Lithium motorcycle battery article - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
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    Here is an article published by Motorcycle.com regarding lithium motorcycle batteries that you might find interesting:
    https://www.motorcycle.com/products/...s-vs-realities
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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  4. #2
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    Interesting stuff but I'm going to take issue with the following:-

    "turn the lights on, and walk away. Now, come back in a month. You press a button, and the thing will still work. Try that with a lead-acid battery."

    That to me is written to suggest you can leave your lights on indefinitely and the batteries clever circuitry will leave it with enough juice to start the bike.It won't it will leave you with a battery that can be successfully recharged.
    In the Garage 2013 BMW F800 GT,1994 BMW R80 RT,1986 BMW R80 GS,1999 Yamaha SR125
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    Quote Originally Posted by MGD109 View Post
    Interesting stuff but I'm going to take issue with the following:-

    "turn the lights on, and walk away. Now, come back in a month. You press a button, and the thing will still work. Try that with a lead-acid battery."

    That to me is written to suggest you can leave your lights on indefinitely and the batteries clever circuitry will leave it with enough juice to start the bike.It won't it will leave you with a battery that can be successfully recharged.
    I noticed the same comment and I agree with you. By the time that statement was made at the end of the article, the author seemed to be running out of things to say and started to have brain-farts. Plus, it seemed as though the last part of the article consisted more of advertising than facts. I have been dealing with lithium batteries for the past 10 years and I would never do that. It is more likely that you would return to find the battery about as functional as a brick.

    I have a Shorai lithium battery installed in my R1200RS and it works very well. However if it has a BMS (battery management system) in the battery case, that is news to me. The advertising on the box that it came in and in the instruction sheet for the battery never mentioned any feature like that. I might add that I have one of those Optimate lithium battery chargers, as shown near the end of the article, and I plug it in to my battery pigtail after every ride. When I do that, the charger bulk charges for just a few minutes before turning to a "test" float charge, which indicates to me that my BMW does a pretty good job of keeping the lithium battery charged without needing a special lithium charging system.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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    It looks like they have come up with some nice features on their lithium batteries with the Battery Management System (BMS). If you go to their website, it says the BMS will prevent the battery from being discharged to the point it is ruined. They also added a feature to leave enough battery power to allow the bike to start if you walk away and leave your lights on.

    I ended up buying a new battery over a year ago by mistake. I mistook what I was seeing on the display as indicating the OEM battery was on its last legs. The new battery is still sitting in the garage. At five years now, the OEM battery is still working great. I went to Kenya and didn't ride the bike for two weeks. I didn't use a charger on it either. The temperatures went down close to freezing while I was gone. Yet when I got home and started the bike, it acted like I had just ridden it the day before.

    The technology seems great, but I'm not sure I need it.
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    ........They also added a feature to leave enough battery power to allow the bike to start if you walk away and leave your lights on.........
    Thanks Chris, I took a look at the manufactures website after reading your comments. The article could have been a bit clearer there is actually a button on the top of the battery you can press to get you one last start to be fair that's pretty clever.
    In the Garage 2013 BMW F800 GT,1994 BMW R80 RT,1986 BMW R80 GS,1999 Yamaha SR125
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    One "feature" that the article didn't address is cold weather performance. Lithium batteries have a reputation for not performing as well as lead acid in cold temperatures. You can get around this to some degree by turning on the ignition and letting the load of the headlight draw enough current for a few minutes to warm up the battery. I live in the South, and I have a garage, so this is not a big concern for me, as the temperature in the garage never drops below ~55°F.

    I have a Battery Tender lithium battery in my F700GS. I had previously used it for 3 years in an R1100RT, but went back to the old Odyssey lead acid battery because the ABS system on the R1100RT is notoriously sensitive to throwing fault codes when voltage is low, and I got tired of clearing them during cold season riding. The lithium battery spins over the smaller engine with alacrity.

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    I have to make a comment that's not addressed in that article. I have a fair amount of experience with lithium iron phosphate, lithium polymer, and lithium ion batteries. Most of the lithium Powersports batteries are lithium iron phosphate and the newer ones do include a battery management system. This not only charges the cells properly but make sure that the individual cells within the battery are balanced. You may recall the Shorai batteries had a separate plug on them for their special (expensive) charger, this was to perform the balancing function. It's true these batteries have a higher power density and can provide high current during starter draw. The main item that is not mentioned at all is the actual power capacity of the batteries. You won't see published amp-hour statistics on most of these batteries because they simply don't hold the same amount of energy as the lead acid batteries. That means there's not much on reserve for the electrical farkles you might want to add including lighting, GPS, heated gear, etc. Especially high current items such as lighting and heated gear will deplete these batteries more quickly than an SLA (sealed lead acid) battery if the engine is not running.

    Most of the other attributes given in the article do hold true.They certainly are lighter, they certainly have many more recharge cycles then an SLA battery, and a much lower self-discharge rate.

    As was mentioned, cold-weather performance is also questionable. Because of the weight advantage, couldn't wait to put one in my FT800ST. But when the weather got into the upper 40s, it truly struggled to start the bike. Even though I used all the techniques such as warming the battery with the headlight prior to starting, it always struggled. It got to where I was concerned that I might not get home one day.

    So I guess it boils down to the fact that if you live in a warm climate and don't have a lot of electrical equipment that may draw a high current, these are great batteries. If you live in a climate such as mine, Wisconsin, and run heated gear and driving lights to avoid the deer at night, these aren't such a great idea.

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  12. #8
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    That was the weakness of that article that I posted. I gave all of the "pros" of lithium batteries, but none of the "cons". I suspect that most of the article's information was supplied by a lithium battery manufacturer.

    I used a cheap and very small Scorpion-brand lithium battery in my F650GS for four years and it never failed me, plus it really got rid of some ugly weight, high up, under the "tank", which made the bike noticeably easier to toss from side to side. However, I agree that it did seem to struggle when first starting up in the morning. While it never failed I eventually replaced it with an SLA battery, which is performing as you would expect.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard230 View Post
    That was the weakness of that article that I posted. I gave all of the "pros" of lithium batteries, but none of the "cons". I suspect that most of the article's information was supplied by a lithium battery manufacturer...
    I feel that way about so many motorcycle magazines...and I suppose that if I read car magazines, I'd feel that way about them too. Specifically, that most of the articles's information was supplied by the manufacturer.

    I got my Rider magazine yesterday and most of the magazine was worthless to me. So I read a "review" of the KTM 1290 that was 2/3rds of a page. Nothing indepth there that I couldn't pick up from a sales brochure. Then there was the entire HD and Indian lineups for 2020. I wonder if I was to look on the HD and Indian brochures and web pages, if I'd see the same wording used.

    If I want to know the pros and cons of a bike or accessory like these lithium batteries, I'm more likely to find some real facts and data on a forum like this one. I wish you could still find in-depth professional reviews like Kevin Ash wrote at ashonbikes.com.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
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