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Bike wouldn't turn over. Electrical Smoke under the tupperware.


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2004 R1150RT

Low miles. Only 11k prox.

Bought it last year with 5k miles.

Had all services and fluids changed, including a new battery

Keep it on the trickle charger at all times between rides.

Noticed the battery/start seemed weaker on the last few rides, but temps were low.

On my last ride, bike wouldn't restart after I had been on the road a couple hours.

Had to push start it to get it going and come home.

Placed it back on the trickle charger when I returned home.

It's been on trickle for a couple weeks.

Tried to start it, but it would not spin up fast.

Sounded like the starter moved a couple slow rotations then pooped out.

A few seconds later electrical smoke billowed out from under the tupperware.


How bad could this be?

Does a starter smoke when it dies?

I'm scared to death I have burned wiring. I don't even want to think about what that might cost.


It's scheduled for repairs at a reputable shop, but I'd like to get thoughts from the forum before the dealer gives me his final verdict and estimate to fix it. I have been told to expect $500+ just for the starter replacement.


I love riding the RT, but I'm starting to miss the reliability and low cost of ownership with my Honda.



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Morning CWD


No way to tell much over the internet without more info from you.


Hopefully just a poor battery cable connection or a single wire issue.


Might even be a starter issue.


You might remove the seat then sniff around in the battery area.

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The truth of the matter is that only an inspection will reveal what's up.

We could hypothesise, but it may make you even more upset.

Just undress it and take a look.



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Thanks. Great price. Dealer wants over $500.00 for the BMW OEM. Getting this one delivered for less than $100 this week is a no brainer. Found a good video on starter replacement here:


Now I just need about 5 ratchet extensions and a good video showing removal of the tupperware.

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The truth of the matter is that only an inspection will reveal what's up.

We could hypothesise, but it may make you even more upset.

Just undress it and take a look.



AndyS is giving you some real good advice. It could be the starter, but that is certainly not assured. They can fail at any time, but yours has very little use with only 11K miles.


Besides the starter you might have a loose/poor cable connection as dirt rider suggested. Loose or bad connections can lead to an increased electrical resistance. Too much resistance can lead to overheated cables/wires. The overheated copper in the cables/wires can melt the cable/wire plastic insulation giving you the billowing smoke you saw.


You need to keep open to other possibilities. If you cooked the starter you should be able to smell it when it is removed from the bike. Look for melted or partially melted insulation on the large cable going to the starter. Look for similar damage on the cable hooked to the negative post of your battery.


Once the tupperware is removed, and before you do anything with the starter you MIGHT be tempted to try starting the bike so you can see where the smoke is coming from but in this case I would strongly suggest you do not do so. Even the smallish batteries on a motorcycle contain a tremendous amount of electrical power. Inspect the cables and wires. Remove and inspect the starter. This is a prudent approach.



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  • 2 weeks later...



Smoke was coming from a burned, severed battery post. Since I had purchased the starter already, I had it replaced. I was planning to keep the old starter as a replacement, but the mechanic supposedly bench tested and found the old starter to be defective. So the mechanic's theory is the starter was bad, and causing extra amp draw from the battery, and the battery post could have been weak and apparently couldn't handle the stress.


Can't thank you guys enough for the great advice and even with the shop fees, oil change, throttle adjustment, and the new battery I still saved a ton by using The Rocketman's vendor to purchase the starter.


Great forum.

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There is one to add to the list of possible causes for future reference, and like is often the case the problem is really a combination of problems.


Glad you got things sorted out.


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