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Rider
2021 Roadmaster
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671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been having some bad voltage readings this past week. One ride and all is fine. Another and reading go into 15's and display foes out or if sitting at stop light it goes down to the 13's. Right now I am on a ride. I went t15 miles and everything was reading nicely. Shut the engine off for less than 2 minutes as we hitched another rider. Started the bike and now I am getting bad readings again at start was as low as 11.9 but generally was up to 12.9. As I started riding it stayed at 14.7 most of the way and never dropped below 14.6. Normally it is 14.3 to 14.6. When I went to park the bike it dropped down into the 12s. Usually it would be 14.1 to 14.2 at stop.

So is my battery going bad and causing these crazy readings? Or is the regulator going out? All connections are tight. I gave know start up issues. I have no issues with lights or audio to suggest the battery is going out. The bike is a 15 Chieftain with 8200 miles bought in Sept of 15.

I just hope I make it home. Friday night I had no problems and went 180 miles. But earlier in the week bad readings. So any advice before I attempt to take it to the dealer would be appreciated.
 

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Bad battery, loose connections, poor charging. I would start with the free stuff. Loose terminal connections. The bolts could work loose with vibration over time. Have had it happen on two bikes. Starts right up and ride, stop and no start. Loose connections both times.
 

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I have been having some bad voltage readings this past week. One ride and all is fine. Another and reading go into 15's and display foes out or if sitting at stop light it goes down to the 13's. Right now I am on a ride. I went t15 miles and everything was reading nicely. Shut the engine off for less than 2 minutes as we hitched another rider. Started the bike and now I am getting bad readings again at start was as low as 11.9 but generally was up to 12.9. As I started riding it stayed at 14.7 most of the way and never dropped below 14.6. Normally it is 14.3 to 14.6. When I went to park the bike it dropped down into the 12s. Usually it would be 14.1 to 14.2 at stop.

So is my battery going bad and causing these crazy readings? Or is the regulator going out? All connections are tight. I gave know start up issues. I have no issues with lights or audio to suggest the battery is going out. The bike is a 15 Chieftain with 8200 miles bought in Sept of 15.

I just hope I make it home. Friday night I had no problems and went 180 miles. But earlier in the week bad readings. So any advice before I attempt to take it to the dealer would be appreciated.
To add to @Some guy named Steve , I hate using it because it's kinda messy, but I've found it helpful on bikes, is terminal dressing..
it helps from corrosion, but it also helps conduct electricity so as when/if things get loose, your not assed out as easily...
That said, with readings your getting, I don't see any failures or reasons To worry about anything at this point.
Your readings are jumpy, but fall in the range of typical high and low accepted voltages.
As long as it does go below the Low number, or stay at it, I think your fine. Start up has slot of systems running at same time, so it's not uncommon on start up, the voltage being lower,, allot of things are asking for voltage at that time.
The high reading, is common. Typically it's high 13, low 14 on the high..
Add some schmutz, tighten stuff, go ride.
Report back.
 

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Howdy @metal1
A battery that is not holding a charge can cause the voltage regulator/rectifier to fail as it charges at maximum output constantly trying to bring the battery voltage up; fully charging the battery then running a load test will reveal if the battery is breaking down under load (and this can be a problem even with a new battery). However the symptoms you are describing don't really fit that scenario. The advice from @Some guy named Steve and @Hatt is sound.
--- Randall
 

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I have been having some bad voltage readings this past week. One ride and all is fine. Another and reading go into 15's and display foes out or if sitting at stop light it goes down to the 13's. Right now I am on a ride. I went t15 miles and everything was reading nicely. Shut the engine off for less than 2 minutes as we hitched another rider. Started the bike and now I am getting bad readings again at start was as low as 11.9 but generally was up to 12.9. As I started riding it stayed at 14.7 most of the way and never dropped below 14.6. Normally it is 14.3 to 14.6. When I went to park the bike it dropped down into the 12s. Usually it would be 14.1 to 14.2 at stop.

So is my battery going bad and causing these crazy readings? Or is the regulator going out? All connections are tight. I gave know start up issues. I have no issues with lights or audio to suggest the battery is going out. The bike is a 15 Chieftain with 8200 miles bought in Sept of 15.

I just hope I make it home. Friday night I had no problems and went 180 miles. But earlier in the week bad readings. So any advice before I attempt to take it to the dealer would be appreciated.
First thought is that the reg is going out. If you have to go any distance it can be pretty iffy. If it fails and gives continuous high output it will damage the battery. Anything over 14.8 is starting to cause a shortened life. At 15+ you are in the area of battery failure while you are riding and the threat of being stranded.

If it fails low then it will also strand you somewhere with a dead battery.

All the above said, if possible, it would be good to check the battery voltage with a quality DMM as it is also possible that the metering system in the ECM is flaky and giving you false readings. If you have a Battery Tender type pigtail on the bike you can just read off the pins on that, there is no need to take the seat off etc.

Once you start the bike the readings you are seeing are of the regulator output and not the actual state of charge of the battery. But as I said continued high or low output will cause things to just gets worse.

Was the 11.9V you saw while starting the bike? or before you hit the starter button?

I had a similar issue years ago with a Ducati reg and foolishly just upped the fuse rating to keep it from blowing. A few days later I was stranded at midnight in San Francisco with a dead battery.

Hope This Helps.

WD./
 

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First thought is that the reg is going out. If you have to go any distance it can be pretty iffy. If it fails and gives continuous high output it will damage the battery. Anything over 14.8 is starting to cause a shortened life. At 15+ you are in the area of battery failure while you are riding and the threat of being stranded.

If it fails low then it will also strand you somewhere with a dead battery.

All the above said, if possible, it would be good to check the battery voltage with a quality DMM as it is also possible that the metering system in the ECM is flaky and giving you false readings. If you have a Battery Tender type pigtail on the bike you can just read off the pins on that, there is no need to take the seat off etc.

Once you start the bike the readings you are seeing are of the regulator output and not the actual state of charge of the battery. But as I said continued high or low output will cause things to just gets worse.

Was the 11.9V you saw while starting the bike? or before you hit the starter button?

I had a similar issue years ago with a Ducati reg and foolishly just upped the fuse rating to keep it from blowing. A few days later I was stranded at midnight in San Francisco with a dead battery.

Hope This Helps.

WD./
If nothing found loose and contacts are sound,,, this is definitely right on the money.
Good post!
 

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Rider
2021 Roadmaster
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671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just got back home from the last posting. 40 miles and while riding the reg read 14.8-14.9 and when stopped would fall to 14.0-14.1 in which both high and low readings are .2-.4 higher than normal. I'll let the engine cool down and recheck connections and search for any loose wires. I'll also get me some dialectic grease for the battery posts. Finally, since the battery is going on 2 years and the OEM batteries usually have a short life, I'll order me the Wicked Start battery and put that in. I'm at 8300 miles and was hoping to get to 10000 before bringing the bike into the dealer, but if none of the above fixes the problem then I'll bring the bike to the dealer earlier. Thank y'all for your comments. I'll keep y'all posted.
 

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IMHO your VR is about to fail. Once it does, it will fry the battery. In the interim your voltages will vary wildly before it gives up the proverbial ghost.

Perform all the regular maintenance steps and trickle charge ovenight. Plan B is to get it fixed ASAP before your stranded. Some on here purchased a spare and stored with their road tools.

I think the VR is a poorly designed component prone to problems for some. BTW, have you been through some heavy rain recently? Mine failed after riding in a heavy storm - back roads and no shelter anywhere. Covered under warrenty. Good luck
 

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I have been having some bad voltage readings this past week. One ride and all is fine. Another and reading go into 15's and display foes out or if sitting at stop light it goes down to the 13's. Right now I am on a ride. I went t15 miles and everything was reading nicely. Shut the engine off for less than 2 minutes as we hitched another rider. Started the bike and now I am getting bad readings again at start was as low as 11.9 but generally was up to 12.9. As I started riding it stayed at 14.7 most of the way and never dropped below 14.6. Normally it is 14.3 to 14.6. When I went to park the bike it dropped down into the 12s. Usually it would be 14.1 to 14.2 at stop.

So is my battery going bad and causing these crazy readings? Or is the regulator going out? All connections are tight. I gave know start up issues. I have no issues with lights or audio to suggest the battery is going out. The bike is a 15 Chieftain with 8200 miles bought in Sept of 15.

I just hope I make it home. Friday night I had no problems and went 180 miles. But earlier in the week bad readings. So any advice before I attempt to take it to the dealer would be appreciated.
Voltage regulators are common on the TS111 engines.

Top right of the screen is a search box, type in voltage regulator and you can find pages of reading material on the subject. ;)

.
 

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Rider
2021 Roadmaster
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671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
IMHO your VR is about to fail. Once it does, it will fry the battery. In the interim your voltages will vary wildly before it gives up the proverbial ghost.

Perform all the regular maintenance steps and trickle charge ovenight. Plan B is to get it fixed ASAP before your stranded. Some on here purchased a spare and stored with their road tools.

I think the VR is a poorly designed component prone to problems for some. BTW, have you been through some heavy rain recently? Mine failed after riding in a heavy storm - back roads and no shelter anywhere. Covered under warrenty. Good luck
No rain. Just routine bike washing. This problem first raised its ugly head back in Feb. In the middle of a ride my displayed all of a sudden flashed on and off. The voltage reading had spiked to 15.1-15.3. Made it home and looked for loose battery connections. They were tight, however 2 of the ECU bolts were a little loose. Tightened them and had no problems until early this past week. This week I had a couple of normal reading rides but more not normal reading rides. I did check connections and they seemed tight but I'll recheck. But a new battery is in order. And if still having problems then off to the dealer.
 

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2021 Roadmaster
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Voltage regulators are common on the TS111 engines.

Top right of the screen is a search box, type in voltage regulator and you can find pages of reading material on the subject. ;)

.
I've done that, but that gets a little scattered about. Sometimes it's easier to just ask the question and get fresh answers that are more direct and easier to follow.
 

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I've done that, but that gets a little scattered about. Sometimes it's easier to just ask the question and get fresh answers that are more direct and easier to follow.
Yes, can get a bit scattered and convoluted. Also, there are "similar threads" listed at the bottom of each page which is sometimes helpful. So, yes, as noted by the number of pages in the search and in the similar threads area, voltage regulators have been a weak link in the charging system.

.
 

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Went through 2 batteries, replaced VR and eventually replaced wiring harness and processing unit. She is now one fine running, stage 2 equipped, '14 Classic with 43,000 miles. Running with a bad VR can result in a fire. Barely made it home one night, spittin' and sputtering, having to coast down hills when I could, but I have to admit, the bike has never left me stranded on the side of the road and the damn thing will go through practically anything! Now if I can just get the recall work done...
 

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Rider
2021 Roadmaster
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So this is all that I have done since my last post. First i put the tender to the battery over night. I then started the bike and the running idle readings were still well above where they should have been (14.6-14.7). I then retightened the battery terminals. They both were already tight but I was able to get another quarter turn or so in. Turn on the bike and the running idle readings were more normal (14.0-14.2). So I take the bike for a 6-7 mile ride. Now my cruising readings are lower than I ever had before (14.3-14.4 compared to what was my normal 14.5-14.6) and the bike seems to be popping more again and not really running smooth. But it was a short ride and the bike may not have been up to full temps.

So, what should I make of this? Do I treat the bike as being normal and just ride it while still keeping a wary eye on the voltage? Should I change out the battery? Should I still take it to the dealer and have them look at the voltage regulator? Gosh I hate electrical issues.
 

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So this is all that I have done since my last post. First i put the tender to the battery over night. I then started the bike and the running idle readings were still well above where they should have been (14.6-14.7). I then retightened the battery terminals. They both were already tight but I was able to get another quarter turn or so in. Turn on the bike and the running idle readings were more normal (14.0-14.2). So I take the bike for a 6-7 mile ride. Now my cruising readings are lower than I ever had before (14.3-14.4 compared to what was my normal 14.5-14.6) and the bike seems to be popping more again and not really running smooth. But it was a short ride and the bike may not have been up to full temps.

So, what should I make of this? Do I treat the bike as being normal and just ride it while still keeping a wary eye on the voltage? Should I change out the battery? Should I still take it to the dealer and have them look at the voltage regulator? Gosh I hate electrical issues.
When you start the bike the battery supplies the current. As soon as the bike is running the reg supplies the current to run everything on the bike (lights, ignition, anything) *and* starts charging the battery back up to 100% (or as high as the battery will charge).

The load the reg sees from the battery will change as it charges up and at some point, the load from the battery "says" no more.

At that point the reg has to deal with the excess voltage that is coming out of the alternator. On motorcycles the regs work differently than on a car. Car regs actually control the output of the alternator and turn it up or down to match the needs of the electrical system.

MC alternators and regs are not as sophisticated and the alternator output is controlled solely by RPM. As the reg senses the needs of the electrical system it supplies what is needed and has to shunt any excess to ground. That creates heat and that is why the MC regs are finned (and on well engineered bikes) are out in the airflow.

When you have a large alternator output like the Chief bikes but are not using much of the output the reg has to shunt a lot of energy to ground and that is why they can have more failures than we would like.

The 700 watt alternator is there so that a RM running a high output sound system, heated grips and a set of heated seats has enough current.

My SpringField with none of those options and is pulling probably only 200 watts of energy and the other 500 has to be shunted to ground.

On your bike, you need to start it, ride it while recharging and then see if it sits between 14.3 and 14.7. If it does, it is working fine.

If the voltage bounces around a lot outside of those readings then you have to look into it.

HTH.

WD./
 

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Rider
2021 Roadmaster
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the detailed info. So I think you are suggesting to ride for now but keep a close eye on the voltage. If any irregularities occur, take it to the dealer.

I also forgot to mention above that my audio volume is half of what it was before I re-tightened the battery terminals. What once was a volume of 7 now requires to be set at 12-14. And I just verified it a 2nd time at lunch.
 

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Thanks for the detailed info. So I think you are suggesting to ride for now but keep a close eye on the voltage. If any irregularities occur, take it to the dealer.

I also forgot to mention above that my audio volume is half of what it was before I re-tightened the battery terminals. What once was a volume of 7 now requires to be set at 12-14. And I just verified it a 2nd time at lunch.
Hmmmmm... how far is dealer?
If it's not a trek, I'd pop in...
 

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Rider
2021 Roadmaster
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Dealer is an hour away. Not too far but not around the corner either. But I was hoping to get nearer 10,000 miles (I'm at 8,300) before taking it in. That way I can get the 10,000 mile service done along with the fuel rail recall and this problem (battery? volt reg?) in addition to installing new Air Cleaner, new Barnett clutch cable, and stage 2 cams all at one time.
 

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I know this is an older thread but yesterday i had an issue pop up after installing led accents to bike direct to battery. On my way to work low voltage warning came on 20 min in. Made it to work, disconected lights from battery bike wouldnt restart it sat until lunch and started fine but voltage read 12 at idle and didnt drop
So i rode it home displaying volt meter. Under load at highway speeds read 13.8 to 14 but at lights would drop back to 12
Os this normal or not for these bikes. Coming off a victory cc as nd even at idle it would read near or at 14.

Thanks for any response
Btw loving the chief darkhorse other thas n this.
 
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