The Thorn in Our Side: Battery Issues with the Ducati ST2

I’ve been struggling with how to write about the trip. I decided that I would start with the races before talking about the travel to and from and the mundane of where we stayed and what we ate. I posted about the races earlier this week so now on to the fun bits… almost.

I started writing and I realized that there was one other major bit that I needed to write about before getting into the roads and views, and that is the battery issues we had with my friends Ducati ST2. I had to make a separate post since it takes a bit to explain the whole thing.

You’ll notice I don’t get into all the technical details of what we think was going wrong. The bike goes into the shop on Saturday so we will soon know what the root of the problem is. Until then it seems to be a waste of time to list all the things that could be wrong as we slowly discovered the problem. The one thing we do know now is the symptoms pretty well. Basically after several hours away from a battery charger the bike’s battery is drained and it won’t start, it took a while to figure this out though as you will see.

This first reared it’s ugly head pretty close to middle of nowhere, in fact very close to where this very same friend was nearly killed by a vulture, the junction of 198 and 25. Maybe this area is cursed for him? I have no idea, but I stopped to take some pictures (something I’m bad at when I’m riding with other people) and after this picture:

This looks like it should be a WTF is wrong with my bike picture... it isn't. It is a look at us on motorcycles and motorcycles are awesome picture!

This looks like it should be a WTF is wrong with my bike picture… it isn’t. It is a look at us on motorcycles and motorcycles are awesome picture!

…His battery did not have enough power to start the bike.

I’m possibly the worlds worst push starter… with my bad leg and all, but Luckily it was fairly level or down hill in our favor so after 3 tries we managed to get it started. We were a little worried that we would have another problem but we continued on as planned and made it to Paso Robles fine.

However, after checking into the hotel his bike wouldn’t start again. So we rolled it to a parking spot and talked it through. We decided to try and get a new battery for it, and since we’ve had this problem before we quickly called a local motorcycle store and found out that yes they had batteries, but no they weren’t ready and charged and they closed in 30 minutes. My friend rushed over and bought the battery and a charger and came back to find out that they forgot the acid to activate the battery. They were of course closed, but just as we were trying to figure out what to do the shop called and said she realized what she had done and recommended that any auto parts store might have the acid. So I called one and we found that they do carry battery acid, so we walked and got some. Then we filled the battery which was a bit of a mad scientist moment…

Nothing says Mad Scientist more to me than big black gloves.

Nothing says Mad Scientist more to me than big black gloves.

While we waited for the acid to settle we had a glass of wine, then we topped off the battery, closed it up, put it on the charger and went to dinner.

We had a great meal.

The next morning we put the new battery in, and the bike started fine. Kept starting fine all the way to the track and it even started when we headed out to dinner that late afternoon.

After dinner… well then it didn’t want to start. Luckily we had parked in a parking lot with a decent hill and had more friends with us so all we had to do is push the bike up the hill and roll it down to get it started. Well, we “only” had to do this about 10 times (my friend the owner insists this is an exaggeration, I of course only write the truth). We were so grateful that the bike started since we were really running short of good alternative plans by this time. We rode back to Laguna Seca with the half baked idea to try and find an outlet to charge the battery so we could get home the next day.

The one problem with Camping on Fox Hill at Laguna Seca is the total lack of any sort of modern comforts. It has no water, or electricity so we had to wander a bit to find an outlet. After removing the battery in the dark, we used an outlet in one of the bathrooms for an hour or so as we stared at the empty dark track and shared a bottle of wine, but acording to the charger did not get the battery past 25% charged. Not enough to be comfortable with. We had no choice but to rely on the mercy of others the next morning.

Luckily this being a race track sympathy was not hard to find. Sunday morning we were helped by the lovely people in the ticket office at the bottom of Fox Hill, and they allowed us to leave the battery on the charger for the day (well the half day).

When we picked up the battery in the early afternoon we were really worried, since it was still only showing 25% charged. With no other options though we put the battery in and crossed our fingers. The bike started again! Deciding not to push our luck, my friend left immediately before the second race started. I stayed for the race then left to follow him home. Luckily everyone got home safe, though the bike wouldn’t start after parking it on the street in front of my house.

I’m taking it in tomorrow hopefully to the shop, I’ll keep you posted on what the real problem is.

 

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About MotoCynic

I started riding motorcycles in 2006, and there is no going back. I've ridden more than 100,000 miles, most of it on a Ducati Monster, and despite setbacks and murderous BMW's I'm loving every mile.
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4 Responses to The Thorn in Our Side: Battery Issues with the Ducati ST2

  1. vinnychoff says:

    I have a 916 blog and one of the common problems is charging. I updated it to a mosfat reg rectifier which cured the issue. It sounds as though you have a charging problem if the battery is drained and not charged. I bought it off ebay and he is based in America. The mosfat reg/rectifer is a better system, remains cool, charges constantly. I have had the battery on 4 years now with no problems starting.
    Vincenzo

  2. Pingback: The Road to Laguna Seca: The Long Cut | Motorcycles and the Cynic

  3. Pingback: Ducati ST2: Charging Forward | Motorcycles and the Cynic

  4. Pingback: MotoCynic Theory: On why the ST2’s battery was dead for Laguna Seca | Motorcycles and the Cynic

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