Still have my original battery in my 02. Bike is stored in a heated garage for the winter months. I have never removed the battery and only occasionally put it on a trickle charge, about once a month for a day.
Here is the answer to your question, Sulfation and Parasitic Drain. (Here is what I read from Cruiser Customizing Community Forum Tip of the Week)
Only 30% of batteries sold today reach the 48-month mark. In fact 80% of all battery failure is related to sulfation build-up. This build up occurs when the sulfur molecules in the electrolyte (battery acid) become so deeply discharged that they begin to coat the battery's lead plates. Before long the plates become so coated that the battery dies.
Sulfation of Batteries starts when specific gravity falls below 1.225 or voltage measures less than 12.4 (12v Battery) or 6.2 (6 volt battery). Sulfation hardens the battery plates reducing and eventually destroying the ability of the battery to generate Volts and Amps.State of Charge Specific Gravity Voltage
100% 1.265 12.7 6.3
*75% 1.225 12.4 6.2
50% 1.190 12.2 6.1
25% 1.155 12.0 6.0
Discharged 1.120 11.9 6.0
The causes of sulfation are numerous. Below are several common causes of battery sulfation:
Batteries sit too long between charges. As little as 24 hours in hot weather and several days in cooler weather.
Battery is stored without some type of energy input.
"Deep cycling" an engine starting battery. Remember these batteries can't stand deep discharge.
Undercharging of a battery, to charge a battery (lets say) to 90% of capacity will allow sulfation of the battery using the 10% of battery chemistry not reactivated by the incomplete charging cycle.
Heat of 100 plus F., increases internal discharge. As temperatures increase so does internal discharge. A new fully charged battery left sitting 24 hours a day at 110 degrees F for 30 days would most likely not start an engine.
Low electrolyte level - battery plates exposed to air will immediately sulfate.
Incorrect charging levels and settings. Most cheap battery chargers can do more harm than good. See the section on battery charging.
Cold weather is also hard on the battery. The chemistry does not make the same amount of energy as a warm battery. A deeply discharged battery can freeze solid in sub zero weather.
Parasitic drain is a load put on a battery with the key off. More info on parasitic drain will follow in this document.
Aside from Sulfation, Parasitic Drain another common battery destroyer! What is parasitic drain?
Parasitic drain is a load put on a battery with the key in the OFF position. Most of todays motorcycles come from the factory with clocks, engine management computers, alarm systems, etc. And what do we do when we get our motorcycles home? We Accessorize them! We add radios, GPS, and all other sorts of gadgets. These devices may all be operating without the engine running. You may have parasitic loads caused by a short in the electrical system. If you are always having dead battery problems most likely the parasitic drain is excessive. The constant low or dead battery caused by excessive parasitic energy drain will dramatically shorten battery life.
It is recommended you must put back the energy you use from your battery immediately! Charging or refilling your battery is important, and is best done using Smart Chargers such as Battery Tenders and PuseTech Xtreme Chargers are the best way to accomplish this task.
I went to walmart an bought a $20.00 charger for motorcycles, boats, etc. Once charged, it goes into a float mode and maintains the charge. As I type this, I have been away from home for the past two weeks for my job. My batterys is hooked to the charger at my house as we speak.
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