Death of my Battery


Living Legend
Feb 25, 2006
I went to start my bike today.... just to get its juices flowing (Its the middle of winter here and its sat in the garage for awhile). I got about 4 or 5 good cranks out of it and it went completely dead. Something inside the battery gave up and has caused an open circuit. I had a good charge on it and until it went south it did spin well for those 4 or 5 cranks. It seems I can never get more than 2 years out of any bike or lawnmower battery..:mad:

I see them on the net for anywhere from $35 for a no name to $85 for an Interstate or Yuasa. All of them want about $10 to $15 for shipping. I'm going to check with my Interstate guy when he comes in and see what I can buy one wholesale through the parts department. I'm thinking about $60 - $65 for an Interstate would be a good price....
I picked up an 18A Yuasa battery at Wally World for 35 or 45$, 6 or 8 months ago. I've not used or even energized it yet. I got it for use on both the 3-wheeler or the Intruder; they're all setting and waiting.

I thought I saw that RIII battery might possibly be a 20Ah; designated on the battery itself?? The book states 18A.
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I will be quite impressed if my battery is going to work, it has been about 20 below for the last couple days wind chill here in Michigan, along with Blizzard conditions, I AM SO READY FOR SUMMER.

Me Too

Tomo..... For the past 2 years I've tried to start the beast at least once a week during the winter months just to keep the fuel moving and the battery charged. About 3 weeks ago, I succumbed to the "****'s cold" syndrome and let it go into hibernation. Well, I paid the price when I went to start it a few days ago. With a few more turns than you got on the starter it just got tired and quit.

Now, where in the heck did I put that battery tender 2 years ago when I think I bought one of everything just to be sure I'd be prepared as a concerned Rocket owner. Nothing was or is too good for my 750 pound child. Ah ha! I found it the last place I looked .....cause why would I keep looking after I found it? This is when I was happy to have put on the aux power outlet. I plugged into the aux socket and the other end into 110V. I decided it wouldn't charge any faster by me watching the indicator lights change from dead to 50% to Full so I went to lunch.

About 3 hours later ( it was a very big lunch ) I returned to find the deed was done. Unplugged the device, turned on the ignition and boy did that puppy crank over like it was new. Probably didn't take more than a few turns and Vvvrrrroooooommmmmm!

Here's the question. When and if I have to get a new battery is there any advantage to purchasing a gel type over just a sealed one. I understand the gel type holds a deeper charge.

Also I remember having an Interstate in my car a few years back and within the battery was a separate bank of cells that you could use to jump start your car without needing cables. Do they still make that type and is there a version for motorcycles?
I think the two main advantages of a gel battery are safety in the event of an accident, it would be less likely to toss acid if the case broke, and the ability to mount it in almost any position (except probably upside down). Have you seen how they mount the battery in the tail of the new Speed Triple? Its almost laying down flat...

I remeber those emergency backups they put in those batteries... I've never seen one for a motorcycle, but who knows???

My battery was charged... I had the Black and Decker battery maintainer on and it spun like a top.... for a second. Its D E D dead now... it won't even take a charge. It had something give up on the inside...

If I can track down the Interstate dude I'll ask him your questions... Come to think of it I'm not sure I've seen a gel battery for the Rocket either.
I have the application Catalog for Deka batteries, these are sold under a number of different names (I don't think Interstate is one of them). They also mfg. the OEM batteries for H-D.:rolleyes: The Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) YTX20HL-BS or Advanced AGM ETX20L can replace stock battery in a R3 without a change to charging regulator. To the best of my knowledge a true GEL battery will not withstand the charging rates of typical lead acid batteries, therefore they may be a waste of $$$. I find that most people think that any sealed battery is automatically Gel. Also may people refer to a AGM Battery as a Gel. Not true, these are two very different animals...
Battery woes...

This is all very interesting.

I, for one used flooded cells in about everything, the problem with a flooded cell battery is that the longer it sits on the shelf in the store, the older it becomes, that is, unless it's dry charged with the acid separate which seems to be the case in bike batteries. The exception to that would be an AGM battery like an Optima or a Gel Cell like a Hawker Oddessy.

Most larger batteries, like car batteries and even smaller batteries like in your riding lawn mower are pre-filled and once they are filled with acid, the plates begin to degrade or sulfate if you will. When you buy one, you assume it's new. It isn't. It might have been filled 6 months prior to you purchasing it and it's sat 6 months on the shelf, quietly sulfating itself toward death like a time bomb. AGM as well as Gel Cell batteries sulfate too and they are factory filled so who knows how long they were filled before you bought it?

I haven't had good luck with Optima though I do know of folks who think they are the cat's meow. 2 years agoI traded out my flooded cell, deep cycle battery in the RV for an Optima Blue Top deep cycle and twice the cost of an Interstate flooded cell and it lasted 2 years and it won't accept a charge now. In general, Optima and Hawkers are at least 50% higher in price of an equivalent flooded cell, so for most purposes I'll use the good old standby flooded cell for the auto's, farm tractors and gas powered stuff around the farm.

I have a Hawker Oddessy in the Bonnie. It's sealed though I do believe it has a one way valve to allow gas to escape. All batteries will gas off somewhat and it does have to go somewhere and so far, it's worked flawlessly for 3 years. I went with the Hawker because in the event of a tip over, the acid won't spill not that I could tip it over with the sidecar attached all the time. I also suspect that when the battery in the R3 becomes borderline, it will also be replaced with a Hawker.

One nice thing about a flooded cell battery is that you can pulse charge it and literally shake off the accumulated deposits from the plates, it's those deposits that eventually either short the battery internally or won't allow it to accept a charge but even a pulsed charged flooded cell battery will succumb sooner (it seems in my case) or later.

The best rules of thumb are:
Buy you batteries from a source that has a high turnover rate to insure yourself of a relatively freshly filled flooded cell battery. Stores like AutoZone and Murrays have a large turnover so you should get a freshly filled battery. So does Sears Automotive You don't want to buy a battery, especially a pre-charged battery from you local auto parts store or from a box store like Lowes. They may have been sitting for who knows how long. Batteries are like eggs. The fresher the better:D

Don't pay too much mind to the date code on top. Most stores do the code when the sell the battery. It may be sitting for a prolonged time on the shelf before you bought it. I've seen retailers who never even activate the date code.

Try to purchase a dry charged battery for your bike. The battery is new until you add electrolyte.

On AGM or Gel Cell batteries, try to purchase them from the manufacturer or a retailer who has a large turnover. AGM and Gel Cell batteries begin to sulfate right from the factory, albeit slower than flooded cell types.

Be espically aware of batteries with dust on the top. They have been sitting for a while, sulfating away, waiting for you to buy them so they can fail sooner than later.
I was able to hook up with the Interstate guy today. He didn't show a listing for a gel battery, so like Gunshots said... such a critter probably doesn't exist.

He did have a sealed YTX20L on his truck and I bought it for $58. It was supposed to be a 250 CCA battery. I hooked up my trusty Midtronics battery tester and ran a check on it and it showed 410 CCA. Yowser! I think its fresh :D.

I'll put it in this weekend and try again to get the Rocket started. Hopefully it will go a little better.