I don’t know if I have a charging problem or just a weak battery, but lately I have been having trouble starting the bike. Not all the time; in fact, very rarely, but always when the weather is miserable, and I am trying to get home.
It happened again yesterday. I had been riding stop and go all day, with no issues. The day had started cold, in the mid-twenties, but the temperature had risen to nearly thirty-six , the warmest it had been in a week. It was snowing again, but it might as well have been raining. My gloves were soaked through and my glasses steamed up whenever we stopped.
We pulled off at Windmaster Corner so my brother could get gas and chain up. I shut the Triumph down and put some more ice screws in my rear tire. I struggled to get my sodden gloves back on, turned the ignition key and pushed the starter, only to be rewarded with rapid, angry clicking from beneath the carburetors. There was not enough juice to crank the engine over.
But this time, I was prepared! I pulled off my wet gloves and opened the sidecar trunk, retrieving a nylon clamshell, about half the size of a lunchbox. Inside was a battery bank and jumper cables. I had the seat off and the cables clamped to the battery posts in no time at all. The bike fired on the first try.
I packed the battery bank away, put the seat back on and struggled back into my cold, wet gloves – and then the bike died. Damn. I repeated the entire process: peel the gloves off, get the bank out of the trunk, pop the seat off, hook up the jumper cables, key on and push the button. Again, it fired right up. This time I pulled the enricher lever out, so the bike stayed at a fast idle while I put things back and forced my hands, yet again, into my waterlogged gloves. This time the bike kept running, and we made it up to my house with no more problems.
I hadn’t used this gadget before and it had been sitting in the trunk of the sidecar, where the ambient temperature had been hovering around twenty-four degrees for most of the past week. I was very impressed with how well it worked. This is definitely a piece of kit I will keep on the bike.
I bought it for $60 on ebay. There are lots of battery banks out there which would probably work just as well. I chose the TackLife T8 MIX because of the favorable reviews, a really good sale price, and because the hard case looked like it would do a good job keeping it safe, banging around in the trunk of my sidecar.
Here are the specs from their advertisement:
TACKLIFE T8 MIX is a basic car battery jump starter designed for the small car, truck, and motorcycle with an engine has a displacement up to 4.0L gas or 2.0L diesel. Like the other TACKLIFE jump starter series, this model is also built with an LED flashlight and dual charging ports for multifunctional needs. The difference is that this one is recharged through a Type-C input port, which is more convenient to recharge it. All in all, it’s a multifunctional car jump starter, power bank, LED flashlight, and compass.
Starting Current: 300A
Peak Current: 500A
Battery Capacity: 12000mAh (44.4Wh)
Package Size: 7.9×4.7×3.9 inches/20x12x10 cm
Package Weight: 2.4 lbs/1105g
Output: 5V/9V Quick-charge; 5V/2.1A, 12V Jumper cable interface
Input: 5V/2.1A Type-C Input
Full Charge Time: 4~5 hours
Operating Temp: -20°C ~ 60°C / (-4 °F~140°F）
1 x TACKLIFE T8 MIX Jump Starter
1 x Smart Jumper Cable
1 x Wall Charger (100~240V)
1 x Type-A to Type-C Charging Cable
1 x Type-C to Type-C Charging Cable
1 x User Manual
1 x 24 Months Warranty Car
1 x Storage Case