Skip to main content
000000 000001 000002 000003 000004 000005 000006 000007 000008 000009 000010 000011 000012 000013 000014 000015 000016 000017 000018 000019 000020 000021 000022 000023 000024 000025 000026 000027 000028 000029 000030 000031 000032 000033 000034 000035 000036 000037 000038 000039 000040 000041 000042 000043 000044 000045 000046 000047 000048 000049 000050 000051 000052 000053 000054 000055 000056 000057 000058 000059 000060 000061 000062 000063 000064 000065 000066 000067 000068 000069 000070 000071 000072 000075 000078 000081 000084 000087 000090 000093 000096 000099 000102 000105 000108 000111 000114 000117 000120 000123 000126 000129 000132 000135 000138 000141 000144 000147 000150 000153 000156 000159 000162 000165 000168 000171 000174 000177 000180 000183 000186 000189 000192 000195 000198 000201 000204 000207 000210 000213 000216 000219 000222 000225 000228 000231 000234 000237 000240 000243 000246 000249 000252 000255 000258 000261 000264 000267 000270 000273 000276 000279 000282 000285 000288 000291 000294 000297 000300 000303 000306 000309 000312 000318 000321 000324 000327 000330 000333 000336 000339 000342 000345 000348 000351 000354 000357 000360 000363 000366 000369 000372 000375 000378 000381 000384 000387 000390 000393 000396 000399 000402 000405 000408 000411 000414 000417 000420 000423 000426 000429 000432 000435 000438 000441 000444 000447 000450 000453 000456 000459 000462 000465 000468 000471 000474 000477 000480 000483 000486 000489 000492 000495 000498 000501 000504 000507 000510 000513 000516 000519 000522 000525 000528 000531 000534 000537 000540 000543 000546 000549 000552 000555 000558 000561 000564 000567 000570 000573 000576 000579 000582 000585 000588 000591 000594 000597 000600 000603 000606 000609 000612 000615 000618 000621 000624 000627 000630 000633 000636 000639 000642 000645 000648 000651 000654 000657 000660 000663 000666 000669 000672 000675 000678 000681 000684 000687 000690 000693 000696 000699 000702 000705 000708 000711 000714 000717 000720 000723 000726 000729 000732 000735 000738 000741 000744 000747 000750 000753 000756 000759 000762 000765 000768 000771 000774 000777 000780 000783 000786 000789 000792 000795 000798 000801 000804 000807 000810 000813 000816 000819 000822 000825 000828 000831 000834 000837 000840 000843 000846 000849 000852 000855 000858 000861 000864 000867 000870 000873 000876 000879 000882 000883 1.slide1 2.slide2 3.slide3 4.slide4 5.slide5
English French German Italian Spanish

Batteries

A review of correspondence from NOC-L

What is the best type of battery for use on a Norton?


A comparison of battery types

Lead Acid
The larger sealed lead acid type batteries such as the Yuasa range do have a vent which blows on overpressure. The electrolyte's ability to flow inside the battery is restricted mechanically, meaning that these batteries can be mounted at any angle without problems. They are however really designed for lower current/standby applications and will probably not tolerate the very crude charging systems found on motorcycles. They require a constant voltage supply of 2.3V per cell (= 13.8V for a 12V pack) although they will take 2.5V per cell (total 15V) as long as the charging current does not exceed 0.25 x capacity. For example, a 6Ah battery could only be charged at 1.5A maximum, rather less than even the poorest of the alternators we recently heard about will provide. They also cost about 1.5 to 1.75 times more than a conventional motorcycle battery.

An even more advanced type with gelled electrolyte gives rather higher charge/discharge capacities but these are yet more expensive - ca. 3 x normal and they require a very smooth charging current indeed; rather different to what goes on inside the average Norton. Lastly, the fully sealed types such as the Cyclon, which have been advertised in the motorcycling press in the UK, are much more rugged and will take a degree of electronic abuse. Unfortunately, these come only in single cell cylindrical packs and you have to connect 6 of them together to get the voltage needed. It's an expensive route for little gain.

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCads)
This type of cell is the most commonly found rechargeable one. They usually come as single units giving just 1.2V each instead of the 2V from a lead acid type. So, to get 12V, you need to connect 10 of them together. On the up side, they have a rather more friendly discharge characteristic in that whereas the voltage from a lead acid battery will just drop in a roughly linear fashion as it discharges, a healthy NiCad cell will hold its voltage towards maximum until it reaches about 85 to 90% discharge, at which point it crashes rapidly. Charge rates on the larger types can be 0.1 x capacity and charging must be constant current. This means that you cannot dump electricity back into a well discharged battery at a high rate as you can with the conventional vehicle battery.

They also exhibit a memory effect which means that their life is reduced if they are exposed to constant mid- charge cycling such as they might find in a vehicle application; they prefer deep discharge to full charge cycles. There is a solution which involves shocking the offending hydroxide crystals out of the plates with a several millisecond burst of a couple of thousand volts. It requires some diagnostic equipment and sounds like a good way to put the garage into orbit; don't try this one at home, folks!

There are ready made packs available, typically of 7.2V for remote controlled toys and model aircraft; there may be 12V ones around. The best way to obtain the larger NiCads is to get hold of those that the British army throw out of their equipment at regular intervals; they very kindly replace them long before their useful life has expired.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)
The best option in terms of overall characteristics lies for the present with this type of battery. These are the ones found in laptop PCs and the individual cells are now on the market. They have a similar voltage output to NiCads but up to twice the charge density, i.e. twice the power in a battery of the same dimensions. In addition, the charge memory effect is lacking in NiMHs. On the down side, they are less tolerant to overcharging, when they get hot and damaged and of course, being fairly recent technology, they are not cheap. There may be some 12V packs out there somewhere for computers or their peripherals, but with chips now working at ever lower voltages, probably not; so, it would have to be the single cell route again.

I think the conclusion here is that you could replace the existing item with any of these types and probably save some weight and space. However, in all cases you would have to be prepared to modify the rectifier/zener charging setup and the costs would be rather higher than staying with the standard set up.

Chris Grimmett (cmg@goostrey.demon.co.uk) on NOC-L 31st. Jan 1998


Cyclon 2V cells

I have used sealed lead acid batteries on my other bike ( a 1953 Sunbeam S7 ) for about three years now with absolute sucess. I have never had the battery go flat and have just ignored it for the winter layup time and it has been as good as new.

The batteries I used are from an electronics / electrical company in the UK and are made by Cyclon. They are 2 volt ones and I connected 3 in series for my 6 volt system, obviously you would need 6 for a 12 volt bike. Mine are 5Ah ones and are approx 45mm dia x 80mm high with two push on connections at the top. I tied mine together with cable ties and fixed them in the existing battery box with foam round them. They have never been out again and are projected to last at least 10 years which makes up for the cost of approx £6.00 + tax each. As an aside, the data sheet says the maximum discharge is ~ 500A so you could probably start a Commando on them, if it starts that way at all!

They can be mounted any way round, so you can stack them to suit the battery box / carrier arrangement; just watch the terminals touching things though as they are extremely powerful for their size and could easily cause a fire if shorted out.

If anyone is interested and wants more details, please email me direct and I will send a scan of the catalogue info.

Angelo (rubberboy@dial.pipex.com) on NOC-L 31st. Jan 1998


A good argument for using cheaper batteries

On the subject of batteries, I have had a couple of incidents where more costly and denser plated batteries are not better. Twice I had expensive motorcycle batteries short out due to the plates being too close to each other. The vibration of vintage bikes may not be very good for the best and most expensive types.

So, getting sick and tired of forking out $40 twice in one season, I went to Sam's Club and got their cheapest motorcycle lead acid battery; $16.95 with core (about $20 without). It works fine with my Boyer system, and has done so for two seasons, which is not bad for a cheap one.

Maybe this is because the battery has less plates in the same sized package, so there is more space between them, and thus less of a chance for our 'snortin Nortons' to vibrate the plates together causing battery shorts. I say when it comes to batteries -- cheaper is better.

Steven Schoner (dm550@cleveland.freenet.edu) on NOC-L 1st. Feb 1998


Gel electrolyte batteries

You can now get gel cell batteries from Yuasa. They are currently being used in GSXR Suzukis, where the battery lays at a 45 degree angle, and a lot of ATV's (they bounce around a lot). You fill the battery, let it sit for about ½ hour, put it on the battery charger to fully charge it, then place it in the motorcycle or ATV any way you want, even upside down. There is no leakage and it is compatible with your current charging system. One additional thing, these batteries seem to put out more power for their size; the GSXRs use a 9Ah or 11Ah battery and they have no problem starting a high compression 750cc motor.

John Mead () on NOC-L 2nd. Feb 1998

 

Norton Owners Club Website by White-Hot Design

Privacy Policy