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Gold Wing batteries...

1201 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  NOVA

GL1800 battery ( YTX20L-BS )

Hello all I just wanted to drop in and pass along a little something interesting that has happened with me. Back in about May of 2011 I bought a new 2010 GL1800 with ZERO Km's on the in new like I am its first owner. Well here it is now Nov 2012 soon to be 2013...just around the corner and coming fast. I have had the bike for 1 and a half years now. And trust me it did not sit around looking all pretty it now has 48,000 Km's on it, that's what...about 30,000 miles I think...???

Anyways the past few times now that winter is starting to set in little by little in the Canada ( The Great White North ) I have had few chances to get out and ride as its been raining a fair amount and the weather all around has not been all that nice. So I would start up the bike to go out on those few days here and there when I can go out and enjoy a ride, only to find that the bike cranks over slow...still fast just not zippy crank over like it once did a while back.

I pulled out the battery and I know it says...( DO NOT REMOVE ) on the top...but I big deal if done with case. What did I find...??? Each every cell was bone dry...! Yes bone dry looking in the plates are bare and no acid to be seen or to pour that dry enough for you....?

I called up a place ( that sells these batteries ) to ask if the plates should be covered in acid and was it normal for the cells to be dry like what I was seeing. I was told that this is NOT normal and that my battery is screwed and needs to be replaced. Now this is not some GELL-CELL battery..ok..! Let me walk you through the numbers and what they mean. ( YTX20L - BS ) lets for get all the other number the important part is the ( - BS ) part. This means ( Bottle Supplied ), bottle of what..? Bottle of acid to fill each cell...! These come a dry battery which is then filled before its put into service.

To make a long story short I have access to hospital supplies such as a syringe and into each cell went in 15cc of pure distilled water, DON'T use tap water...! Anyways this did not fill the battery but it did just bring the level up enough to just cover the tops of the plates just a little.

Now I do not know if this battery was maybe not filled properly at the factory for Honda, or Honda did not fill it...I do not know. Or maybe from all the very hot weather riding I have done a good part of it was days and weeks of riding in temps in the ( 100+ F ) ranges. You know its really hot when you feel like your going to melt on the bike and you check the temp and its says ( 42c )...! By the way 37c is 98.6F body temp. So for all I know maybe the water part boiled off from months of riding in temps that where well beyond 30c each and everyday.

After adding the water...guess what the bike cranks over with the same zippy speed as it once did about a year ago. Just wanted to pass this along as these batteries may be termed ( maintenance free ) they really are NOT that. Granted they are far from the old style lead acid batteries from many long years ago, but they still have acid and that is mixed with water...and the water does evaporate / boil off with time. Might be worth checking it out when your working on your bike next.. You do not have fill the battery, but just add a little to so you can see something in there other then dry plates.


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posted this little battery thing in order to help you prevent the untimely death of your batteries due to drying out. Hope this help some of you out...


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I totally agree with you.
Maintenance free? That just means you get to buy a new battery sooner than normal.

I also pull those tops and keep distilled water above the plates.
The dealer gets the bike with a empty battery and has to ad acid to it to put into service. If it is a wet cell, you have to top off with distilled water periodically.
These batteries are what is called ( Absorbed Glass Mat ) type, in that its not like the old style that had what was called ( flooded Cells ) where the acid fully covered the cell plates. These are a glass mat that is soaked in acid and are very wet just the same. However with them using so little liquid in each cell any water evaporation / boil off due to off gassing now makes them highly prone to getting " too " dry. Today I added 15cc of pure distilled water to each cell and the glass mats sucked it all up without the cells becoming flooded like old style lead acid batteries from some 30 or so years ago that were common place. But no matter how you cut it, they are NOT maintenance FREE...! However they do have less of a maintenance issues then the batteries from many years ago. So the 15cc of water that I put into each cell was just the right amount to give it that wet look, and the battery now cranks over the engine with the zippy vigor that it once had when I got the bike new about a year and a half ago.

My gut feeling in that when the dealer got the bike, they did not fill the cells with the full amount of acid that was needed as I have a hard time getting my head around that in a year and a half that it lost so much of the water. But then maybe it did evaporate due to off gassing as I have been riding alot and in heat that was having me feel like I was going to melt at times. In any case, all I can say is that I saved...I think I saved my battery from an untimely death due to drying out.

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NOVA;1711882[FONT=Arial said:
My gut feeling in that when the dealer got the bike, they did not fill the cells with the full amount of acid that was needed as I have a hard time getting my head around that in a year and a half that it lost so much of the water. [/FONT]
You don't have to name the dealer but I think you're correct.

The wash up boy assigned to fill the battery probably squirted a bit of electrolyte in and seeing the over flow thought it was full.
Those batteries must be slowly filled with all the electrolyte in the syringes they come with.

The life of your battery has likely been shortened and will probably last another year or two but not the ten or more it should have.

BTW: The fall here on the "Wet Coast" has been great.
The only reason I insured the cage today was to get a part to put my Wing back on the road.
You don't have to name the dealer but I think you're correct.

The wash up boy assigned to fill the battery probably squirted a bit of electrolyte in and seeing the over flow thought it was full.
Those batteries must be slowly filled with all the electrolyte in the syringes they come with.

The life of your battery has likely been shortened and will probably last another year or two but not the ten or more it should have.

BTW: The fall here on the "Wet Coast" has been great.
The only reason I insured the cage today was to get a part to put my Wing back on the road.
I think you got it right...they left it to some flunky to do. I have filled a few in my day and they spit back for the first while until the cell gets wet enough. And then you often have to wait a while...let it all settle down then go back to filling it.

YES THE WEATHER HAS BEEN GREAT...! Today was nice too, sort of sunny and about +14c something like that. Thats why I have also put off doing the valve check as well, I would hate to miss a day of good riding weather. Yesterday however...HOLY ****..! Talk about down pour, almost needed a boat..!

I to fear this battery is going to me a goner as well in by mid summer or so, you can not do this to a battery and get away with not damaging it. I knew something was wrong about a month ago, was out in the work shop doing stuff and had the radio on, on the wing and a hour and something later it almost did not start. It under 2 hours the with the bike in ACC mode and radio on, it was near ready to die. About half hour more and it would not have cranked it over.

Thats how I came to whole thing lets just have a look at this battery...whats going on here. To find it close to bone dry. Hey stop on by for a coffee...cup of gear oil...axle grease...LOL...or whatever. I am what...about 30 Km's down the road from you...



Can always stop in at settlers pub for a pint too....!
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I'd fill it with water, charge it as much as possible, then check the sg of the fluid with a hydrometer. If it was originally properly filled it will show the correct sg for a fully charged battery.. If the sg is lower than that, your assumption is probably correct in that it wil indicate closer to water (that you added). My guess is different than yours.. I think it is likely just dried out and once again replenished with water and charged, it will indicate fine, although some permanent damage has likely been done.
This is a fine example of a what happens to those ( maintenance free ) batteries once they start to dry out to much. This one is from my 1,500 watt computer UPS system. It off gasses to a point where it starts to off gas faster then it can vent it...and well this one want BOOM in the dead of the night. Same type of AGM ( maintenance free ) battery as what's in your Gold Wing.


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Battery Maintenance Facts

Average battery life has become shorter as energy requirements have increased. Life span depends on usage.


The lead acid battery is made up of plates, lead and lead oxide (various other elements are used to change density, hardness, porosity, etc.) with a 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water solution. This solution is called electrolyte which causes a chemical reaction that produce electrons. When you test a battery with a hydrometer you are measuring the amount of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte. If your reading is low, that means the chemistry that makes electrons is lacking. So where did the sulfur go? It is stuck to the batteries positive plates and when you recharge the battery the sulfur returns to the electrolyte.

Battery Types, Deep Cycle and Starting

Basically there are two types of batteries, starting (cranking) and deep cycle (marine-golf cart-forklift). The starting battery is designed to deliver quick bursts of energy (such as starting engines) and have a greater plate count. The plates will also be thinner (more surface area) and have somewhat different material composition. The deep cycle battery provides less instant energy but greater long-term energy delivery. Deep cycle batteries have thicker plate's design and can survive a greater number of deeper discharge cycles. Starting batteries should not be used for deep cycle applications. The so-called Dual Purpose Battery is only a compromise between the 2 types of batteries.

Wet Cell, Gel-Cell and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)

Wet Cell (flooded), Gel Cell and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) these are various versions of the lead acid battery. The wet cell comes in 2 ways, serviceable (removable vented caps) and maintenance free, both are filled with electrolyte and I prefer one that I can add water and check the specific gravity of the electrolyte with a hydrometer. The Gel-Cell and the AGM batteries are specialty batteries that typically cost twice as much as a premium wet cell. However they store well and do not tend to sulfate quite as fast as wet cell. Most Gel-Cell and some AGM batteries require special charging rate, especially the deep cycle models. I personally feel that careful consideration should be given to the AGM battery technology. Gel-Cell batteries still are being sold but the AGM batteries are replacing them in many cases. There is a little confusion about AGM batteries because different manufactures call them different names; a couple popular ones are regulated valve and dry cell batteries. In most cases AGM batteries will give a longer life span than a wet cell battery, but will not stand up as well to hot temperatures and high discharge load.

Battery Maintenance

Battery Maintenance is an important issue. The battery should be clean. Cable connection needs to be clean and tightened. Many battery problems are caused by dirty and loose connections. Serviceable battery needs to have the fluid level checked regularly and only at a full charge. The fluid level will always be higher at a full charge. Distilled water is best; tap water is loaded with chemicals and minerals that are harmful to your battery, but not as bad as no water. Don't overfill battery cells especially in warmer weather. The natural fluid expansion in hot weather will push excess electrolytes from the battery. To prevent corrosion of cables on top post batteries, use a small bead of silicon sealer at the base of the post and place a felt battery washer over it. Coat the washer with high temperature grease or petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Then place cable on post and tighten, coat the exposed cable end with the grease. Most folks don't know that just the gases from the battery condensing on metal parts cause most corrosion.

Battery Testing

To measure specific gravity buy a temperature compensating hydrometer at an auto parts store. To measure voltage, use a digital D.C. Voltmeter.

You must first have the battery fully charged. The surface charge must be removed before testing. If the battery has been setting at least 6 hours you may begin testing. To remove surface charge the battery must experience a load of 20 amps for 3 plus minutes. Turning on the headlights (high beam) will do the trick. After turning off the lights you are ready to test the battery.

State of ChargeSpecific GravityVoltage - 12VVoltage - 6V100%1.26512.76.375%1.22512.46.250%1.19012.26.125%1.15512.06.0Discharged




* Sulfation of Batteries starts when specific gravity falls below 1.225 or voltage measures less than 12.4 (12v Battery) or 6.2 (6 volt battery). Sulfation hardens the battery plates reducing and eventually destroying the ability of the battery to generate Volts and Amps.

Load testing is yet another way of testing a battery. Load test removes amps from a battery much like starting an engine would. A load tester can be purchased at most auto parts stores. Some battery companies label their battery with the amp load for testing. This number is usually 1/2 of the CCA rating. For instance, a 500CCA battery would load test at 250 amps for 15 seconds. A load test can only be performed if the battery is near or at full charge.

The results of your testing should be as follows.
  • Hydrometer readings should not vary more than .05 difference between cells in a strong healthy battery.
  • Digital Voltmeters should read as the voltage is shown in this document. The sealed AGM and Gel-Cell battery voltage (full charged) will be slightly higher in the 12.8 to 12.9 ranges. If you have voltage readings in the 10.5 volts range on a charged battery, which indicates a shorted cell.
When in doubt about battery testing, call the battery manufacturer. Many batteries sold today have a toll free number to call for help.

Battery Life and Performance

Battery life and performance, average battery life has become shorter as energy requirements increase. Two phrases heard most often are "my battery won't take a charge and my battery won't hold a charge". Only 30% of batteries sold today reach the 48-month mark. In fact 80% of all battery failure is related to sulfation build-up. This build up occurs when the sulfur molecules in the electrolyte (battery acid) becomes so deeply discharged that they begin to coat the batteries lead plates. Before long the plates become so coated the battery dies. The causes of sulfation are numerous, let me list some for you.

  • Batteries sit too long between charges. As little as 24 hours in hot weather and several days in cooler weather.
  • Battery storage, leaving a battery sit without some type of energy input.
  • Deep cycling engine start battery, remember these batteries can't stand deep discharge.
  • Undercharging of battery, to charge a battery let's say 90% of capacity will allow sulfation of battery using the 10% of battery chemistry not reactivated by the incomplete charging cycle.
  • Heat of 100+°F, increases internal discharge. As temperatures increase so does internal discharge. A new fully charged battery left sitting 24 hours a day at 110 degrees F for 30 days would most likely not start an engine.
  • Low electrolyte level, battery plates exposed to air will immediately sulfate.
  • Incorrect charging levels and settings. Most cheap battery chargers can do more damage than help.
  • Cold weather is hard on the battery the chemistry does not make the same amount of energy as a warm battery. A deeply discharged battery can freeze solid in sub zero weather.
  • Parasitic drain is a load put on a battery with the key off.
Battery Charging

Battery charging, remember you must put back the energy you use immediately, if you don't the battery sulfates and that affects performance and longevity. The alternator is a battery charger; it works well if the battery is not deeply discharged. The alternator tends to overcharge batteries that are very low and the overcharge can damage batteries. In fact an engine starting battery on average has only about 10 deep cycles available when recharged by an alternator. Batteries like to be charged in a certain way, especially when they have been deeply discharged. This type of charging is called 3 step regulated charging. Please note that only special SMART CHARGERS using computer technology can perform 3 steps charging techniques. You don't find these types of chargers in parts stores and Wal-Marts. The first step is bulk charging where up to 80% of the battery energy capacity is replaced by the charger at the maximum voltage and current amp rating of the charger. When the battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts this begins the absorption charge step. This is where the voltage is held at a constant 14.4 volts and the current (amps) decline until the battery is 98% charged. Next comes the Float Step, this is a regulated voltage of not more than 13.4 volts and usually less than 1 amp of current. This in time will bring the battery to 100% charged or close to it. The float charge will not boil or heat batteries but will maintain the batteries at 100% readiness and prevent cycling during long term inactivity. Some AGM batteries may require special settings or chargers.
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