Question about 1984 Honda GL 1200 Aspencade Gold Wing

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If you charge the battery bike starts and runs fine.When battery gets low bike dies. Charging system not working.How do you check voltage regulator?

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Unfortunately you cannot check the regulator portion of the regulator/rectifier. The common failure on these units is the stator itself, which is located in the rear of the motor and requires motor removal to replace. If you haven't done so already, check the stator connector (3 pin connector with yellow wires located near the battery). Often these leads develop resistance and get hot and melt the wires in this area. A repair kit is available from Honda with new wires and connectors. However first I would check the stator to be sure it is ok. You can check resistance between each of the yellow wires. The readings should be fairly equal and should have no continuity to ground. If you have continuity to ground, your stator is bad. You can also check AC output between yellow wires with the motor running, you should get voltage readings from about 20VAC at idle that increase to approximately 60-90VAC as the motor is revved up.
Hope this helps.

Posted on Aug 21, 2010


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Yes, you need to check your charging system. First remove the battery and fully charge it (overnight) then refit, and start the bike. With the engine running at about twice the idle speed check the voltage at the battery. It should be approx 14 volts DC. If it is lower than 12.5 you should look first at the voltage regulator and rectifier. The symptoms you describe lead me to believe your charging system is the culprit. It may also be be your alternator, but check the regulator and rectifier first (cheaper)

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It sounds like your battery is not getting charged, so you're running your bike with a "total loss" electrical system. Your bike will run--for quite a while if the headlight isn't on--off the stored energy in a battery.

If this were a car, the immediate place to check would be the alternator and / or the alternator belt. With a motorcycle, especially one of this vintage, I would actually start somewhere else. One of the most common reasons that a bike will fail to charge is that it has developed ground issues. Double-check the negative cable attached to your battery. The other end most likely attaches to the engine or the frame with a big bolt. Look for any rust at that mounting point. You probably won't find any, or else the bike would never run very well, but it's an easy first check.

Charging problems I've had with older Honda motorcycles have often been with the voltage regulator or with one or more connectors in the electrical system, rather than with the stator itself. Trace the output wires from the stator to the voltage regulator, which is usually mounted away from the engine (it's often near the battery box or under a side panel). With the bike running, use a volt meter to check two things: (1) output from the voltage regulator; and (2) raw, unregulated output from the stator into the voltage regulator. A bad regulator may be putting out voltage that's too low, in which case the battery's stored energy is tapped to make up the difference. On the other hand, if you're not seeing ANY voltage coming out of the regulator, make sure that juice is being fed into the regulator so it has something to do.

If you're not seeing voltage on the input side of the regulator, the problem has been narrowed to the stator or to a bad connector in between the stator and the voltage regulator. I have seen a number of problems arising from low-quality wiring insulation used in 1980s bikes; it's much cheaper to fix that than to replace the stator in your bike. Alternatively, if you're seeing input voltage but not output voltage from your regulator, I'd suspect you may have found the problem. I believe, though I'm not certain, that Honda still used a mechanical as opposed to digital regulator on this bike, and those mechanical regulators do go bad. You can find used but warranted replacements for not too much money online; depending on how universal the regulator is (Honda used the same voltage regulator in all of its motorcycles from ~1971 through 1978), a brand new one may not be all that expensive, either.

A final, somewhat random thought is that you should also take your battery to an auto parts store to have it checked. A heavily sulfated battery will test out at 12.6 volts, but it won't be able to store its rated amperage. A battery like that may work well enough right after it's been taken off an external charger, but it won't have the amps to turn over the starter after it's been sitting for a while. This doesn't sound like what you're experiencing, which is why I didn't lead off my solution with this suggestion, but a weak battery will put a lot of stress on your charging system and can can lead to some odd symptoms.

Good luck!

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