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RIDE Adventures Blog

Motorcycle Parts Review: Lithium-Iron Battery Options for Your Bike

Posted by Eric Lange on March 18, 2015
Eric Lange
Since riding his KTM 950 Adventure down to South America in 2008 and launching RIDE Adventures in 2010, Eric now resides in Oregon for most of each year. Riding is still a regular part of his work though, in that guiding tours is a passion he'll always have, and researching new routes and regions allows RIDE Adventures to continue growing and providing reliable travel services to adventure minded riders and travelers from around the world.

Shorai Power Motorcycle BatterySaving a little weight often seems like a lost cause on a 500+ pound "pig" like my BMW R1200GS Adventure, but then again, every little bit helps. Some significant weight was shaved with aftermarket exhaust last year and of course heading to the gym recently has helped as well, but these last 10 pounds lost from my adventure riding setup come thanks to Shorai Power!

I'd been hearing about these ultra-lightweight lithium batteries hitting the market and even held a few in the stores the past couple of years. Anyone who has picked one up probably thought as I did: "That must be a fake floor model, not an actual battery." On numerous occasions I couldn't believe it was an actual functioning power source, but these Shorai batteries are very, very real.

Back in December I installed Shorai's LFX21A6-BS12 and noted that on average, it weighs about 10 full pounds less than typical lead-acid batteries. (I say "on average" because the lead-acid types can vary, but tend to be listed around 13 lbs. Shorai's lithium battery for the R1200GS weighs a steady 3.03 pounds though.) Installation is easy, just like any other battery, only it's that much easier because it's so light! Some things I've noticed some definite "positives" (pun?) about the Shorai battery option:

1) Weight Savings - Already wrote about this above, the difference is really incredible with Shorai's Lithium technology. Saving 10 lbs on a 500 lb motorcycle might not sound like much, but what if...just what if those 10 lbs make the difference when you're in an emergency braking situation or have to take some other evasive action on the road someday. For performance-minded competitors, the weight savings enjoyed in Shorai's batteries need not be explained. Every pound counts, and again, for all riders, this could be a safety factor someday.

2) "More Power" - Seriously, when warmed-up and charged properly, this battery cranks over the R1200GS engine with a vengeance! While the lead-acid batteries tend to do okay, it does bring a certain satisfaction that might be necessary sometime, knowing that the engine will turn over a bit faster. My BMW has had an occasional "hiccup" where it doesn't quite start right away and needs to be cranked (like if I bogged it down and accidentally killed the engine.) Cranking over those 1170cc's never seemed as easy for the lead-acid batteries as it does for Shorai's version.

3)  Stability & Longevity - When you buy a Shorai battery, be sure to read about the chemistry, charging needs, and durability you can expect from these batteries. On one hand these batteries are a bit "finicky" in that we should be using very specific battery tenders and chargers if needed (Shorai makes this specific charger) and they do struggle a bit when they've been left cold. On the other hand, it doesn't take much to "revive" them from the cold just by turning your ignition on for a few minutes before you start riding (good time to do a proper tire pressure check like we should every time we ride.)

In storage situations though, even in sub-optimal conditions, stats will show you that this lithium-iron technology does extremely well compared to unattended lead-acid batteries. For example, I parked my bike for a month while running our "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour this past January & February. The temperature while I was gone was in the 30-50 range Fahrenheit, and I had to leave the bike that full month in a situation without using the battery tender (the trickle charger.) Upon my return, I simply turned the key on, lit-up the high beams on the headlights, and had to wait only 3 minutes in 45 degree weather before the engine fired right up. Of course once it's been warmed up a little, this is the Schwarzenegger of batteries. (Well, when he was in his prime.) Had I still been with the lead-acid battery, I doubt such a start-up would have been possible after a month in those temps.

I think it's a great product, even considering as mentioned the little "subtleties" you'll need to get used to when the bike is cold. Whereas it might have not been my habit to do so before, now I just make sure the first thing I do when approaching the bike is to turn on the ignition and let the electrons flow a bit. The battery is ready to fire within a couple of minutes, or immediately if at room temperature.

Whether you're just due for a new battery or wanting to shave those 10 lbs off without going to the gym, Shorai Power has made the obvious choice in batteries for me moving forward!

Shorai Lithium Battery R1200GSA

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