Voyages on Two Wheels – 3 March 2013 – Back On the Battery Charger Again…
I can name quite a few reasons why I love my V-Star 650 Classic. The easy handling and easy going nature are just a couple of them off the top of my head. I know she can run through scorching deserts, howling winds, drenching rains, and not have a single problem
She does, however, have an issue with cold weather. Oh, she’ll start and run down into the single digits (not really easily, but she’ll do it!) and she’s fine once the engine gets warmed up The problem is the charging system and what Yamaha did with the little power it makes.
A V-Star 650 produces about 240 watts of electrical power at highway speed. Because many motorcycles (mine included) don’t use a car style alternator, the electrical power they put out varies with speed. Now, that 240 watts is just fine most of the time. The bike uses about 180 watts to power the ignition, headlight, taillight, marker lights, etc. When the temperature drops below 50 degrees, however, the electric carburetor heaters kick in. Those use 60 watts which, if you’ve been keeping track, means the bike is using every last bit of electricity it’s producing. Correction – it would be using every bit of electricity it’s producing if it were at highway speed. If it’s not going very fast (like riding in town like 95% of my riding these days), then the bike will actually be discharging its battery. There’s been more than a couple times when I’d have liked some electrically heated clothing, but that’s not in the cards – I can’t spare the power!
My aviation fan readers will probably know why you want carb heat, but I know it’s a foreign concept to most. When a fluid passes over a surface, its pressure drops and the faster it does so, the more the pressure will drop. This is how airplanes fly – the air has to pass over the top of the wing faster than it passes under the wing which creates low pressure on the top of the wing and thus lift. It also happens inside carburetors. The throat of the carb increases the air’s speed which causes a drop in pressure. Anytime the pressure in a gas drops, the temperature will drop as well. If you’ve ever used canned air to blow dust off of computer parts, you’ll know just how much colder things can get in a hurry. The drop in a carburetor throat can be as much as 36 degrees. That drop in pressure and thus temperature can lead to carburetor icing where ice will form in the throat of the carb and restrict the airflow. It’s a bigger deal in an airplane than on a motorcycle, but it can be a nuisance.
Getting back to my bike – I ride as much as I can, but often just around town and recently in pretty cold weather. I’ve found myself with a dead battery on a few occasions, but thankfully I can push start the bike pretty easily
I could install a new stator which would increase power production from 240 to 300 watts, but that’s $300 for the part alone. I’ve also found some LED headlights that would only draw about 20 watts instead of 50, but those are pretty much all over $400 and I can’t afford that.
I might try pulling the fuse for the heaters (it would be easy to do), but in the mean time I think I’ll just put the bike back on the battery charger every two or three days
I’ll have more on the bike before long as it’s getting to be time for an engine oil change, final drive oil change, new rear tire, brake fluid flush, and cable lubrication. I’m happy to say that I can easily do everything except for the new rear tire – I’ll leave that to the pros
Have a great day, everyone
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