Workbench September 2014

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stu and bike

Technical Questions and Answers

Battery Drainage


My wife and I have a 1988 GL1500 that we’ve for just a year. It has been sitting about two to three weeks because of the weather. When I went to start it up, it didn’t start. I disconnected the battery and hooked up the charger, thinking it had been too long since I started it for the battery to hold a charge. After charging a couple of hours, it turned over but would not catch. I have a bad display, it shows some data but half the screen is blank. I have not been able to change it out yet and the previous owner has put every light on it that you can get. I’m wondering if there is just too much drain while the bike is off. The only drain I can see is the display because it has a clock. Am I concerned about nothing or maybe there’s be a real concern? If I’m not going to ride for a week, should I disconnect the battery? I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on this.

Brent Summers
Hapeville, GA

Hi Brent,
The clock display isn’t enough to kill a battery in two weeks, unless the battery is damaged or was undercharged prior to storage. And none of those extra lights should cause an issue while the bike sits, unless one or more is actually on with the key off. If that’s the case, you’ll need to sort that issue. My hunch is that your battery is toasted and I say that for a couple of reasons. First, most folks don’t know much about batteries, including how to test them. Depending on whether your battery is sealed or “wet,” it should read between 12.6 and 13 volts at the battery terminals with the engine not running. If it’s down around 12.2 to 12.4 volts, even after being charged, it’s useless. Secondly, the GL1500 with original alternator has a very weak charging system — barely capable on a completely stock bike. Add all those extra lights and I guarantee you the battery has been continually undercharged. This will cause it to sulfate and lose a lot of its capacity. If it were my bike, I’d either remove all of those farkles or install an aftermarket alternator such as the Compufire.

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One Response to “Workbench September 2014”

  1. Lynn Mobley

    Hi Stu
    I have a 2009 GL1800 with premium audio. I just installed the Kisan Pathblazer Headlight Modulator on the high beams. Every time I modulate the lights I can here a high pitched beeping sound in the audio no matter how or what I’m playing – AM, FM, CD, Speakers, headset, CB on or off. However if I turn the audio off completely I can hear no beep at all. I’m thinking it is some kind of feedback. Have you heard of this problem before? Is there anything that can be done.

    Lynn Mobley
    Westwego, La


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