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Thread: Gel Batteries versus doin' acid.

  1. #1
    Subzero Scooter Idiot oldcarkook's Avatar
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    Gel Batteries versus doin' acid.

    I just transitioned to a Westco Gel battery from the 4th BMW factory battery. I looked at the BMW gel battery but was surprised to learn that they can NOT be charged with a conventional charger while the Westco gel battery can be. Also the Westco has more amp hrs of cranking than the BMW branded gel battery. These two points made this battery a no brainer for me.

    If you use the Westco battery, be aware that you will need to drill out the holes in the terminal perches because they are too small for the stock bolts (on my RT). I over sized the negative terminal a little because was not exactly centered up high enough to get the battery connection on it.

    I was having trouble with my voltage dropping below the 11.4 needed to initialize the ABS when starting the bike after sitting overnight. I kept fighting ABS faults and I knew it was time to get a new battery, but kept putting it off because they are buried so deep in the bike and it's a PITA to get to. This Westco gel battery is so strong that when I start the bike, the bike flips over four times in the parking spot and then the motor starts spinning. It's amazing the difference in cranking power.

    I'm sold. Maintenance free and lots of juice means this is a good move by my book!
    Experience is the comb that mother nature gives us when we are bald

  2. #2
    Miserable Mark MarkF's Avatar
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    Re: Gel Batteries and chargers

    Originally posted by oldcarkook
    I just transitioned to a Westco Gel battery from the 4th BMW factory battery. I looked at the BMW gel battery but was surprised to learn that they can NOT be charged with a conventional charger while the Westco gel battery can be.
    Is that really true or is it just that BMW will only approve of the use of their NEW charger with their battery? There is nothing different in the bike's charging system. I suspect one of two things is at play here. 1) They wanted everyone to throw away their old charger BMW or not and buy a new BMW charger from a BMW dealer to use with the gel battery. OR 2) They only tested their new charger with the gel battery and therefore will not warranty the battery with anything else.

    MarkF

  3. #3
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    I'll continue to use standard acid batteries. I just don't see that as a component that needs to be improved. I usually get 5 years or so out of one of those batteries, particularly if I can set it up myself.

    Over on the Beeg Leest, the gel batteries haven't fared well; returning ABS faults and the like on startup.

    I'll take the brown acid, thanks.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  4. #4
    El Cheapo cat0020's Avatar
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    I have been using a Hawker Odyssey gel battery on my 02 R1150RS since Dec 02.. now, 10,000 miles since the battery change, I have yet to notice any difference in performance of the bike. I fabricated a copper bracket for the stock battery connections on the bike, that way I can use a stock BMW battery when I absolytely have to.
    I use normal Battery Tender when I let the bike sit for more than 3 days, I just connect the charger and usually within 10-20 minutes the battery is fully charged.

  5. #5
    GIZMO
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    My GS came with a BMW gel battery. I raised the question of needing another charger with one of the wrenches at the dealer I go to and he told me that I should try plugging my motorcycle in to my standard battery tender and put a volt meter on the battery if it reads 14v or more do not use it, if it reads less than 14, o.k. but do not use it if battery is dead or close to dead. I tried this and it read 12.9 V.

  6. #6
    Registered User 96073's Avatar
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    have heard various conversations about the charger and never got a straight answer out of 'em.

    but i can say this about gel vs. gel in the S bikes..

    the battery has its vent/drain line out the left side and run over by the fuel tank vent/drain line. well in the lean angles possible on the S, and most other oilheads, the acid will leak and eat right through all the wire looms. it will not hurt the wires, but it drove me muts that every S was suffering from this problem. the gel battery only makes sense.

    surprised not a lot of talk about the problems with the original setup.

    FWIW,

    repoe3

  7. #7
    RIDERR1150GSADV
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    Gel batteries charge at 14.4 V and any charger designed for gel batteries can be used. I own a boat and use one gel battery for starting the engine, lifewells, lights etc and two gels for the trolling motor, the engine charges all batteries through a special charging system. The batteries I use are the Orbital "6 pack" batteries. Just for background info: I make a living using my boat and depend on these batteries to perform daily.
    It doesn't matter what brand charger anyone uses as long as the voltage is correct for these batteries.
    If you leave your bike parked for a extended time the best thing to do is to disconnect the battery after it has been charged fully. This way you can come back 2 months later, reconnect and crank up the bike as the discharge rate on most gels is very low.
    You don't need a batt-tender and worry about it staring a fire
    or something.
    Just my 2 cts

  8. #8
    Registered User 101994's Avatar
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    I spoke to my dealers parts man and we did a comparison of the Battery Tender PLUS and specs are near identical. We concluded that there is no reason not to use the Bettery Tender PLUS (only) as it is recommended for Gel, AGM and other batteries. So, why spend the money on the BMW tender.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by BBowens
    My GS came with a BMW gel battery. I raised the question of needing another charger with one of the wrenches at the dealer I go to and he told me that I should try plugging my motorcycle in to my standard battery tender and put a volt meter on the battery if it reads 14v or more do not use it, if it reads less than 14, o.k. but do not use it if battery is dead or close to dead. I tried this and it read 12.9 V.
    My understanding is it is voltages of 14.5 or above for an extended period of time that can cause problems. Battery Tenders normally don't run that high, but some chargers do. Deltran is producing a BT especially for the BMW gel battery, but I'm guessing the old BT would be fine.
    Frank G.
    Hattiesburg, Mississippi
    2004 R1150RT

  10. #10
    BMW MOA co-founder bmwdean's Avatar
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    From BMW of North America:

    ----

    Service Bulletin
    Date: April 2003 Bulletin No: 61 002 03 (007)
    BMW Motorrad USA

    Subject: Instruction for Handling Gel Batteries

    Accessory Department Measures: This applies to gel batteries from parts stock or during PDI. There is currently only one battery charger approved for use when charging or maintaining a gel battery through the BMW accessory power socket. This charger is available from BMW by ordering:

    Service Department Part number: 72 60 7 679 040

    In charging a battery other than through the accessory power socket, only chargers especially designed for gel batteries may be used. This means that chargers previously approved by BMW Motorrad or ÔÇ£TrickleÔÇØ chargers are not suitable for charging or maintaining Gel Batteries.

    Additional Information:

    There are commercially available battery chargers that are suitable for charging gel batteries. However, when using a charger acquired commercially it absolutely must be ensured that the gel battery has been removed from the motorcycle or that the battery has been isolated from the vehicles electrical system.

    The battery must be isolated because gel battery chargers perform a so-called desulfation cycle, in which the charge voltage increases to over 15.5V for a limited time. If the battery is connected to the electrical system during charging this spike could lead to failure of the control units and other electrical / electronic components.


    Gel batteries can be exposed to a charge voltage of 14.4V for only a limited period of time. Continuous charging with 14.4V or higher will damage the battery. When charging at 14.4V excessive quantities of Hydrogen and Oxygen gas are produced that cannot be recycled into water and will cause the internal pressure of the battery to increase drastically. When a certain internal pressure is reached, the pressure relief valve opens allowing the gasses to escape. The opening of the relief valve will render the battery useless.

    Warranty or CPO Protection Plan claims for battery damage due to spiking will not be considered for reimbursement.

    ?® 2003, BMW of North America, LLC
    Jeff Dean − Tucson, Arizona − BMW MOA Co-founder (1972)
    http://bmwdean.com − MSF Chief Instructor (1994)
    Friend of the Marque (1999) − Prof. Gerhard Knochlein BMW Classic Award (2013)
    2014 & 2007 R1200RTs, R60/2s, R67/3, R51/3 ↔ 1949 R24

  11. #11
    Subzero Scooter Idiot oldcarkook's Avatar
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    Jeff - VERY good stuff there. Thanks

    So we are back to square one in that the Westco battery, which can be charged with a conventional charger, is the right choice for me.
    Experience is the comb that mother nature gives us when we are bald

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