Probably you own an electric bike and have been a victim of unfortunate situations like the breakdown of your bike in the middle of nowhere because your motorcycle lost all electrical power while riding. Not to worry, this article is a comprehensive guide on motorcycle electrical troubleshooting and how you can identify common electrical issues.
Understanding How Your Electric Motorcycle Works
Here is how an electric motorcycle works; electric motorcycles are built on a comparable structure to fuel-powered motorcycles. However, while the latter uses a gas/fuel engine, an electric motor uses an electric engine to activate the power and converts the same into kinetic energy to enable motion. The difference is, rather than consume fuel, an electric motor engine is designed to use electricity provided by a rechargeable battery as gas.
The whole electrical system of the bike banks on the main fuse to function properly. A blown main fuse can destroy all motorcycle's electrical fittings. A faulty main fuse may cause a break in current transmission to other electrical components of the bike resulting in poor performance. To check this, always have a spare main fuse with you. If the problem of a blown/faulty main fuse persists, that could indicate an unidentified issue in your bike.
When troubleshooting an electric motorcycle, the best place to start is to check the condition of the battery, whether fully charged or not, and its acid level. A motorcycle's battery is under the driver's seat and protected by a saddle with a lock. Batteries work by converting energies - chemical to electrical. On charge, ions produce electrons by reacting with electrolytes and electrodes and transmit the produced electrons through the finished circuit outside the battery, thereby creating electrical currents. Next, you can use the ignition to test the battery. A bad battery includes flickering lights, unstable multimeter readings, and starting problems.
Damaged ground wires can prove difficult to identify but are everyday problems of an electric bike. When a bike is dead, has refused to start, or encounters fluctuation in transmitting current to other electrical parts, are indications of bad ground wires. For ease of location, please refer to your motorcycle manual, then check their conditions patiently.
What a rectifier/regulator does in a motorcycle is that it stabilizes the battery to avoid damage resulting from inadequate voltage. It achieves this by regulating the volume of DC going into the battery and turning the excesses into heat that is gotten rid of. On the other hand, the rectifier converts AC power from the alternator into the required DC power for charging the battery; thus, when a rectifier is bad, it will cause no spark. A dim/fluctuating bike light and high voltage output are symptoms of a bad motorcycle rectifier/regulator. To test the regulator, the meter leads should be joined to the battery while running; the reading shouldn't be above 14.5 to avoid being overcharged or below 13.5 volts to avoid draining the battery. To test the rectifier, detach every wire and turn the multimeter to the diode function.
The stator is a part of an electric motorcycle's charging structure. An externally mounted unit, a stator, is aptly located inside a motorcycle's engine block. It works with the rectifier/regulator to produce DC needed to charge the battery and optimize general motorcycle performance. The electric engine can be off or on when testing the stator on a motorcycle using a multimeter. However, when a bike's charging system malfunctions, changing the battery might be a good idea but not necessarily the solution. The proper electrical troubleshooting practice is to test the stator and identify the fault.
When your motorcycle turns over but has no spark, the ignition coil/harley coil is the next place to check after assessing every available option. It is conjoined with the spark wires and plug caps connected to the spark plugs. To test the ignition coil, check the spark wires for resistance, and make sure the plug caps and the spark plugs are intact.
Pickup coils rarely get faulty. Even when they do, they are very easy to test. Detach the connector, get your multimeter leads by connecting it to the connector, and set it to Ohms. Whatever the meter's reading should tally with the reading specified in the factory manual. The space between the magnet and the coil should be checked too.
The meter readings should measure 300 to 500 Ohms when testing a source coil. However, you still need to assess the friction between the ground and the output wire.
CDIs enable motorcycles to conserve energy for later use while regulating usable electric energy. It is under the rear seat and has a few wires attached. The CDI is made up of a sensor, box and coils. Unfortunately, a CDI box cannot be tested except for replacing a damaged one with a working CDI, but for further info, you can refer to the CDI troubleshooting guide section of the manufacturer’s manual.
Things not to do when Troubleshooting your MotorcycleWhile bikers may not be experts in carrying-out major electrical repairs on their motorcycles, they can affect minor maintenance. However, in troubleshooting your electric motorcycles, there are a few things you must not do. They include:
Judging by Instinct
As explained above, there are so many reasons why your motorcycle won't start: a dead battery, a damaged CDI Box, or even a pickup coil. Hence, it is a bad motorcycle troubleshooting practice to assume that today's electrical problem is the same as your past experience.
Jump to Conclusion
While troubleshooting your motorcycle, it is inappropriate to conclude the cause of a problem without a proper motorcycle diagnosis. If identifying an electrical issue is beyond you, kindly take your bike to an electrician for proper maintenance.
Ignoring the Issue
A concerned rider will never neglect his bike. On the contrary, he regularly checks his motorcycle to identify possible issues. In the case of a major problem, the smart biker will take it to an experienced electrician for scheduled maintenance and possible replacement. Ignoring the problem might lead to bigger issues or even ghastly accidents.
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