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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.
JC
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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.
JC
 

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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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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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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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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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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:

http://www.bmwscruz.com/Merchant2/index.html

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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I just bought the Panasonic LCX1220P from Digikey . Excellent battery and you can't beat the price. The only modification was to drill the hole in the battery posts out slightly larger in order to use the stock fittings. I then had to bend the positve lead slightly and that's it. I'm glad I don't have the wet battery anymore and the risk of a leak. My stock battery was 6yr old. The resting voltage was usually around 12.5v and I noticed a drop to 12.3v so felt it was time to replace.
 

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ELP_JC said:
I don't think newer bikes have the problem of solenoids sticking with low-voltage batteries anymore, .
Granted, I don't hear about solenoids sticking on K12RS and GT, but do think the design is the same so the potential is still there. Stuck solenoid is no fun. Disassembly is required to fix - PITA for owner/wrench or $$ service.

My opinion is that if a K (prior to the new 12's) is slow to crank, it's best to get a boost or bump start.

Just my opinion but I'm convinced.
 

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brentboshart said:
I'm glad I don't have the wet battery anymore and the risk of a leak..

I want to stick with Lead Acid batteries as I have an investment in two Battery Tenders and am not willing to buck-up for a new battery charger for a Gel.
 

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Brent's Panasonic isn't a gel - it's an absorbed electrolyte battery. And I think your Battery Tender works fine with it. And you don't have to check the fluid. And it can be shipped fully ready to go in the bike (flooded lead acid has to have acid added just prior to installation and for best life it needs to be first charged in a precises manner).

For what it's worth, all of these are lead acid batteries - the additives in the lead vary, how the electrolyte is held varies, what happens to the oxygen and hydrogen caused by charging varies and the max output voltage varies. But all use lead acid electro-chemistry.
 

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brentboshart said:
I just bought the Panasonic LCX1220P from Digikey . Excellent battery and you can't beat the price. The only modification was to drill the hole in the battery posts out slightly larger in order to use the stock fittings. I then had to bend the positve lead slightly and that's it. I'm glad I don't have the wet battery anymore and the risk of a leak. My stock battery was 6yr old. The resting voltage was usually around 12.5v and I noticed a drop to 12.3v so felt it was time to replace.

Hey Brent...I just shot over to digikey's site and was looking at the Panasonic. They are listing it as a sealed "wet" lead-acid battery. Is this your understanding? Is this just a maintenance free battery? I guess I thought it was a gel or AGM. If so, what's the benefit/negatives of this versus just a 'regular' wet battery that needs to be topped off occasionally with distilled water?
 

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allenclarkson said:
Brent's Panasonic isn't a gel - it's an absorbed electrolyte battery. And I think your Battery Tender works fine with it. And you don't have to check the fluid. And it can be shipped fully ready to go in the bike (flooded lead acid has to have acid added just prior to installation and for best life it needs to be first charged in a precises manner).

For what it's worth, all of these are lead acid batteries - the additives in the lead vary, how the electrolyte is held varies, what happens to the oxygen and hydrogen caused by charging varies and the max output voltage varies. But all use lead acid electro-chemistry.

Thanks for the clarification Allen. Can you comment on how the flooded batteries should be charged differently their first time after they are filled with battery acid? I always figured I would just get the battery filled and then hook it up to my Deltran Tender Plus. Maybe not eh?
 

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oneydee said:
Can you comment on how the flooded batteries should be charged differently their first time after they are filled with battery acid? I always figured I would just get the battery filled and then hook it up to my Deltran Tender Plus. Maybe not eh?
Yes, that is exactly what you should do. Charge it for at least 24 hours or
until it achieves a full charge.

I also hook the bike up to the Battery Tender, through the accessory socket,
every time the bike is parked and I've never had any problems.
 

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oneydee said:
Thanks for the clarification Allen. Can you comment on how the flooded batteries should be charged differently their first time after they are filled with battery acid? I always figured I would just get the battery filled and then hook it up to my Deltran Tender Plus. Maybe not eh?
Dang - hoped nobody asked that :wtf. In truth, I wrote all I could remember - but just now took a look to refresh my leaky memory.

One resource is: http://www.largiader.com/articles/battery.html Anton, the author, is a professional battery geek (damn fast rider too).

Another: http://www.buchanan1.net/lead_acid.shtml This quotes from the Yusa handbook.

And the answer to your question from a MC shop owner is here: http://www.ibmwr.org/otech/newbattery.html
Quoting from that site:

"You can use a Battery Tender, a very good charger, or any other type of charger, but you do NOT want to charge at a rate higher than 10% of the ampere-hour rating of your battery. For our BMW's, this generally means a maximum of approximately 3 amperes. Charging at a rate approaching 3 amperes is not a great idea however. I prefer 1 to 2 amperes rated chargers. Charge the battery about 16 hours or so; charging up to 24 hours on a 1 or 2 ampere rated charger won't hurt anything. If you are monitoring the battery voltage with an ACCURATE voltmeter, the voltage will eventually rise close to 14 volts, give or take a bit. If you have a 6 volt BMW, all voltage readings in this posting should be divided by 2.0. Battery chargers vary quite a bit, particularly the simpler unregulated types. At room temperature, you only need about 13.8 to 14.25 volts for a full charge. Depending on the charger size and rate of actual charging, the battery may be bubbling (this is called 'gassing'). This is normal, and the cells should eventually all be gassing about the same. It is rare, but if one cell doesn't, and the others do, that cell is bad.

After charging fully, disconnect the charger, do the rocking/tapping again, and let the battery sit for a few hours, not just minutes. Top up the battery with acid, to the upper level line. You will never be adding acid, only distilled water, to this battery again. When you install the battery, do not forget to clean the cable connections, coat the positive (+) cable connection with red goop (NCP2 or similar anti-corrosion stuff from your auto parts store ... use an acid brush with this stuff)."

I think we have 18 AH batteries so we need to keep the initial charging rate to ~2 amps - just what a Battery Tender delivers. [Note that gel batteries and some absorbed gas mat batteries [aka "absorbed electrolyte" or "starved electrolyte"] have special charging needs - the procedure quoted above refers to flooded lead acid batteries, the old fashioned kind.]

Even though this advice came from a shop owner, not all shops do batteries right. If they did, you would have to call ahead a few days so they could prep a battery for you. If the shop just puts the acid right before selling or installing, the battery will have a charge and will start the bike. But you won't get the full potential longevity from the battery. And a lot of shops do just that and their customers have no idea why batteries only last 3 yrs even though the customer maintained them correctly. But if the shop preps them right and keeps them on a maintenacne charger, they can deliver immediately and there isn't much loss - especially not if they have a decent turnover so the battery you buy was prepped only a few weeks earlier.

And there you are :sun:

Allen
 

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oneydee said:
Hey Brent...I just shot over to digikey's site and was looking at the Panasonic. They are listing it as a sealed "wet" lead-acid battery. Is this your understanding? Is this just a maintenance free battery? I guess I thought it was a gel or AGM.
The Panasonic is an AGM. (absorbed glass matt). It still uses wet electrolyte but its absorbed in a glass matt fiber making it leak resistant. Anyone who has ever had battery acid leaking out over their beautiful German bike can appreciate this (which includes me and my '81 R100CS)
 

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JC
I have routinely gotten 6years of service out of stock BMW batteries. I never managed more than 3 years with Yuasas. When my RS battery started to show signs of weakness, it started with less gusto. I tested the battery & it was replacement time. I have since replaced my battery in my R1150R (the first BMW battery I have had that didn't make it to the 6 yr mark!) with a Westco. It can be charged with the standard old style charger and I'm sorry I didn't put one in the RS. It was a no brainer in the R because one has to remove the tank to check the battery. Would have been nice in the RS too.

Jim
 
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