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Thread: 09 Firebolt Starting and Charging Issues

  1. #1
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    09 Firebolt Starting and Charging Issues

    Guys, hoping you can help shed some light on a couple minor issues I have. I'm in between houses and my tools are not easily accessible. Neither is my free time.

    Bike starts, but it's a REAL hard start. To the point that the first crank over draws enough juice that the dash goes blank and the headlight turns off. For a split second, I wonder if it'll turn over. It does. But, it doesn't always stay running and may require a second start. CEL comes on after the bike is running, though usually goes away after about 20 minutes of riding.

    Also, I installed a voltage indicator over the winter to keep an eye on things while I'm riding. Bottom line is that the voltage is low during charging...never into the 14+ volt range. It seems to charge better at low RPMs. I won't go on record saying it isn't charging, but it's definitely marginal.

    I know the 2009 1125's had issues with the stator and charging circuit. Did Buell make any funky changes to the 2009+ XB models?

    Battery is new, but hoping you guys have some knowledge of obvious issues that I should check first. Otherwise, I'll go through the process of checking the stator and R/R (incidentally I've never had any problems on my 03 or 05).

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    THANKS for the well written clues! No, the XB charging system is not like the 2009 1125's and it know to be really rock solid.

    If your battery is low and you continue to ride the bike instead of putting the battery on an actual charger, you are putting a massive strain on your bikes charging system and can overheat and ruin the Voltage Regulator and stator.

    What is happening is when you hit the starter button, the battery doesn't have enough reserve amperage to crank the bike over, killing the gauges. That could be because the battery doesn't have enough in it (bad or discharged) , or the starter is drawing too much (worn brushes).

    Remove the battery, clean the terminals, and charge it.

    You will need to charge the battery fully. NOT a 'tender' or 'maintainer', and Battery charger, but I'd spend my money on a new battery if you don't have a charger.

    The "Buell-bump" is to just tap the starter button and let it go, then immediately press and hold it again. This gives the crank some momentum to get past compression.

    It sounds like your "new battery" is shot. It should have 220CCA written on it. If it says 200 or less, get a new one anyway. Look into DEKA Big Crank, the Wal-mart stuff is junk and will never be strong enough to crank over a high compression V-twin even when it's new.

    A bad battery with shorted cells will also cause issues with the VR not charging fully, but the little aftermarket volt gauges are terribly inaccurate, use a actual volt meter. You can even get a free one with a coupon at Harbor freight. But get one with an inductive ammeter to put around the battery lead and see what the starter is pulling.
    Last edited by Cooter; 05-08-2019 at 04:29 PM.

  3. #3
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    I'm glad to hear the charging system flaws of the 1125 didn't make it over to the XB models. I read the later XB's had some charging system changes, but was unsure what they amounted to. That might have been incorrect information I was reading (fingers crossed).

    I've had experience with automotive starters and fuel pumps that didn't like starting from certain positions, and that's one of things in the back of my mind here. The bike doesn't start like a train wreck every time. Some times it fires right up without issue and other times it 'pauses'. Even on the pause, it does start.

    This bike gets ridden infrequently due to other bikes in the stable, but it does sometimes die after running for ~2-3 seconds...at which point a restart brings her back to life for good. Not sure that's a starter/charging system issue, but it's interesting nonetheless. Sometimes get accompanied with a CEL...but not always...which disappears in 15 minutes or so. Sadly, the CEL doesn't consistently come right on at start. Bottom line, the CEL (related or not) is elusive and is always gone when I get to my destination...and isn't always there when the ride starts.

    I have a new Antigravity ATX12HD battery installed (480 cranking amps, whatever that corresponds to in CCA). I have a few of these and they have never failed. I also had this battery load tested just in case, and it passed with fly colors. Like you, my first thought was that the battery was iffy based on the instrument cluster blackout. But I guess not. And again...doesn't do that at every start. Just once in a while.

    I'm seeing 13-13.4V at idle and high 12's and low 13's at cruise (4000-4500 RPM). Lower than I'd like, but still charging.

    Once I get done relocating, I'm going to check the stator, R/R, and see how many amps I'm drawing at start up. Hoping the stator is good - everything else is a quick fix.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cooter View Post
    The "Buell-bump" is to just tap the starter button and let it go, then immediately press and hold it again. This gives the crank some momentum to get past compression.

    But get one with an inductive ammeter to put around the battery lead and see what the starter is pulling.
    Your info is a little different than you original post but both of those ^^^ still apply. It is either the battery, the starter, or the connection between the two. Corrosion between the cables and terminals on a good battery will do this as well.

    I know you don't want to hear that, but everything you are posting says it was Col Mustard in the study, so the Col. is a suspect.

    Putting a Lithium Polymer battery to replace a conventional GEL filled lead acid battery can also cause problems. Li-Po likes a specific charger because it wants a much higher charging voltage, and also keeps a much higher resting voltage. Check the batteries manufacturer website for further info. I know the Shorai pretty well, yours may be different. A "Tender" is NOT a charger.

  5. #5
    Senior Member lunaticfringe's Avatar
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    I read the later XB's had some charging system changes, but was unsure what they amounted to. That might have been incorrect information I was reading (fingers crossed).

    NO....that's correct.

    This bike gets ridden infrequently due to other bikes in the stable, but it does sometimes die after running for ~2-3 seconds...at which point a restart brings her back to life for good.

    NOT unusual for a 2008-10 model that's ridden infrequently.

    I have a new Antigravity ATX12HD battery installed

    that's your problem right there. for most BuellXB/XR1200 applications that style battery flat doesn't work. replace with new Deka/Big Crank ETX-14 and your problems will be resolved. access the ecm as you'll have historical and active fault codes 16...36...46. clear them.

    I'm seeing 13-13.4V at idle and high 12's and low 13's at cruise (4000-4500 RPM). Lower than I'd like, but still charging.


    at 3000rpm steady state cruise i like to see 13.9-14.7 DC volts....depending on amount of headlights in operation, heated gear that's active, etc etc
    replace that goofy battery with what i recommend then check voltages again and see what you have. since the 2008-10 charging systems are pretty damn bomb-proof i'll bet your numbers come into spec after battery replacement. just a hunch.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cooter View Post
    Your info is a little different than you original post but both of those ^^^ still apply. It is either the battery, the starter, or the connection between the two. Corrosion between the cables and terminals on a good battery will do this as well.
    Fortunately, corrosion isn't a problem on the battery end of the positive cable or either end of the ground. I haven't pulled the (+) end off the starter yet, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooter View Post
    I know you don't want to hear that, but everything you are posting says it was Col Mustard in the study, so the Col. is a suspect.
    It is what it is. Of course I don't want to replace a known good battery with another battery, but if the bike just doesn't like it, so be it. That said, the bike had an unknown age ETX-14 with the exact same symptoms when I bought the bike. Like everyone else, I thought the old battery was weak and used that to knock the seller's price down $100 last year. Installing the new battery didn't change anything (better or worse), sadly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cooter View Post
    Putting a Lithium Polymer battery to replace a conventional GEL filled lead acid battery can also cause problems. Li-Po likes a specific charger because it wants a much higher charging voltage, and also keeps a much higher resting voltage. Check the batteries manufacturer website for further info. I know the Shorai pretty well, yours may be different. A "Tender" is NOT a charger.
    Perhaps this is the case...just odd that I've never experienced issues with the same style/brand on the other bikes in my stable. May be a Buell thing...

    Quote Originally Posted by lunaticfringe View Post
    I read the later XB's had some charging system changes, but was unsure what they amounted to. That might have been incorrect information I was reading (fingers crossed).

    NO....that's correct.

    This bike gets ridden infrequently due to other bikes in the stable, but it does sometimes die after running for ~2-3 seconds...at which point a restart brings her back to life for good.

    NOT unusual for a 2008-10 model that's ridden infrequently.
    Interesting - this is the sort of feedback I was hoping to hear. My older XB's never exhibited any such behavior, so this was definitely odd to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by lunaticfringe View Post
    [COLOR="#800000"]I have a new Antigravity ATX12HD battery installed

    that's your problem right there. for most BuellXB/XR1200 applications that style battery flat doesn't work. replace with new Deka/Big Crank ETX-14 and your problems will be resolved. access the ecm as you'll have historical and active fault codes 16...36...46. clear them.

    I'm seeing 13-13.4V at idle and high 12's and low 13's at cruise (4000-4500 RPM). Lower than I'd like, but still charging.


    at 3000rpm steady state cruise i like to see 13.9-14.7 DC volts....depending on amount of headlights in operation, heated gear that's active, etc etc
    replace that goofy battery with what i recommend then check voltages again and see what you have. since the 2008-10 charging systems are pretty damn bomb-proof i'll bet your numbers come into spec after battery replacement. just a hunch.
    This bike is only used in fair weather. No heated gear or grips on this bike, and the headlight is LED, so there's a few less amps being drawn.

    Based on Cooters' and your suggestion, I ordered a Deka ETX-14 and will give it a shot. Even if it doesn't fix it, I like having a spare battery on hand, and I've been without one for a while. I'll report back tomorrow when I have a chance to unpack the bikes.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1324 View Post
    Fortunately, corrosion isn't a problem on the battery end of the positive cable or either end of the ground. I haven't pulled the (+) end off the starter yet, though.
    Geez. Assuming "Corrosion isn't a problem" and 'I haven't looked' in the same sentence (!) makes proper diagnosis impossible.

    Corrosion between the positive cable and the terminal is precisely where it would happen. You won't always see fussy corrosion poking out. Actually check it. Its one dang screw and could save you the cost of a battery you keep swearing is OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cooter View Post
    Geez. Assuming "Corrosion isn't a problem" and 'I haven't looked' in the same sentence (!) makes proper diagnosis impossible.

    Corrosion between the positive cable and the terminal is precisely where it would happen. You won't always see fussy corrosion poking out. Actually check it. Its one dang screw and could save you the cost of a battery you keep swearing is OK.
    You have a tendency to only read and respond to bits and pieces of what I type - on both forums. For reference:

    Quote Originally Posted by 1324 View Post
    Fortunately, corrosion isn't a problem on the battery end of the positive cable or either end of the ground. I haven't pulled the (+) end off the starter yet, though.
    I don't know how else to say this. I appreciate your help, but please don't put words in my mouth. I never indicated I was not going to check the STARTER end of the (+) cable...

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    My 09 with 32k miles acted similar.I rebuilt starter solenoid on bike.Didnt fix it.Replaced starter assembly with a used unit from ebay,but first rebuilt that solenoid on bench.Then installed it on my bike.All good now

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodtymej View Post
    My 09 with 32k miles acted similar.I rebuilt starter solenoid on bike.Didnt fix it.Replaced starter assembly with a used unit from ebay,but first rebuilt that solenoid on bench.Then installed it on my bike.All good now
    Good reference point. Did you ever disassemble the starter and inspect? Curious if any of the windings or brushes were visibly defective.



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