Minggu, 01 Mei 2011

How to Check Your Motorcycle Charging System

Every spring, motorcycle owners around the globe are faced with the dreaded dead battery. But is it really your battery that is causing the problem. The battery can be a symptom but may not be the actual cause of your predicament. A motorcycle charging system is made up of several components that work together to keep your battery charged. Just like on a car, if one of those components fail or performs below normal, the whole system malfunctions. Many people waste precious money and time by replacing a perfectly fine battery, when it might not be the problem. Just doing a few simple tests that can be performed with a basic multi meter, can save you time, money, and a headache. By using a multi meter you can determine if it is something that you can fix, or if you have to take your motorcycle in to a mechanic to get the problem fixed.

A motorcycle charging system consists of three major components. These components are the battery, the rectifier/regulator, and the stator which equals the alternator on a car. Most people know what a battery does, so we won't go into that at the moment. The stator creates 3 phase ac power when your motorcycle is running. The rectifier/regulator regulates the incoming AC voltage from the stator into a constant DC power that can be used by the battery and other electrical components throughout the motorcycle. Here are some easy to follow instructions that will let you know if it is time for a new battery or a trip to the mechanic.
First you have to locate your battery. On most bikes it is located under the driver seat. Some bikes release the seats with a lock under the seat, others have to be unbolted. Remove your seat to gain access to your battery. Set your multimeter to read DV voltage. Most have a setting for 20V which is fine for our purpose. Measure the voltage of the battery by placing the negative lead of the multimeter on the negative post of the battery and the positive lead of the multimeter on the positive post of the battery. The battery should read somewhere between 12.3V - 12.6V. If your measurement falls within this range, it tells you that your battery is fully charged and the battery is not your problem. If it's below range you might have a bad battery that doesn't hold its charge well, or your charging system is malfunctioning.
Next, with the positive and negative leads still connected to the battery push the starter button to start the motorcycle. While the starter is turning over, watch the voltage readout on the multimeter. The voltage should not drop past 11.4V. If it drops below this value, it means there is something drawing more power from the battery than normal. This would indicate a problem in the charging system or a short in the wiring.
Hopefully your multimeter leads are still connected because there is one more reading that needs to be recorded. While the motorcycle is running, check the voltage that your multimeter displays.
It should be between 13.5V to 14.6V. Some motorcycles will show this voltage just by idling others might have to be brought up to around 5000 rpms. If your multimeter doesn't show the mentioned voltage when idling or at 5000 rpms, it indicates that there is a problem with the charging system and your battery is most likely fine. Since the battery is not getting the voltage it needs to charge, either the rectifier/regulator or stator is most likely not working properly.
If you feel comfortable you can further investigate the system or take it to your trusted mechanic for a thorough check up. If you do get a good charging voltage, the first step would be to buy a new battery since everything upstream the battery seems to be working well. I suggest stopping by an automotive parts store before buying a new battery. They can test your battery for you and tell you if it's working correctly. The electrical system on a motorcycle can be tricky but by taking these three readings, you will have a better idea about what might be wrong.

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