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

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

  1. Rajin Cajun

    Rajin Cajun Been here awhile

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    And speaking of Ducati's, my 998R is a BEAST to turn over :eek1 but my 999R & Aprilia spin over without breaking a sweat!
  2. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

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    I quess I come to this from a different perspective than some of the younger ADV riders. I wouldn't take a spare battery on a bike trip. I spend a lot of time, money, energy, blood, sweat(grins, no tears), planning so I don't have to take any "unnessary" stuff. When I started doing this in the early '70's, We rodeTrials bikes(with camping gear) all over the Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, Teluride CO area. Lots of jeep trails, single tracks and game trails. Then went to the XR/XL's with those little batteries that would fit in the palm of your hand and when they went dead we didn't even replace them. Never did figure out what they were for. Now we've got the KLR type bikes with no kicker(I really miss the kicker back up like on your old BMW cy). You can always jump start, push, pull or bump start most of these bikes if you have to. The reason I"m following you guys on this thread is it would be nice to eliminate that nasty sulfuric acid and of course the weight. BTW having to pick up one of those giant "800lb ADVbikes" in the back country is a little more adventure than I can handle. When you get past 60 the first rule is "DON"T FALL !!! Still do it but with a little more focus.
  3. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

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    My two cents:

    Some of the discussion about lead/acid batteries here has been about lead acid batteries "loosing capacity" as it gets colder and becoming "less efficient".

    This is true depending on how you define the words, but I think it is probably giving people not heavily educated in batteries the wrong impression.

    No battery chemistry I can think of looses amp hour capacity with lower temperatures. What does happen is the battery looses the capacity to support a given electrical demand continuously without falling below a specific terminal voltage.

    In other words, if you leave your headlight on without the engine running and it is super cold, fairly rapidly the sluggish chemical reactions in a lead/acid battery will lag and your bike won't start up long before the actual amp hours of the battery are depleted.

    Now, turn the key back off, wait 20 minutes for the cold sluggish chemical reactions to ketch back up, flip the key back on, and that capacity less whatever was withdrawn is still there and you can fire the bike right up.

    Of course if you leave the key on again or have to crank for a long time and you will have to rest the lead/acid battery again before it can start the bike.


    Same thing with the use of the word "efficiency" It is being used in a way that implies that the battery looses ultimate capacity with temperature. It does not, it simply looses efficiency at keeping up with continuous demand. The lead/acid battery converts chemical energy to electrical energy just as efficiently when cold as hot. Thats to say, the losses when converting are nearly the same at different temperatures, it is simply not as efficiently at doing it quickly.


    CCA as it has always been defined is only somewhat applicable to modern adventure motorcycles. CCA IS the minimum number of amps the battery will flow at a temperature of 0 F for 30 consecutive seconds without falling below a terminal voltage of 7.2. This is kinda sorta applicable to an R80GS, though I don't know anyone that would crank an R80GS for 30 consecutive seconds, but 7.2 terminal volts is not relevant to more modern fuel injected bikes because the computer checks out from low voltage long before that threshold is reached.

    I think pulse amps for 5 seconds is far more relevant at differing temperatures with rest times between attempts to start. With anything other then a diesel this tends to be how people attempt to start an engine and rightfully so.

    The 5 second pulse capacity of lead acid batteries is very good, even at oh my god cold.

    What isn't so good and screws many people that ride in extremes is just how much more current is required to crank over a super cold engine. I for instance have ridden in minus 40 F, and don't even bat an eyelash when it is merely minus 5 F.

    My capo takes 1mS peaks of 340 amps and a 3 second average of 259 amps to start at minus 5 F. The computer remains conscious down to 8.9 battery terminal volts but it, the starter and ignition system would sure like more.

    Shorais application chart for batteries is a bad joke, as is their Q&A. They now list the LFX21 as recommended to start the BMW F800GS, up from the LFX14 they used to list. I suspect this reflects that they have noticed that F800GS riders are adventuring into temperature extremes and possibly they are noticing battery failures due to imbalance that is not self equalizing at the F800GSs anemic 13.8 volt charging regulation, but whatever.

    They also currently list the LFX 14 for the Aprilia Caponord. This is comedy. The F800GS on it's worse day at the north pole is easier to crank and starts quicker then The Capo in a southern californian summer.

    In Shorais FAQ section they state this:

    "In any case, CCA ratings aren't about actually drawing that much current from a battery. The typical vehicle which uses a 200A CCA-rated battery, for example, will only draw 45A~80A from the battery. What the CCA rating really intends to convey is how much voltage will be delivered."

    What planet are the guys writing Shorais web site from??? I may be willing to buy one of Shorais batteries, but if I do it will be despite the bull they are shoveling on their web site.

    45A-80A from a bike with a 200 CCA battery? Get real. The BMW R1200GS, F800GS, ST, S, R, K1300S, Aprilia Shiver Caponord, and Falco all take a 200CCA battery. The shiver is pretty good only needing about a 110 amp 3 second average to start, on a warm summer day but the rest of them are in the 130 amp range or more on a warm day, more when cold.

    I am much more pleased with Antigravity, assuming these made up "pbeq" numbers hold any stock between manufactures, as they list a 12 cell for standard duty on the BMW F8 and R12GS as well as Caponord and 16 cell for high power.

    Ballistic is recommending an 8 cell for the Caponord, R1200GS, F800GS and a 12 cell for the R80GS. What??? You can kick start the R80GS! I have started R80GS with a 6 volt battery in the field :) It was very warm but thats a bike that doesn't need much terminal voltage to fire.

    P.S. Shorai, Ballistic, Your application charts are flawed, Yours too AntiGravity, though just in model years shown, your recommendations seem better. I have screen captures from my scope while measuring cranking amps with a shunt rather then a clamp that gets mislead by strong magnetic fields from the starter and solenoid. I have them for almost everything BMW currently makes as well as Aprilia and most go Guzzi.

    I have paperless recorder charts of many of these bikes stock voltage regulator behaviors and a little knowledge too, such as, the R1200GS has an actual pinion that gets shoved into a flywheel as well as a computer that disconnects the starter below 9.8 volts for 100 ms. Cranking it into low voltage makes BMW dealers happy because over time it wastes the flywheel teeth and allows us to bill for pulling the tranny, but it will loose you customers when we explain your fancy but too small battery is responsible.

    The Caponord comes complete with an electrical system only the French, Italians, or Brits could design. Voltage drop through the pathetically small solenoid and super long small gauge starter cable is horrible.

    The F800GS R/R is a mistake. Voltage is set as if charging a gel battery. Heck, even the BMW's that actually come with a gel battery have a higher charging voltage then The F8. This and slight leakage differences between cells may be killing your batteries. I have a Shorai from F8 duty with 45% imbalance and many stories on the web of sudden death of Shorai batteries in this bike.

    Knowledge and screen captures are free to whatever manufacture wants it out of goodwill to the motorcycle community. But all of your application charts are terribly flawed, and recommended battery sizes of at the least Shorai and Ballistic are crazy. Once again, AntiGravity, you seem better with the recommendations.

    Alright, long random post. I will finish with this. We need some standardized test data to find differences between brands as well as some specific info for the particulars of the adventure community.

    This thread has some good info, but what a lithium battery will do in an R80GS with a modified charging system is good to know but does not tell us much about the remainder of the field. An R80GS is super cool and I envy you _cy_, but that has to be one of the retest adventure bikes still in use on this planet and bares little resemblance to the charging and starting characteristics of more modern bikes.
  4. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

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    2bold I agree, weight sucks as does complexity and I'd rather get it right then need redundancy, but....

    For the F800GS and F800GS, two common adventure bikes... They have a basic module called a ZFE that controls power all over the bike and replaces a shit load or relays and fuses.

    It is high tech, reduces weight, and destroys batteries. On occasion, the super smart ZFE glitches and fails to shut down when you turn off the key, which just sends a logic signal to the ZFE.

    When this happens, there is no outward sign, but depending in what stage the shut down cycle glitches, the bike draws between 0.2 amps and 2.3 amps until the battery is dead dead, as in terminal voltage below 2 volts.

    Lead acid batteries hate this, but the better ones can be recovered with a small booster battery and some aggressive charging. I doubt lithium batteries stand the remotest chance of recovery but could be wrong.

    On the F8, incidence of the ZFE hanging is in the order of once or twice a year. The R1200GS is closer to once every two years, but regardless, if this happens while you happen to be crossing a desert... You will need an extra power source, or at least a solar panel with a hot charger to force current thought your super sulfated lead/acid battery.

    A kick starter on a simpler bike would be better, but it is not the path most of humanity is taking so I think dual power systems, or at least a solar charger and discussion of what batteries can be recovered from stone dead is in order.
  5. Rajin Cajun

    Rajin Cajun Been here awhile

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    Nice post Joel! I'm not as technically savvy as CY but I will post up some of the data on the Antigravity battery in my SE and as soon as I place the order I'll be getting a few more for some of the other bikes in my shop.
  6. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

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    I'm guessing that most of the rest of the world doesn't know about this ZFE module glitch on the BMWs or they wouldn't buy one, unless there's a fix. That's why we keep changing bikes...looking for a bike that fits and performs the tasks at hand, with a minimum of complications. Same with batteries.
  7. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    A123 says you can cycle their cells to 100% depth of discharge repeatedly.
  8. jphii

    jphii OK, now what?

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    Hey Scott, it turned in to one of those weeks, so I'll give you a call tomorrow.
  9. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    yes but what A123 considers to be 100% depth of discharge is not low as battery can go. Joel is right on this. what he is referring to is a glitch that causes up to a 2.3 amp discharge. which will drain battery down way below 100% discharged condition into likely unrecoverable. using Shorai's chart 100% discharge would be 9.2v.

    [​IMG]
  10. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

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    From Ballistics FAQ:
    "What happens if I discharge my Ballistic Performance Components Battery?
    One of the primary benefits of lithium ferrous phosphate batteries is that they discharge at an incredibly slow rate (10% per year of static use) so it is very hard to discharge the battery in a conventional application with an on board charging system. If for some reason you discharge your Ballistic Performance Components Battery the best thing to do is to recharge it as soon as possible. You should not allow the battery to discharge below 9.0Volts, as this can damage the cells. If the battery is drained below 6.0Volts then the battery is considered to be discharged beyond its capacity and it should be discarded according to local land fill regulations."


    From Shorais FAQ:
    "Do not allow the resting voltage to fall below 12.86V" which equates with 80% DOD,


    From Antigravitys FAQ:
    "You can damage the battery if you let it drain to below 10v volts. This is true of ANY battery, lead/acid or lithium. Draining a battery to this level will damage the battery cells. This is not a concern if you remember to turn off your ignition, or turn off any accessories that are not ignition switched. You should also make sure your vehicle does not have an “parasitic drain” or “short circuit”. A “parasitic drain” is something like an accessory that is pulling energy from the battery even though the ignition is “off”… Sometimes a short can also be the cause of a drain on the battery though all accessories are “off”."


    Grant it, they are a different chemistry, but I have a lithium laptop and heated vest battery that both have protection circuits that shut the battery down permanently once a certain critically low voltage is reached. As it happens, I temporarily bypassed the low voltage circuit to get enough voltage in the heated vest battery to charge it normally right now.

    This picture is where I am charging it, with good reason.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joel_wisman/6819993588/" title="Li-ion by joel.wisman, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7201/6819993588_70110c07e9_z.jpg" width="640" height="480" alt="Li-ion"></a>

    I am not doubting that A123 said that, but am doubting everything manufactures of lithium batteries are saying at the moment because there is so much contradiction!

    Does anyone wish to test if you can drain a LiFePo4 powersports battery to a terminal voltage of 3 volts and bring it back AND have it not catch fire during recharging?
  11. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

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    I was hunting for my card reader to post the pic above as you posted _cy_

    Time will tell, that Li-ion is 7.4 volt and was down to 0.11 volts. As it happens I got it into normal range using its power supply through a 10kohm resistor.

    I'm still charging it in the fireplace for a reason lol
  12. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    Shorai isn't A123. I'll try to remember to consult with a friend who has seriously abused A123 cells for a project. He wound up using Ener1 cells.
  13. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    assuming you are referring to two cell lithium cobalt 7.4 battery pack

    procedure to recover lithium cobalt (4.2v max 3.7v nominal) is to charge at .01C until volt raises above 3.25v per cell. then charge rate .5C to hopefully full recovery.

    recovered many a li-ion cell this method with Schulze isl 6-330d .. the new Powerlab 8 is hugely more capable. they call it a battery workstation instead of a charger for good reason.

    charged many a lithium cobalt battery inside my fireplace insert with 1/4in steel construction. fireplace was the safest spot in the house. greatest danger from using li-ion (lithium cobalt) cells occurs during charging. lithium cobalt chemistry will accept a charge until thermal runaway (explosion) occurs at about 4.35v. this is why it's very important to only charge lithium cobalt cells with a charger that terminates charge at 4.2v. above link is from an article I wrote five years ago on Candlepower forums

    no Shorai isn't A123 .. but both use LiFePO4 chemistry. Shorai uses four flat prismatic cells wired in series, different size of prismatic cells are used to achieve desired amp hour rating. Ballistic and SYCL uses cylindrical A123 cells wired in series. then paralleled to desired amp hour rating. currently there are only about 12 different mfg of lithium cells in the world.

    plans are to drill in later, advantages and disadvantages of prismatic vs cylindrical LiFePO4 cells
  14. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    worthwhile clip to watch about accurately measuring a battery's amp hour capacity. Agilent equipment is designed specifically for phone size batteries and are limited to 100 watt range... cost big $$$.

    this is why Cellpro Powerlab 8 from Progressive RC was chosen to test/charge LiFePO4 motorcycle batteries. providing power supply is large enough, up to 40 amp charge rates. 1350 watts regenerative discharge rates are possible. PC controlled software to track results is free. very modest cost $$ considering capabilities.

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/NpFRF9zgNn8" allowfullscreen="" width="560" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe>

    [​IMG]

    http://www.progressiverc.com/fma-powerlab-8.html
  15. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    cool thread

    until prices come down on alternative batteries types, i keep coming back to Deka AGM for the price. I find these last for 4-5 years with no issues and no maintenance needed. They are 1/2 the price of the new technology batteries and so unless these new batteries last 9-10yrs (an i doubt that) the cost benefit is not there.

    Yes they weigh a few pounds less so only in light 250 thumpers would it be noticed. On heavy dual-sports and adv bikes the only thing lighter feeling is your wallet.
    http://www.tristatebattery.com/product_info.php?cPath=36_96_235&products_id=973
  16. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    A123 is a unique chemistry as compared to other LiFePo. I accidentally overcharged four in series until they fail. There was a "pop" and some smelly steam. A friend tested a cell at 130 amps until it failed. After about 30 seconds the smoke came out and it fell apart. No comparison to LiPo or lithium cobalt.
  17. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    there's only about 12 lithium ion battery mfg in the world. ALL use their own unique chemistry to make LiFePO4 batteries. so yes A123's chemistry is unique, but so is everyone else.

    ALL batteries regardless of type .. if abused by severely overcharging, over discharge, etc. will probably have bad results. this includes LiFePO4. anyone that's experienced an explosion from charging gases from wet lead acid batteries will agree.

    there's been documented instances of folks on RC forums. on purpose severely overcharging LiFePO4 battery packs that's resulted in fires. I've communicated with folks that's seen it happen under NDA. so they were not able to disclose how it was done.

    Is it perfect? NO..fact is LiFePO4 chemistry is MUCH safer than Lithium cobalt cells.
  18. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    You should make that clear when you reference different batteries. Prismatic versus cylindrical cells don't mean much more than physical appearance. A123 makes a prismatic cell.

    Also, the A123 will charge at higher rates and discharge at higher rates than any other LiFePo.
  19. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Easily one of the most knowledgeable person on the planet for testing Li-ion cells.... David Gray of Progressive RC has graciously agreed to share with ADV results of a few tests for A123 cells.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  20. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    Is it just me, or is Anorak trying a bit too hard to argue that A123 is the best battery in the world - flawless, and miles ahead of all the others?