What Does A Rectifier Do On A Motorcycle?

There is nothing like the wind in your hair and an open road. Motorcycle aficionados are well aware of the feeling you get riding down the road. 

Owning a motorcycle is a great pleasure. And part of owning a motorcycle is the upkeep. Just as with any other vehicle, there is certain maintenance that should be performed on your hog to keep it in top shape. And just as with other cars, there can be things that sometimes go wrong. 

Although there are obvious differences between a motorcycle and a car, there are similarities. One of those similarities is the use of a rectifier. This is a crucial part of the motorcycle’s electrical system. 

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What Does A Rectifier Do On A Motorcycle
What Does A Rectifier Do On A Motorcycle

What is a rectifier?

The rectifier works in conjunction with the regulator. The two work together to keep the electricity flowing from the battery. Both parts need to be working properly in order for the motorcycle to run. 

Motorcycles today run on a battery that uses electrical charging circuitry. The regulator rectifier is part of this system. As the name implies, the regulator rectifier is responsible for rectifying and regulating the voltage. The AC current is started in the stator coil, which is found in the alternator. 

How does a rectifier work in a motorcycle?

Most motorcycles operate on a 3-phase system to help with running efficiency. This means that there are 3 wires that connect the stator and the regulator rectifier.  

The rectifier first converts the AC power into a surge of DC power. Then the DC power is normalized so that it is not greater than 14.5 volts. After the power has been normalized, the DC voltage is then routed to the battery. Any excess heat from this process is sent to the regulator to get rid of it. The current that is generated will only flow in one direction. 

How does the rectifier convert the AC to DC?

You will notice that there are two diodes connected to the outer taps. The center tap is used as common ground for the rectified current. The rectifier converts both halves of the AC sine wave to the positive voltage DC. At this point the DC voltage is pulsing at twice the frequency of the AC. 

Voltage regulator

How do I know if I am having trouble with my rectifier?

Like other parts of a motor vehicle, you can run into trouble with your rectifier. The key is to figure out if it is the problem and then how to go about fixing the problem. 

Some signs of a rectifier problem.

If you notice that you are beginning to have some start up issues or some voltage issues, that is going to be a sign that you may be having trouble with your rectifier. Dimming headlights, irregular meter readings and poor starts are signs of a problem. It is a good idea to either check it out yourself at home or bring your motorcycle into a mechanic. 

Why is my rectifier going bad? 

There are generally two reasons why your rectifier may be failing. 

1.Diode Burnout

If you have a bad diode, it is going to cause a drain on the battery. It is a good idea to check for evidence of corrosion and bad connections. You can also use a voltmeter to check the readings. If your readings drop below 13 volts, then you have a problem. This means that the motorcycle will start to drain the battery and then your engine will stop. 

2.Shunt Regulator Burnout

This is another reason why you might have trouble with your rectifier. This regulator helps manage and control the voltage. If the voltage is not controlled, it will lead to battery overcharge. This overcharge is a strain on the battery. You can use a voltmeter here as well; readings above 17 volts means that the rectifier is not converting the excess power. 

What else could be affecting the rectifier?

Since the rectifier is part of the electrical system, it is a good idea to check all the other components to be sure they are all running properly. If just one part of the system is failing, it can cause overheating and have a negative effect on the rest of the system. 

It is a good idea to check your battery. You can use a voltmeter to check the battery and make sure it has a good charge. You should also the alternator as well. And while you are under the hood, it makes sense to also check the regulators. 

You can visually inspect the battery and rectifier for signs of corrosion. If you notice any, clean it off. Keeping the contacts clean will ensure that there is always a proper connection between parts. Also, visually inspect for any loose wires. You should also check for any frayed or damaged wires. Be sure to replace anything that is worn out. 

Where can I get a new regulator rectifier?

You can buy new parts for your motorcycle at your local auto parts store or at your local dealership. Make sure you are purchasing the correct parts for your motorcycle. It is helpful to have the make, model and year on hand. 

Final Thoughts

There is nothing that feels as good as hitting the open road with your hog. But like all motor vehicles, you do need to be aware of problems that can arise. 

Motorcycles operate by using an electrical system. This system takes AC and converts it into DC. This power is fed into the battery and helps the engine to run. If you are noticing things such as dimming headlights, irregular meter readings and poor starting, you may have an issue. 

These could be signs of a problem with your bike’s rectifier. The rectifier works with the regulator. It is responsible for taking the AC current and converting it into a DC current. If the rectifier is not working properly, you will have trouble running your motorcycle. 

Proper maintenance that includes checking the rectifier will help ensure that your motorcycle is ready to hit the road every time you are.  

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