Saturday, September 10, 2011


Wednesday after work Billie, my Symba, wouldn't start. It sounded like the battery was low, but this seemed unlikely since the battery was less than a year old and I use a battery tender. Be that as it may, It certainly sounded like the battery was weak. Fortunately kickstarting was an option and Billie started right up on the first pump and away we went.

When I got home I hooked it up to the tender. When I came out the next morning I had a nice green light indicating a nice fully charged and healthy battery. When I hit the starter she started right up. After my morning bagel, no such luck. Back to the telltale low battery sound and then nothing. Again the Symba started right up with one kick. After work? Another kickstart. When I got home I didn't even bother plugging Billie into the tender.

Awhile back I was having starting problems with Billie. I even had to kickstart it once, but when I took it into the shop the battery checked out fine. We checked all the connections, scratched our heads, and decided we'd just have to wait and see what happened. What happened was, Billie started up on the first try each and every time until last Wednesday.

Friday brought non-starts followed by kickstarts and a phone call to Mike my wonder working wizard at Maplewood Scooter Company. He told me to come in Saturday.

Saturday saw me kickstarting Billie and heading over to Maplewood. I know you know what happened when Mike tried to start the bike. Yep, he pushed the starter button and the engine purred to life. He shut it off and tried again. Again it started right up. He tried a third time and this time it made the noise that I had dreaded for the last three days, but now was music to my ears.

Out came the battery and it was deemed to be dead.

This was a high quality battery and it shouldn't have died such an early death. Definitely a warranty issue.
Mike didn't happen to have a battery in Billie's size in stock. If he had he would have changed it out under warranty. But, what he did have were these new batteries. He offered to sell me one at cost. This way I'd get a great battery and he'd have a great guinea pig. The battery comes with a three year warranty. I've never heard of suc a thing for a motorcycle battery. So, now I can add being a guinea pig for a new technology battery to my resume.

Because the battery was much smaller than the old battery some padding was needed. The Ballistic battery was not only smaller, but it was two pounds lighter. Mike figures with the weight reduction I should be able to hit seventy Symba miles per hour now. I think he was pulling my leg.

While I was there I took a Genuine Blur 220i for a test ride. It is a nice bike, but the seating position is wrong for me. Many folks have complained about the height of the bike. The height was fine for me. What wasn't fine for me was where my knees came in relation to the handlebars. There just was no room. When attempting slow speed maneuvers I kept bumping into my knees when turning. Not fun. The bike was very quick, felt quite stable on the road, and is reasonably priced. Overall I liked the bike, but not enough to go through the trouble of modifying the seat.

Also, I have an announcement of sorts. As an experiment I've started another blog. It is a diary of my daily commute. Ever since I've been commuting to work I've used my facebook status to give the weather conditions, whether I rode that morning or not, and often a comment or two about the ride. I've decided to expand this format a bit and start a blog around it. I'm doing this for two reasons: Some of my friends who aren't on facebook have mentioned a desire to keep up with my daily commute; and, I was increasingly finding the status line too confining. 

And to close . . .

This apparently is a rare short legged species of flamingo. The one in the background I think is stoned.


  1. Interesting little blog there, I have never heard of those batteries before.

    Can I add you on Facebook, you can find me Roger Fleming, or

    Iwill follow your daily commute from there.

  2. Keith, next time, can you please use less shocking blog titles? You had me worried for a bit. As much as it must seem an annoyance that the battery died on Billie, isn't it great that you have a kick-starter? I would love to have one on my Vespa... just in case.
    Good luck with your new blog experiment. I was also thinking about reporting more about my daily commute but found myself to lazy to actually do it.

  3. Roger: I'd never heard of these batteries either. It seems my charger/tender wasn't working right either, so I'm getting a new one of those made by Ballistic as well. Hopefully, this will keep me starting and not kicking for some time to come.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Sonja,
    That is the dilemma for me about fuel injection. On the one hand is a long list of positive, but on the other is the loss of the kick-start. Oh well, budget makes this type of reflection completely theoretical.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I would agree with SonjaM on the shocking title of your post. It sure is nice to have a kickstart. I sure wish I had one on my Beemer. There is some security knowing it's there. I hadn't heard of these batteries before. What chemistry do they use?

  6. I think you will love the new battery. I have been searching for something similar ever since I started riding motorcycles as we used to use something similar when I was racing stock cars.

    You never cease to amaze me with your ability to capture flamingos. Awesome


  7. As some others have noted, it must be comforting to know that the bike can be kick started also. I've never tried to clutch start my bike, but Oilburner had to do that for my first bike when the battery decided to die on it.

    (Shocking titles can be good...and you nicely explained it in the first sentence.) hehe

  8. Keith, I have a dry cell batt ib my scoot, it's not a ballistic brand though. My little vino has a kickstart & I have had to use it a few times before my hub put the battery in.

    Your commute blog is cool! Are you thinking of moving up to a larger scoot?

  9. Richard,
    I haven't the foggiest idea what the chemistry is. I will still use a tender (one from Ballistic so I know it is okay to use with) just to be on the safe side. I suspect if I'd hadn't had a faulty battery and a questionable tender that the old acid/lead battery would have lasted just fine. We will see.

    Thanks for the question. It lead to a google search. I can't say I understood much, but I'm better informed :)

  10. Allen,
    Thanks for the comment. I like reliable and this sounds like an improvement. As I said, I'm a guinea pig so we will see.

  11. Lori,
    Some old school stuff, like kick-starters are cool.

    And, I guess the title got some folks attention. I didn't even think of it being dramatic. It just was what the battery was. Oh well :)

  12. Thanks for the positive comments on the new commute blog. I started blogging to get me writing again. It seems to have. I just worry about the time commitment. We will see.

    Does one ever stop thinking of moving up or changing scoots/bikes? LOL

  13. Congrats on the new battery and starting a new blog.

    Hope the new battery does the trick with Billie.

  14. I did a little research as well and the Ballistic battery uses LiFePO4 chemistry similar to the Shorai Power who I had talked to at the MOA rally. Very lightweight and compact and ideally suited to powersports applications but according to the distributer, never let the battery go dead. They said that if the voltage drops below 6 volts, it can't be recharged.

  15. Trobairitz: No kick-starts since the new battery. Thanks for the well wishes on my new experiment. We'll see how it goes.

  16. Richard: I have a Ballistic charger as well. My plan is to plug Billie in over the weekends. Mike and I figure that should avoid the run down.

    I appreciate your curiosity. It is one of the things I notice in your blog posts.

    Thanks for the follow-up.

  17. Dear Keith:

    Motorcycle batteries go all the time. Some last three years and some lat one season. I have jhad them go both ways. I had a battery in my first Kawasaki last 5 years. And I have had BMW branded batteries go in a week. I wish all of life's problems could be resolved so easily.

    I will look in on your new blog.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  18. Keith,

    If you can get warranty on that battery I would go for it. I agree, a battery should last a lot longer than that, but they are small, and often barely adequate for the challenges they see. They don't hold charges very well, deal with weather even worse, and if the charging system on your machine isn't amazing, they barely last a season. My old Honda nukes batteries. I still wouldn't give it up, though.

    Your machine is a lot newer, if you've got a good charging system, I'd expect more out of it, but if you use it a lot, (I know you do,) that thing is chucking out a lot of cranking amps every day.

    I want to know more about someone who has actually used these smaller batteries. They LOOK impressive, but I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon before seeing some real-life results. I hope they work as well as they're touted.

    Good luck with your electons, Keith!

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  19. Don't think of yourself as an experimental pig. You are a test pilot, Sir!