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  #1  
Old 7th June 2014
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Default Voltage readings - why we need them

Why every M/C rider should have a voltmeter/ohmmeter (multimeter) and post voltage values when asking about a problem:

A. Many suspected fuel issues turn out to be electrical.
Some suspected ignition module issues (rigid mount) turn out to be voltage related.

B. A huge amount of issues are caused by battery cable deterioration and/or loose connections, especially on the negative cable to the frame. This is true on all Sportsters but seems to be even more so on the rubsters (04 up), as the motor moves more, in relation to the frame.

It is a handicap when Forum members do not include their geographic location in the “About Me” section. This is germane to corrosion. (It also has a bearing on carb tuning, in regards to elevation, etc.)


Whenever there is a problem that may even remotely be electrical, it would be helpful to post the following voltage readings:


1. KEY OFF battery voltage, at the battery: Normal is 12.8, acceptable is 12.6 (standard lead acid battery, not AGM) to 12.8 for no load. If just taken off a charger, voltage may be 13 point something. The battery needs to sit for a while before a reading is useful. In the case of a bad cell, the other cells overcharge and give an almost normal reading, until load is applied.
• If lower, then battery is discharged and needs charging or
• Battery has a bad cell

2. KEY ON battery voltage (headlight on): Normal is not under about 12.5 initially, but will decline the longer that the headlight is on, without the motor running. Under no load, 12.5 volts indicates 50% discharge, but under load, it is just voltage drop.
• If lower, then battery is discharged and needs charging or
• Battery has a bad cell or
• Battery cable(s) have high resistance

3. KEY ON battery voltage while cranking: Normal is not under 10.5 volts
• If lower, then battery is discharged and needs charging or
• Battery has a bad cell or
• Battery cable(s) have high resistance or
• Starter is drawing too much current

4. If the bike is running, battery voltage at about 2,500 RPMs should be 13.8 to 14.8
• If not, then check stator resistance and regulator ground
• If the stator is not shorted to ground and resistance is within spec, the regulator or regulator ground is suspect

5. When there is a problem with “no power” check the 30 amp circuit breaker or maxi fuse between the battery and the key switch and all the 15 amp fuses after the key switch (or circuit breakers on many Ironheads). If circuit breakers / fuses are OK, then measure voltage coming into the key switch and continue downstream until the voltage stops.

Hope that this helps you and us find your problem quickly.
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  #2  
Old 24th June 2014
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good info. Very informative and kind of a icebreaker for people like me who are just learning this stuff. (electrical diagnostics)
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  #3  
Old 24th June 2014
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Very good writeup, too bad there's not a way to make it a Must Read Before You Can Post item.

Two items that might be added to or clarified are:

B. on the rubbermounts, I think it's as much about the the motor being isolated from the frame which dictates the need for good, clean & tight ground straps, as it is movement.

1. Turning the ignition On for 3 seconds, then back Off (headlight on then off) will bleed the excess residual voltage left on the battery after removing a charger. No need to wait awhile to get a true reading.

Again, nicely done.
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  #4  
Old 24th June 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cHarley04 View Post
B. on the rubbermounts, I think it's as much about the the motor being isolated from the frame which dictates the need for good, clean & tight ground straps, as it is movement.
Good point!
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  #5  
Old 21st October 2014
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Thank you so much for this.
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  #6  
Old 21st October 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nleco View Post
Thank you so much for this.
Glad to be of some help
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  #7  
Old 24th March 2016
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Doc - I put this up on the Sportsterpedia (with minor editing)...
http://sportsterpedia.com/doku.php/h...trictech:start

Thanks

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  #8  
Old 24th March 2016
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Good, thank you for making it more accessible
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  #9  
Old 24th March 2016
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Make it a sticky here too please!
Basic primary diagnosis checks for any IC vehicle. They all need juice.
Plus any electrical diagnosis is invalid without a properly charged and adequate battery to power the components
Good work Sportsterdoc.
Joe
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Old 24th March 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jollly Rogers View Post
Make it a sticky here too please!
Basic primary diagnosis checks for any IC vehicle. They all need juice.
Plus any electrical diagnosis is invalid without a properly charged and adequate battery to power the components
Good work Sportsterdoc.
Joe
Thanks, Joe
Chuck (cantolina) made one of my threads a stickie (Bank Angle Sensor Bypass) and I think he is the electrical section moderator...but I have not seen him post much lately.

Answering these few questions (and understanding why they are asked) may help us help with some problems sooner.
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