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SoundMan
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was having a discussion on a different thread regarding batteries and cold weather starts but it turned into a discussion about oil viscosity and cold weather starts. I was hoping to get more input on this subject if I started a new thread. I have SYN 3 20W50 oil in my 2014 Sportster and was wondering is it's ok to run that oil during the cold winter months in NY. I ride the bike all winter as long as there is no snow or ice on the ground. This was my reply to another post...

The manual states for SYN 3 20W50:
Lowest Ambient Temp- Above 30° F and more importantly it states: Cold-Weather Starts Below 50° F... Excellent (exactly what it says for conventional 10W40 oil)

it's been in the high 30s so I'm thinking it should be ok to use the 20W50 synthetic oil (not conventional 20W50 oil) I have in there.
I make sure once I start the bike I let it run for a few minutes to heat up the oil. Can the 20W50 SYN oil really be the reason the bike seems to need more cold weather starting power from my battery? I read a post stating Harley's are know to have weak OEM batteries. I'm not sure now what to think.

What fact should I be looking at, the Lowest Ambient Temp Above 30° or the Cold Weather Starts Below 50° ?
 

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Wayward Son
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23,862 Posts
Yes. The oil can be the reason.

Harley has a minimum suggested CCA rating needed to start the bike.
Is the HD battery weak? :dunno
Is it likely the minimum CCA rating? :nod
 

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SoundMan
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576 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes. The oil can be the reason.

Harley has a minimum suggested CCA rating needed to start the bike.
Is the HD battery weak? :dunno
Is it likely the minimum CCA rating? :nod
I bought the bike in July and it has a little over 3000k miles on it so the battery shouldn't be weak, unless I got a bad OEM battery. I keep it on a tender. The bike starts but it seems to be in need of more power when I push the start button. IDK if I'm making any sense, sorry.
 

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Wayward Son
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When I say weak, I do not mean it is or is going bad.
I simply mean that it is at the ragged edge of it`s designed ability to crank the bike over quickly under anything but ideal conditions.
IE, colder temps. Stiffer oil from the colder temps.
 

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I bought the bike in July and it has a little over 3000k miles on it so the battery shouldn't be weak, unless I got a bad OEM battery. I keep it on a tender. The bike starts but it seems to be in need of more power when I push the start button. IDK if I'm making any sense, sorry.
If the bike was purchased new, a 2014 at this time of the year and stored in a unheated area with out a tender on it for the first winter it could either weaken or destroy the battery. So what I'm saying is did you buy the tender for it, and do you know how the former owner stored the bike.
 

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SoundMan
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576 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If the bike was purchased new, a 2014 at this time of the year and stored in a unheated area with out a tender on it for the first winter it could either weaken or destroy the battery. So what I'm saying is did you buy the tender for it, and do you know how the former owner stored the bike.
I bought the bike new in July. I put a little over 3000 miles on it so far. I was riding almost every day so I didn't bother with a battery tender then the temps went down to the high 20s/Low 30s and I didn't ride for 2 days. The third day I went to start the bike and it was dead. I charged the battery and started the bike. I now keep it on the H-D battery tender as soon as I park the bike in my shed. However now when I start the bike on cold mornings it doesn't seem to have the same power to crank the bike over as quickly as it did in the warmer weather. Honestly though even in the warmer months the battery always seemed a little weak to me. Prior to this bike I had a Yamaha V Star 950 and kept it in my shed for 3 winters, riding it whenever possible, and never put it on a battery tender and never had a problem. On top of that I must have killed that battery a total of 5 times by forgetting to take the key out after turning it off (I know real stupid). However, I would charge the battery and it was as good as new, always starting even in the winter. So is the Harley battery an inferior battery? Did I permanently damage it a by allowing it to die? Should I look into possibly buying better quality battery with more cold canking ability? Or is the SYN 3 20W50 oil the problem?
 

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SoundMan
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When I say weak, I do not mean it is or is going bad.
I simply mean that it is at the ragged edge of it`s designed ability to crank the bike over quickly under anything but ideal conditions.
IE, colder temps. Stiffer oil from the colder temps.
That's exactly what it is. I just couldn't find those words to describe it.
 

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I bought the bike new in July. I put a little over 3000 miles on it so far. I was riding almost every day so I didn't bother with a battery tender then the temps went down to the high 20s/Low 30s and I didn't ride for 2 days. The third day I went to start the bike and it was dead. I charged the battery and started the bike. I now keep it on the H-D battery tender as soon as I park the bike in my shed. However now when I start the bike on cold mornings it doesn't seem to have the same power to crank the bike over as quickly as it did in the warmer weather. Honestly though even in the warmer months the battery always seemed a little weak to me. Prior to this bike I had a Yamaha V Star 950 and kept it in my shed for 3 winters, riding it whenever possible, and never put it on a battery tender and never had a problem. On top of that I must have killed that battery a total of 5 times by forgetting to take the key out after turning it off (I know real stupid). However, I would charge the battery and it was as good as new, always starting even in the winter. So is the Harley battery an inferior battery? Did I permanently damage it a by allowing it to die? Should I look into possibly buying better quality battery with more cold canking ability? Or is the SYN 3 20W50 oil the problem?
Sorry, I read it wrong. Thought you bought it in july with 3000 miles on it already. Try hooking up jumper cables, if the bike starts a lot easier it's a weak battery.
 

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I'm having (until I stored) similar experience with my 2014 Breakout during cold morning starts. Warm engine = no problem, the battery is kept on a tender when not ridden, and the battery tests 100%.

I'll hijack with a question to experienced riders which may be of mutual interest. Will continuing to use a battery with marginal CCA's be hard on the starter ?

Thanx
 

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I'm having (until I stored) similar experience with my 2014 Breakout during cold morning starts. Warm engine = no problem, the battery is kept on a tender when not ridden, and the battery tests 100%.

I'll hijack with a question to experienced riders which may be of mutual interest. Will continuing to use a battery with marginal CCA's be hard on the starter ?

Thanx
Yes
 

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Go Army!
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I don't know how many times your battery has gone dead. I have a limited knowledge of batteries but I understand that every time a battery is drained it damages it a little. The longer it is dead the more damage is done and also will freeze in the winter if not charged.

All Harleys crank slower than other bikes.
I'd go with what classichHarley says.
 

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I was having a discussion on a different thread regarding batteries and cold weather starts but it turned into a discussion about oil viscosity and cold weather starts. I was hoping to get more input on this subject if I started a new thread. I have SYN 3 20W50 oil in my 2014 Sportster and was wondering is it's ok to run that oil during the cold winter months in NY. I ride the bike all winter as long as there is no snow or ice on the ground. This was my reply to another post...

The manual states for SYN 3 20W50:
Lowest Ambient Temp- Above 30° F and more importantly it states: Cold-Weather Starts Below 50° F... Excellent (exactly what it says for conventional 10W40 oil)

it's been in the high 30s so I'm thinking it should be ok to use the 20W50 synthetic oil (not conventional 20W50 oil) I have in there.
I make sure once I start the bike I let it run for a few minutes to heat up the oil. Can the 20W50 SYN oil really be the reason the bike seems to need more cold weather starting power from my battery? I read a post stating Harley's are know to have weak OEM batteries. I'm not sure now what to think.

What fact should I be looking at, the Lowest Ambient Temp Above 30° or the Cold Weather Starts Below 50° ?
When I say weak, I do not mean it is or is going bad.
I simply mean that it is at the ragged edge of it`s designed ability to crank the bike over quickly under anything but ideal conditions.
IE, colder temps. Stiffer oil from the colder temps.
Harley uses a marginally useful battery and starter . That is why replacement starters and batteries are more useful than OEM parts .

It's a sad state of affairs , but just how it is .
 

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it's been in the high 30s so I'm thinking it should be ok to use the 20W50 synthetic oil (not conventional 20W50 oil)


Just for clarification as far as oil thickness or viscosity goes, 20W50 is 20W50.... it doesn't matter if it is synthetic or conventional...

The difference comes in at sustained high temperature stability.
 

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Then why does Harley put batteries, with marginal CCA's, on their brand new bikes? I'm sure most people don't go out and buy a brand new bike then expect they have to change the battery.
I expect the MoCo, whose bikes are ridden mostly in warm climates and/or warm conditions, see the batteries as "adequate' rather than marginal. Equipping ALL their bikes with cold weather batteries may be seen as an unnecessary cost to the majority of HD customers. Regional circumstances therefore require regional adjustment. ALL new car dealers in eastern Canada bring in new cars equipped with the electric block heater option. They don't come that way as standard equipment, nor do heavy duty batteries for that matter. The customer/dealer specs things out per regional requirements. "Same thing". I'll be picking up a new kickass heavy duty battery before spring start up.
 

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SoundMan
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just for clarification as far as oil thickness or viscosity goes, 20W50 is 20W50.... it doesn't matter if it is synthetic or conventional...

The difference comes in at sustained high temperature stability.
I wonder why the Harley manual for my 2014 Superlow 1200T rates the SYN3 20W50 as Excellent for cold weather starts below 50°
and the conventional 20W50 oil as Good for cold weather starts under 50°?
 

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I wonder why the Harley manual for my 2014 Superlow 1200T rates the SYN3 20W50 as Excellent for cold weather starts below 50°
and the conventional 20W50 oil as Good for cold weather starts under 50°?
What does it say for 10W40?
 
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