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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Out for a ride today and the radio and GPS started shutting off and on. Checked the voltage display and it read 11.9-12.1 volts except when the rpms got above 3k the it shot up to 14.4-ish. Got it home and checked the battery connections, both were tight. Battery read 12.2 on the meter. Now it's off to drop it at the dealer next weekend. Service guy on the phone figured it was probably the regulator. Oh, well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
While waiting to bring it to the dealer I figured I check the stator output. It was putting out around 23 volts ac on all three pins at idle, so I think that rules that out.
 

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I went through something similar to this a couple of weeks ago. Slow cranking when starting, volt gauge on dash dropping to under 10 volts while cranking, monitoring while riding and it fluctuated between 12.4 and 15.3 volts. I've made my living turning wrenches my whole life, and this behavior had me convinced that the voltage regulator had shot craps and was killing the battery due to overcharging.

I took it to the dealer, since the regulator is covered under the extended warranty. I was skeptical when they told me the only problem was the battery had a dead cell, but paid the bill since the battery isn't covered under the warranty.

When I picked the bike up I tested the voltage at the battery with my Fluke meter. Measured a steady 14.4 volts at the battery, dash reading fluctuating slightly from 13.9 to 14.6. I continued to monitor it on the dash gauge for a couple of weeks, and the wild swings were completely gone.

This surprised me, as I've never seen a bad battery cause high voltage readings in my experience. I did a little reading in the service manual, and looked at the wiring diagrams. The service manual actually states that a bad battery can cause over charging due to the set up that they are using. The voltage does not go directly from the regulator to the battery. It is wired to the "J-CASE" fuse box (mounted to the back side of the battery box, not the one on the left side of the frame) and from there goes to the battery. All the electrical loads are taken from the J-CASE. This means that the battery is not the direct source of the voltage reading on the gauge.

What you see on the gauge is the actual output of the regulator to the J-CASE. The regulator drops out and senses the battery voltage from time to time, and then adjusts it's output to attempt to bring the battery voltage up. When the battery has failed and is not taking a charge, this results in the readings swinging more radically than normal.

What I learned from this is that these bikes don't necessarily work like things that have come before, so it's a learning process for us.
Next time it does this I'll replace the battery first. It'll probable save me several hundred dollars in diagnostic costs. YMMV ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How long did you own your bike before this happened? I would think the battery would have some type of warranty and be covered at least within the first year of ownership. I certainly won't be paying anything for a bike less than a year old. I'll make that clear when I drop the bike off. I could probably get a battery($80) AND a regulator ($160) for less than what they would charge just to replace a battery (if it wasn't covered under warranty).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I had the day off today so I dug into this some more. Went to Harbor Freight and got an inductive ammeter for $12 so I could test the charging system according to the service manual. Well, guess what. Everything checked out fine. Amps and voltage all within spec. Display on dash in now reading 14.4 volts. Hell if I know what was wrong. The only thing I can figure is that maybe it is in fact something with the battery. It's been on the battery tender for the last 4 days so maybe that helped? The more I think about, it could have been due to the new accent leds I put on. They're wired into the accessory power and stay on for 5 mins after I turn the bike off. That in combination with short rides to work (7 miles) coupled with using the heated seat and grips (it's been cold in the morning) maybe drained the battery enough? I'm gonna continue to monitor it and possibly get a fresh battery. I'd rather spend $80 on a new battery than wreck the charging system if something does happen to be wrong with the current battery.
 

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How long did you own your bike before this happened? I would think the battery would have some type of warranty and be covered at least within the first year of ownership. I certainly won't be paying anything for a bike less than a year old. I'll make that clear when I drop the bike off. I could probably get a battery($80) AND a regulator ($160) for less than what they would charge just to replace a battery (if it wasn't covered under warranty).
I've had mine since July '14, so it's out of the one year full warranty. I knew that the battery itself was not covered, but was pretty sure that the regulator was going bad, which would be covered, and if the regulator had failed they may have covered the battery also as "progressive damage". They did an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate repair, in reasonable time, and didn't try to rip me off at all. I paid the bill. I just consider it an educational expense. :D

I had the day off today so I dug into this some more. Went to Harbor Freight and got an inductive ammeter for $12 so I could test the charging system according to the service manual. Well, guess what. Everything checked out fine. Amps and voltage all within spec. Display on dash in now reading 14.4 volts. Hell if I know what was wrong. The only thing I can figure is that maybe it is in fact something with the battery. It's been on the battery tender for the last 4 days so maybe that helped? The more I think about, it could have been due to the new accent leds I put on. They're wired into the accessory power and stay on for 5 mins after I turn the bike off. That in combination with short rides to work (7 miles) coupled with using the heated seat and grips (it's been cold in the morning) maybe drained the battery enough? I'm gonna continue to monitor it and possibly get a fresh battery. I'd rather spend $80 on a new battery than wreck the charging system if something does happen to be wrong with the current battery.
It takes a whole lot more running time than 7 miles just to replace the charge lost from a single start. Add in the extra draw from the heated seat and grips and that makes it even longer. I'm sure that you've correctly diagnosed your issue.

It sounds like you're one of the people who needs to keep it plugged in to the battery tender whenever you're at home to keep the battery fully charged. If your commute was a lot longer it probably wouldn't be an issue at all. I suggest you change your route to a 50 mile each way ride. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The saga continues.....we went for a 160 mile ride today since the last couple 20-30 mile rides seemed ok. At the start of the ride the voltage was good at 14.4 but a weird thing happened after I started out. The dash display was doing some weird stuff. Every time I cycled through the trip odometers they would reset themselves to 0.0 and the engine oil counter said 97% and was flashing when it should have only been at around 12%. I stopped to get gas and after I restarted the bike everything was fine so we continued on our way. Made it 80 miles to our lunch stop and everything was good. On the way home it was drizzling at the start so my wife (without my knowledge) switched on the heated seats. Well, since everything had been going ok I wasn't really paying attention to the voltage anymore. Then about 15 miles from home my battery light on the dash starts flashing and the voltage is reading 11.4 volts. I shut off the radio and gps (the ECM had already turned off the driving lights) and that's when I noticed the heated seats were on. I shut those off and barely made it home. As I rolled in the garage I was at 10 volts (I believe the bike shuts off below 10 volts?) The battery obviously isn't right and the heated seats must have put too much of a load on it. It's the only thing I can figure since the stator and regulator seem to be working correctly. I ordered a new battery (BikeMaster TruGel) and I think I'm going to cancel my appointment at the dealer until I get the new battery in and see if the problems continue. (BTW, I talked to the dealer and they said the battery only has like a 60 or 90 day warranty. He couldn't remember which it was.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
With the new battery in, still not getting 14.4 volts on the display when running so it went to the dealer. They said the regulator wasn't charging the battery at first and then it started charging it all of a sudden so they replaced the regulator stating that it was failing intermittently. They told me they had a similar issue with a Victory a few weeks ago and replaced the battery only to have the bike die on the owner on his way home from the dealership. So, apparently the voltage regulator can fail intermittently when it is going bad.
 
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