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Road King 4/15/09

We tested out the electrics and one of the best chargers on the market

By Bandit with photos by Wrench

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voltmeter in box

We decided to take a run at an electrical article, since about 90 percent of problems and breakdowns come from the electrical component. Besides, it's riding season and we all need to check our electrical connections before we ride off into the sunset. This is especially true of bikes stored in moist or seaside climates. Besides, I'm riding the King to Laughlin and need to check it out. It's been awhile. Here's the lastest upgrade to the king: King Meets Zippers and D&D

This article will cover some basic electrical checks, since being forced to charge your battery indicates deficiencies in your charging, or wiring system--or you left the goddamn lights on.

This rambling will also cover all the aspects of the latest battery charger from Biker's Choice, the Xtreme 12-Volt battery maintenance charger. If you find it necessary to charge your battery, take it out of the bike and place in on a wood or fabric surface, not steel or concrete (draws battery charge). Make sure the terminals are clean. A loose or corroded terminal will prevent the battery from accepting a charge. No shit, just that will leave you along side the road.

Corrosion, or bad grounds cause most electrical problems, especially in dense humidity climates. Check your grounds annually; clean the connectors and the ground surface.

Batteries are nasty dangerous bastards. Make sure to protect yourself around them. Don't mess with a battery near flame, extreme heat or next to your custom painted Ferrari. If the bastard explodes, you could lose your eyesight and that $5,000 paint job. And that acid crap is super nasty. Don't get it on anything. There is a cure. Mix some baking soda and water and have it standing by to clean anything with battery acid splashed on it. This is no jive. If you get battery acid on anything, it's toast. Believe me. I have a number of holy shirts from acid meetings.

Wear eye protection and don't fuckin' smoke around batteries. Fortunately, for incased batteries, we don't have to mess with acid as much anymore, but I'm still building choppers and using bullshit little batteries with acid requirements. Whatta mess. Make sure the area used for charging is clean and well ventilated. Okay, enough for the safety procedures. The Xtreme Charger comes with complete safety warnings.

Here's the leads that allow you to connect the battery to the Xtreme charger quick.

For years I liked Battery Tenders, because they monitored the charging process and dropped the charge level automatically, when the battery was completely charges. If the charge level dropped, the automatically kick into gear again. This Xtreme charge handles those tasks and more to keep your battery strong and charged. Below is the full description of the Xtreme capabilities. The kits also come with a lead set you can bolt directly to the battery for easy access at anytime. Check this out, then we'll give you some testing, trouble shooting electrical tips:

The Xtreme Charge is ideally suited for AGM and Maintenance-Free Batteries. The combination of PulseTech’s patented pulse technology and proprietary charging algorithm allows it to charge these high-performance batteries more fully while maintaining a safe charge profile for traditional batteries.

The Xtreme Charge Battery Maintenance charger comes in variety of colors, which may suite a particular need. If your looking for the best battery maintenance charger for use on any 12v battery rated from under 10Ah to over 150Ah, pick your color, and get one today. Includes fuse-protected quick-disconnect battery clamps and lugs, Important Safety Instructions and Quick-Start Guide. The Xtreme Charge is fuse-protected, spark-proof, and is UL and CE certified.

Comes with a Five-Year Warranty

tester on at 75

Xtreme Charge Maintenance and Charging

The Xtreme Charge is a microprocessor controlled maintenance and bulk charger for any type of 12-V lead-acid battery. It features PulseTech’s intelligent circuitry, which imposes only the correct amount of charge rate as determined by the continual evaluation of the battery’s condition. By using only the appropriate amount of charge rate, the battery is maintained safely at its proper operating voltage indefinitely. Conversely, if the charger is connected to a discharged battery, its bulk charge capability (2.5A actual/5A effective) will re-charge the battery rapidly and safely so it can be put back into service quickly. Charge rates may be as minimal as 0.2A during typical float up to the full 2.5A for more deeply discharged batteries. This variable float charge ensures optimal charge rate is applied to the battery at all times.

PulseTech’s unique and patented PULSE technology increases the duty and life cycles of your battery by minimizing the size of the lead sulfate crystals. This allows a battery to accept as much charge as possible. PULSE technology helps ensure that your new batteries will stay in like-new condition while improving older batteries dramatically. Duty cycles are typically extended from three to five times for all types of lead- acid batteries!

chart bat charg rates est time

PulseTech’s ReNew-It Pulse Technology

Twelve years ago, PulseTech applied its technology to a full line of innovative and unique products designed to make batteries stronger so they will work harder and last longer than ever before.

To get an idea of exactly how important PulseTech’s technology is to the performance of all your powersport toys, consider this: The main cause of vehicle failure is battery failure. The main cause of battery failure is sulfation buildup on the battery plates. And ReNew-IT Pulse Technology prevents sulfation buildup.

When it comes to a dead battery, chances are it is still good. You just can’t reach the energy due to sulfate buildup. That means you have to buy another battery even though the one you have may still be useable. Xtreme Charge helps prevent this problem.

chart effect of tem on bat self disch
These charts were taken from an H-D manual.

How Renew-IT Pulse Technology Makes Batteries Stronger

PulseTech’s Xtreme Charge connects directly to the battery. The Xtreme Charge emits a pulsating DC current that removes the sulfate deposits from the plates and returns them to the battery acid as active electrolyte.

meter close up

Here is how it works:

1. Lead-Acid batteries work by releasing energy through an interaction that occurs between the positive and negative lead plates and the lead sulfates in the electrolyte.

2, Sulfation buildup occurs as lead sulfates form on the battery plates during the normal charge/discharge cycles. During this process, some of the sulfates enlarge to the point where they won’t accept energy so they stay on the plate. Over time these sulfates can build up until efficiency is reduced and finally the battery dies.

3. ReNew-IT Pulse Technology works to prevent sulfation buildup by removing the sulfate deposits from the plates through a unique Ion Transfer process.

4. The lead sulfates then return to the battery acid as active electrolyte. When connected on a regular basis, our battery maintenance systems will also keep the sulfates from building up again.

chart voltmeter test

Get True Battery Power

PulseTech’s technology works with all types of lead-acid batteries including sealed, gel cell & AGM. By keeping the plates “clean”, batteries charge faster and deeper so they work harder and last longer than you ever thought possible. They also have greater charge acceptance so your battery will recharge faster and release all of its stored energy. With more available energy so your vehicles last longer between recharges and your electronic accessories work better.
You get the true power of your batteries.

Some of our patented products also prevent the normal loss of battery power on stored vehicles and equipment no matter how long they sit unused—even months at a time.

They even help protect the environment. Since batteries last longer, it reduces the danger of contamination caused by lead and sulfuric acid dumped from prematurely discarded batteries.


Xtreme Charge 5 Stages of Charging

1. Initialization: Xtreme Charge’s unique test feature evaluates the battery thoroughly during initial connection to determine the appropriate charge rate based on its size and condition. It tests the battery continually for as long as it its connected to the charger to maintain the optimal bulk or float charge rate. This test step incorporates a “Bad Battery” indication if it determines the battery is faulty and can not be charged.

2. Saturation: A proprietary computer- integrated technology measures both the voltage and current to determine the appropriate amount of charge the battery is able to accept at any given time. As the pulse and saturation charges improve the battery’s condition, the charge rate is increased safely to an optimal level. This proprietary algorithm protects the battery from the risk of damage due to overcharging.

3. Storage(Float)

4. Pulse(De-Sulfation)

holding pins on terminals
Here's a shot looking for that 14 volts.

Testing Tips

I reached into a couple of Harley manuals and to Pablo, our Bikernet Harley factory trained technician for additional info. If you suspect a problem with your charging, you're experiencing sparking when you hit the starter, or the battery needs to be charges, here's some tips.

First, check all your grounds and battery posts for connection and cleanliness. Then take a voltmeter and run it across the batter whiled the bike is idling. It should indicate 12 volts (see chart). Now run the throttle up to about 2,500-3,000 rpms. The indication should jump above 14.1 volts, indicating that the charging system is working.

battery terminal
Sand those terminals and cable lugs for the best connection.

Before you toss the regulator and replace it, you need to check the connections with the alternator. Make sure you haven't lost a ground or run over a speed bump and ripped through a wire running along the bottom of your frame, which is against the code of the west. Don't run wires under frame rails. Keep them up and out of harms way.

To check the alternator, here are a couple of tips. Pablo suggests that you take an old regulator plug, with the wires and create a testing lead. If you check the resistance to ground on each lead, they should be open. "But if you take the derby off your primary and run into that burnt electrical smell," Pablo said, "the alternator is toast." There's also an AC test. Start the bike and run it up to 3000 rpms. Attach your alligator clips to your alternator leads and it should read over 40 volts or 16-20 volts per 1000 rpms.

"With the newer models, we have seen some issues with the bikes having batteries going dead after a couple of days," Pablo said. "A milliamp draw test and total current draw test is the first things you check in the H-D flow charts. Corrosion on the system relay on some models can cause this."

Charging the battery with the Xtreme system on a wood block far away from the welders.

"The service manual, including the electrical diagnostic manual are a must on the new models. You basically have to be a Circuit Head to work on these things nowadays. The H-D Digital Tech we use at the dealership also helps with the serious hard to find electrical gremlins."

"Fuck, I'm just a old Seabee resistant to change. Man invented technology to frustrate himself you know. Just look at what we have done to a motorcycle over the years. Seriously though, one can, with a cheap DVM (Digital Volt Meter) do allot of trouble shooting on the H-D charging system. Like checking the stator for AC volts output. A grounded stator, continuity checks, etc."

One more addition from Pablo: DC Voltage output at the battery with the bike running is also a quick check. The system should be putting out over 14 volts but not more than 15 volts at 3000 RPM. Usually, you will see like 14.1 to 14.4 volts or so, that is if the regulator is good and shunting excess voltage to ground.

So, with the Xtreme Charger and a volt meter, you can check your battery, the charging system, the alternator and check for bad grounds and busted wires. That's all you're gonna get from the Bikernet tech staff today. Let's go to the Cantina for a beer.

Pablo, and his first chopper, back in the day.


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