Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dead Battery on the Ural

Yesterday morning, the battery on my Ural was dead, so it spent the day on the battery tender while removed from the bike. This morning it seemed fine. The battery was at 13.1V when I left. I just chalked it up to Ural weirdness.
I rode to work without any heated gear and didn’t freeze. I was still warm from kick starting the Ural. Surprisingly, it was 1F! (before wind-chill) My new record for riding without heat.
I wish I would have put the voltmeter on the Ural when I got to work, but I didn’t. It would have been nice to know the voltage. I made sure everything was off and went in.
When I went to leave, I put the key in the Ural and gave it a twist… nothing. No headlight… no dash lights… not again. I pulled out the voltmeter with the nice SAE2 connector:
volt meter combine with battery tender cable
It only showed 9.01V. Not good. I tried to kick it, but it wouldn’t start. Exhausted, I went back inside to make some calls.
After a bit I came back out. I tried to connect my spare battery which I use as a backup for my heated gear to the main via the SAE2 and just ended up blowing fuses instead. I thought I could use it to start the Ural or jump it, but four fuses later I gave up on that idea. I am going to revisit it, but in my own garage where it is warm and bright.
The only thing left to do was to start removing the seat and plate to get at the battery terminals directly. I’m glad I had some practice.
battery terminals exposed
Then I could jump it with my portable jump starter.
 portable battery jumper and air compressor
I have been thinking carrying the jump starter around a bit excessive, but then stuff like this happens. It has a nice light, an air compressor with built in gauge, AC inverter, and jumper cables.
It was 20F in the parking ramp. I was glad I put a pair of gloves in the Ural tool roll. My motorcycle gloves are a bit too bulky for this type of work.
work gloves  in ural toolkit
I was able to jump it and get it started. By the time I got home it was sitting at almost 11V, so the alternator is charging the battery. I may have a power leak somewhere? The battery is on a charger now, and I will investigate later.
I added the mint tin below filled with spare fuses to the Ural’s trunk. I have a bunch of spares on my SV and WR already.
mint tin filled with spare fuses

I did get a nice surprise when I got home. USPS finally delivered my business cards for the blog:
business cards to hand out
I thought it would be nice to give something to the people who ask about the Ural, how I ride year round in Minnesota, or those who just don’t believe me when I tell them I don’t have a car. I wish I would have put some FAQs about the Ural on the back, but I was being cheap. I got a few hundred of the above, in color, for about $15.

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  1. Hey Chris:

    We live in parallel universes. I have done the same thing with those SAE-2 wire disconnects. I have them on both bikes. I have adapters from the SAE2 to Cigarette lighter plugs for my compressor, jacket, gloves, vest and also for my battery chargers. I haven't used my Scorpion yet.

    I think you have at least ONE bad Cell in the battery which is dragging the good cells down. Glad you were able to make it home with that Jumper Starter pack.

    Here's a place where you can go to relax . . .

    I registered as "bESS"

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  2. Chris

    ditto on checking the individual cells, also check your wiring to ensure you're not grounding out something during the day. For instance, one way to tell for sure is monitor the battery with the voltmeter when the ignition is off and see if draining continues.

  3. Bob: Great minds think a like :) I want to get a small 12V tire pump on SAE2 too.

    Charlie6: Exactly what I was going to do. I just had a show to attend and couldn't get to it right away last night.

    Thanks guys. I don't think the battery was the original problem, but it might be a problem now after being drained down to 4V twice. I haven't gone out to check on it yet this morning. We'll see how it goes. A new post documenting me *hopefully* finding the problem late last night is coming later today.

  4. Dear Gentleman:

    There is nothing more aggravating than coming out after a hard day in the salt mine, or a even a day at the beach, to find the battery feet up and dead. I installed two extra sets of riding lights — and now have an electric seat, plus new electric gear. To me, installing a voltmeter on the dash was essential. My bike has a 50-amp alternator, cranking out 600 watts, but only at 1000 RMP.

    The factory idle is 900 rpm. I am amazed at the how fast the voltage drops with everything on. The voltmeter allows me to cut unnecessary stuff if I am in slow moving traffic, with a lot of traffic lights.

    At any degree of speed at all, it isn't necessary to switch off anything, and battery will still retain a good charge. Chris, is there a reason why you didn't make a semi-permanent installation for the voltmeter?

    Just curious,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  5. Dear Jack,

    There are a lot of similarities between a salt mine and my cube... How did you know?? :)
    The Ural also has a 50A/600W alternator. I only have the heated gear on the Ural, so I haven't thought a voltmeter necessary yet.

    I do have on my SV which has extra lights, heated grips, etc. I guess just laziness I don't have one on the Ural.

    My Ural battery was killed by a corroded relay shorting out the battery and draining it while everything was off. A voltmeter wouldn't have helped me here. It was fine once it was running. A post is coming soon...

  6. How great it must be to have the knowledge to figure stuff out. On one hand I'd love to know this; on the other, well...I'm not so sure--but I do read about this stuff--read a whole book on motorcycle maintenance.

    BTW, those are pretty cool biz cards! Love 'em.

  7. Sojourner: Thanks :) I don't have that much knowledge. I'm just confident I can find the solution, and I'm not scared to try. Motorcycles aren't very complicated. I've read a book on motorcycle maintenance too, and my google-fu is well exercised. :)

  8. Hi Chris,
    I live in MN and ride all winter as well. Yesterday I tried to start bike (Gear-up 07 750) and it just wouldn't. I'm one of the least mechanically inclined person around so I called Lakeville Ural dealer and he said it was the bettry BUT I do get lights and I hear a sound like a rapid machine gun when I try to start it. I'm tight now so I don't want to spend $50 to get a charger unless I have to. Do you think with lights coming on that it would be the battery?

  9. Make sure the engine stop switch is in the run position. If you have a multimeter you can check the voltage on the battery. It should be above 12v. I replied with more details via email.

  10. Breaks my heart reading about all the fun you guys are having with your Ural’s.
    My husband bought his 2 years ago and last year found out he is going to die this year. The Ural(with sidecar) just sits in the garage now. He hasn’t the energy to get out and even ride to work. Thanks Chris for publishing how to jump the battery. I need to do that so we can sell it. Happy riding guys.