BMW R1200GS Motorcycle Battery Care & Information:
A cheap battery charger can cause you all sorts of problems. Make sure you get a Can-Bus compatible charger like this one here, as it’ll reduce the chances of you having any battery or electrical issues relating to charging.
Bike batteries and bike battery care
A lot of the information here applies to all BMW Motorcycles, not just the R1200GS, in fact, the general battery information and advice applies to nearly all motorcycles.
R1200GS Motorcycle Battery Chooser
I buy my batteries from the following link. They offer free next day delivery and have never let me down.
If you don’t know what battery you need, just head to the following link and enter your bike’s make, model and year and it’ll shortlist all of your available options.
OEM BMW Battery details – BMW R1200GS / GS Adventure
My recommendation is the Shido lithium battery. Why?
It weighs 1.1kg as opposed to 4kg for a regular lead-acid battery.
It is more expensive but then it won’t go flat, like a regular battery. It’ll also have a longer usable life.
It’s the same physical size as the lead-acid so you can slot it straight in. No messing around cutting foam padding blocks.
You’ll need a lithium battery charger and these ones from NOCO also charge regular batteries and car batteries too.
See below for non OEM / alternative battery options
BMW OEM Battery – Part no. 61.21-7 724 073 (previously 61.21-7 705 652)
(Exide ETX14-BS) £90/£95 (uk Feb 2010)
(Part numbers USA 61.21-772 4073 or Canada 61.21-7 692 1141)
BMW GEL BATTERY MADE BY EXIDE. 12v 12Ah
DIMENSIONS(mm) 150(L) x 145(H) x 80(W).
FITS R1200GS , R1200R , R1200ST , R1200S & K1200S
…for comparison note the larger/higher capacity battery fitted to the R1150GS and the availability of a high power ‘special equipment’ battery!
BMW OEM Battery – part no. 61.21-2 306 758
BMW GEL BATTERY MADE BY EXIDE. 12v 14Ah
DIMENSIONS(mm) 180(L) x 135(H) x 75(W).
FITS R1100S & R1150GS WITHOUT ABS OR HEATED GRIPS. MADE BY EXIDE.
R1150GS ‘special equipment’ option
BMW GEL BATTERY MADE BY EXIDE.12v 19Ah
DIMENSIONS(mm) 180(L) x 170(H) x 75(W).
FITS MOST MODELS R850-R1150 (NOT R1100S & R1150GS WITHOUT ABS OR HEATED GRIPS)
Having battery charging problems with your BMW R1200GS? Your BMW R1200GS battery failed altogether?…………read on!
I was also told by my Dealer at one point that there was a batch of ‘sub standard’ batteries some time back but to be honest in reality I think it’s just a case of the standard battery simply being barely adequate for the job (part of the space/weight saving exercise on design of the 1200?) – battery care/maintenance is all the more important then 😉
I had my first battery replaced after it failed when the bike was just weeks outside the 3 year BMW warranty…..at a cost of £75 from my BMW Dealer! Just 6 weeks short of the expiry of the 2 year warranty on the replacement battery its also failed and been replaced (no cost thanks to the warranty but if you buy a battery from a BMW Dealer they’re now £95!! [Feb2010] :-0 ) Many 1200GS owners report even shorter life of batteries!!
I’m not alone with the battery failure issues, I’ve read of lots of other cases of batteries being replaced under warranty or owners having to stump up for the cost of a replacement far sooner than you’d expect (do a few searches on www.ukGSer.com and www.ADVRider.com 😉
The 1200GS has plenty of ‘electrics’ as standard, start adding GPS, spot lights, heated clothing and so on and the battery has it’s work cut out and of course turning over that 1200 Boxer lump takes its toll! 🙂
Throw in a mix of winter cold/low temperatures and intermittent use of the bike and/or short journeys and trouble is almost guaranteed 🙁
Here’s what Exide/BMW have to say re new battery installation and battery care (“Handling instructions for filled AGM batteries for motorcycles” – scanned from the leaflet enclosed with new batteries – image inc safety warnings etc here)
Handling instructions for filled AGM batteries for motorcycles
(Exide Technologies / BMW)
Follow the notes given on the battery, in the Instructions for Handling Batteries and in the Instruction Manual for the vehicle.
Cautionary remark: Do not leave batteries unprotected, exposed directly to daylight.
Discharged batteries can freeze up, store them frost-free.
1.Battery storage and maintenance
In order to guarantee a long service life of the battery, please read the following instructions:
The battery has already been filled and fully charged by the manufacturer. Do not open the battery in order to top it off with distilled water.
Keep the surface of the battery clean and dry.
The suitable storage temperature range is between -10°C and 25°C. There is an exceptional rule for countries with hot weather, the storage temperature must not exceed 35°C!
If the battery voltage is between 12.3V and 12.5V, the battery has to be recharged using a suitable charger. Wait at least 24 hours after the last recharging process before you measure its voltage. If a battery, which has never been used before, is recharged (e.g. New batteries in stock), this has to be noted on the service life label (see the service life label on the side of the battery) together with the date.
lf a battery, which has never been used before, has a voltage that is below 12.0V, this battery must be considered defective and scrapped.
2. Putting a new battery into service
Charge the battery completely using a suitable charger prior to installing it.
If the service life date of new batteries has expired before they were put into service, and if these batteries have not been recharged, they have to be scrapped.
3. Charging the battery
Use only electronic chargers that are suitable for this battery type. Your BMW motorcycle partner will be happy to help you.
4. Long periods of non-use of the motorcycle
lf the motorcycle is not used for more than one month, the connected battery has to be recharged completely at least every 4 weeks using a suitable charger. Further battery maintenance instructions can be found in the instruction manual of your BMW motorcycle.
5. Dismounted or disconnected batteries
– Store the battery in a fully charged state and in a cool temperature environment.
– Do never store the battery as discharged.
– Recharge the battery at least every 4 months.
– Recharge the battery prior to putting it back into service.
– Tighten the battery poles with a torque of 3.5 Nm.
– Intentionally discharging and charging the battery in order to prevent the so-called memory effect etc. will damage this type of battery! In this case, any warranty claims are excluded.
– If the installation date of a battery is later than the service life date and if the battery has not been recharged before the installation, any warranty claims concerning the battery will not be accepted.
– lf the battery remains connected, although the motorcycle is not used for a long period of time, the battery will be discharged by the electronic equipment of the motorcycle (clock, anti-theft alarm system etc.). This may lead to a deep discharge of the battery. ln this case, any warranty claims are excluded.
Installing battery (BMW RepRom Workshop Manual V2006)
Battery retainer to air filter housing PT screw – 2Nm
Battery pole/cable connectors – 3.5Nm
Place the battery in the battery holder and secure with battery retainer (4) and screw (5).
Installation in the wrong sequence increases the risk of short-circuits.
Always proceed in the correct sequence.
Never install the battery without the protective cap.
Connect the lead to battery +ve (positive) terminal (6) and install jump-start adapter (7).
Install protective cap (8).
Connect the lead to battery -ve (negative) terminal (3) and install screw (1) with washer (2).
Make sure that the connecting cables are routed correctly.
Switch on the ignition. (DO NOT START THE MOTORCYCLE)
Without starting the engine, fully open the throttle once or twice slowly so that the control unit of the BMW engine management system can register the throttle-valve positions.
Switch off the ignition.
Supplementary Rider’s Manual (BMW Antitheft Alarm System)
Note: “In order to protect the motorcycle’s battery and ensure that the engine can be started,the alarm system deactivates itself automatically a certain number of days after being activated,although it always remains active for at least 7 days.”
AndyW – my Meta alarm behaves in much the same way although rather than deactivating after a set period I believe that it ‘senses’ the state of charge of the bike’s battery and switches off when the charge drops below a certain level. Of course the immobiliser remains active 😉
R1200GS Battery Care / Maintenance Tips
Buy a Quality Battery Charger
Grab yourself a quality battery charger. Anything from here that has a good user rating will be ideal. I personally use Optimate but I also have a CTEK charger which works on the car too.
TIP: Regularly check that the battery connections are clean, free from corrosion/oxidation and secure (3.5Nm). Make sure that the red rubber +ve terminal / battery post cover is in good condition and properly in place.
Modern BMW motorcycles use AGM or factory-sealed AGM batteries for the combined benefits of reduced likelihood of acid spilling during accidents, and for packaging reasons (lighter, smaller battery to do the same job; the battery can be installed at an odd angle if needed for the design of the motorcycle). AGM batteries are being employed to lower vehicle weight and provide better electrical reliability compared with flooded lead-acid batteries.
TIP: The GS batteries are not ‘deep cycle’ batteries and are therefore not designed to be deeply disharged – a deep discharge of these batteries will significently affect their ability to hold a full charge. Maintain a minimum charge of 11.5 volts – if the bike is left unused for any length of time / used for short trips use a multimeter to check the battery state regularly (a multimeter is a worthwhile purchase for any motorcycle owner if you don’t already have one;-) A drop in charge state to around 9.6 volts or lower may do permenant damage and will most likely affect the batteries ability to hold a full charge again.
TIP: If your motorcycle is going to be unused for any length of time disconnect the battery and remove from the bike to slow the rate of discharge (ECU, closk, alarm etc draw current continuously;-). The warmer the storage ambient temperature the faster the battery’s tendency to self-discharge so store in a dry cool environment (but above 32F/freezing point). Monitor battery state/charge as above, even disconnected batteries will still loose charge over time.
If you want to charge your battery via an aux on-board socket (e.g. under edge of pillion seat only chargers specifically approved for this mode of charging can be used (BMW battery charger only?). Standard, commercially available chargers connected to the on-board socket could cause irreparable damage to the central vehicle electronics (ZFE) and themselves. Use only battery chargers approved by BMW Motorrad for use with motorcycles equipped with ZFE. BMW Motorrad battery charger (No. 61 1 581)
TIP: Make up or purchase a fly-lead such as the one shown below so you have a weatherproof connection lead direct to the battery. The connector can be tucked under the riders seat or dangling behind the side panel (you should have a lead if you have an Optimate charger?…..or you can buy an additional one)
TIP: The OEM BMW battery charger sends a “signal” up the wire to tell the ECU to “open” the accessory socket so the charger can test the battery’s voltage and begin a new charging cycle if necessary. That’s the magic of the OEM BMW charger i.e. the CANbus sytsem knows it’s there.
TIP: Older 1200GSs – make sure you have the latest UCU software upgrades as there was a problem ) on 04 and 05 1200’s where the CANbus system was not shutting down aux sockets etc after ingnition switch off. TEST: see if the hazard warning switch “light” on the left handlebar goes out after 30 to 60 seconds. If not the software upgrade is required
New battery installation TIP: Motorcycle batteries (including gel batteries) are dry charged to about 80% or so by the supplier. If you don’t give the battery a top-up to full charge (maybe 3-4 hours on charge, more for larger batteries) the battery may only ever charge to around 80% of its designed capacity.
R1200GS – aftermarket alternative batteries and battery upgrades
If you need to replace the battery you might want to save some money and buy a replacement from somewhere other than a BMW Dealer especially if the Warranty on your bike has expired. A number of manufacturers make equivalent batteries to the ETX14-BS for example:
YTX14-BS Westco Motorcycle Battery 12V 12Ah (12V14-B) £55 (saving approx £40!)
12V 12Ah, Cold Cranking: 200CCA (cold cranking amps)
Dimensions(mm) 152 x 87 x 146
These sealed Westco batteries are built to perform. Multiple features like Absorbed Glass Mat technology showcase a completely sealed and maintenance-free battery that provides the power needed for motorcycles.
** DO NOT buy a ‘wet’ (liquid acid) type battery always use the much safer sealed for life AGM (absorbed glass mat) type battery
Increased cold cranking rating / amp hour capacity rating will improve matters…..a lot of R1200GS owners fit higher spec batteries in view of the apparent inadequacy of the OEM items, for example:
YTX16-BS Westco Motorcycle Battery 12V 14Ah (12V16-B) £80 (still cheaper than OEM!)
12V 14Ah, Cold Cranking: 230CCA (cold cranking amps
Dimensions(mm) 152 x 87 x 162
(see WARNING below!)
A very popular R1200GS upgrade is the high power battery from Odyssey (Odysey) but the battery requires some modification for installation although www.MotorWorks.co.uk supply the PC535GS battery pre-modified and with replacement metal battery retaining ‘strap’
Odyssey battery PC535GS (R1200GS & R1200GSA) ELA00534 £99.00
Specifically modified to fit R1200GS (MotorWorks – www.motorworks.co.uk)
Drycell AGM maintenance free battery 99.9% pure lead providing minimal plate corrosion
12 Volt 13 Ah @ 10hr rate 200 CCA 535 Cranking Amps for 5 seconds
Dimensions (mm) 170 x 99 x 155
(see WARNING below!)
The standard Odyssey battery (PC535GS) requires some modification for a good fit assuming you buy an ‘unmodified’ battery…..take a look here: R1200GS Odyssey Battery Installation ….and check other GS forums for ‘how to’ write ups. Don’t forget, some retailers such as MotorWorks sell the batteries pre modified and with a revised retaining bracket:
Fitting a non standard / upgraded battery may damage your motorcycle:
1) Fit only batteries specifically recommended for use with your motorcycle
2) Upgrade / higher spec batteries are larger – there is a proven risk of FIRE!
Standard riders GS seats have a metal height adjustment bar to the underside that in some circumstances may short (short-circuit) the battery +ve and -ve terminals resulting in a fire. See GS Caught Fire (keep scrolling down for worst case scenarios!)
This ‘how to’ article may well prove useful as well:
R1200GS: Increasing Under-seat Storage
More motorcycle battery information – Links:
BMW R1200GS Rider’s Manual (Motorcycle Handbook)
Extract from 2008 R1200GS Riders Manual (opens image in new window)
See also: BMW R1200GS Motorcycles – Jump Starting
See also: CANbus – what’s that?