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Old 26th July 2018, 14:16   #1
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Default Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

This is for @BigBrad and others who're facing charging issues with their motorcycles. Though not as challenging as carburettor jetting, issues with the charging system of a motorcycle can be nerve wrecking especially if you're dependent on the SVC as they may use this ambiguity against you, so I hope to simplify diagnosis with this post.

But before that letís do a little bit of learning;

Components of Motorcycle Charging System:

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Stator:

This is the stationary part of the alternator, the alternator generates AC current.

Regulator Rectifier (RR) Unit:

This is the part with the heat sink on it, this has two functions i.e to rectify the AC current from the stator and to regulate the charging of the battery.

Battery:

This is the DC charge repository of the motorcycle, it stores DC current which comes from the RR unit so that the same can be utilized by various electrical components of the motorcycle.

Now that we have an understanding of what does what letís get on with the diagnosis;

How to Diagnose a Motorcycle Charging System:

Step 1: Decode the Wiring

Now this is the confusing part for beginners, components of different motorcycles come with different wiring and color coding but the basics remain the same so here goes:

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00311.jpg

Stator Connector: This is the connector which connects the stator with the RR unit, you can differentiate this from the rest by observing wiring with similar colors.

Battery Connector: This connector connects the Battery positive terminal to the RR unit.

This varies from motorcycle to motorcycle, some motorcycles come with a single connector with all the pins in place and for some motorcycles there are individual connectors, so if that is the case you would have to determine what color wire does what.

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00313.jpg

Now coming to the matter of color;

Red: "+" Terminal DC Current

Black: Grounding i.e "-" Terminal DC Current, hence why the wire goes to a ring connector which is tethered to the RR's mount on the chassis.

Blue's(Similar Color Wiring): AC Current.

Step 2: Evaluate the Battery

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00314.jpg

Change the multi-meter's mode to DC and connect the leads to the battery, the positive battery terminal of the battery can be tapped from the Red wire on the wiring side and the negative terminal can be tappet from any metal component as the whole chassis is grounded, in this case I've grounded to the body of the RR unit.

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00316.jpg

The same result can be obtained if I ground anywhere else on the chassis as well, so go with what is convenient for you.

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00318.jpg

Just because the Battery shows a good reading which ideally would be between 12.50~13.25 Volts that doesn't mean that all is well as it might be surface charge, so you would have to put load on the battery and the component that puts the maximum load on the battery is the starter, so with the spark plug cap off crank the motor and observe for a drastic power drop in battery charge, anything over 9.50 Volts for a few seconds shows that the battery is in good condition, as you can see above while cranking my battery's charge drops to 11.99 Volts.

Now since the battery has been checked individually, it's time to check whether the charging system and battery are working as designed, for that with all the connectors hooked up you would have to start the motorcycle and let it run for a few seconds and take a read of the battery;

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00327.jpg

Ideally you should expect a reading of around 13.50 Volts at idle which means that the battery is getting charged adequately.

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00328.jpg

But that is not all that you should look for, at considerable rev's the charge should not go past 14.70 Volts if it does then that means that the RR is faulty and is overcharging the Battery which if not rectified immediately would result in deteriorating the Battery.

Once we're done with the Battery, we move on;

Step 3: Evaluate the RR Unit

Now here we're going to check the continuity so change the multi-meter's mode to continuity/diode and check between one stator line from the RR's side and ground the other, polarity matters here so the multi-meter's Red lead is supposed to ground and whereas the Black lead goes into one stator line from the RR's end at a time, after you've done inspecting both stator wires one after the other you need to make sure that the reading are in the same ballpark, as seen in the below photo's.

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00320.jpg

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00322.jpg

If the values are quite far apart then that would mean that the RR unit is not working at its optimum.

Step 4: Evaluate the Stator

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00323.jpg

With the multi-meter still in continuity mode check the continuity between the Stator leads on the Wiring side, if you get continuity then all is well, if not then the Stator is at fault.

Now you can go a bit farther and check the output of the Stator, below are my values at idle followed by at rev's but before that you should change the multi-meter's mode to AC Volts.

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00325.jpg

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-dsc00326.jpg

Ideally you may expect a reading of 15 ~ 40 Volts, but that is motorcycle dependent so it is best to refer your workshop manual for the specific range.

Now after youíve gone through all the steps you know how to diagnose a motorcycles battery as well as its charging system, but before going ahead with that it is best to make sure all your fuses are in order, because most of the time it would be a faulty fuse that would prevent the battery from charging.

So that is that, do post your concerns and queries also do share your suggestions as Iím no expert on the matter having received no formal education on the same.

Ride far and safe.
A.P.
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Old 27th July 2018, 12:57   #2
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Great post as above buddy, but i'd like to add a few points (I am a manufacturer of Regulator Rectifier and many other bike parts):
1.Apart from AC and battery charging, RR also has a supply for headlight voltage.
2.A poor quality or non working RR tends to give out current at start at handlebar switches
3.All RR's are different in circuit but ever since the AHO(Auto Headlight On) became standard, role of RR has increased.
4.Bajaj changes RR design most frequently
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Old 27th July 2018, 16:34   #3
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhruvritzed View Post
Great post as above buddy, but i'd like to add a few points (I am a manufacturer of Regulator Rectifier and many other bike parts):
Wow! I have a couple of questions and you're the right person to ask.

Are there more definitive ways to diagnose a RR unit?

Is there a difference in diagnosing a 2 Phase and 3 Phase RR unit?

Quote:
1.Apart from AC and battery charging, RR also has a supply for headlight voltage.
Yes it does, but the reason I didn't bother mentioning it is due to headlight being powered by RR in only commuter motorcycles, whereas the for the rest it is powered from the battery, as in the motorcycle seen in the pictures.

I've always been curious of how to convert such commuter motorcycles wiring at the RR end to run the headlights off the battery. Though I've seen a couple of posts regarding AC to DC conversion I still fail to understand the basics.

A comparison of wiring between AC/DC motorcycles would also help.

Quote:
2.A poor quality or non working RR tends to give out current at start at handlebar switches
I believe this can be diagnosed by checking for continuity between stator wire(on wiring side for shorting at stator side and on RR side for shorting on RR side) and ground, please correct me if wrong.

Quote:
3.All RR's are different in circuit but ever since the AHO(Auto Headlight On) became standard, role of RR has increased.
Is it because of all motorcycles going forward would be having a DC i.e battery powered headlight system or would RR units of motorcycles such as the P220 etc also undergo a change due to increase in dependency?

Quote:
4.Bajaj changes RR design most frequently
Not only electrical's, Bajaj has a tendency of changing everything. I remember seeing the 5 Speed Bajaj Discover 100 advertisement that boasted of a 5 speed motorcycle with DC lighting and led tail lamps, imagine my surprise when I bought the motorcycle and it had only 4 gears and lacked the upgraded electrical's.

* By DC electrical's I mean that the headlight is powered by battery and by AC electrical's I mean that the headlight is powered by RR unit.
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Old 27th July 2018, 18:44   #4
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Aah, took me back to 2009 when I had a Honda Unicorn. Converted the electricals from AC to DC. Attaching a few pics. Used the RR unit from Ape Piaggio 3 wheeler.
PS- The bike is still running on DC with its new owner.
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Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-54381_1643307917177_6036971_o.jpg  

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Old 27th July 2018, 19:26   #5
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
Aah, took me back to 2009 when I had a Honda Unicorn. Converted the electricals from AC to DC. Attaching a few pics. Used the RR unit from Ape Piaggio 3 wheeler.
PS- The bike is still running on DC with its new owner.
If it is not much trouble could you share the wiring details of the conversion.

And I'm a bit confused on the stator wiring part of the conversion as well, please do explain from the basics as I'm an absolute novice as far as electrical's go, I just read and experiment to get things done most of the time.

I have a CT100B that I would love to convert to DC, I did considering tapping the brake switch for a 12V DC output but rather than that I feel going for a complete conversion as in your case would be the better option.

Last edited by ashwinprakas : 27th July 2018 at 19:28.
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Old 28th July 2018, 20:33   #6
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
Aah, took me back to 2009 when I had a Honda Unicorn. Converted the electricals from AC to DC. Attaching a few pics. Used the RR unit from Ape Piaggio 3 wheeler.
PS- The bike is still running on DC with its new owner.
I would also love to know the AC to DC conversion details. Basically my need is for my Activa, which is about 10 years old and the headlight is very dim. What I would really love is for the headlight to run on battery and provide good light even when idling. Is it possible abd what all need to done? Any thoughts?
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Old 29th July 2018, 00:59   #7
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by deep_bang View Post
I would also love to know the AC to DC conversion details. Basically my need is for my Activa, which is about 10 years old and the headlight is very dim. What I would really love is for the headlight to run on battery and provide good light even when idling. Is it possible abd what all need to done? Any thoughts?
If its just the headlight you're bothered about then tap the brake switch line and power the center tab of your headlight bulb.

If its an all out conversion then my understanding so far is that you'd need to float the ground at the stator, ground the pulser coil and then change the RR unit to that of APE or any other DC RR would do as well.

I'm waiting for someone whose actually got down and dirty with the same to confirm my understanding, and I would also love to find out how to actually determine the ground at the stator and float it, and also how to determine the pulser coil line and then ground it independently.

As far as my experience goes anything related to electrical's on a motorcycle is like sex in the typical Indian household, almost everyone's doing it but they're a little hesitant to speak openly about it.

Last edited by ashwinprakas : 29th July 2018 at 01:14.
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Old 30th July 2018, 09:44   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashwinprakas View Post
If it is not much trouble could you share the wiring details of the conversion.

And I'm a bit confused on the stator wiring part of the conversion as well, please do explain from the basics as I'm an absolute novice as far as electrical's go, I just read and experiment to get things done most of the time.

I have a CT100B that I would love to convert to DC, I did considering tapping the brake switch for a 12V DC output but rather than that I feel going for a complete conversion as in your case would be the better option.
The modification was done with the help of a very close friend of mine, hence a bit doubtful on how much I can help, am more of a mechanical guy. However, I did find a thread on xbhp which I am sure will help you out.
https://www.xbhp.com/talkies/univers...ke-all-dc.html
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Old 30th July 2018, 10:23   #9
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by rakesh_r View Post
The modification was done with the help of a very close friend of mine, hence a bit doubtful on how much I can help, am more of a mechanical guy. However, I did find a thread on xbhp which I am sure will help you out.
https://www.xbhp.com/talkies/univers...ke-all-dc.html
Thanks, I've already gone through the thread in question, though they do specify the steps for various motorcycles I would like to understand the basic do's and don't before going ahead.

My understanding/concerns are;

1. There should be NO continuity between the ground and coils.

2. The two wires that go back to the stator should be connected to either ends of the coil without any possibility of grounding.

3. How is the Pulsar Coil wired, in some instances I see that the Pulsar coil needs to be independently grounded, how do I determine if it needs to be done as such in my motorcycle and if it needs to be done would just grounding it to the case do? Asking because on some bikes I've seen that the Pulsar coil comes with independent wiring in which case I presume that I am supposed to leave it alone.

4. In some specific posts I see that while working with the stator it is advised to not touch the "Ignition Coil", this is something I don't understand, is the reference to the primary ignition coil i.e the one circled in below?

Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems-1371744_10152294382508206_271536590_n.jpg

If so, how is the same wired? Is it connected to the coils or does it have independent wiring that leads to the CDI?

Hoping someone who'd done the mod would be able to confirm/correct my understanding and also answer my queries so that I can go ahead with the modification with full confidence. As for the RR unit I'm familiar with the wiring so I'd just get myself a Pulsar's RR unit and rewire the pins.

Have also posted the query on xBhp, fingers crossed!

Last edited by ashwinprakas : 30th July 2018 at 10:26.
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Old 30th July 2018, 15:01   #10
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Default Re: Understanding & troubleshooting Motorcycle Charging Systems

Nice and indepth techncial information by ashwinprakas and dhruvritzed
Good to see some electrical heads here sharing their practicals with other team members.

Do keep us posted with upcoming changes too whenever carried out in your rides.
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