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Lighten Up with a Lithium-Ion Battery | Gear

 

lithium-ion-batteries

PHOTOS: Joe Neric

Lead-acid batteries have served us well for more than a century, but these heavy, poison-filled devices are giving way to more energy-dense, non-toxic lithium-ion units. For motorcyclists, these new lightweight batteries are an easy way to remove mass from high up on the chassis.

There’s a lot of mystique and misinform-ation swirling around lithium-ion batteries and their performance, so we gathered together all the available units we could find to see how they compare to each other and to a traditional lead-acid battery.

Our test procedure included blasting the batteries with a 100-amp load for 5 seconds; draining them down to 10 volts (the cutoff for most fuel-injection and ignition systems) with a 55-watt bulb to determine an actual amp-hour rating; and then hooking them up to a charger to see if they recovered. (Note that what we did would be considered “misuse” and would compromise or void any warranty.)

For reference, our control lead-acid battery (a Yuasa YTX12-BS like that found in a 1000cc streetbike) weighed in at 9.1 lbs. and had an actual AHr rating of 4.2. It showed an at-rest voltage of 12.47V that dropped to 10.40V under load, and then bounced back to 12.36V after a 60-second recovery period.

Despite disparate claims, all of these lithium-ion batteries provide essentially identical performance to each other and to the lead-acid benchmark. They perform as advertised, with tremendous cranking power and impressive weight savings. The only remaining question is how this new technology will fare over the long haul in the real world…

Lead-acid batteries have served us well for more than a century, but these heavy, poison-filled devices are giving way to more energy-dense, non-toxic lithium-ion units. For motorcyclists, these new lightweight batteries are an easy way to remove mass from high up on the chassis.

There’s a lot of mystique and misinform-ation swirling around lithium-ion batteries and their performance, so we gathered together all the available units we could find to see how they compare to each other and to a traditional lead-acid battery.

Our test procedure included blasting the batteries with a 100-amp load for 5 seconds; draining them down to 10 volts (the cutoff for most fuel-injection and ignition systems) with a 55-watt bulb to determine an actual amp-hour rating; and then hooking them up to a charger to see if they recovered. (Note that what we did would be considered “misuse” and would compromise or void any warranty.)

For reference, our control lead-acid battery (a Yuasa YTX12-BS like that found in a 1000cc streetbike) weighed in at 9.1 lbs. and had an actual AHr rating of 4.2. It showed an at-rest voltage of 12.47V that dropped to 10.40V under load, and then bounced back to 12.36V after a 60-second recovery period.

Despite disparate claims, all of these lithium-ion batteries provide essentially identical performance to each other and to the lead-acid benchmark. They perform as advertised, with tremendous cranking power and impressive weight savings. The only remaining question is how this new technology will fare over the long haul in the real world…

1 Braille G5Braille G5 150x150 photo
The G5 is part of Braille’s Green-Lite line of batteries and has solid-brass bolts and dual-position lugs for reduced resistance and corrosion. It’s designed and assembled in the USA, comes with a 2-year warranty and bears DOT and CE-approval markings, indicating it meets those organizations’ safety and durability standards. The G5 started out with 13.70V, sagged to 11.10V during the load test, then returned to 13.25V given a minute to recover. The Braille yielded a 3.8 AHr rating, after which it was fully recharged.

Price: $172
Weight: 2.04 lbs.
www.braillebattery.com

2 Shorai LFX14A2-BS12Shorai 150x150 photo
Shorai batteries are available in 22 sizes to provide drop-in replacement for your OE battery. Designed in Japan and manufactured in China, they’re backed by a 2-year warranty and are the only batteries we know of that use prismatic (flat) cells. The Shorai started with the highest at-rest voltage of 13.96V and sagged to 11.50V under load, then was back up to 13.16V after a minute’s rest. It posted the lowest actual AHr rating of just 3.2 hours, but was recharged with perfect cell balance using the integrated balance port.

Price: $159.95
Weight: 1.98 lbs.
www.shoraipower.com

3 MOTY 8-CELLMOTY 8 Cell 150x150 photo
The contoured case of the MOTY battery hugs the cylindrical cells within, making it the smallest and lightest battery here. It’s also the most affordable by a few bucks. All MOTY batteries are made in the USA, come with a 1-year warranty and feature a balance port. The eight-cell unit we tested showed a resting voltage of 13.50V that fell to 10.15V under the 100A load, then bounced back to a healthy 13.25V after a minute’s rest. It has an actual AHr rating of 3.7 hours and was fully recharged with perfect cell balance.

Price: $150
Weight: 1.52 lbs.
www.motydesign.com

4 Super-B 5200Super B 5200 150x150 photo
Super-B batteries are designed and manufactured in the Netherlands, and are used by Aprilia’s and BMW’s World Superbike teams. The 5200-series battery comes with a 2-year warranty and registered 13.34V at rest, then sagged to 10.23V under load and bounced back to 13.22V given a minute to recover. Our amp-hour test showed the Super-B maintained voltage for just 3.2 hours, tying Shorai for the lowest actual rating in this test. The Super-B was successfully recharged.

Price: $363.84
Weight: 1.86 lbs.
www.super-b.com

5 Full Spectrum Pulse P2Full Spectrum Pulse P2 150x150 photo
The Pulse P2 is the official battery of the Rockstar Makita Yoshimura Suzuki and M4 Monster Energy Suzuki AMA roadracing teams. This unit’s cells are contained within a durable Valox case with a balance port on top. It’s assembled in America and backed by a 3-year warranty. Under load the P2 dropped from 13.61V to 10.00V, then swung back to 13.42V after 60 seconds. The P2 was shown to have an actual AHr rating of 3.7 and was fully recharged with perfect cell balance.

Price: $209
Weight: 1.72 lbs.
www.fullspectrumpower.com

6 Ballistic EVO2 8-CellBallistic evo2 8 cell 150x150 photo
Ballistic batteries are designed and made in the USA and come with a no-questions-asked 3-year replacement guarantee. The eight-cell unit we tested is the second-lightest battery here and also one of the cheapest. It comes with a serial port for balance charging. It started the test with 13.74V, dropped to 10.40V under the 100A load and then returned to 13.28V after the allotted recovery time. It has an actual AHr rating of 3.7 and was fully recharged with perfect cell balance.

Price: $159.99
Weight: 1.68 lbs.
www.ballisticparts.com

7 Antigravity 8-CellAntigravity 8 cell 150x150 photo
Antigravity offers its batteries in an ultra-compact “small-case” format as well as larger sizes designed to serve as direct OE replacements. Anti-gravity’s products are handmade in America and are backed by a pro-rated 3-year warranty. Our eight-cell test unit started out with 13.48V, dropped to 10.30V under the 100A load and returned to 13.28V after a minute’s rest. It has a 3.7 AHr rating and was returned to a full state of charge.

Price: $179.99
Weight: 1.80 lbs
www.antigravitybatteries.com

8 Lithionics GT-140Lithionics GT 140 150x150 photo
Despite a real carbon-fiber case, this YTZ7-comparable GT-140 unit is the heaviest battery here. The GT-140 is made in America, backed by a 1-year warranty and is available with “Never Die” circuitry that will automatically isolate the battery if it senses a parasitic draw. It began with 13.40V, sagged to 9.79V under load, then returned to 13.36V. The GT-140 showed an actual AHr rating of 3.7 hours, after which it was successfully recharged.

Price: $199.99
Weight: 2.22 lbs.
www.lithionicsbattery.com

Large and in Charge!

LiFePO4 Digital Balance ChargerLIFEP04 Digital Balance Charger 150x150 photo
Standard trickle chargers, chargers with desulfation modes and those that put out greater than 14.7 volts should never be used with a lithium-ion battery due to the cells’ unique chemistry. Nearly every battery manufacturer recommends and sells a lithium-specific charger that uses the correct algorithms to properly charge these high-tech cells. This programmable, multi-function $79.99 charger from Ballistic was used to top off all the batteries prior to testing and rejuvenate them afterwards. The balance-port tether plugs in to port-equipped batteries, offering cell balancing that can result in significantly increased service life in deep-discharge applications.

www.ballisticparts.com

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