Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Pulse Tech X-Xtreme Charger

Motorcycle Cruiser
In theory, your average motorcycle battery could last for eight to ten years. In reality, it doesn't. In fact, it's more like 6 to 48 months depending on how well you maintain it, and the reality is that only about 30% of batteries last for four years. The Pulse Tech X-xtreme charger, model XC100-M to be exact, may not get your battery to the ten-year mark, but if used religiously, should get you damn close.

Pulse Tech X Xtreme Charger
Without getting too in-depth (this is a product review, not a lesson in battery 101), what kills the average battery is the buildup of lead sulfate crystals on their plates, which reduces efficiency. Once a battery becomes sulfated, it's shot-end of story.

The Pulse Tech charger uses a microprocessor-controlled, low voltage/high frequency pulse to remove the crystals from the plates that are already sulfated, and when the charger is used on a regular basis, to prevent them from forming in the first place.

The charger works on all common 12 volt motorcycle batteries, lead acid, AGM, sealed and gel, so no worries about what you're hooking it up to. The face of the charger has a series of status and battery condition lights, so there's no guesswork involved there either. It'll even tell if you've got a bad connection to the battery, and it lights up like a Christmas tree and buzzes if you manage to reverse the connections.

Once connected, the charger goes into test mode to determine if the battery is savable, assuming the battery will take a charge, and then the charger shifts from test to charge mode. Sequential green lights illuminate to let you know what's going on and a charge indicator displays the battery's status.

After the battery is fully charged, the Xtreme shifts to a floating maintenance charge and the charging light goes out. If it operates in the charge mode for 24 hours and the battery still won't take a 100% charge, the unit switches off and the "Bad Battery" light goes on indicating that the motorcycle battery is beyond redemption.

I didn't have a shot battery in the shop-I've got an aversion to plastic boxes full of acid cluttering up the place-but I did connect the xtreme to an older battery that was maybe four years old and still had some life left in it. Within two hours, it had gone from a 25% charge to 100% and was capable of lighting up my Triumph Scrambler with no problems.

Sturdily made, the xtreme battery charger comes with two sets of leads, one set with lugs so you can semi-permanently attach them to the bike's battery and the other with clamps for shop use. Both leads are fused, with a two-foot reach, and the power cord is a six-footer, so reach shouldn't be an issue.

The X-xtreme retails for $99.95, which is dirt cheap when you figure it can easily double the life of the batteries in all the vehicles you own, and comes with a 5-year warranty. By the way, the US army uses these things extensively; in fact, they're Pulse Tech's largest customer, which is recommendation enough for me.