Motorcycle Batteries .. AGM, GEL, Wet, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by _cy_, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. infer66

    infer66 Adventurer

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    Thank you gentlemen for this wealth of info. As far as I have researched all LifePo4 manufacturers are recommending extremely small sizes for replacement on their websites. Probably to hide the price difference from the older tech batteries. EarthX recommends an EarthX18 for my 1200GSA. I have the EarthX24 on duty for about two months. Besides the ABS unit failing on first start up I had no further issues.
    Your posts have made me wary of using it anymore.
  2. garandman

    garandman Wandering Minstrel

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    Really?

    So you think that having a default recommendation that is inadequate, then when questioned suggesting a battery that costs $100 more is supposed to fill me with confidence?:huh

    I believe my jacket draws 77 watts and doesn't run at full output unless it is very cold. Heated grips draw roughly 30-36 watts. This is well within the charging capacity of the Tiger, which has an alternator output of approximately 480 watts and thus has roughly 180 watts available for accessories. Inventing short trip scenarios that might great a low charge situation is OK, except when we have reality intrude: I've started the bike after sitting overnight in 30 degrees, rode to a gas station a mile away with all heat on, shut down, fueled up, cranked up and it started just fine. so the existing system works.

    The existing Yuasa has also started and run the bike in 20 degree temps. So this once again raises the question of whether or not the LFP battery manufacturers are playing marketing games with CCA and what the "real" equivalency is when you add low temp starts to the equation.

    I've been trying to find someone locally who sells Deka [AGM] motorsports batteries locally. The HD dealers sell HD branded Dekas, but Deka doesn't list any dealers in New England. Not sure I want to be the experimenter for cold starting with LFP.
  3. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    why don't cha take this up with the LiFePO4 mfg?

    have been saying right from the beginning ... what the LiFePO4 mfg lists for your particular model will usually be too small. problem is compounded by confusing use of PB/EQ or lead acid equivalent by mfg. PB/EQ ratings is NOT actual amp hour ratings. your heated gear, headlights, etc. draws real amps.

    how one uses their motorcycle will have a huge effect on which LiFePO4 is correct. bike used for Adventure duties a hundred miles from any support in the winter with heated gear will have drastically different requirements from a bike used for trips to Starbuck in warm weather.

    this is why for most folks my recommendation is go with AGM .. if you are not prepared to spend the $$$ for the proper sized LiFePO4 .. do yourself a favor and stick with AGM.
  4. DeFens

    DeFens Been here awhile

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    Thanks to Cy and this thread for providing me some enlightenment! I was considering a Shorai battery for my F650 Dakar, but the usage for that particular bike just doesn't seem all that compatible with a Lithium after investigation - it sits for long periods, then goes for a few short rides, then a couple longer ones. It will often sit for several weeks (or months, even) without being used.

    I opted to go for an AGM battery - finally found one online. I'm confident that this will be a great replacement for the old lead-acid battery currently residing in the bike.
  5. garandman

    garandman Wandering Minstrel

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    Fair commentary.

    I posted a thread in Beasts to see if many people are using them on touring bikes. Only had one response.

    We had two AGM's in our boat and I have one in my WRX as it's 10 lbs lighter than the typical LA. If I could find a DEKA dealer I'd probably just go with that but there doesn't seem one locally. Perhaps I'll try the experiment: hopefully there are more than a couple users out there. I've pinged the Tiger 1050 board as well.
  6. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    a 12 cell LiFePO4 battery is marginal for an HP2. which came with a 11AH AGM. 12cell 26650 = 7.5AH actual.

    take extra precautions when using a LiFePo4 battery with only shrink wrap to protect positive buss. if battery's shrink wrap should accidentally get damaged and short out .. a very high discharge will result with heat generated equal to arc welding. quite possibly causing a fire.

    one of the most common reason for LiFePO4 failures is from using a too small battery. a bike used for adventure duties a 100 miles from support during winter with heated gear .. will have drastically different requirement from a HP2 used for trips to Starbuck in moderate weather.

    not really ... it's easy to switch to LiFePO4 battery with little to no fuss. key is installing the correct size battery.

    facts are LiFePO4 use in motorcycles are so new. LiFePO4 mfg are also going through a learning process. it's just not possible for a small LiFePO4 mfg to test all the possible combinations out there.

    then factor the confusing sea of mumbo jumbo numbers out there. we get lead acid equivalents, where a 7.5AH battery turns into a 24AH battery. CCA number are all over the place .. who do you believe?

    LiFePO4 batteries operate within different parameters. due to extremely low internal resistance. ALL li-ion batteries will discharge at HUGE rates at full or close to full power. until all energy is gone, then power will drop to zero with little to no warning.

    those same characteristics means that during bulk charge phase of LiFePO4. battery will literally accept all the amps that gets thrown at it. if charged at too high amp rate LiFePO4 will overheat and possibly melt if LiFePO4 battery is too small.

    BMW motorcycle have the highest parasitic drain of all motorcycles. HP2 due to near obsessive detail to eliminating weight has little to no fat left. so in the interest of weight reduction an 11AH AGM gets spec'd for HP2.

    So if you plan on doing actual Adventure duties a hundred mile from any support during cold weather. battery needs to be upgraded. For adventure duties .. my recommendation is go with AGM unless you are willing to spend the $$$ for the largest LiFePO4 you can stuff into HP2 battery tray. which is EarthX ETX36 with 14AH actual. Shorai LFX36 case size would be too big.

    currently EarthX newest gen are the most advanced LiFePO4 available. with internal BMS that controls cell balancing, overcharge and under discharge voltage protections using MOSFETs that will disconnect main buss. so most any PB charger will work.

    both ETX36 and LFX36 has given excellent performance with cold starts down to 20f on R80G/S. which has much higher cold starting requirements than a modern fuel injected bike. unless you get a bad load of fuel, then a fuel injected bike would need LOTS of cranking to hopefully get going again.

    Shorai LFX36 next to EarthX ETX36
    [​IMG]
  7. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    I wonder if any of you could answer which size (Ah) LiFePo4 battery I should get as a minimum for the following:

    Engine: 120CI X-wedge V-Twin (just under 2 litres)

    Led lights all around, although two powerful LED headlights.

    What amounts to heated jacket and gloves (it's actually seat heat, but it's the same thing).

    Pretty powerful alternator/38A rectifier

    The LA battery that came as standard can make it take upwards of thirty seconds to get it going (and it's not just mine, other people with same tried to put my mind at ease because their does it too).

    Now, although size matter to a degree (I can't have a Peterbilt truck battery), there is plenty of air above it and to two sides. And if need be, I can move a rather big oil tank somewhat. Er, what I'm trying to say is that I have plenty of room within reason, and that I can no problem fit a car battery - even a pretty long one in the space available.

    But, the reason I want a LiFePo4 is because I like the much smaller self-discharge, the lighter weight for a given Ah, the ability to use more of it if need be, and faster delivery of power, perhaps making it possible to start the thing within, say, ten second, even in the cold.

    Oh, I live in Scandinavia, and it gets cold here, so the ability to deliver even when cold is a must. I would also like "over and under protection" as in these recent ones, but it seems 7Ah is the largest? That seems a bit low in my mind, but I would like to hear what you guys would advice. :)


    Edit: I forgot to mention I need to be able to run my stereo/intercom/phone/GPS and such. And if I had some extra juice to charge a cell phone while the engine is not running once in a while, that wouldn't be too bad either.
  8. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    more information please .. you've got a completely custom V-twin with no comps to pull data from. there's mild to wild builds ...

    need weather temperatures and how bike will be used. doesn't matter if it's 15f outside if bike is parked in a heated garage and only taken out on nice sunny days, when temps reach say 40f.

    what's the temp of garage when cold starting? what battery is currently being used?
  9. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    It's a Morgan Threewheeler, not a custom bike. :norton

    Parked outside. Winter temps going down to -15 degrees centigrade at times (in a hard winter) during night. summer temps up to 30 degrees centigrade.
    Expected used: Both as a daily driver, but also for travel. I expect travelling 3 months at a time, both winter and summer. Places I will be using it: This winter or early spring going to Norway. If early spring, I will then go down through Europe and take a stint through Northern Africa.

    At worst I expect -15 degrees centigrade, but last year there were nights with -22 degrees, although very few. The battery is a small-capacity (for a car) Banner car Lead Acid battery with, if I remember correctly, 40Ah nominal. I don't know how much CCA it delivers, to be honest.

    The front lights I have ordered but have yet to install are leds instead of the original. We have to have driving lights on here in Europe.
  10. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    for a high performance 2 litre v-twin .. I'd stick with a car AGM exactly like what you've got installed.

    your v-twin is not comparable to a std 2 litre engine like a honda. my guess is amp requirements at -15c (5f) will be higher than a honda 2 litre.

    if you must go with LiFePO4 .. my recommendation is go with a 40AH prismatic LiFePO4 pack
    at -15c your LiFePO4 battery will lose aprox 1/2 of it's AH capacity. until current flowing warms up battery.

    main problem with using a E bike pack is amp delivery requirement are completely different. electric vehicle are worried about sustained current rates. not so much huge amp needs of starters.

    very strong straps are needed to insure battery will survive hard cranks.
    LiFePO4 prismatic battery configuration below is critical to increase your odds of success. you are on your own ...

    this 20AH actual electric vehicle pack costs about $125 + $40 for balancing circuits and has successfully started my R80G/S at 15f. weight is about 7lbs .. so a 40AH actual LiFePO4 pack should be about 14lb. 2x 20AH packs like below, in parallel with solid straps would do it.

    this sure is a LOT of trouble to gain very little ... stick with your AGM!
    [​IMG]
  11. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    :huh
    The reason I asked here, is that it's entirely motorcycle tech, except for the gear box, which is an Mazda MX 5-speeder. All the rest of it is motorcycle tech, so I figured there had to be a MC solution somewhere. I have seen LiFePo4 batteries with way over 500CCA, surely that would make a difference in the cold over the Lead-Acid I have (it's not AGM), which at most will put out 300CCA at best?

    Wouldn't a battery with way more CCA allow for a quicker start of a large V-twin? I mean, the X-Wedge engine is the one from SS Cycle, so it's basically a HD V-twin in function (although nicer, and easier to work on, imo), so what makes you say that basically there is no solution for my needs/wants? The seat heating system uses same or less power than a heated jacket and gloves, and the farkles I have is more or less the same as "real" motorcyclists' farkles, the engine is a motorcycle engine, the rectifier is a Harley Davidson rectifier. Where it differs is that I have room for a physically larger battery, and that I have two headlights, rather than one. Hell, it's even registred as a motorcycle (reverse) trike.:gyro

    I simply don't understand why you would say that there is no chance of swapping my L-A to a LiFePo4 starting battery.
  12. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    Super! I don't mind the "trouble" of researching and installing a battery or a couple of batteries. Hell, I'm building CF/Kevlar honeycomb seat bottoms and back rest plates at the moment to save a little weight (they're made from wood originally) because the thing is a tad obese I think, and because I want to. I enjoy the process of cutting a little weight here and there, thinking it adds up in the end, especially when traveling with all my stuff. If I can save ten kilos on the vehicle, that means those ten kilos of luggage won't result in ten kilos overweight, if you know what I mean.
  13. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    never said it couldn't be done ... just that it's a lot of trouble to go to. but that said .. anyone using honeycomb seats, with carbon fiber all over would be more than willing to go the extra mile.

    now that I've got more info ... another reason for 40AH actual spec's. auto alternators typically puts out 75+ amps. let's say your engine, lights, heater, etc uses say 15amp? using example of 75amp - 15 = 60amp .. that means 60 amps is directed at your depleted from starting LiFePO4 battery which will swallow all the amps you throw at it. if you don't have a large enough battery... it will overheat and possible catch on fire.

    another reason to go with that exact prismatic battery shown above. beside dirt cheap cost per AH .. I've already done limited R&D with cold starts .. but only down to 15f .. there's no reason why it shouldn't work at 5f.

    what size is your alternator?
  14. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    Okay, but just to be clear: This is not a car. It's a glorified motorcycle. It has a 38Amp H-D rectifier on the SS Cycle V-twin, and there is no way 75Amps is going into the battery. Yes, let's say 15 amps is consumed by farkles etc., that leaves, what, 23amps at most to go to the battery (at best/worst). Although I'm not entirely clear as to what that specifically means for a LiFePo4 battery relative to heating/overheating, there's quite a lot of difference between that and the 60 Amps in your example. Also, I'm pretty sure the alternator doesn't put out that amperage, but that I can check later today.
  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Ok that complete changes example above .. assuming your 38amp is correct ... overcharging too small a LiFePO4 battery will not be a problem. your main concern is LiFePO4 performance at -15c. which AH capacity will be reduced by 1/2 at those temps.

    have you measured your amp draw at -15c? how long sustained crank does it take to start at -15c?
  16. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    The 38 Amp is correct. I have ordered and installed it myself, after several of the standard rectifiers broke (as did other people's on their M3Ws - they too are now using the 38A H-D rectifier).

    That post of yours puts me somewhat at ease. So I should "simply" find out exactly what my wattage usage is, how much can continously be put into the battery, and then double the Ah to make sure it has proper CCA for the cold as well. Oh, and measure the actual amp draw of the engine when it starts, I take it?

    I haven't measured the amp draw at -15 yet. I will have to wait until winter for that one (late January or early February, if I'm "lucky").


    Okay, I will do some more pondering, a bit of calculations, and probably come back to this thread at a later date. Thanks, Cy :)
  17. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    go with EarthX ETX36 at 3lb 10oz... 14AH actual capacity with internal BMS for cell balancing, over/under voltage disconnect .. ok to use most any PB charger.

    don't believe those listings that tell you it's ok to put a tiny 5AH actual LiFePO4 battery in your 1,200cc bike. only it will be labeled an 18AH lead acid equivalent.

    if you use a 14AH actual LiFePO4, that battery will be bombproof even during extreme cold temps down to 15f. otherwise better to stick with your AGM ...

    HP2 came with an 11AH AGM so battery tray is limited in size. HP2 engineers made choices in weight savings knowing there would be compromise. it's marginal at best mating a 1200cc bike to an 11AH AGM.

    if one is only using HP2 for Starbuck duties in moderate temperatures, always leaving from a protect garage. No problems using a smaller 11AH battery. But what most folks don't understand is that battery has other purposes besides starting your bike.

    HP2 has a permanent magnet charging systems that uses a shunting rectifier/regulator with battery acting as a capacitor to dampen current loads. failure modes include stator dumping 18v+ at 30amp into battery. if subjected to 18v+ long enough bad things will happen to your battery, AGM or LiFePO4.

    think water in a pipe .. voltage = pressure .. current = flow

    12v LiFePO4 reaches full charge at 14.6v .. AGM resting volts 12.6v to 12.8v at full charge and don't like being charged over 14.8v with certain exceptions.

    LiFePO4 has an extremely low internal resistance allowing it to deliver huge amps until all AH capacity is used up. then power will drop to zero with little no warning. these same characteristics apply when charging LiFePO4. during bulk phase of charging, Li-ion batteries will swallow all the amps thrown at it. amp rates too high will overheat battery possibly melting the case.

    BMW has the highest parasitic loads of all motorcycles. all those high tech features continue to use a tiny current even when bike is shut down. so after you start your bike up with an almost dead LiFePO4 battery. your low LiFePO4 battery will be charging at about 30amps. charge rates are expressed in C = actual AH .. so EarthX ETX36 (14AH actual) would be getting charged at 2C (30amp) or no big deal.

    vs EarthX ETX18 (5AH actual at 1amp discharge rate) at 30amp would be getting slammed at 6C or way to high.

    note newest gen EarthX has internal BMS with cell balancing, high/low voltage cutoff using MOSFETs. most any PB charger will work .. it's the most advanced LiFePO4 currently available. good ole American engineering has done it again...

    Shorai LFX36 next to EarthX ETX36 .. both are about 14AH actual and would excellent for any 1200cc class bike. but HP2 small battery tray limits choices.

    [​IMG]
  18. ScienceOfDirt

    ScienceOfDirt U-Boat Rider

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    Anyone have any info on available gel batteries that fit the F800GS? I only found TrueGel. I'm interested in gel so the low voltage charge system will fully charge it. I'll put a MOSFET R/R in after the warranty is up, and probably switch to an optima.
  19. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    would not recommend a PB gel battery .. gel if charged at too high voltages will permanently damage battery.

    F800's charging system will not charge gel any faster than an AGM. at 3,000 rpm voltage will be lower than at idle, resulting in sluggish charging performance.

    changing out to MOSFET rectifier/regulator is recommended to increase regulator's voltage output at higher rpm. best to follow Joel Wiseman's specific recommendation on which MOSFET regulator to use.

    Modern BMW has the highest parasitic drain of all motorcycles. all those high tech features will use a tiny amount of current even while your motorcycle is off.

    if you decide to use a gel PB .. be sure to use a trickle/std charger specifically designed for gel's lower max voltage. which is why AGM is preferred over gel PB's narrower charging window.

    a drained battery combined with low voltage charging and short rides .. makes for sluggish PB battery performance. this is where LiFePO4 has an advantage of accepting a charge much faster.

    go with Daka or Odyssey AGM .. read Joel Wiseman's comments below and in this link

  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    LiFePO4 in motorcycle, especially in airheads presents an entirely new set of issues to deal with. in fact airheads has their own subset of charging issues that's found no where else.

    IMHO area below front cover is a hostile one .. at least to solid state electronics. comparing to auto engines is not exactly the same... due to engine fans combined with radiator vs very limited air flow on front covers with vents.

    still some airflow is better than none on earlier front covers without vents. sitting for 5 minutes at a traffic light in 95f+ weather and/or riding in slow moving traffic comes to mind.

    it's long established that heat effects failure rates for solid state devices. halls sensors and diode boards are two of the most common failure points on airheads. aftermarket diode boards all feature massive heat sinks to improve survival rates. but they too can fail. B+ wire has a high rate of failure and should be suspect during trouble shooting. there's a $15 kit that replaces all the wires.

    if faced with a choice of permanent magnet charging system vs electro magnet .. I'm firmly in camp for electro magnet charging system for a number of reasons. which takes way too long for now. (planing on covering that later)

    especially if one intends on using LiFePO4 in their airhead RTW. best AGM is Odyssey PC925 at 26lb vs EarthX ETX36 (14AH actual) 3lb 10oz.

    22lb weight saving equals a major chunk of your luggage. almost two years into long term test using LiFePO4 on R80G/S.

    so far Shorai LFX36 and EarthX ETX36 both have been bombproof .. including starting at 15f

    compare vents on 81 R80G/S front cover vs 74 R90S below
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]