How to test your motorcycle charging system
Motorcycle Electrical – Charging System testing
Step 1. First and foremost load test the battery. Most places like AutoZone will do it for free. Even if it measures over 12.5 vdc it can still be bad under a load. Battery is typically rated at 19 amp hours and 270 Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).
Start the engine and measure DC Volts across the battery terminals, the regulator should be putting out 14.3 – 14.7 vdc at 3600 rpm and 75 degrees F.
Step 2. To check the regulator unplug it from the stator. Take a test light and clip it to the negative terminal of the battery and then touch first one pin and then the other on the plug that goes to the regulator. If you get even the slightest amount of light from the test light the regulator is toast.
To do this with a meter: black lead to battery ground, red lead to each pin on the plug, start with the voltage scale higher than 12vdc and move voltage scale down in steps for each pin. Any voltage is a bad regulator.
Step 3. On the other part of the disconnected regulator plug. Set the multimeter for Ohms x1 scale and measure for resistance across the pins of the stator. You should read something around 0.1 to 0.2 ohms for the TC88 32 amp system.
Step 4. Then check for continuity between each pin on the plug and frame/engine ground. The meter needle should not move (infinite resistance)(digitals will show infinite resistance) if the meter needle does move (indicating continuity)(digitals will show some resistance), recheck very carefully. If the meter still shows continuity to ground the stator is shorted (bad).
Step 5. Set the meter to read A/C volts higher than 30 volts (the scale setting for voltage should always be higher than the highest voltage you expect or you may fry the meter). Start the bike, and measure from one pin to the other on the plug (DO NOT cross the multimeter probes! – touch them to each other). You should read roughly 16-20 vac per 1,000 rpm.
Step 6. If the battery was good under load test, if the stator is NOT shorted to ground, and the stator is putting out A/C voltage, then the regulator is bad (most likely even if if passed step 2).
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Generally the following is true:
22 amp system produces about 19-26 vac per 1,000 rpm, stator resistance is about 0.2 to 0.4 ohms.
32 amp system produces about 16-20 vac per 1,000 rpm, stator resistance is about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms.
45 amp system produces about 19-26 vac per 1,000 rpm, stator resistance is about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms.