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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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On 12/28/2018, I was making a trip from Jax to south Alabama. It was raining heavily west of Tallahassee most of the day so I decided to stop at Red Hills Powersports (Indian Dealer in Tallahassee). I spent several hours there waiting for the rain to slacken (I hate wearing the rainsuit). I purchased a new Indian half helmet ($49 after taxes - on sale 50% off). I decided to get back on the road just before dark and do the rain thing since it wasn't going to slacken. I stopped at a gas station, topped the tank off, got back on I-10 west and the battery indicator came on and a few seconds later the engine died.

It's pouring down rain and traffic is heavy. I called my wife who was in her car on the same trip but left hours after I did and let her know where I was - she wasn't very far away. I then called IMRG. They answered almost immediately and within 5 minutes of hanging up sent a text with the info on a local towing company slated to pick up the bike - it was almost 3 hours before they came. IMRG called me back after about an hour to see if I had been taken care of and communicated with me via text messages as well. All towing companies in the area were very busy due to the weather. An overturned semi was just a few miles west of my position. Wife picked me up and we went and got a hotel room.

Next day (Saturday), I was at the Red Hills dealership when they opened. I spoke with the service manager there and explained what happened and my symptoms (or at least the RM's). He immediately said it was probably the rectifier but would know more when they get the bike in the shop. That was the issue and they pulled one from a new bike and get me back on the road that afternoon (it took a while to recharge the battery).

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Rectifier failed. IMRG called.
I'd like to give a shout out to IMRG for the quick response and follow ups. Absolutely all compliments and no complaints from me. I'd like to also give a shout out to Red Hills Powersports in Tallahassee. I have been in there a few times and every time there I am always greeted by everyone as I meander around. Customer service there is top notch. The service department took me in and fixed my bike even removing the needed parts from a new bike on the floor. Back on the road - same day.
 

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Glad your bike is fixed.

I feel bad for the next guy who will buy a new bike without a Rectifier ;)

Did the dealer tell you whether this is a common issue or just an unfortunate and very rare event? Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Glad your bike is fixed.

I feel bad for the next guy who will buy a new bike without a Rectifier ;)

Did the dealer tell you whether this is a common issue or just an unfortunate and very rare event? Thanks
Yes. Service manager said it was a common issue and my bike was the "magic number" - dealer is going to add it to dealer stock.
 

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Is there anything to be done prophylactically to prevent this from happening and rendering one stranded? Are they expected to die after certain mileage or duration?
 

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Is there anything to be done prophylactically to prevent this from happening and rendering one stranded? Are they expected to die after certain mileage or duration?
Voltage Rectifier/Regulators are probably the component that fails the most on motorcycles.

This happens across all makes and models as there are some inherent weaknesses with the R/R configuration as used on motorcycles (some Ducati riders are on their 3-4-5th regulator).

So, a short tutorial -

The alternator creates "alternating current" and vehicles run on "direct current". On cars and trucks, with their outboard alternator, they use a series regulator which changes certain characteristics in the stator to regulate the output.

On modern motorcycles the alternator is housed in the engine cases and a shunt type regulator is used. It saves weight and a lot of money as they don't need to engineer a case or a way to drive the alternator, it is simply driven off the end of the crankshaft.

The alternator is a dumb component that is 100% controlled by RPM. The more RPM, the more output, up to it's maximum capability.

So a part of the circuit changes (rectifies) that AC into DC.

On the TS111 bikes we have a 700 watt alternator which means that at anything over about 2K RPM there are 700 watts that have to go somewhere. If you have an RM and a hotted up audio system and a passenger and you are both wearing heated gear, well, all 700 watts might be needed. And that is why they have such a large alternator system, you can't bump up the output after the fact to meet new needs.

(My Norton has an uprated alternator from the 120 watt OEM system to the 180 3-phase. My mid-90s Ducati had a 350 watt system and riders on those bikes have to juggle power all the time if they have heated gear or have added a lot of electrical consumers - driving lights etc.).

The regulator portion of the R/R senses how much current the loom of the bike needs and delivers that to the main circuit and from there it goes to the various parts of the bike.

For any current not needed, it needs to go somewhere and the shunt type regulators just shunt it to ground.

So, 100% of the time the alternator is putting out current and 100% of the time the R/R is working to control that output. Yes, that means there is 700 watts of energy flowing through the reg at all times. And that is why they need to be finned and out in the airstream to try and stay cool. That is also why they fail so much. (Imagine (7) 100 watt lightbulbs bunched together, how close would you like to put your hand?)

Now, another problem is that there is a thing called "the infant mortality rate of semi-conductors". That is the fact that a portion of all semi-conductors will fail in the first 30 days or so. The only way around that is to test each one for about 30 days to weed out the ones that fail.

Sounds fine except that your reg would cost maybe $800 instead of the $240 it does now.

So, all MC makers buy and deploy shunt regulators and hope for the best. And then riders buy the bikes and when they experience the early failure they think their MC maker supplied a "cheap" regulator when in fact they just experienced a fact of life.

In order for the bikes to have come with fully tested regs *all* of the bikes would have had to have been bumped in price to accommodate the small percentage of anticipated failures. There might be 5% R/R failures over the life of the bikes and that is a lot compared to the very low failure rate of the rest of the components on the bike.

Anyway, it is a big subject and I could write a small novel here but I wanted to point out the above to get people off the idea that Indian (or any maker for that matter) is just installing cheap components because they don't care. That's not the case.

So, to sum up;

R/Rs fail due to the need for a shunt circuit design
R/Rs fail due to the constant heat issue
R/Rs fail due to the infant mortality rate issue
R/Rs fail due to the fact that to create higher reliability would add a higher cost to *all* the bikes

If you have an early failure then you just got a bad draw

Hope This Helps.

(next - - why the air leaves your tire when you run over a sharp object in the road)

WD./
 
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