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Update your motorcycle with a lithium battery

While manufacturers are keen to show how they can shave a few grams off their new model’s weight, they could easily shave even more if they swapped to a more expensive lithium battery.

You need to test your motorcycle battery using a multimeter. Read Best Multimeter Reviews article to know more about it.

Lithium motorcycle batteries are LifePO4 batteries, most using prismatic (square) cells. They are the same battery types as used in electric cars and now being deployed as solar storage systems such as the Tesla Power wall.

Lithium advantages

  • Lithium batteries have a higher energy density, so they can have a higher output at a lighter weight. They are usually about a third of the weight of the standard lead acid battery supplied as original equipment in almost every motorcycle.

  • These batteries have a longer shelf life when not in use. Many batteries we buy have already been sitting on the shelf for some time so we are only getting a portion of their maximum capacity.

  • Motorcycle batteries are constantly being recharged, which reduces their life. Lithium LifePO4 batteries are able to be recharged a far larger number of times. So they cost more than a lead acid battery, but will last much longer.

  • If it does run flat, it can be recharged very quickly, but needs a special charger or a simple charger without desulphation modes.

  • Lithium LifePO batteries have a lower internal self discharge rate to Lead Acid Batteries so they do not need to be tendered in winter or periods of disuse in the manner Lead Acid batteries do, in a typical machine the vehicle can be left unused for up to six months without charging the battery where a vehicle with a Lead Acid battery would need the battery charged after six to eight weeks.

  • They start your bike quicker because lithium is a lower impedance internally which allows delivery of up to 90% of the stored energy in one hit. Lead acid batteries typically can only deliver around 1/3 of the stored energy in one go. Hence the Lithium bateries have higher CCA ratings (Cold Cranking Amps).

  • If you are customising your bike and want to create a void where the battery usually lives, use a Lithium LifePO4 battery. They are much smaller and can be located anywhere and at any angle. We were able to put one inside a hinged NOS bottle for fun on our Honda CX500 project bike. You should purchase the largest-capacity Lithium battery you can.

Li-ion inside NOS bottle lithium
Li-ion inside NOS bottle

Lithium disadvantages

  • Be careful not to overcharge Lithium batteries as they can overheat. Make sure you charge them with a suitable, dedicated recharger.
  • They also don’t like extremes of cold or heat, so if relocating them, don’t put them too close to the engine or exhaust ports.

Motocell batteries

One of the newest motorcycle-specific Lithium batteries to hit the Australian market is Motocell Lithium Gold Batteries.battery

They are LiFePO4 Series 12.8 Volt batteries that suit almost every bike with prices from $129 to $449.

They have high-conductivity brass terminals with three-position multi-mount connectivity to suit every bike.

Because they are smaller than the battery you are replacing, they come with adhesive foam pads to fit firmly. They also reduce vibration.

They also have a handy LCD screen on the top of the battery that indicates the “State of Charge”.battery-2

You should purchase the largest-capacity Lithium battery that will physically fit in your bike so it has reserve capacity, especially for machines which are used in remote areas.

Motocell also makes a special battery charger for external remote charging when required.

Motocell Lithium Gold Batteries are imported and distributed in Australia by Link International. Click here for their motorcycle range.

These batteries should not be confused with the Lithium-ion batteries used in phones such as the Samsung Galaxy 7 which has been bursting into flames.

  1. “Make sure you charge them with a suitable recharger.” Do most motorcyles have a suitable charging system? Older bikes have somewhat unsophisticated charge systems designed to work with lead-acid batteries which can be more tolerant of charging sins. Old wiring and switching does not help, either.
    Are there any affordable new bikes being sold with lithium-iron batteries?

  2. SSB PowerSport lithium batteries are designed to charge from existing vehicle systems and they do not need a fancy smart charger (although I do have one) to charge them. Plus, they do not cost an arm and a leg like many others. I’ve had my 2 on my bikes for just over 2 years now and the “sunny day” bike which does get used as often, fires up easily first time and has never needed additional charging.

  3. A disadvantage you didn’t mention is that once these batteries die, the bike cannot be jump-started. That might not be an issue for cruiser riders who stay mainly on main roads, but a dead lithium battery on an adventure bike in the middle of nowhere means you are going nowhere until the battery is replaced. As for the “memory effect”, that is non-existent on lead-acid batteries. That is really only an issue with nickel-cadmium.

    1. Depending on where your “middle of nowhere” is and how much kit you’ve taken to get there. It might not be unreasonable to carry a spare. These things are so light I took 2 home in my backpack! The boxes they came in were the main problem, causing unnecessary bulk, so I let the dealer “file” them and I was good to go.

      1. You obviously don’t do adventure riding. Trying to fit tyre levers, bead breakers, tubes, tools, food, water, first aid, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a few clothes etc. is bad enough, without carrying a spare bloody battery! It’s a motorcycle, not a four-wheel-drive. The absolutely necessary items already severely compromise off-road handling as it is.

      2. I’m not sure why my previous response was vetoed, but, in summary, only someone who has no idea about adventure riding would make such a ludicrous suggestion.

        1. Hi Graeme,
          What are you talking about? Your response is above.
          All comments are monitored and are not published immediately.
          If there is a time delay it’s because I have not read it yet. I do have other things to do, you know!

          1. I have 2 adventure bikes and I carry a spare Lithium battery , they weigh nothing , take up minimal space . Even if I never need it I figure one day I may be able to help out a fellow rider .
            I hope I come across you one day Graeme with a flat battery ??

  4. Was going to ask if an alternator knows the difference between a lead acid and a lithium battery!
    I doubt it.
    So, does it matter what charger I use.
    And I have jumpstarted my bike using a standard lead battery.
    It’s still going strong, but maybe I am just lucky.

  5. hi friends, my name is himanshu
    need your help for setting lithium ion battery in my motorcycle bike
    i decided to fit battery in place of petrol tank is there any other way to fit battery in bike…
    and another question is how to reduce bike weight so it runs faster on law speed.
    this is my mail id please reply asap
    or whatsapp me on my cell +919924869458

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