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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 11th, 2005, 8:18 pm Thread Starter
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New Battery Question

Hi gang. My bike is over 3 years old ('03 w/10K miles), has the stock, wet one, and has always been charged every few weeks. Oh, and never kept a bike that long before, so I'm new on this issue.
Have read it's good insurance to replace your battery every 3 years, especially on voltage sensitive bikes like ours (all kinds of faults when voltage drops below certain level).

My first question is if I should do it now, or wait another year... or how long?

My next question is I don't want to spring for another charger (I have the BMW one, but before they came out with the 'gel' one), so I want to buy another 'wet' battery. What are my options? Don't want to do ANY modifications to my battery posts or anything else on my bike, so A/M batteries that require modification of battery posts are out (Panasonic, etc).
Remember reading BMW doesn't sell wet replacements anymore. Also saw a wet replacement on some dealer's website, but don't remember where.

All comments and recommendations welcome.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 11th, 2005, 8:49 pm
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Originally Posted by BLACK_03_K
What are my options?
Here's what I got from my BMW dealer, Yuasa model 51913.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 11th, 2005, 8:58 pm
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Your battery is 3 years old and sounds like it received proper maintenance (regular charging and fluid level checks.) If the bike still starts well, why mess with something that works? If it was mine, I would continue using it for at least another year.

Here is my battery experience: I replaced the wet cell in my K75S in 2002. The battery was installed in 1992. Yep, 10 years on a wet cell battery. The thing was still working, but the plastic case was starting to get stress cracks and I was afraid it would puke acid all over the bike. The replacement gell battery has a bit over 3 years on it now and is going just fine.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 11th, 2005, 11:01 pm Thread Starter
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Thanks to both for your help. Rick, that Yuasa seems identical than stock; exactly what I was looking for. Checked on Yuasa's website, and it's listed for my bike. It only goes up to 2000, but my '03 is identical except brakes and other minor stuff.
George, I think you're right. My bike has always been slow to crank, but cranks the same way now than on day 1. I'll keep it for another year... unless I find a way to test-load it and make sure it's still perfect. Don't want to maximize the life of a $50 battery, and end up stranded in the middle of nowhere (I'd HATE myself <he he>). I hardly use the bike in winter, when it's most likely to fail. And I check and top off the electrolyte every time I bleed the brakes (due at any time now... probably next Saturday morning). Thanks again guys.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 2005, 1:50 am
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When older wet batteries failed they tended to give some warning, usually slow cranking on very cold mornings. With the bike cranking over the voltage across the battery drops with age and when you get about 9-10 volts instead of 12 it's time to change it.

New batteries on the other hand, pack the plates closer to give higher start current in the same size, and can use gel electrolyte. The downside is they tend to fail instant (like your camera battery) so you don't want that on a long ride and replacing every 4 years is probably wise insurance, particularly if you are in cold climes.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 2005, 7:56 am
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I replace the battery on our bikes every 5 years. I have the old style BMW chargers and always have them plugged in when the bikes are in the garage.

Lee Fillian
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03 K1200RS
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 2005, 1:25 pm
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lee, that's what I do- on tender 24/7. Starting cold with low batteries hammers the cells due to longer cranking time and higher self dissipation, due to raised internal resistance. Then after starting, the alternator hits the cells with big currents trying to bring the battery back to full charge. Then there's that nasty reported 'starter solenoid sticking 'on' with welded contacts' problem, many have experienced trying to start a K on a near flat battery.

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Last edited by voxmagna; Dec 12th, 2005 at 1:26 pm. Reason: typo
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 12th, 2005, 10:48 pm Thread Starter
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I don't think newer bikes have the problem of solenoids sticking with low-voltage batteries anymore, but I always charge the battery before using it just in case. I don't like to leave anything hooked up unattended indefinitely, so I charge it every 2 weeks or so.
I'll keep it for 4 years, but would maybe feel lucky and try 5 if the answer to my following question is positive:
If I buy a new (wet) battery and don't put the acid in, can I keep it that way for up to a year without affecting its useful life once filled up? I'd like to have it handy in case the old one starts hanging its gloves. Otherwise I'll probably replace it next year just to be safe.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old Dec 13th, 2005, 4:52 am
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Selling batteries 'dry' is usual because they can't ship acids. A new dry battery never filled with acid should not deteriate on the shelf - that's how manufacturers and distributors store them. The only minor issue if you're bothered about it is warranty, which starts on the date of sale. You can't second guess sudden battery failure, but measuring the voltage drop on a fully charged battery fully loaded when cranking can give you a good idea. If I was factoring in a battery change I'd probably do it just before winter starts when everything is stacked up against a battery. If you have some breakdown cover, carry a cell and aren't doing long rides away, you might balance the risk and try to go for the 5 years.

If you've had your K a while, you'll know what good cranking sounds like. I used to get ABS lights on with my present battery after a cold overnight stand during winter, but I put this down to lights on during short infrequent rides. Since I've been tendering 24/7 I've never had the ABS lights flash on a cold start. Incidentally, I extended the charging lead a bit on my tender then fitted a BMW plug, so the lead can be used outside.

When I visited dealers looking for used bikes a couple of years ago, I was amazed they nearly all left the bikes standing with flat batteries. The heavy boost charge they then put in to offer the bike for trial must leave you wondering about the state of the battery you bought.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 20th, 2006, 1:03 am
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I've heard two different stories on using Battery Tenders with the old style wet batteries and am wondering if anyone can clarify. I still have my original wet battery in my '02RS and it is operating fine (although I am wondering if I am pushing my luck using it much longer.) I have always maintained it with a Battery Tender. My original philosophy was to connect the Tender to the battery (via the accessory socket) and just leave it plugged in during the winter. A few years ago I was told by a shop technician that that isn't a good idea. He stated that I should plug the Tender in intermittantly and then completely disconnect it from the bike after the green light on the Tender is illuminated, showing a full charge.

Apparently it can cause problems leaving the Tender connected for long periods of time (?) I thought that with the Tender's cycling process that there was no chance of "cooking" the battery and one could rest easy just hooking up the Tender and leaving it alone, even for months at a time. Isn't that a major claim they make and a selling point for their product?

One last thing...regarding replacement "wet" batteries...besides the Yuasa referenced above I have found a replacement manufactured by AWS on BMW of Santa Cruz's site:

AWS Battery 19 amp
Part number: 6151913
Price: 69.95

Has anyone used this battery and have any feedback as to it's quality, etc.? I notice that it does have the "flip up" terminal covers like the OEM BMW unit that make it easier to connect wires to.

Thanks for the help!!
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