Question about Harley Davidson FXST Softail Standard Motorcycles

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Bike runs fine for a few minutes, charging at 13 volts, then the voltage reading on the dash drops from 12 to 3.8. Then I have to either remove battery cable, or reset low volt setting on dash. Can't figure out what's causing this to happen

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  • m_erv29 Apr 03, 2011

    Replaced that as well, does it with both voltage regulators

  • m_erv29 Apr 04, 2011

    So the stater is causing the voltage drop, and the battery to drain. I have to reset the dash or take a battery post off to start the bike again. Everthing works fine until that. But your saying when it gets hot it causes this problem so change the stater.

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Tthe regualtor in the alternator is damaged or at least one of its diodes , so when it ghets hot it fails, replace your alternator.

Posted on Apr 04, 2011

  • Rishi Roshan Ali Apr 04, 2011

    no the Generator/magneto (alternator just without a belt),,

    the Generator/magneto has the same components as a cars alternator, it drops voltage as it gets hot, to prove this connect your tester directly to Generator/magneto an you will see the voltage drop from there.

    its eighter that or your starter aint releaseing but check the voltage on the Generator/magneto yourself you'll see what i mean, then replace it.

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A very weak voltage regulator inside the alternator. it is time to replace that part or the whole alternator instead

Posted on Apr 03, 2011

  • frank thomas wilson
    frank thomas wilson Apr 04, 2011

    the regulator will give out very soon and no charging to the battery will result in this matter. If it was a diode the charging rate would stay fluxuating when hot or cold

  • frank thomas wilson
    frank thomas wilson Apr 04, 2011

    the rectifier bridge can do that as well but it is a rare thing to happen. check for loose hold down screws for a poor ground can cause this problem

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1 Answer

Will start but u have to kick start it


Your'e lucky to have a kick start wish I had one. I gather you have both electric and kick on your bike. If the bike starts and runs OK using the kick start, I would suggest either your battery is failing to hold charge and/or not being charged while the engine is running.

First access the battery and put a volt meter across the terminals, without the engine running the voltage should be about 12.5 to 13 volts for a 12 volt system and 6 to 6.5 volts for a 6 volt one. Now start the engine by the kicker when warm open the throttle slowly and watch the meter. you should see the reading increase to about 14.4 volts (12 volt) and about 7.5 volts (6 volt). If no increase then get the alternator and regulator/rectifier checked out. If the meter is showing a voltage increase across the battery then the revs are increased, then the charging system is working
Next remove battery please always use this method: - remove negative lead first then positive. Check the battery fluid level if you can (modern batteries are sealed for life in most cases and you cannot open or check the fluid level them). The level should be at full for all cells fill with distilled water as necessary. You need to get a charger that will charge your battery below 1 amp (car chargers are no good they will fry the plates). If the battery will accept a charge, charge for as long as possible. Refit to bike please use this method connect positive lead first then negative. Try the starter if it tries to crank but the engine still won't start then I would get a new battery. Hope this helps & good luck.

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With a fully charged battery connected, read the voltage across the positve (+) and negative(-) with a digital meter. It should be about 12.0-12.4volts DC. Start the bike and again check the voltage with the engine running. The reading should be 13-13.5 volts which means your charging circuit is okay. If still reading around 12 volts the charging system is not working, but if reading higher than 13.5v you have a serious charging fault that is putting too much power to your battery and frying it.

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Charles, What is the voltage of the battery without the motor running? What does the voltage go to when trying to start the bike? Once the bike is started what is the voltage?

On a good battery you should have 12-13 volts without the bike running. When starting the bike your voltage should not drop below 11 volts. After the bike is running your voltage should be somewhere between 13-15 volts. All of these readings should be taken at the battery posts. Also if you have individual caps on each of the openings of the battery check your water level. It should be to the upper line if not fill with distilled water.

If after starting your bike and the voltage is still low make sure both ends of each battery cable is clean. If clean your problem sounds like the charging system and you might need a new generator.

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I have a thought you may try testing your battery voltage with the car turned off .It should read 12 volts or higher if not charge battery than check again if battery is lower than 12 volts after charging replace battery.If 12 volts or higher start engine check voltage on battery again it should be 13 volts to 14.5 volts not higher if voltage readings are lower than 13 volts or higher than 14.5 volts replace alternator.

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1 Answer

I bought a new battery, the bike road fine for a while the in the middle of my ride it started slowing down to a complete stop. I couldn't start it again, waited for 20mins, started it and it ran...


One explanation for this would be that your charging system is faulty. It is possible that the OLD battery was ok, but was not getting charged by the faulty charge system. You put in a new battery, that is part charged before sale and ran the battery flat because it wasn't charging. If you leave a discharged lead acid bettery for 20 minutes or so, it will pick up a little again and possibly let the bike start and run, but by the time you got home you had killed the battery completely.

All the facts fit, though I'm not promising that it is the problem.

Take the battery off and charge it with a charger. Now, put it back on the bike and run the bike (It should start) While the battery is on the bike, get a volt meter on it. It should read slightly over voltage (doesn't matter if its a 12 or 6 volt system, it will read a little over when the bike is running) when you turn the engine off, you should see the volt meter drop down to the stated battery voltage. If you get no hike with the engine running and drop as you power off, its a good sign the charging system is faulty. A similar test, start the bike, meter the battery and turn on the indicators, stop light and head light to pull as much power as you can, the battery voltage shouldn't dip, because the charge system should compensate. If it does dip, consider this a confirmation that the charging system is faulty.

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