Virago Technical - Batteries
Sometimes another neglected device on your bike (out of sight = out of mind), is a ditty that can bite you when you least expect it. Your riding along, you stop for food, liquid (in or out), a nice view, or at days end and POW. The next time you try to start ----- nothing!!!! Who stole my battery?? It seems that way, doesn’t it? What’s worse, if the thing gives you all sorts of warning by being sluggish on start-ups and weak overall and you ignore the signs. You say, “nothing that a good charge can’t cure”. Well, maybe yes and maybe no.
Motorcycle batteries live a tough life with all the bouncing and vibration. One other thing that gets them can be the long time duration between usages (not applicable to Virago club members, we ride!!!). If Mr. Motorcycle sits too long and lets the battery drain, the batteries’ life expectancy is diminished. Just like people who sit to long (as in at a computer, designing web pages), batteries too get lazy and don’t come back to full capacity, even when recharged. The increased use of battery tenders, which provide a regulated trickle charge, show me more and more riders are recognizing the above fact. By the by K-Mart sells a battery tender at about half the price of the ones you see advertised in the M.C. mags. It works. I got one.
Chemical sulfation is a major reason for the problem. It is the natural reaction that takes place in lead acid batteries as they just sit there being batteries. Sulfation causes internal short circuits and overall weakness to develop. The “better” brands of batteries add a chemical that slows the sulfation process and theoretically increases life. Keeping the thing in a good state of charge also holds sulfation at a minimum.
The Virago 750 uses a smaller capacity battery than the 1100. It produces the same voltage but it’s physically smaller. It also costs more and is harder to find as an after market product. The battery compartment in the 750 has a foam spacer that keeps the smaller battery from flopping around in there. It can be removed and the higher capacity, less expensive, easier to find 1100 battery can be used in it’s place. The charging circuit is the same and the 750 now will have a hotter kick to start things rolling.
If you buy a battery before the acid is put in it, and you should, the most important thing you can do to get it off to a good start in it’s life is pour the acid in and let it sit for eight hours or more. This allows the cell material to absorb the acid and get a good chemical reaction going BEFORE you hit it with the charger. Then put it on a slow (no higher than an amp and a half) charge for twelve to sixteen hours before use. Will your local dealer do this ------------- Up to you to decide. By the by K-Mart and Wall Mart have been known to sell batteries that are exact Virago replacements. Exide Y50-N18-LA and they do have sulfate stop.
One final thought, the Virago has a wimpy stator (the heart of the charging circuit) and the bike should not be used as a charger for a weak or dying battery. It puts unneeded strain on the system and can lead to early stator failure
Batteries Submitted by Bob Ratcliffe