Jump packs

Updated: Aug 25, 2019


Do you carry a jump pack on your rides?


Over the last 6 or 7 yrs I've tried a few, from ones that were supposed to start a truck, but really only good enough to charge a phone, ones that worked great, (once or twice), and died not long after.


There's plenty of cheap one's that kick around on the internet, and I found them fine on the small bike, but since moving onto the larger bikes and riding almost daily, I found they just didn't stack up.


I grabbed a couple from Jaycar for around $100 each that I thought would do the trick, one in the 4WD and the other for the bike, one died after a couple of months and the other, started swelling from a crook internal battery and the case cracked.


They did replace them both, but looking at the trip ahead being around 7 to 8 months on the road, I wasn't taking the chance so they just became phone chargers kicking around the house.


Normally I wouldn't have been that concerned, but, being solo, stuck in the middle of nowhere on a bike like the Africa Twin DCT that can't even be bump started, wouldn't be much fun at all.

In this day and age of ebay, brand knock-offs and rebranded electronics, it's hard to know what we're getting sometimes, so it's a bit of trial and error, or the best (in my opinion) is ask questions and read the product reviews of others that have been through it already.


Two brands that tick the boxes and have not let me down over the last couple of years for the bike and 4WD, the NOCO Genius and Rocky Creek Designs.


The basics are simple, get a flat battery, connect the cables and jump start the bike, or car.




Rocky Creek Designs


The original Rocky Creek Design jump pack has been discontinued and two new versions are available, similar in size to the original, but with higher starting power.


200A (discontinued)

  • Start current: 200A

  • Peak current: 400A

  • Battery capacity: 9000mAh


300A $139.95

  • Start current: 300A

  • Peak current: 400A

  • Internal battery: 7500mAh

  • Size: 205 x 140 x 80*

  • Weight: 835g*

  • Starting capability: Petrol engines up to 4.0L

  • Devices: charge phones, tablets etc via USB port, power 12V accessories like pumps via the included 12V to SAE connector.


400A $159.95

  • Start current: 400A

  • Peak current: 600A

  • Internal battery: 13,500mAh

  • Size: 205 x 140 x 80*

  • Weight: 1035g*

  • Starting capability: Petrol engines up to 6.0L and diesel engines to 3.0L

  • Devices: charge phones, tablets etc via USB, power 12V accessories like pumps via the included 12V to SAE connector.

* size and weight listed is full kit.

The mini jump packs can also be used if your bike/vehicle has a 12V lithium battery.



The mini jump starter can connect to the Motopressor pump using the PA0009 cable.





Rather than pulling the battery cover off or undoing seats to access the Anderson plug, I've gone with a really simple approach and added a power and earth post through the rear guard.


Jump starting is as simple as sitting the jump pack on the tyre, and attaching the alligator clips.


Connect a battery charger or pump here too, handy if you haven't got other connectors with you or fitted to the bike.





The PA009 cable allows you to connect to pumps and accessories directly from the 12V outlet of the jump pack, don't use this for jump starting though!




Real world



Regardless of all the specs and what these things are meant to do, I had a flat battery on the Africa Twin in the Flinders Ranges, the original 200A Rocky Creek Designs wouldn't crank the engine. That's not saying they don't work, because the same jump pack started another travelers 4WD a few days later and a KTM1190 in Alice about a month later.


But it did get me going, I left it connected to the bike for nearly 3hrs and it bought the battery level back up from 9.75 to just under 12V and the bike started.



It wasn't a bad spot to be stuck though, by the time I got got going, I was treated to a great sunset that I'd probably of missed otherwise.



The bike battery has died again recently so it's time to swap it out, and I'll be upgrading to the new 400A Rocky Creek Design mini jump starter (as shown in the main image) and keeping the old 200A for charging the phone or an LED light around camp.


Having two is peace of mind, especially with a DCT, there's no point using the pack during the night to charge phones and waking up to a bike with a flat battery and a low jump pack.



Updated 29/07/2019

Pics of the orig 200A and the new 400A for comparison.


Only a couple of days later the new jump pack was delivered, I deliberately left the failing battery in the bike until this arrived so I could compare to the 200A pack.


The bike started instantly!

NOCO GB20 $178.00


The smallest of the genius boost series is the GB20, the one I have is over 3 yrs old and still works like a treat.


It's a fair bit bigger than the Rocky Creek mini jump pack, states a peak of 400A, although it only has a 2150mAh internal battery.


The unit itself weighs in at just under a kilo, which is close to the weight of the entire Rocky Creek kit, and comparing full kit sizes, the NOCO comes in at 1360g which is 48% more than it's equivalent Rocky Creek 400A and 27% more than the larger 600A unit.


The size and weight might be important, especially if you're limited on storage, it's a bit bulky.


  • Start current: (only lists a peak current)

  • Peak current: 400A

  • Internal battery: 2,150mAh Lithium-Ion

  • Size: 208 x 117 x 106*

  • Weight: 1035g*

  • Starting capability: Petrol engines up to 4.0L.

  • Devices: charge phones, tablets etc via USB, power 12V accessories like pumps.

* size and weight listed is full kit.


The Nocos' extra size and weight are due it's onboard extra's and the rugged housing, it has internal relay, smart connect, polarity warning and manual override.




Real World

When connecting the NOCO, it detects a set voltage that's required for the unit to enter jump start mode, if it's above that, the Boost light will come on and it's ready to go, if the battery is under the set voltage, the light will stay off. If you're sure everything's connected correctly, you can manually override the safety functions and enter Boost mode, leaving it connected like this for a few minutes will usually allow the bike/car to be jump started.


When connected, there's a clear audible 'clicking' from the unit if the battery is too low, the internal relay comes on/off trying to detect if a battery is connected.


The set voltage in the manual shows 2V, but each time I've used it, I've had to use the override function even when the battery was showing 9V .


The advertising say's the GB20 will hold it's charge for up to 12 months and is capable of up to 20 starts on a single charge, since new it's never stayed charged for much more than a month or two, and around 6 starts on a bike with a crook battery was it's limit.



Both units have 12V out (not interchangeable) , USB out and a USB port for charging and have led lights.


An anderson plug is widely used on 4WD's and easily fitted to a bike, having a couple of different adaptors helps.




The latest in Rocky Creek Designs mini jumps packs now have 2 USB outlets, handy for charging a phone and GoPro or your SENA at the same time.



Both brands do the job, though I prefer the Rocky Creek Designs unit, it's smaller, lighter and uses readily available MC5 and SAE connectors.


Not to mention they're an Australian company, passionate about bikes, innovative products and they support Australian riders.






Something else that's worth throwing in your kit


SAE polarity adaptors are worth having in your kit, always check the polarity before hooking up a charger or battery tender to your bike. It's pretty easy to hook them up wrong, especially if the SAE has two black wires. Test first.


Polarity adaptors might be a small solid adaptor or a wired type, always double check these too, it could be a straight adaptor, an extension lead or a reverse polarity adaptor. Test first.


Simple and cheap storage solution.

I keep the jump pack, a pocket pump and other accessories conveniently packed in a $5 zip up lunch case in the pannier.



See you out there!


Edit:

Video added 25th Aug 2019



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