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How to tell when your battery is bad..............


MAT2CHI

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This morning I decided to ride my 04' RT to work. I unplugged my BMW gel battery charger and rolled it out of the garage. When I fired it up, I noticed the clock was 00:00 and thought "that's odd". It took a little longer to start, but I figured it's been a few weeks since I rode it and then took off for work.

About five miles into my commute I stopped at a closed full service car wash to pick up my morning paper. When I tried to start my bike back up, all I got was clicks and then nothing. I waited a few minutes and tried again but the same thing happened. Here I am, it's 6 am in the morning, it's still dark, my bike is dead in the water and I'm going to be late for work.

Then I realized I was right around the corner from my local BMW dealer where I bought my RT and decided to push my bike to the service area. It was only about two hundred feet and when I got there I looked at their hours sign (open at 8am) called their phone number and left a message on their answering machine telling them about my problem and dropped the keys into the night owl deposit and started to walk the last mile to work. The second car that drove by was my coworker who saw me and stopped to pick me up.

I got a call from BMW at 8am and I told them my battery was over five years old and put in a new battery. They called back after testing my old battery and confirmed the battery was shot.

I picked up my bike at lunch - $147 for the BMW gel battery and $174 to put it in. All in all a pretty lucky experience considering I could have stopped for my paper in another place.

So if anyone goes to start their motorcycle and notices the clock is showing 00:00, beware that your battery just might be ready to go out on you.

 

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Holy smokes, what could possibly justify $174 to put in a battery on a R1200RT?

 

Mine is a 2004 R1150RT and I think they require a lot more to get to the battery. I was told they needed to remove the plastic and the gas tank. All I know was I wanted to ride it home after work.

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Phew, relief - I've been under the seat of the R1200RT a few times and without having actually taken the battery out (yet), can't imagine it would be more than a few minutes work....sorry, I missed the '04 part reading your original post...under the circumstances I'd pay that to be able to ride home too, it just seemed like a lot of $.

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Phew, relief - I've been under the seat of the R1200RT a few times and without having actually taken the battery out (yet), can't imagine it would be more than a few minutes work....sorry, I missed the '04 part reading your original post...under the circumstances I'd pay that to be able to ride home too, it just seemed like a lot of $.

 

Since I'm a charter member of the more money than brains club, I was happy to have them install the new battery and have it ready for me to pick it up on my lunch break. If I only have to have it done every five years, then it's really not that bad.

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It is alot of work to get to the battery on an 04RT. I've had the same experience with the clock warning of a bad battery.

 

I also know that sick feeling of paying the dealer.....like you were touched inappropiately....do you tell anyone or keep it to yourself?...

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All I know was I wanted to ride it home after work.

And you also now know that will cost you $321. :) For future reference you can get a 22Ah AGM replacement for about $50. Throw one of those in there every four years and you will never have a repeat experience of the above.

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It is alot of work to get to the battery on an 04RT. I've had the same experience with the clock warning of a bad battery.

I also know that sick feeling of paying the dealer.....like you were touched inappropiately....do you tell anyone or keep it to yourself?...

 

I'm telling you guys about it. For that kind of money I expect to be touched somewhere.......

 

All I know was I wanted to ride it home after work.

And you also now know that will cost you $321. :) For future reference you can get a 22Ah AGM replacement for about $50. Throw one of those in there every four years and you will never have a repeat experience of the above.

 

Thanks for the advice. That might be the way to go in four years but it wasn't going to work for me this morning.

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And the moral of the story is "Don't read yesterday's news, just go to the internet for your news." Besides, it's hard to read the paper on a motorcycle. :grin:

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I also know that sick feeling of paying the dealer.....like you were touched inappropiately....do you tell anyone or keep it to yourself?...

Ah yes, the priests had a good time on that one.

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Mine is a 2004 R1150RT and I think they require a lot more to get to the battery. I was told they needed to remove the plastic and the gas tank.

 

It must be a lot different from the '02 R1150RT. I can swap a battery in under 30 minutes and still have time for a beer (not that I would).

 

On the '02 you only need to remove the left side tupperware and the tube (snorkel) that feeds air into the air-filter housing. The gas tank can stay where it is. Remove the battery ground connection, slide the battery partially out to disconnect the positive connection, and remove battery out the left side. Reverse the procedure for installing the new battery.

 

Stan

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Mine is a 2004 R1150RT and I think they require a lot more to get to the battery. I was told they needed to remove the plastic and the gas tank.

 

It must be a lot different from the '02 R1150RT. I can swap a battery in under 30 minutes and still have time for a beer (not that I would).

 

On the '02 you only need to remove the left side tupperware and the tube (snorkel) that feeds air into the air-filter housing. The gas tank can stay where it is. Remove the battery ground connection, slide the battery partially out to disconnect the positive connection, and remove battery out the left side. Reverse the procedure for installing the new battery.

 

Stan

 

The '04 is the same. The OP got gouged.

 

Andy

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The '04 is the same. The OP got gouged.

 

Gouged not only on the labor, but on the battery as well. $150 will buy you an Enersys battery (Odyssey, Genesis, or whatever) that will last 8-12 years instead of the BMW (Exide) battery that will last 5 years at most.

 

-MKL

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I haven't had the battery fail yet but I have had the experience of taking the battery out to add accessories to the terminals. You have to take both sides of the plastic fairing off and loosen the gas tank (not remove it) to get at the battery. It's not hard but time consuming. I have a 1998 R1100RT. Anything you do to the bike seems like it requires taking off all the plastic. Like setting the valves or synchronizing the carbs. I can't afford to have it done and have been lucky for the 2 yrs I have owned it. I guess if you break down on the way to work you don't have much choice. The closest dealer to where I live is 103 miles and he will gladly bend you over if you have to go to him. My Goldwing never breaks down (been 4 yrs now) but it isn't nearly as much fun as the R1100RT.

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Considering how lucky I was to have the battery go dead a half a block from my local BMW dealer, and to have the charging systeme checked and the battery replaced by lunch time and, to be able to ride it home after work that day I am more than happy to pay the $300. When you are stranded on the side of the road at 6 am, it's not really the time to shop around for the best price on batteries. I guess I'm lucky that I'm at the point in my life where $300 isn't that big of a deal to me. This thread wasn't a rant about my dealer, just a heads up about the clock going blank as a possible warning that your battery is on the way out.

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It is appreciated! Looking through the documentation on the R1200RT, there is a warning for "insufficient battery charge current" indicating the battery is not being charged, but nothing I could find that would indicate a low battery.

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Amen, that's a lot of $$ but you could've been in the middle of BFE and had a towing charge (and possible damage to your bike from a doofus tow truck driver)to boot. Count you blessings and ride.....

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I haven't had the battery fail yet but I have had the experience of taking the battery out to add accessories to the terminals. You have to take both sides of the plastic fairing off and loosen the gas tank (not remove it) to get at the battery. It's not hard but time consuming. I have a 1998 R1100RT. Anything you do to the bike seems like it requires taking off all the plastic. Like setting the valves or synchronizing the carbs. I can't afford to have it done and have been lucky for the 2 yrs I have owned it. I guess if you break down on the way to work you don't have much choice. The closest dealer to where I live is 103 miles and he will gladly bend you over if you have to go to him. My Goldwing never breaks down (been 4 yrs now) but it isn't nearly as much fun as the R1100RT.

 

Sorry, but that is not necessary. To get the battery out of your bike only needs the LH tupperware removing and the snorkel removed form the airbox. next you disconnect the rubber strap and ease the battery sideways a little so you can disconnect the ground cable. Next the battery slides out a bit more to allow the supply cable to be disconnected. Now the battery lifts clear. Total replacement time 1/2 hour if its the first one you've done.

 

Andy

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that will last 8-12 years

In what Universe? :grin:

 

But yeah, there are many cheaper/better alternatives than stock.

 

 

Any universe. My controller has had an Enersys Genesis 16AH battery (similar to Odyssey but sold to industry) in his Harley Softail since 1998, still going strong. The Odyssey in my wife's 1971 R60/5 is 9 years old, still going strong. You would never see that with any other VRLA or AGM battery.

 

I work with batteries all day - we manufacture rugged UPS Systems for military use, and for mission critical applications where long life or extreme environmental factors are an issue, Enersys is the only game in town. I wish it weren't so because their prices and lead times are outrageous, but they are basically the only choice as far as having a full complete model line to pick from.

 

It is a common misconception here on this board to compare conventional AGM or sealed lead acid batteries like Exide, Interstate, Panasonic, Yuasa, etc. to Enersys - the Enersys units WILL last 8-12 years vs 3-5 for more conventional batteries. This rating is at 25 degrees Celsius ambient, as typical for battery ratings. There IS no comparison. I'm just lucky that I get mine free - perks of the job!

 

-MKL

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It is a common misconception here on this board to compare conventional AGM or sealed lead acid batteries like Exide, Interstate, Panasonic, Yuasa, etc. to Enersys -

I wasn't making any particular comparison, and in fact I use Odyssey batteries. Have never gotten (nor do I ever expect to get) eight years of motorcycle service out of one. But maybe that's just me and most folks are getting 8-12 years.

 

 

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Dave in Doodah

MAT2CHI,

I should send you a check to help ease the pain and offset your cost... you just saved me some cash and/or heartache. Yesterday when I went to lunch - our first day of sub 40-degree weather - the new-to-me '03 RT was very slow to crank before turning over. I didn;t think much of it since it was chilly, but noticed later that the time was 0:14 while I was riding...?

 

I will be buying a new battery this week. Not sure I'd be willing to pay someone that kind of money to un-strand me, but I'm more than happy to use the help on this thread to swap it out before I have a story to top yours... thanks!

 

As a side question, at the risk of hi-jacking... is it not feasible to bump-start these monsters like I've done many times with my airhead? Or is a healthy battery a requirement to run the much more sophisticated harness on these bikes? This is a rhetorical question, as I will do a thread search for the answers that will surely turn up...

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at the risk of hi-jacking... is it not feasible to bump-start these monsters like I've done many times with my airhead? ...

 

You can bump start them -(get help, to avoid that embarrasing 'dumping on it's side when it goes wrong' sort of thing), then while sitting on the bike with it in a highish gear while your pesky servants push like crazy - dump the clutch and when it catches whip the clutch back in again.

 

OR

 

Jump start by using another vehicle, connect the jump leads to the remote +ve post and a good ground contact. Let the donor vehicle run with the leads connected for a little while to get the juice flowing into your battery for a while, then, give it a go and hopefully...Vroom!

 

So yes to both Bump and Jump starts.

 

Andy

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Just as an FYI....on your bike, you SHOULD have an extended battery positive terminal (with a rubber cover on it). This was an "upgrade" for the 2004MY RT's. It's in case you ever need a jump start. Lift your seat up and gaze under the tank to make sure the buggers have put it back on for you!!

 

 

 

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Yes...it IS possible to bumpstart an oilhead. But its effin' hard work and you really need two people to push it or, better yet, carry a 15' 1" tow strap!!!

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MAT2CHI,

I should send you a check to help ease the pain and offset your cost... you just saved me some cash and/or heartache. Yesterday when I went to lunch - our first day of sub 40-degree weather - the new-to-me '03 RT was very slow to crank before turning over. I didn;t think much of it since it was chilly, but noticed later that the time was 0:14 while I was riding...?

 

I will be buying a new battery this week. Not sure I'd be willing to pay someone that kind of money to un-strand me, but I'm more than happy to use the help on this thread to swap it out before I have a story to top yours... thanks!

 

 

Cool, but I'm doing alright. I'm glad I helped someone avoid the kind of surprise I had that morning. I really think the clock malfunction is a dead giveaway. It would have been nice if I knew about the clock clue before I rode my bike to work that day so I could have chosen one of my other vehicles to drive instead. Then I would have bought a battery, brought it home, and put it in myself.

 

Just as an FYI....on your bike, you SHOULD have an extended battery positive terminal (with a rubber cover on it). This was an "upgrade" for the 2004MY RT's. It's in case you ever need a jump start. Lift your seat up and gaze under the tank to make sure the buggers have put it back on for you!!

I never heard of that before. I will check under my seat to see if it is there. I have learned many things here and I just learned another one today. Thanks for the info!

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Dave in Doodah

Thanks Andy & Phil - yes, I do see that I have an extended battery positive terminal (and with the rubber cover on it). So I am not too worried about the jumper cable option, should the need arise.

 

But I am glad to see that I am not alone in fretting the bump-start option on these heavier, taller machines... I am able to bump-start my old RT by myself with a bit of a downhill running start. But, after already dropping the new bike in a Wendy's parking lot, I have a bit more respect for the newer bike's heft.

 

I think jumper cables will be stowed before towing cables... at my age, it just makes sense. Thanks!

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Just as an FYI....on your bike, you SHOULD have an extended battery positive terminal (with a rubber cover on it). This was an "upgrade" for the 2004MY RT's. It's in case you ever need a jump start. Lift your seat up and gaze under the tank to make sure the buggers have put it back on for you!!

 

I think this needs some clarification, as it's (to my knowledge) only later 2004 models which came with the post installed. My RT, for example, build date of 9/03, did NOT have a post. I bought the post and plan to install it soon. My wife's 2004 R1150R (build 12/03) DOES have the post, though.

 

-MKL

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I'll take one when I get home today. It's about $30 or so at the dealer - a rape for sure, but better to have it when you need it. It's basically a piece of metal that attaches to the + terminal of the battery and brings a post out to where it can be accessed if you remove the seat. Removing the seat is a HULLUVA lot easier than taking off the tupperware to jump start...

 

-MKL

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Just as an FYI....on your bike, you SHOULD have an extended battery positive terminal (with a rubber cover on it). This was an "upgrade" for the 2004MY RT's.

 

I think this needs some clarification, as it's (to my knowledge) only later 2004 models which came with the post installed. My RT, for example, build date of 9/03, did NOT have a post.

-MKL

 

My UK spec 09/03 has it. (I find it a useful take off point for accessories too!).

Andy

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Here's the exploded fiche view....Parts 9 through 11 are what you need :thumbsup:

 

To picture the positioning of the extended terminal, just imagine you are standing at the front RH side of the bike, looking toward the LH rear.

 

 

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I checked my 04' and it does not have the post. Does anybody have a picture of what it looks like on the RT?

 

Yes, please post a picture of what we're supposed to have and tell me where on the frame to connect the ground- negative from the donor battery.

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It is possible to jump-start the bike without the post. You just attach the positive lead of the jumper battery to a screwdriver and poke it in to the right side of the battery. :thumbsup:

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MAT2CHI,

 

I do appreciate the post... Too bad folks are focusing on the cost and admonish you for paying the $300... so I can understand the desire to get it done. It could have been worse! The price for the OEM battery itself was not too bad. I understand there are cheaper batteries out there but "peace of mind" does come with priceless benefits.

 

I also have a 2004 RT... One thing I've done is keep a small Battery Tender (with socket adapter) with the bike under the rear seat. It actually came in handy big time when I was at a gas station and the battery died. Using a power socket adapterI was able to "borrow" the stations outlet and let the bike charge for about 15-20 minutes... that was enough to let me turn the engine over and get the bike home.

 

I would not mess with jumpstarts, especially using a screwdriver for connection... My manual specifically states not too and the battery tender works great (as long as you are near an outlet)... for longer trips to the middle of no where, I brought along the battery tender terminal connections to connect straight to another battery without need for an electrical outlet...

 

Thanks!

 

Brett

 

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MAT2CHI,

 

I do appreciate the post... Too bad folks are focusing on the cost and admonish you for paying the $300... so I can understand the desire to get it done. It could have been worse! The price for the OEM battery itself was not too bad. I understand there are cheaper batteries out there but "peace of mind" does come with priceless benefits.

 

Thanks!

 

Brett

 

Thanks Brett, I knew a few people out there would understand. I've been using the BMW gel battery charger since it was new. I have the old blue one that was pretty expensive at the time. The dealership also checked the charging system and that was fine, so I feel I got more than just a battery for that money. I'm glad this thread has already helped one member not get stranded, hopefully it will help more.

 

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MAT2CHI,

 

I do appreciate the post... Too bad folks are focusing on the cost and admonish you for paying the $300... so I can understand the desire to get it done. It could have been worse! The price for the OEM battery itself was not too bad. I understand there are cheaper batteries out there but "peace of mind" does come with priceless benefits.

 

Thanks!

 

Brett

 

Thanks Brett, I knew a few people out there would understand. I've been using the BMW gel battery charger since it was new. I have the old blue one that was pretty expensive at the time. The dealership also checked the charging system and that was fine, so I feel I got more than just a battery for that money. I'm glad this thread has already helped one member not get stranded, hopefully it will help more.

 

Don't let some of the people on this forum make you second guess your decisions. No matter what you do, there is always someone out there who claims that they can do it better and cheaper. You did what you needed to do and it was the right decision for that time and that situation. The next time you need to change your battery, you will have more information and more choices and your decision may be different.

At least your bike was up and running quickly.

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BTW - I checked the bike for the best ground for jump starting and found that the exhaust system got the best reading on my DMM!

 

If you discover that you have a dead battery and need to get going on the quick, a jump start, using the extended battery terminal post, should work just fine. Allowing the donor vehicle to get some juice into your battery before you do the "jump" will help a lot. And don't forget, it's Hot side first THEN ground second for any charging.

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All I know was I wanted to ride it home after work.

And you also now know that will cost you $321. :) For future reference you can get a 22Ah AGM replacement for about $50. Throw one of those in there every four years and you will never have a repeat experience of the above.

 

Hmmmm,

That sounds a lot like the battery I've been testing in my R11RT.

http://www.batteriesasap.com/48.html

Current price is $42.95 for a 22AH UB12220 battery. So far, it's working great. Every bit as strong as the Panasonics I've used since 1996. Replace every 4 years and you'll probably never have a problem. Much better solution than the little 16AH Odyssey in my opinion.

 

Mick

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Back to the post. Philby's link was interesting to me because my post looks nothing like that!

 

I'm in the middle of a post project, actually - motivated because of this thread!. I'm going to finish it today, and I'll post pics. My post is a very jagged shape - very UNLIKE the diagram in Philby's link, but a genuine BMW part nonetheless.

 

First, I modified the post to fit my Odyssey by bending it on the vice. Then, I drilled and tapped the post itself so it can serve now as the installation point for all my farkles / accessories. I have so many tied directly to the battery terminals that it was becoming a chore to deal with. Now that they're on the post, it's much more accessible than before!

 

Should have this done tonight with pix tomorrow. Actually, it's all together but the tupperware remains to be replaced...

 

-MKL

 

PS - I've seen Oilheads jumped via the + terminal on the starter, so that's another possible option. If you're battery's truly dead, a typical battery tender will take the better part of 6-8 hours to recharge it! Sometimes, you've just got to jump!

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