, and measure the fully-charged voltage. If it doesn't start, I'll need to get a boost and, when I do, I'll measure the output of the rectifier regulator. I'll have to look at the wiring diagram, but I guess this will be applied directly to the battery terminals when the bike is running?

    In the meantime, if it is a bad battery, is it safe for the rest of the motorcycle to get a boost while we try to get to Reykjavik to get a new battery?
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  4. renogeorge

    renogeorge Let's ride!!

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    If the bike will start with a jump and then run with the jumper cables disconnected, it will be safe to ride. It is unlikely that the battery will degrade to the point that it won't run. Obviously you will want to keep it running. All connections tight??
    #4
  5. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    Connections are tight. I just fully charged the battery. Voltage read 14.25V. Tried to start and it just didn't have the cranking power. The battery voltage now reads 13.2V. I wasn't able to monitor the battery voltage when attempting to start since I couldn't hold the leads and start the bike at the same time, but I am guessing that the voltage is dropping really low when starting.

    Bike is able to start with a boost and will run fine.

    Looks like we're heading back down south to Reykjavik to look for a new battery. :( Could be worse.

    This battery was fine until it got off the plane from New York. Could the cold during shipment have had any effect on the battery?
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  6. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    more basic info please ... what model KTM? what model Shorai? need night time/day temperatures?

    14.25v indicates a fully charged LiFePO4 battery. voltage drop to 13.3v range after one start is perfectly normal. if your Shorai battery will not start your bike at moderate temperatures, it fails the load test. if your bike starts every time with booster cables, then your starter is fine. are your battery terminals corroded? what condition are your battery cables on bike?

    LiFePO4 performance like any PB battery drops severely when temp drops. difference is actual amp hour reserve of LiFePO4 will be lower than PB. stated AH on Shorai is not actual, but expressed in PB/EQ. one of the most common reasons for LiFePO4 failures is under sizing.

    my recommendation for KTM doing Adventure duties far from home in cold conditions is to size LiFePO4 battery by actual amp hour. if say your original AGM battery was 11AH ... the correct LiFePO4 should also be 11AH actual or larger.

    there's been all sorts of negative feedback about Battery Tender Jr killing LiFePO4 batteries. almost any PB charger can be used to charge LiFePO4 if voltage is monitored. don't use any PB charger that charges above 14.6v. now to confuse issues... during bulk phase of charge voltage is not critical. finishing voltage is critical, if left on charger for extended periods, like months at a time. short exposure to higher voltages usually will not hurt.

    EarthX currently offers the most advanced LiFePO4 motorcycle batteries. with internal cell balancing, overcharge and under discharge protections. most any PB charger can be used. most important is EarthX cranking performance under cold conditions.

    for more information on this issue .. follow link in sig below.
    #6
  7. ICERIDER

    ICERIDER Adventure Rider

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    Sorry to hear about that! I don't have any experience of that type of battery, but you seem to be doing all the right things to get it back up to normal.

    It's a bit of a coincidence that this happened after the flight. Do you think you might have pinched a wire or componant whilst tying it down for shipment?
    #7
  8. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    I have a 2007 KTM 990 Adventure. I'm not at the bike right now (had to walk down the street to catch an open WiFi signal), so I don't know the model number of the Shorai right now. I'll have to go back and look. I bought the battery two years ago and I have had no problems since.

    The bike fails to start on a filly-charged battery, but does start every time when boosted from another battery. When boosting, I am connecting from the ground point on the engine case to the terminal close to the start relay, bypassing the battery leads.

    I'm going to check the cables leading from the battery to the start relay. I did notice that, when the bike came off the flight, one of the battery terminal bolts was rusted. The battery terminals look fine, but I will check the actual cables leading from the battery to the start relay.

    Daytime temperatures have been around 12-14C, and during the nights around 8C or so. It hasn't been very cold.

    I will look through your thread on batteries, but first I am going to disconnect the battery cables and inspect them. I'll do a resistance check on them, too. I am guessing a resistance check will tell me something about their condition if there are no visible signs of damage.
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  9. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    I don't think anything got pinched. I only took the wheels off since the size of the crate didn't affect the price of the shipment. I laid the bike down on the engine case and put a single strap across the seat.
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  10. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    990 adventure is spec'd with an 11AH AGM battery. for adventure duties you need a LiFePO4 battery with actual 11AH same or larger. 12-14C is pretty nice conditions.

    for Shorai that would be LFX21 (6AH measured @ 1amp rate) or better yet LFX36 (13AH measured @ 1amp rate) if you can fit in existing space.

    EarthX ETX24 (6.3AH measured @ 1amp rate) or better yet ETX36 (13AH measured @ 1amp rate)

    in brutal 200amp continuous load tests, for smaller size LiFePO4, EarthX has outperformed Shorai by a substantial margin. Shorai LFX36 did an outstanding job in same brutal 200amp loads tests. EarthX ETX36 also passed brutal 200amp sustained tests no problems.

    Shorai LFX36 successfully passed a one year test with R80G/S including cold starts below 20f. EarthX ETX36 is about 10 months into a one year test on R80G/S, which started in winter condition including starts at below 20f. note R80G/S starting requirements are higher than fuel injected modern bikes. until if/when things go wrong on fuel injected modern marvels. then cranking requirement becomes the same. there is no substitute for having enough amp hour reserves.

    currently EarthX is the only LiFePO4 battery with internal cell balancing, overcharge and under discharge protections. A substantial advantage in delivering performance.

    that said .. my recommendations is to go with original spec .. AGM battery for rest of your trip. unless you can get a replacement LiFePO4 sized properly (11AH actual or larger)

    going on a bike ride for a few hours .. will check when I get back
    #10
  11. ICERIDER

    ICERIDER Adventure Rider

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    Aha! perhaps you have found something there. Like you say, IMHO best thing now is to take all the battery leads and grounds apart, give them a good rub with emery/scotch bright or whatever you can find, and re-assemble. Also any connections/fuses around the starter solenoid. Don't worry about greasing them till you solve it.

    I was looking for the pic of your bike in the crate but I can't find it. Seems like you have a sump guard. perhaps check if any wires got pinched under it or touched the floor of the crate.

    Failing that, I would go for a good old lead-acid battery and hope that solves it (or borrow one to try it). Good luck.
    #11
  12. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    Took the battery out and looked at the battery leads. They look fine. I did a resistance check on both leads and they both measured 0.9 ohms. They appear to be fine.

    I bought the battery tender junior just before leaving on this trip since it was compact and handy. Maybe, as stated before, it could have cause damage to the battery?

    I forgot to check the model number of the battery, but found it in an e-receipt in my email from a few years ago when I bought it. Its: Shorai eXtreme rate LFX lithium battery - LFX18A1-BS12
    #12
  13. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    unlikely battery tender jr damaged your Shorai LFX18, unless you left it plugged in for months. short exposures is not likely to hurt your Shorai. if your LFX18 reads 14.25 resting overnight, that's completely normal for a full charged LiFePO4 without internal BMS. in two years if you have not balanced charged your LFX18 using external ports. cells could be out of balance.

    if battery leads are not at fault? bad relay can cause these symptoms. to test bypass relay and connect jumper directly to starter using Shorai only.

    have you measured voltage with KTM rev'd mid range? output should be 13.8v to 14.2v... this is assuming your volt meter is accurate.

    Shorai LFX18 is expressed in PB/EQ or much smaller to original 11AH PB spec's. but KTM engineers are known for shaving off weight anyway they can.

    for adventure duties, go with Shorai LFX21 minimum size. or better yet LFX36

    or EarthX ETX24 or ETX36 .. EarthX has the advantage of internal cell balancing and newest models will have overcharge and under discharge protections.

    but where you are at .. you might have to settle for what ever is available.
    #13
  14. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    I've never had the battery tender on the battery for longer than over night.

    I tested the start relay several days ago. I disconnected it and used some spare wire to jumper directly to the battery terminals. It seemed to operate without any problems.

    I haven't measure the voltage with the bike running at all. I'll do that today after we get a boost and the engine is running. By mid-range, do you mean around 5000 rpm or so?

    I haven't had time to read through your other thread on batteries, so I don't know what this means exactly. Does this mean the battery cells are not of equal voltages? How would I balance them?

    I'm just going to double-check the ground connections, but, If everything runs fine when boosted from another battery, I guess I'd have to conclude that the battery is shot. I will have to use whatever is available here.
    #14
  15. bikyto

    bikyto Dans le doute...gaz!

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    Shorai sells a battery charger that plugs directly into the small port located between the two leads. It has a small grey or black rubber cap over it.
    This is how you balance the cells on that battery. The charger will balance each cell individually.
    #15
  16. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    by mid rpm meaning engine spinning substantially over idle. you've got a permanent magnet type charging system. so it's putting out almost full output even at lower rpm.

    if you've only had battery tender jr on for short charge periods. unlikely charger/tender damaged your Shorai LFX18. overnight resting voltage 14.25v indicates a fully charged state.

    LiFePO4 will drop to about 13.3v for most of it's operating cycle. when it drops to 12.85v, it's got about 15% remaining. li-ion batteries will put out full power until almost dead. then output will drop drastically. don't go below 12.85v or life of battery will be reduced.

    you've got balance ports on side of Shorai LFX18 to be used with an RC type charger with balance leads. unfortunately most folks don't buy one of those type chargers. on top of seldom being used.

    the RC crowd understands need for balance chargers for li-on cells. which are balanced charged each and every time. almost all consumer devices that use multiple li-ion cells will contain a BMS or battery management system.

    Motorcycle LiFePO4 batteries are one of the few application not to include a BMS that internally balances cells. except for EarthX which has used internal cell balancing right from the beginning.

    LiFePO4 cells are matched when mfg. the higher the cell count, the harder it is to achieve a set of cells that match closely. it's impossible to match perfectly everytime.

    as cells age they will go out of balance. this is why LiFePO4 batteries with internal cell balancing are better.

    when you jump start .. attach positive clamp directly to battery terminal. ground clamp can go to engine. you need to find out if relay or something else is causing your problems, not the battery.

    positive cable goes directly to starter .. when jumper is applied, increases voltage to solenoid wire, starting bike. you could also have a bad starter.

    yes if bike starts everytime with booster cables attached directly to battery. then your Shorai LFX18 is no longer serviceable. if cause is due to cell unbalance drastically reducing capacity. a balance charger might bring it back to life. but that's no help to someone in the middle of no-where.

    Shorai LFX18 is way too small for your 990 Adv. go with an AGM for rest of your trip.

    this what can happen when cells age and get out of balance without an internal BMS
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    Got a boost today. Bike started up right away from the car battery.

    I rode 2 hours into Reykjavik and we stopped to use the internet for an hour. Went out and the bike started up again on the Shorai battery. I let the bike idle until 4 bars on the temperature scale, measured the voltage at the connection point to ground:

    idle speed: 13.2V
    5000 rpm: 12.95V

    We went to a friends for dinner after. The bike sat for two hours while we ate. When leaving, the bike fired right up on the Shorai battery. I am seeing that, if sitting for longer than three to four hours, the bike will not start on the Shorai and I need to get a boost. This has been recurring. We are set up to camp outside a friend's place, and I am almost certain that the bike will not start on the Shorai in the morning.

    I will try to find an AGM battery tomorrow when the shops open. I've had to read about what they are, and hopefully I will be able to find one here, in Iceland.

    Thanks for all your help.
    #17
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    if your meter is correct, below figures are way too low. your alternator is not putting out. ALL charging systems designed to support PB will put out 13.8v to 14.2v when engine is rev'd to mid range.

    voltage drop at higher rpm indicates no charging .. bike is running on battery alone and will draw more power to run bike at higher rpm. charge your Shorai with your battery tender jr every chance you get to top off.

    if your bike starts with Shorai alone intermittently, starting to sound like it's an electrical problem with relay and/or starter. or just simply a low battery from a dead charging system. what puzzles me is when you charged Shorai overnight .. 14.25v indicates a fully charged battery. normally if battery starting bike substitutes for load test.

    idle speed: 13.2V
    5000 rpm: 12.95V

    if you are running on battery alone... don't run any lights or anything else to extend run. worst case strap a car battery on back to get you to a repair facility.

    all cheap meters are assumed incorrect until proven otherwise. ez to check your meter .. find a mechanic with a known to be correct meter. then have them measure your battery with bike not running. yours should read the same. then ask mechanic to chase down your electrical gremlins...

    sure sounds like your stator and/or rectifier/regulator is toast.
    #18
  19. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

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    I'm in Reykjavik now. Going to try to chase down the electrical problems today. I've noticed some dirty connectors that I've tried to clean but, at the time, I only had some chain cleaner. Going to try to pick up some electrical contact cleaner.

    In the event that the issue is a result of a bad rectifier/regulator, do you know the part number for that? I can't seem to find it in the parts fiche. Do you recommend the OEM one? I've read a bit about MOSFET types.

    Also, in the event that I do need to order a new rectifier/regulator, would it be safe to ride as we have been for the past several days (getting boosts when needed) so that we can keep travelling and have the part shipped ahead of us? Or is it bad/damaging in any way to ride with as bad charging system?


    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4
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  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    if your voltage readings are correct, your system is not charging. it's a bad stator and/or rectifier/regulator. a failed connector/wire could do it too... wires and connectors going from stator to rectifier/regulator are notorious for failing.

    it will not hurt to keep riding like you are using battery in total discharge mode. just keep topping off battery at every chance.

    your 990Adv came stock with a shunting type regulator, which converts excess power to heat. if you have a choice go with a switching type regulator, which basically connects/disconnects output to regulate voltage. runs cooler and is easier on stator.

    one of the orange crush guys needs to advise on specific model with good feedback.

    please let us know what the mechanic finds in electrical gremlins ...
    #20