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Issues with battery

5799 Views 35 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  curveman99
So, I've been noticing that my bike dies pretty easily on cold startups. It all started after that one time I let the stock battery die on me. Now, after I installed an aftermarket air filter, it's gotten worse. Twice now, the bike dies at idle and the battery is dead. A push start restarts the bike and runs fine. I have to run my idle a bit high to keep it from stalling.

Now, I'm assuming that the increased air flow from the BCM filter is causing some fueling issues. I'd rather not have to purchase a PCIII. Hell, if it would solve the situation, I'd go back to the stock air filter. The cover isn't cut or anything like that.

I just ordered the Shorai Lithium Iron LiFePO4 Battery LFX18L1-BS12 battery. I wanted to get that anyway. Hopefully, it will fix everything. Any thoughts?
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How old is the current battery? Tried using a 'battery tender' to trickle charge it while not riding?

Ahhh - just spotted the key phrase - "I let the stock battery die on me". That'll do it. Yep - new battery time. Run a lead-acid battery too flat, and that's that! The plates sulphate up, and it'll never charge properly again. DAMHIK...
I've been having trouble with batteries in my 93 SS a lot. I don't get to ride it often, so when the bike sits for long periods or winter storage I thought hooking up a trickle charger would keep the battery fresh. Though it does charge a battery that's too low, if the charger is connected too long I found out that it will eventually cook away all the electrolytes in the battery.

Come back to the battery after sitting on the charger for over a month and there would be no water in it - bone dry! So either I disconnect or completely remove a charged battery for storage or play games with the damn charger. Very frustrating.

But thanks for the info on the lithium battery - I will definitely be checking that out - no more water would be a big relief!
If your trickle charger is drying your battery out in a month, it's charging too much (too many amps)! I've got a 'Projecta' unit, max charge 1600 mA, that charges the battery if it's a bit flat, then drops to a 'maintenance' mode, with a lot lower charge. It'll still dry the battery out - but after 6 months or so - not 1 month!
BTW - if your battery is 'dry' - just add some distilled (NOT tap) water, to top it back up, and charge the battery again. If you're lucky (I was last time - that's how I know my charger takes ~ 6 months to dry the battery), it'll hold the charge fine, and you won't need a new battery. Note: Some of my battery cells were so dry, I couldn't see ANY fluid in them!
I've been having trouble with batteries in my 93 SS a lot. I don't get to ride it often, so when the bike sits for long periods or winter storage I thought hooking up a trickle charger would keep the battery fresh. Though it does charge a battery that's too low, if the charger is connected too long I found out that it will eventually cook away all the electrolytes in the battery.

Come back to the battery after sitting on the charger for over a month and there would be no water in it - bone dry! So either I disconnect or completely remove a charged battery for storage or play games with the damn charger. Very frustrating.

But thanks for the info on the lithium battery - I will definitely be checking that out - no more water would be a big relief!
Just had (remembered) another thought re your problem - try inserting a low wattage (8-10W) bulb in series with your charger. It should drop the current enough that it'll still trickle charge the battery, without overcharging it. Cheap fix.
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Well, it's not the battery because the bike stalled just like it did with the fast idle set at low after a 10 minute ride and the bike would not start up again. So, there is something going on with the bike's ability to recharge the batter when it's riding. There's a drag on the battery. I do have a cigarette adapter mounted onto the bike. I'll check the voltage on it soon and let you know what it says on the multimeter.
When you say "Not starting" - do you mean it cranks over, but doesn't start? Or that it doesn't even crank over?

You've got that multimeter then?

Check across the battery terminals with the engine running - it should go to about 14.4 volts - off idle. I know that when my RR failed, (many years ago), my bike ran fine - but it's carbed. Just got harder and harder to start over the course of the days ride. To the point where I had to bump (push) start it after every stop.

Sounds like something odd going on. :think: Good luck!

Hmmm - A thought (if it's cranking over but not starting) or two - changed your fuel filter recently? Or at all? Maybe it's some sort of fueling problem, causing it to starve? Yours is an ie ? Got a sensor disconnected somewhere? Any mods done to it? Blocked injector? Damaged or disconnected TPS? - (Throttle Position Sensor). Fuel pump failing? Try disconnecting the output line, and power on - see if it squirts out? OUTSIDE! :eek: With a towel or similar to catch the gas!

I don't know if this is a good idea with a Ducati ie (anyone with better knowledge feel free to correct me! :) ) - but try running some fuel injector/system cleaner through in your gas tank? NOT the whole bottle - that's enough for a car tank full! About 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle.
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It doesn't crank at all. It stalled and I paused about 30 secs to start it again. Then, nothing. Like the battery is dead. I know that if I push start it again, it will work fine and as long as I keep the idle/choke set a little high, everything is fine. Also, if I jump the battery, it's fine too.

edit: I have the multimeter. I'll play with it this weekend and see whats up.

Ok - it does sound more likely electrical than anything else. Sadly, probably the rectifier/regulator... Good luck!
Damn, is this a complicated issue? Expensive?
Possibly. Shouldn't be too bad...

Here's one link to someone with a similar problem - at least it gives you some values to check. The fault finding pdf linked in it is a GENERAL one for motorcycles... Ducati 900ssie Electrics

Here's another one... rebelpacket (dot) net - regulator your regulator. otherwise, it'll regulate you. Below is the article...

regulator testing
Think of your regulator, as your battery's bouncer. Without it, anything can get in!

It happened to me. I was coming home from work one day, putting through town, and all of the sudden, it felt like someone pulled the sparkplug on one of my cylinders. I tried to twist the throttle to keep it alive, and the bike gave a half hearted lunge, but slowly started sputtering to a stop. With the clutch pulled in, I coasted to a stop in a parking lot.

After a short charge from a car battery, (with the car turned OFF), I was able to start the bike again. But I had to keep it around 4K rpms, otherwise I'd get the sputter that I didnt have enough juice to keep powering the sparkplugs. I pulled the headlight fuse, in an attempt to save energy. What happened? Well, I later found out that my regulator died. A little background.
Bikes have a alternator (stator), which spins at the speed of the crankshaft. At idle, the alternator should put out enough voltage, to "break-even". This meaning that it creates enough electricity that the bike does not have to draw from the battery. Above idle, the voltage the alternator will put out is exponential with the speed of the engine. On top of that, the type of current coming from the alternator, is Alternating Current (AC). So now we have a problem. Your battery runs off Direct Current (DC), and really shouldnt get anything more than 15 Volts, otherwise it'll start boiling, blowing fuses, or other not fun stuff.

This is where the regulator/rectifer comes in. It looks a bit like a computer chip. It has a couple wires coming out of it, some big cooling fans, and is located in the front, underneath the lower triple tree. This little device, takes the alternating current coming from the regulator, rectifies the situation by converting it into direct current. And if you thought it did enough, it also regulates the flow of electricity to the battery. Since the voltage goes up exponentially with the rotation of the engine, the regulator part, makes sure that voltage to the battery is enough to power the bike, AND charge the battery. Think of it as a bouncer at the door of your favorite club. He makes sure that enough people are going in, and coming out, so the place doesnt get over crowded. No bouncer, chaos.

So how can you test this? With a voltmeter. Pull up the tank on your Ducati, pull off the rubber booties from the battery terminals. First, test the battery (with the ignition off). When charged, the battery should put out around 12-14 Volts. Before troubleshooting electrical gremlins, always make sure your battery is charged. If you are getting less than 12 volts, then, you need to charge your battery. You can get a 12-volt battery charger from AutoZone for 13$. Even has mounts so you can bolt it to your bench.

Next, start up your bike. Here is the tricky part, you need to test the voltage put out, at various RPM ranges. I simply used the high-idle switch on my 900SSie to set the RPM's. You want to test the regulator from about 1,000RPM's all the way up to 5,000RPMS or so. So have your friend , or set your high idle until the bike is at around 1,000RPMS or so, and check the voltage readout on the battery terminals. Then change the RPM's in 1K increments until your at 5,000. Each reading should be no less than 12 volts, and no greater than 15.5 Volts. If your reading more than 15.5V, then your cooking your battery, and your regulator is busted. If your reading less than 12 volts, then its possible your regulator OR your alternator is busted. Check the connections, make sure everything is clean and loaded up with di-electric grease. In my case, I was reading about 11.52 volts at 2,000RPMS. I replaced the regulator, with an Electrux one from Ca-Cycleworks, and was promptly greeted with 13.3 V at 2,000RPM's.
Sounds very similar to your problem. I can recommend CA-Cycleworks - I've dealt with them in the past - good bunch...

AND - another link... Different Regulator Problem? [Archive] - Ducati Sporting Club

And finally (for now) http://www.ducati.ms/forums/57-supersport/116053-charging-system-blues.html This has got a bunch of info that you may also find handy!

NOTE: Caution: Never disconnect/connect (i.e. short together) the alternator wiring with the engine running as this will damage the regulator/rectifier.
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Steve! Thanks for the links, man. I'm going to read it all tonight.

So, I tried to start the bike today and it started to my surprise. The bike then died and the lights quickly dimmed and wouldn't start again. So, I can't check the voltage on it with the bike running just yet. I tried to have a friend push start it and that didn't work either. The lights quickly died to nothing. I have it hooked up to a quick charger and headlight is on dimmly. I'll leave it on for a minute and see what happens. Then, I may keep it on a trickle charger during the night. I think this one is going to the shop.
You're welcome. I'm picking up some handy tips along the way too! :)

Slow (trickle) charging is MUCH better for batteries than dumping in a lot of amps all at once. Sleep on it, and try again tomorrow, when it'll at least start and run... Then you can at least measure the 'running' voltage across the battery.

Good idea re taking it to a shop - I get the feeling you're somewhat unsure of yourself electrically/mechanically. At least you can specify that they test the stator output AND the regulator, which should avoid you having to pay for unnecessary parts.
Yeah, I am not mechanically learned. But I can be. Every time something like this happens, I end up learning everything about it. Still, I have no experience in doing anything like this myself.
I'm not a 'professionally trained' mechanic myself (well with batteries I am - as a Telecom tech many years ago...). But I've been fixing my own vehicles (and 'stuff ups' :)) for many years. Sometimes you get to learn the hard way.:eek: Did my valve clearances on my Duc a year or so back. Probably took about 3 times longer than an experienced mechanic - and a lot more nervous sweat :( - but with the help of the internet, and LOTS of double checking - got them done spot on! And I'm still learning new stuff!

Just remember that when you're doing something that you're not sure about - Google and You Tube can be your friend! Just make sure you type in a few variations of whatever it is you're searching for info on.
Something you should do is put a switch on the headlight so you can turn it off when starting the bike. That light draws some amps!!! I put my switch at the light plug on the bulb....
Good idea. Another option is from the 'dull headlight thread' http://www.ducati.ms/forums/57-supersport/142378-headlight-dull.html#post1407958

Using a 'normally closed' relay activated from the starter solenoid (start button) wire. When you hit the start, it activates the solenoid AND the relay, which opens, and disconnects the power to the lights.

See the thread for the full details and wiring. I'm planning to set this (full relay setup) up on my bike!
Fair enough. At least you know enough about it now to not let them feed you too much bullshit about what needs replacing. ;)

*** I borrowed my friend's GSXR 750 for the weekend and really got to know it. What a fun bike that is once I got used to it. So effortless to go fast in the straights as well as through the twisties. Still, I missed my bike and actually prefer to work harder to go fast on a slower bike.
That's why I don't like riding my wife's Bandit 1200S. And prefer MY bike! :D
OK, so the bike is apparently fixed. It was a simple matter of a blown fuse. Apparently the "large 40A fuse" was blown and the replacement of it fixed the problem. Thank god it was a simple fix. Let's hope that it doesn't happen again. I haven't had a chance to really ride it since I got it back. Maybe later this week. Any idea where I can get that specific fuse? The shop only had a large 30A fuse and they said that I should get the proper fuse before I take it out. They said that I can find it at pep boys.
Hmmm - the question now, is WHY did that fuse blow? That's NOT a common one to die! If I was you - I'd be VERY careful for your next few rides, and keep checking that it's OK!

Found it! Read this thread... http://www.ducati.ms/forums/57-supersport/112149-98-900ss-40amp-fuse-keeps-blowing.html

Did the shop have the apprentice on your bike? Bit of a basic thing to miss! Generally, if a fuse blows (particularly a 40A one), there's something MAJOR wrong! :mad:

Go and kick them! :eek: :D They OWE you one! :)
Actually, now that I think about it, the positive terminal did touch the negative causing a spark when I installed the new battery. The problem was more acute after that. I think that could have caused the fuse failure.

Edit: they said that they checked all other electricals with a meter to make sure the problem wasn't elsewhere and found everything normal. Now, I would need to order a few 40A fuses to carry on my ride to make sure I won't get stranded.
How did you manage to touch the two terminals together? And for the fuse to blow, you'd have had to touch the output side of the fuse to an earth (frame - negative side of battery) somehow.

I'd order at least TWO fuses. :D

Well, if they've tested everything? You should be OK... ...fingers crossed! ;)

Next time you install your battery, fit the positive (RED) terminal first. Make sure the negative (BLACK - earth wire) doesn't touch the negative terminal on the battery until you've finished with the positive one. Then if your screwdriver touches something on the frame, while you're doing the screws up, no sparks!
Note: It doesn't matter if the screwdriver touches the frame while tightening up the negative. It's already connected to the frame!

When you're removing the battery, remove the negative lead FIRST! Then the positive. Same reason.

At least now - if you have the same problem (fuse blown) again - you'll know where to start...

Have you checked the voltage across the battery while its running yet? If it isn't 14 volts or so (with a bit of a rev) - they told a porky... :eek:
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