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Discussion Starter #1
Ok this is a real head scratcher.

2009 Vulcan 500 Ltd

Attempted to start bike after ~6 weeks in garage, battery is only 6 months old. Neutral light was bright, Crank was responsive at first, then all power died instantly, partway through the initial crank. I assumed battery at first of course, but as I discovered later that was not the problem.

I have two fully charged batteries, both read ~13v using multimeter. Connecting either one results in NO POWER to any component of the bike (Tail lights, neutral light, Horn, Headlights). Forget about crank / starter / clutch or kickstand kill switch, I just want to get my horn or taillight to work at this point.

All fuses are OK, I have replaced the 10A fuses in the fuse box (even though none were blown), & I have replaced the main fuse located on the left side of the bike near the starter relay even though it was not blown. Neither the original or new 30A fuse or 10A fuses made a difference. No power to any part of bike with good batteries attached & key switched to On. Only when key switched to "Park" do I see the taillight illuminate, but that's it. No horn, no Neutral, no headlight.

At this point, the only thing that makes any sense to me is that the ignition switch itself (or the low voltage wiring between ignition & main fuse) must have some sort of issue. I am about to dismantle the ignition and/or learn how to hot-wire my bike to test this theory which I am not super excited about. Would really rather just change a fuse ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
UPDATE: Looks like the problem was BOTH batteries. I don't know why neither one provides a proper charge to the bike's electronic system when the multimeter is reading them at 12+ (and yes I am using the proper DC 20 setting). Using a third battery however returns the bike to working order.

Still no clue why 2 charged batteries do not work, OR why the new-ish battery died mid-crank like that, considering it had a full charge before, during, & after the incident. But at least the bike is working now.
 

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It's not at all impossible for a battery to measure 12+ volts when it is unloaded but be useless as a banana when it comes to delivering current. That's why the real way to test a battery is to load test it. Most of us just don't happen to keep a load tester around for those bi-annual occasions when we need to test a battery.

Fun fact for battery fans worldwide: Once a lead acid storage battery drops below 10.5 volts, bad chemistry starts happening. Above 10.5 volts, it is pretty stable. All the time the battery spends even slightly discharged, the battery is aging. So to get maximum life out of a battery, keep it fully charged.

Here's hoping she keeps running well on the fresh one and that that's all it was!
 

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Search for this -
"How long do batteries last?"
Yep they can "seems" ok, yet not have the power to crank an engine.

And I work with batteries and solar charging, yep they do not like going below 11 volts I've found out.

And I had never thought of it before, but
if you have ever left your lights on and drained the battery,
had your car not start when it was cold, ect,
those things alone have reduced your battery power greatly and shortened its life.

Same with your cell.
If it ever gets below 25% you've shortened its life and dont be surprised when it wont last the day without needing a charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info guys. I did not know that the battery could measure a steady 13+ and still be useless under load. I was surprised that even the Neutral light would not come on though. Even on a weak charge I would have thought the LEDs would come on.

In case anyone is interested, I upgraded from the factory battery to a BikeMaster TrueGel MG12A-3A1. Needless to say I will not be purchasing that brand again as it lasted for less than 6 months before dying mid-crank like that. Re-charging with the battery tender has had no effect. Connecting this battery to the bike is like having no battery connected at all.
 

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Thanks for the info guys. I did not know that the battery could measure a steady 13+ and still be useless under load. ...
<electro-nerd>

Voltage is just, in essence, a ratio -- number of electrons on this thing compared to number of electrons on that thing. If this thing has a lot more or a lot fewer electrons than that thing, a high voltage exists between them. It's not a measure of power. (Ever seen a Tesla coil demonstration? That spark is almost all voltage, almost no current. That's why the "daring guy or gal in mandatory lab coat" who demonstrates it could absorb those sparks without turning into a smoking pile of ash.)

In a lead/acid battery, that difference is created by charging the plates. A battery consists of, typically, 6 pairs of plates, called cells, wired in series. Each cell has a voltage of about 2.4 volts, to add up to about 14.5, minus a volt or so of loss. That voltage will be the same whether the plates are the size of a nickel or the size of an aircraft carrier. But the bigger the plates, the more current can be delivered before the charge is depleted, and volts multiplied by current equals POWAH!!

As a lead/acid battery (gel or traditional) ages, the plates get plated with lead sulfate, from the interaction with the sulfuric acid. Lead sulfate makes a thoroughly terrible battery, and it is made from the sulfur in the acid, so now you have watery electrolyte. Recharging the battery puts some of that sulfate back into solution, but not quite all of it, and it gradually builds up until you're down to something electrically resembling those nickel sized plates. Still the same volts, but she ain't got no amps.

Your battery's sudden and complete failure, however, sounds more like an internal open circuit inside. (tl;dr: It's dead, Jim.) I imagine that's one reason sfair is cautioning you to fully check out the charging system.

</electro-nerd>

You did get a warranty with that thing, right?
 
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