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Flat battery

Alf

New member
Hello all, just gone to take my R18 First Edition out for a ride. Having put on all my kit and sat on the bike, I find the battery is completely flat!! Its been sat in my garage with the alarm off for 8 days..I have been told by the dealer its most probably the Tracker thats drained the battery……I would appreciate any thoughts why the batteries drained so quickly, before it was sat for 8 days I did 200miles on her.
Thanks in advance.
Alistair
 

tommymck

Active member
Is the "tracker" OEM? I wasn't aware that they came with them, but I've never been a fan of those things in any case. If it's a dealer installed thing, they can't possibly think that it's acceptable that the tracker drains the battery in 8 days.
 

Alf

New member
Hello tommymck, the tracker is OEM installled. Its a Datatool Stealth tracker S5! If this is the reason why the batteries drained its a pure show. I’m personally thinking the battery is unserviceable, the bike is an ex dealer demo bike, when I purchased it, it had only 200 miles on it and was just 12 months old. Unless the dealers keep a good schedule re battery charging then the battery doesn’t stand a chance. Its going to go back in next week to be sorted….hopefully.
 
I've had a few bikes where the alram would kill a battery to zero in less than 2 weeks if left unridden - so whilst I think 8 days is pretty bad, it's not incredible to me.

The other potential issue is that with a modern battery, is it is left to go fully flat **just one time** then it could be permanently damaged. It looks like it charges up, but never manages to hold proper capacity again.

See what they say. May just need a full charge & be fine, possible it needs replacement.

Either way, if you don't have some kind of CANBUS compatible charger at home, it is time to buy one!
 
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Alex-B

Member
I don’t have any experience with the datatool tracker but have used Biketrac in the past. Nice feature of Biketrac is that it will show you the battery level and you can set a warning for when it’s getting low. Different brands have different parasitic draws but I used to be able to get to about two weeks without being plugged in on a conditioner and that was on a year old battery.
Hopefully a new battery will sort it but I’d recommend getting a charger regardless
 

B4rn3y

Member
I had a similar situation on my R18 FE a couple of weeks ago, which FYI also has a DataTool stealth tracker.

In the garage for a week since the previous ride, wheeled her out but the battery was flat. No movement on the speedo and nothing on the LCD display. I put the battery tender (BMW) on her overnight, and although she started up next day and I rode for an hour or so without mishap, I noticed the system had reset and that I was unable to set the time (kept going back to “12:00”) or the date (it wouldn’t let me input the days or the month) and I was getting a service warning for 5 months time that wouldn’t clear. The Dealer said it sounded like a battery problem and gave me a date 5 weeks hence to come in and have it looked at!

I went out for a ride a few days later (she was on the battery tender and started fine) and I stopped after an hour for a tea break. I used the reverse gear to reverse into a space to park and switched her off. A few minutes later, having decided to go somewhere else instead, the engine wouldn’t start, and when I turned the ignition off and then back on, I got nothing. Completely flat battery. I called BMW emergency assistance, who arrived within the hour, diagnosed a battery problem and jump started the bike. I rode home perplexed and put the battery tender on.

The following morning I started the bike up first time in my garage, and as a test reversed out about 10 metres onto my drive, turned her off, and then went to turn her back on. She was completely dead.

BMW emergency assistance recovered the bike the next day back to the Dealer and they diagnosed a faulty battery and swapped it out. Clock is reset, date is reset, no service warning, she starts, reverses, turns off, starts up again - just like she should. As UK_r18_Classic pointed out, having gone completely flat that first time, I think the battery was damaged and it simply wouldn’t hold a charge and using the reverse drained whatever charge there was.

By the way, the BMW Emergency Assistance call centre were first class and the first recovery technician did a great job getting me up and running on a bike he was totally unfamiliar with. The second technician on the other hand was wholly unimpressed with the bike (not worth £20k!), was always recovering BMW’s he said, and told me to get a Harley, like him!
 

Alex-B

Member
I had a similar situation on my R18 FE a couple of weeks ago, which FYI also has a DataTool stealth tracker.

In the garage for a week since the previous ride, wheeled her out but the battery was flat. No movement on the speedo and nothing on the LCD display. I put the battery tender (BMW) on her overnight, and although she started up next day and I rode for an hour or so without mishap, I noticed the system had reset and that I was unable to set the time (kept going back to “12:00”) or the date (it wouldn’t let me input the days or the month) and I was getting a service warning for 5 months time that wouldn’t clear. The Dealer said it sounded like a battery problem and gave me a date 5 weeks hence to come in and have it looked at!

I went out for a ride a few days later (she was on the battery tender and started fine) and I stopped after an hour for a tea break. I used the reverse gear to reverse into a space to park and switched her off. A few minutes later, having decided to go somewhere else instead, the engine wouldn’t start, and when I turned the ignition off and then back on, I got nothing. Completely flat battery. I called BMW emergency assistance, who arrived within the hour, diagnosed a battery problem and jump started the bike. I rode home perplexed and put the battery tender on.

The following morning I started the bike up first time in my garage, and as a test reversed out about 10 metres onto my drive, turned her off, and then went to turn her back on. She was completely dead.

BMW emergency assistance recovered the bike the next day back to the Dealer and they diagnosed a faulty battery and swapped it out. Clock is reset, date is reset, no service warning, she starts, reverses, turns off, starts up again - just like she should. As UK_r18_Classic pointed out, having gone completely flat that first time, I think the battery was damaged and it simply wouldn’t hold a charge and using the reverse drained whatever charge there was.

By the way, the BMW Emergency Assistance call centre were first class and the first recovery technician did a great job getting me up and running on a bike he was totally unfamiliar with. The second technician on the other hand was wholly unimpressed with the bike (not worth £20k!), was always recovering BMW’s he said, and told me to get a Harley, like him!
Out of interest, how are you charging your battery? Reason I ask is I asked Vines about buying the BMW charger for mine and was recommended to get a pigtail lead to connect straight to the battery as they’ve been having issues with the BMW charger and the DIN ports not communicating properly, showing it’s charging when it’s not at all.
 

B4rn3y

Member
Interesting. I’m using the DIN port. But to be fair, in my case at least, I think it was charging the bike (hence being able to start it after being attached to the charger for a period of time). However I think the battery was unable to hold the charge.
 

Alf

New member
Hi Alex-B, to be honest I have only just picked the bike up 2 weeks ago! Did 200mls on it, then it sat in my garage for 8 days( with the alarm off). Then came to take it out and the battery was flat. (Showing 11.4V on my multimeter.. I have just procured an Optimate 4 can bus edition, charged the bike via the aux socket for 48hrs. All the indications on the optimate were correct, but when I checked the battery voltage it was only showing 12.6V. I then checked the volts coming into the battery with the engine running at it was 14.4V. After doing a further 80mls to try and top up the battery, at rest the battery is now displaying 12.5V.
The bike is an ex dealer demo bike, 12 months old with 200mls on the clock, I am wondering if with it having very little use, the batteries dropped a cell?
 

Alex-B

Member
Hi Alf, shouldn’t make much difference but was your alarm definitely off? If DWA is set to on in the dash menu, the alarm will arm itself after about 30 seconds of turning the bike off without the need to press any buttons on the key, it may have been set this way by the dealer? I’ve changed mine to on but that’s a personal preference from my Harley’s arming the system that way. Voltages seem about right to me from what you’ve quoted. From memory the battery in my Breakout had dropped just below 11 volts and wouldn’t start. With use and sitting on the optimate you should be fine now just keep an eye on it.
 

Alf

New member
Hi Alex-B, I was told by the dealer when I picked the bike up, that I had to use the fob to activate the alarm but when I switched on the ignition, the alarm would automatically disable. Its going back to the BM dealer next week for its first service ( 500mls) i will brief them what’s happened and see how it goes. I see the battery isn’t covered within the two year warranty….but I have documented the issue with them, and will fight tooth and nail if the battery is defunk and they try and charge me for a new one..
I don’t mind using the Optimate over the winter but the system should stay serviceable for longer than a week in my opinion. Will let you know the out come. :)
 
It's not a BMW specific issue BTW, I had the exact same symptons as Barney with my 2 year old Honda CB1000R - all fixed when I replaced the battery.

From searching around, it seems like a high grade AGM cell design weakness. Very high capacity & light weight - but if you leave it flat, it's fooked.
 
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TodkaVonic

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Elite Member
Does anyone know, rather than trial-and-error, how to tell if your AGM battery will no longer take a charge? Is there a tell?
 

Alf

New member
Hi TodkaVonic, I’m guessing if your battery is connected to a suitable charger and the battery won”t accept a charge, it’s either fully charged or unserviceable! You can do a drop test on the battery which will show any cells that are not working correctly….most “clever” charges have the capability to display the state of the battery and if its sulphated etc.
 
Does anyone know, rather than trial-and-error, how to tell if your AGM battery will no longer take a charge? Is there a tell?
Not so far as I can tell.

I have a fancy battery tender with amulti line text display, analyses everything, reports back what is going on. Even with that, it tested OK & looked like it took a decent charge. All voltages as it came off the charger were fine & bike started up as normal.

The problem was that under the bikes own charge from the alternator (also working fine), the standing charge of the battery would drop to around 12.1v. This is not enough to start a modern bike. So you would set off for the day, ride an hour all ok. But stop to get fuel? STRANDED.

Your standing charge for the battery should be 12.7v ish (ie no key in), and 1 minute after turning the key to on should be >12.4v. With the bike running & a working alternator, charge at the battery terminals should be something like 14 to 14.5v

Anything less & the battery is weak & might let you down.
 

BobW

Member
Always make sure battery connections are clean and tight. Surprising how/too often all kinds of issues to include charging are quickly remedied by this simple step.

A "trickle charger" even when they're "smart" like the modern ones we use like optimate, etc., may not be enough to do an initial charging on a new battery or to resurrect a severely discharged battery. A proper load test on a battery after it has been fully charged v. maintained will show the health of the battery.

If your dealer is far away or there is a question of not being able to restart and being stranded I pull the battery out and in the U.S. all/most auto part supply stores will use their commercial test equipment to do a free check. The stores I use will even let you leave the battery with them so it can be placed on their commercial chargers long enough to do a proper test. Subtle differences in equipment and battery designs, but all batteries need a good charge to work and all charging systems need a good battery to charge and proper tools make a quick and easy, proper assessment of the system.

Good luck.
 
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