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Discussion Starter #1
I don't ride at night often enough to tell if this is normal. Not acceptable to me. -- need to know if this indicates R/R problems or not. My electrical system is OEM, as far as I can tell. Looks like the recall was done, by the blue dot on the frame rail under the passenger seat.

I worked late last Thursday, and rode home in the dark. Light enough traffic that I could run on Hi beam for a few minutes at a time. High beam would light up like I expect, then about 30 seconds later would dim -- almost to the point of the high beam turning off.

The On/Off pattern was not consistent, and did not seem to be related to anything specific. I was doing ~ 70 MPH on a two lane highway, holding constant speed on relatively smooth pavement. Tach was at about 6.5 K. This kept up for the entire 30 minute ride home.

When I got to the house, I put the high beam on, with the bike running on the side stand and observed for 5 minutes. No flicker at all. Saturday I poked and prodded at wiring, looking for a loose connection and did not find anything.

Any (helpful, useful :2fingerlol:) suggestions would be appreciated.:laugh
 

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Id check the stator and the r/r.
Better safe than sorry and stuck on the side of the road.
 

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I ride early morning at night and I've never seen this issue. Definitely not normal.
How is the battery voltage with the bike off and running?
Check battery before going any deeper.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Id check the stator and the r/r.
Better safe than sorry and stuck on the side of the road.
I'd hoped that Kawasaki's replacement r/r would take care of any issues there... I would not expect them normally look at the stator when they did the recall work.

It's pretty bizarre to me that the bike seems to have issues with the additional 55 Watts, compared to normal load -- and why not with the bike is idling? That would make the whole system work harder due to the decreased power available from the alternator...
 

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I've noticed on my 11 that when I come to a stop and I barely touch the throttle my lights either high or low doesn't matter will get brighter. I never knew if this was an issue or not but since you brought up this thread it looked like a good place to talk about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I ride early morning at night and I've never seen this issue. Definitely not normal.
How is the battery voltage with the bike off and running?
Check battery before going any deeper.
Thanks, it's good to get it confirmed that it's odd behavior. My guess would be the r/r, at this point, due to the change in behavior with increased load. Seems odd that it wouldn't be even worse, at idle. I hope it's simply a loose connection, but I didn't dig as deep as the r/r yesterday, simply checked the leads around the Hi beam. Wiggling them made no difference at idle.

I'll check the battery voltage this afternoon. As far as I know the battery is the OEM from 2009, in bike battery years, that's getting long in the tooth. It has not needed the battery tender at all since I have owned the bike (over the past year, riding every month > 10K miles).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've noticed on my 11 that when I come to a stop and I barely touch the throttle my lights either high or low doesn't matter will get brighter. I never knew if this was an issue or not but since you brought up this thread it looked like a good place to talk about it.
I'd expect your '11 is acting normally.... every bike I've owned has always had lights that dim at idle, compared to running at some speed above idle. Typically, the alternator doesn't put out as much juice at idle as it does at normal operating speeds. If it did, you'd get too much juice at any speed above idle.

This is why most beginners end up with dead batteries. The charging system is not very effective at idle. Once people operate the engine at 'normal' speeds, the charging system has enough extra juice to replenish the battery and run the motor.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I ride early morning at night and I've never seen this issue. Definitely not normal.
How is the battery voltage with the bike off and running?
Check battery before going any deeper.
Before I start the bike, I read 12.6 VDC on the battery terminals (by way of my battery tender quick disconnect). With the bike running, I get 14.6 VDC. I checked that at fast idle, and again at 5K RPM. Same reading at both speeds. 14.6. Flipped the DMM into AC Volts, and got nothing but millivolts.

I also checked the voltage on the battery with the bike running, with low and high beam on... the difference was about 0.3 VDC with the extra draw on the system from the High beam.

I'm fairly certain that my r/r is working as advertised, and it seems to me the stator must be doing it's job as well. The only way I could make certain of that is to put a bigger (lower resistance) electrical load on the system, and see if it behaves properly.

I took both low and high beam bulbs out of their sockets, and added dielectric grease to the contacts to make sure I don't have a moisture problem. It then occurred to me that I might have a crudded up high beam switch, so I took the left switch cluster off the bars and inspected the high beam switch. I couldn't see any obvious issues, but went ahead and added some dielectric grease there, as well. Doesn't seem to be a weatherproof sealed switch to me. Oxidization on the contacts would possibly cause the circuit controlling the high beam relay to misfire.

I also went through all the parts of the harness I could reach, and tugged the wires back and forth, to see if there was a short that was caused by chaffed wiring somewhere.... still can't reproduce the issue at a stand still.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
usually the voltage reg. is the root cause of this.
Thanks for helping me think it through. Things will remain as they are for a week or more, until I have to ride at night again.

I'll update this, as I go through whatever is happening. I might be able to grab an oscilloscope shot of the DC voltage at the battery at work this week. It would be nice to know how much AC ripple is acceptable on the DC, to Kawasaki.:hmmm:

It's not the most complicated system on the bike. The part that is making it somewhat difficult to troubleshoot is only being able to observe the fault at night, in motion. This is why I am leaning towards a shorting wire, dirty contacts, or a munged up switch.

When the high beam goes dim,it does not seem to affect the low beam. Nor does it seem to go completely out--just browns out to almost no high beam.

If it's the r/r, I'd expect problems when the available current is low -- idle speed being the worst. I would also expect to be having charging problems. None so far.

The regulator has to be working at low load conditions, as the voltage at 5K and idle remained at 14.6. With the increase in load adding the second bulb @ 55 Watts, I'd expect the voltage to sag slightly. 14.3 at idle and at 5K seems to indicate the r/r is doing business as usual.

I have considered melted insulation that allows a short when hot, thought about a nearly dead high beam bulb that sh*ts itself with vibration, and of course the idea that the r/r might be bad.
 

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Usually, the fault only exists during load conditions and even if your charging system is tested you will still get a good test result. Flickering under load is a sign of the diodes breaking down. The only way to really see what it is doing is with a very precise lab scope recording under riding conditions. You will see a wave in the voltage output that is slightly alternating. Eventually it will get worse and your charging system will fail and you will have an obvious problem to fix. Your bike works off of a very basic electronics system. It isn't that hard to fix things if you know what you are looking at.

The decision for you is either to let it remain the way it is until if faults out.....or replace it ahead of time.
 
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