What kind of battery for adventuring, is Lithium up to the challenge?

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by JoelWisman, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. Gangplank

    Gangplank Advenchaintourer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,316
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Ok, well then carry on.

    Can't for the life of me understand why anyone would want one unless they were racing.

    Light is good if you need it.
    Charge is good when you need it.
    Dead battery is bad always.
  2. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,392
    Location:
    STL, MO, USA
    Of the bikes towed into gateway BMW during my time there that were R1200GS/GSA, F800GS, F650GS, and G650GS....

    About 1/4 of the tow ins had batteries that failed entirely or were at least dead, some mid trip out of the blue.

    Fully about half of all those models towed in had issues totally unrelated to the battery or charging system BUT would fire right up when I hooked a booster battery or boost charger to them. The typical culprit was stuck fuel pumps, stuck fuel injectors, partially plugged injectors, or a sensor that was drifting out of parameters making the bike impossible to start with the stock battery.

    First while cranking I would feel the fuel pump hose to figure out if the fuel system was pressurizing, listen for the injector opening click and smell the raw exhaust for clues on fuel mixture. 60 seconds later I usually knew what was wrong or had at least greatly narrowed the possibilities, so next I would attach a large jump box or the big boost charger always in my stall and wham, start the bike right up as if nothing was wrong.

    I could do this because stuck pumps and injectors usually unstick when you have more voltage during cranking. Poor starting fuel mixture from poor injector patterns, wet plugs or drifting sensors can usually be overcome by cranking the engine faster and the hotter spark the ignition system makes when starting voltage is higher. I already knew if the fuel pump or injectors were stuck just by feeling and listening, but diagnosing sensors and injector patterns is much easier with the bike idling.


    Of the remaining 25% of bikes that wouldn't start with more starting voltage, usually leaving the bike key on for long stretches and cranking repeatedly was required to conduct diagnosis and find the culprit.


    In a dealership, getting more cranking voltage is a wall receptacle away and leaving the key on is no issue with a charger attached.


    On touring or especially adventure bikes, more CCA and Amp Hours are probably the single most likely thing to save you from a hike. The battery is the very first thing I have upgraded in every car and motorcycle I have ever owned. Because of this, at 38 years of age, I have only needed a tow truck twice. Once for a blown engine and once for a blown clutch.

    My diagnostic skills play into this but a powerful battery gave me the time to use them, and reduced the number of times I had to use those skills at all.


    The stock Yuasa/Excide F800 and R1200 batteries suck and stand a good chance of stranding you. The stock Deka battery is very good, but more is better and thats what I'm looking for in these LiFePo4 batteries, without success so far, but at least 2 more brands to go before I know.

    What does everyone think, make sense? or do I sound full of bull lol
  3. Gangplank

    Gangplank Advenchaintourer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,316
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Makes sense...

    if you find one better than the deka let us know....
  4. ebrabaek

    ebrabaek Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,495
    Location:
    Grand Valley, Colorado
    Makes sense to me.....and your work is most appreciated.....:thumb:thumb

    Erling
  5. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,392
    Location:
    STL, MO, USA
    The Odyssey PC535 is at least more durable then the Deka ETX14, but I don't know on the CCA or AH yet, and you have to modify the battery tray and strap.

    I have high hopes for AntiGravities battery. The owner of that company is focused on quality and he has his FAQ's right unlike Shorai who's FAQ section is a blatantly false piece of advertising.
  6. Mike.C

    Mike.C Stelvio Dreamer!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    594
    Location:
    Brisbane-Australia
    Absolutely agree it makes perfect sense, but the one reason I am attracted to the new batteries is weight saving which is so great it is significant. For me it is a case of crap ability and too much bravado so lighter is always better and might save the day LOL, for Sally it's just a case of strength and size so any weight saving helps just that little bit.

    If they can be made to work by perhaps over sizing to allow some leeway when needed and altering the charging system to suit, then IMHO the weight saving is worth the effort to persist with them.
  7. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,736
    Location:
    The great state of confusion
    Thanks Joel!
    At only 0.11 volts it hardly seems worth the trouble, but if bigger wires from R/R to battery did help damp the ringing that seems like it would be worthwhile ... bigger wires should allow the R/R to "see" the capacatance of the battery a bit better ... we'll see where Erling gets on this...........

    I wonder if any engineers at BMW read these treads? :lol3
  8. REVjimenez

    REVjimenez ESSCAPEr

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    190
    Location:
    Savannah Ga
    @Joel, quite appreciate your point by point responses...as I did getting some insight to why Batteries Plus says they won't carry them [for now]...
  9. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,426
    Location:
    Pacific NorthWet
    Very interesting thread! I've been dabbling with Lithium batts in my motorcycles for a few years. After some questionable experiences with A123 batts wrapped in various shrink wraps etc, I was intrigued with the Shorai when they first came out, because of the nice packaging, super light weight, and prismatic cells are well proven and in heavy use in model RC craft, military UAVs etc. No reason they can't be made to work with a simple app like a motorcycle battery starter.

    I have no connection to Shorai, just an end-user geek engineer who liked the concept. Not wanting to spend a bunch of $$ to try every other A123-in-better-packaging variant, I've stayed with the Shorai for now. I have spoken with them a lot about the deficiencies and they do seem very interested in solving the problems. My KTM990 needs a pretty good punch to start, especially on the below freezing days I commute with it, and the battery space for it is pretty small. I have found like everyone else that you have to heat up the internal Li chemistry before it will put out enough punch to start well. Problem is, again like it's been discussed, it's hard on the mechanical starting system to be undervoltaged while using starting "pulls" to heat the Li batt quickly.

    I don't know the folks at AntiG, Ballistic, etc, but the Shorai folks I know are working on that problem. Stuffing more cell storage over-capacity into a smaller space would probably solve the inherent cold-soak start problems but it of course makes the batteries even more expensive, so there needs to be some techno-trickery applied to get smaller Li batts warmed up to their task.

    I have the programmable cell balancing chargers from RC hobby tinkering that work perfectly well with the Shorai balance port (that connector is from RC gear BTW) for example, but Li batts for legacy motorcycle charging systems need to be able to live in the single-point charging system environment, and not have to force the end-user into having to essentially install an extra balancing charger on the bike to condition the Li packs. The Li battery should have the electronics built-in if it wants to compete and be a true drop-in for legacy Lead/Acid systems.

    If you really want to geek-up and manage a Li battery to within one millivolt at all times just for the heck of it, buy a small 1 to 3 Amp RC programmable charger and stuff it in the bike, all done (for Shorai) but would need need balance ports for the A123 cell batts, which they don't have AFAIK.

    Also just recently, several Husaberg dirtbikes set the Guiness 2-wheel altitude riding record. I chatted with those guys before they went up and let them know about the warmup cycle and that's just what they did. At the really high altitudes in sub-freezing temps they packed an extra battery (they were Shorai's BTW) in their pack for extra punch after severe cold-soak at altitude, and they were able to start. :thumb

    Fun stuff! :beer
  10. ebrabaek

    ebrabaek Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,495
    Location:
    Grand Valley, Colorado
    I'm fraid my biggest surprise will be on how high my meter reads... It used to be accurate...... But we shall see... Because if all I gain is 0.1 volts..... and my meter is reading correct...then I'm good.... But perhaps that is wishful thinking....:lol3

    :thumb:thumb

    Erling
  11. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,392
    Location:
    STL, MO, USA
    If it damps the ring, the voltage gain will be more. I just have zero luck estimating things like that.
  12. ebrabaek

    ebrabaek Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,495
    Location:
    Grand Valley, Colorado
    I cant think of anyone estimating it better....:thumb... Anyway.... tomorrow I'm out of waranty..... and since I solder better than I weld... I have no issues trying this.....even as a long shot.... I just want the new BK meter here so the findings ...before and after are solid..... You got me thinking my old shack meter has drifted on it's old days..... But that seems to be the case with myself as well.....:freaky...
    Hopefully it will be here sometime next week......:thumb:thumb

    Erling
  13. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,392
    Location:
    STL, MO, USA
    I am completely open to any and all information because 1) I do think a chemistry besides lead acid is ultimately the way to go and 2) I don't enjoy recommending against a manufacture or product.

    As it stands, I am rapidly approaching saying "don't buy Shorais products"

    I have never spoken directly with anyone at Shorai, but understand them to have outstanding service so I wanted to like their product right off the batt.

    The problem I have with Shorai to date are...

    Build quality. Yes it's better then the shrink wrapped products but it is not a gasketed case. Cup your mouth around the case over one of the terminals and blow, air comes out around the other terminal.

    One of the used Shorai batteries sent to me had liquid inside so that when you shake the battery upside down small droplets come out and its pretty nasty liquid. I don't think it is electrolyte as there is very little moisture in LiFePO4 cells to my knowledge, rather I think it is water with corrosion from the various exposed metals inside.

    Same thing with the BMS port, that little rubber cap is not making a good seal.

    One of the 4 Shorais in my possession was sent for destructive testing by a bike shop and I really wanted to charge it at 21 volts, 18 amps, which is as high as I suspect a bike charging system could ever go before other things break shutting down the engine. I know what lead/acid batteries do in these conditions and it is bad, but wanted to compare it to what the Shorai does which I suspect would have been less bad.

    Unfortunately I destroyed that battery 24 seconds into a 200 amp load test (epic quantity of white smoke when a LiFePO4 cell shorts internally), but, I still managed to do a water test with the now useless Shorai battery. Sink it in a bucket of water and little bubbles come out around the terminals and BMS port rubber cover till the battery fills with water.

    This is not an issue for the average fair weather rider, but it is a big problem for tourers and adventures that not only ride through monsoon but drop their bikes during water crossings now and then.

    Add to that fiddly terminals, and yes the new style is better but still ultra weak compared to a cheap lead/acid battery.

    And finally, speaking of BMS ports... It does not look fused to me and if you shut the rubber cover wrong it shorts pins to pins.



    Next gripe, performance. It is TERRIBLE on all 4 batteries. This part is confusing to me. You could never completely model a battery as a power source in series with a resistor (and parallel for internal discharge) because it's also a chemical reactor with a somewhat linear limitation, but.... What lead acid batteries do, there current and voltage curves make sense and all you need to do is scale for differing current rates.

    Not at all the case with any of the Shorais. Under light load the voltage drop is tiny and indicates fantastic internal resistance. If all you ever started was a warm 180cc motor scooter you would think their CCA PBEQ was accurate. Apply a heavy load, like my bike draws when cool and the voltage just falls on it's nose. This behavior is completely non-linear and present in all 4 of the Shorai batteries I have tested.

    Basically, when you need power the most, say when starting a 1000cc V-twin that is cold, and to extend cranking when it is not starting well and needs all the terminal volts a good battery can muster, the Shorai batteries will completely let you down.

    I'm not describing this well, but lets say we have a lead/acid battery that drops a half a volt under a 100 amp load in 10 seconds.

    You would think same such battery would drop a full volt under a 200 amp load for 10 seconds and actually a little more because the electrolyte can't defuse onto the active material fast enough.

    With a 270 CCA PBEQ Shorai the 100 amp voltage drop is very low in 10 seconds but absolutely massive under a 200 amp load to the point of being worthless at 12 seconds.

    This is NOT behavior I am used to with a lead/acid battery and I do not understand the mechanism behind it, but contrary to Shorais FAQ a 200 amp load is damn straight something a 270 CCA battery should be able to carry, and it should be able to cary it for more then 30 seconds.

    With both batteries starting at 72 degrees F, a $50, 2 year old Yuasa YTX12 battery was putting out 10.1 volts 10 seconds into a 200 amp load. I don't even like Yuasa and have never been impressed with their batteries! 10 seconds into a 200 amp load a $190 Shorai LFX18 was only managing 8.3 volts. At 20 seconds into a 200 amp load the Yuasa was putting out 9.8 volts while the Shorai was down to 4.6 volts which isn't usable.

    In sunny California for a sport bike, cool, try a Shorai. Riding anywhere a tow is more then a cell phone call away how could I possibly recommend a Shorai?


    That is a serious question. I have tried 5 second loads followed by one minute rests on the Shorais to preheat the cells and many other combinations as well. I haven't and won't be getting to testing the batteries cold because I can't get good performance warm. My best estimate is that a 270 CCA PBEQ Shorai performs about like a 90 CCA lead/acid battery beyond 3 seconds and under the kind of load one ordinarily puts a 200 CCA battery in.

    The voltage drop was just as terrible in my Aprilia Caponord including a complete inability to start the bike below 40F. In my 180 cc scooter the shorai worked great, even slightly better then the same 180 CCA lead/acid battery that so totally handed the Shorai it's ass once both were tested in the Caponord and 200 amp load test.


    Am I looking at this the wrong way, or should a battery labeled 270CCA be able to start a bike that has a high starting load but comes stock with a 200CCA lead acid battery?



    Lastly Shorais FAQ pisses me off.

    "While there are other companies now offering Lithium-Iron based powersports batteries, all except Shorai use cylindrical cells originally made for power tool applications. Such cells are inferior to Shorai Prismatic LFX, for several reasons."

    This is BS. It implies that manufactures using cylindrical cells ARE using power tool batteries. THEY ARE NOT. Most are using cylindrical cells designed for SLI or traction requirements. In any case, if we want to talk history, prismatic cells were invented for mobile phones. If you want to scavenge some old batteries to start your motorcycle, I would suggest take them out of a power tool pack, not your cell phone! Either way, SLI companies using prismatic and cylindrical sells are generally using a specifically engineered product at this point.


    Every Shorai LFX is built in our own ISO 9000:2008 certified factory."

    Yeah, so where is that factory? Could we see pictures? Is it by chance in China and do you really own it?


    "Q. Why are Shorai LFX priced below other lithium starter batteries?
    A.Shorai LFX batteries are produced exclusively in our own dedicated factory, in large volume, by an experienced production team. The resulting high yields reduces our costs, and the factory-direct connection allows us to offer pricing which is competitive with traditional OEM lead-acid batteries, and lower than any other lithium-based alternative."

    Horse dung. The LFX21 lists for $230 and has 7 amp hour cells, not the 21AH listed on their BS labels and FAQ. A 12 cell AntiGravity battery has 2.3 AH cells paralleled 3 deep so 6.9 AH for $220. Ballistic has their 6.9 AH battery listed at $190.. As far as dollar per CCA or dollar for WH, not there yet but unless the other manufactures are lying more then Shorai, Shorai has one of the most expensive products on the market.


    "Q. How does the LFX "PBeq AHr" capacity rating compare to lead-acid Ahr ratings?"

    The true answer, as apposed to Shorais, is it doesn't compare. Every part of Shorais answer is BS. There is a grain of truth to some things they say in answer, but only a grain. Established by both cranking and leaving the motorcycle key on, Shorais AH PBEQ compares to a quality lead/acid battery with only 1/3 the AH rating, which is funny because that is exactly the real capacity of the Shorais actual cell capacity as apposed to the PBEQ shit they shovel.


    "Q. How does the LFX "CCA" cold-cranking rating compare to lead-acid Ahr ratings?
    A.CCA ratings another way that lead-acid makers have tried to convey starting power."

    This is NOT and has NEVER been true. the lead/acid SLI industry has always used AH to convey the time you can run a load with their battery. It is a measure of battery capacity, not current or starting power. Most automotive SLI batteries don't even advertise AH. BUT AH ratings are useful for many things, including how long the tourer can run a radio with the key off or an adventurer can leave the headlight on and still have power to start the bike. Shorai has made this figure completely useless on their batteries by inflating it by a factor of 3.

    There is a small grain of truth to the logic that the lower internal resistance of a Shorai battery will allow you to start at a lower battery capacity, but no more then a grain. Further, if you crank with a low lead/acid battery, you may cause some damage to a cell but usually only a little damage. With a high load starting system, crank on too low of a Shorai and you will reverse a cell which instantly destroys the battery completely to the point it won't ever so much as light a tail light.



    "Unfortunately, their typical spec is based on a "half-nominal-voltage" delivery. That is, at their CCA spec, you can expect 7.2V delivered, at best; and 7.2V isn't useful, as you won't start a vehicle with it... "

    No, CCA specs are for 7.2 volts under the test conditions at WORST. But yes, 7.2 volts isn't useful to a fuel injected bike and neither is the 4.6 volts your 270 CCA PBEQ was putting out 20 seconds into a test a 2 year old lead/acid 180CCA battery was putting out 9.8 volts which was useful


    "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. Higher CCA rated batteries will deliver more voltage at the same actual cranking current."

    IN A PIGS EYE!!!!!! First this 45A-80A motorcycle is mythical. BMW, the last manufacture I worked for does not have a single vehicle with this low of draw on a warm day let alone a cold day.

    Second, yes, higher CCA batteries should deliver more voltage at the same current which is exactly what Shorai batteries are not doing.




    " Our LFX are CCA rated to deliver 9V for a 5-second crank at the CCA rated current. (in fact, our average voltage delivered will be even higher during a 30-second crank. "

    I can't tell you what the 30 second cranking voltage was of the LFX21 at 30 seconds because while drawing 200 amps from Shorais 305 CCA PBEQ rated battery the smoke came out and voltage dropped to zero at 24 seconds.

    With the LFX18 the voltage was 4.633 at 20 seconds of 200 amp load where I stopped because the battery was hissing and crackling. Shorais voltage is going to be higher? The LFX18 is supposedly 270 CCA PBEQ, COME ON!


    I can't even continue because my blood is starting to boil. If you buy a massively larger battery from Shorai then they recommend and a battery that is truly massive according to their CCA PBEQ labels, it might work just fine as long as you don't get it wet.

    But I have a serious problem with any company that puts out a FAQ like Shorai has and has specs that are as patently false as Shorais are.

    Here is Shorais FAQ http://www.shoraipower.com/t-faq.aspx


    Here is a video of me load testing a Shorai against two lower rated batteries http://youtu.be/UVeJnjpWGEE

    I'm leaving it unlisted for now while I mull if I am being unfair in some way. If others have thoughts on if I am being fair or if there are things I am not considering or do not know, please speak up.

    Here is a link to disproving Shorais AH PBEQ but you can see voltage drops on a warm well running bike as well.
    http://youtu.be/7SflmGhblRY

    Should I make the CCA video listed?
  14. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,860
    Location:
    Eastern Montana
    Let the facts of the tests speak for themselves. While the FAQ sheet from the company is frustrating, it is a side issue.

    That is my vote.

    Thanks for the work on this Joel. My '09 is starting to experience some charging problems, so I'm reading what I can find. Your information and testing is a great help.

    David
  15. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,426
    Location:
    Pacific NorthWet
    Great response Joel! I for one would like to see the video.

    I am also open to whatever good info is out there. As I said earlier I just didn't want to spend any more on batteries right now because the Shorai's are still working on my 2 bikes, even through this Winter in Seattle area (riding in the teens) and lots and lots of rain. I agree with you the Shorai's should be sealed better unless there is some reason it needs to be vented, then it should have a way to drain. The KTM990 and my Husaberg dirtbike keep the batteries pretty well protected and I haven't drowned them in a stream recently.

    I am curious which of the cylindrical Li battery vendors has shown a clear performance advantage? Many of them look to be the same molded red/black plastic case with different brand labels so it would be good to know before I spend more on Li batts. Also from what I've seen the cylindrical-based batts look to be even pricier than the Shorais, ouch.

    I have seen a few Li vendors duke it out with Shorai tech online and it wasn't pretty, and so far all pretty inconclusive either way.
  16. picard

    picard engage!

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,777
    Location:
    The Front Range, Califrado
    I wanted to compare cold with warm engine - a little different so here goes:

    cold before key on
    [​IMG]

    Cold - Key on
    [​IMG]

    Cold engine at idle
    [​IMG]

    cold engine 3000 rpm
    [​IMG]

    OK this was cold - then I went for a ride....
  17. picard

    picard engage!

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,777
    Location:
    The Front Range, Califrado
    ... after coming back from the ride - engine warmed up fully...

    key off
    [​IMG]

    key on

    [​IMG]

    idle

    [​IMG]

    3000 rpm

    [​IMG]
  18. picard

    picard engage!

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,777
    Location:
    The Front Range, Califrado
    I compared all readings taken with this higher end meter (borrowed from work) with my el cheapo personal meter for grins. They were less than 0.03V different.
  19. JoelWisman

    JoelWisman Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,392
    Location:
    STL, MO, USA
    Jon luc, your readings are dead on with my usual experience, and yes, those voltages are slow to charge an AGM battery and pretty much won't ever help desulfate it. They also appear to NOT keep a Shorai battery in balance, though it may be adequate for other LiFePO4 batteries as yet to be determined.

    I have a new oem F8 regulator labeled "SC" and am curious to see if it has an affect. Interestingly the 2 oem regulators in BMW's USA parts inventory are also labeled "SC" So if these are consistently higher voltage, then BMW is making a quiet change and probably just exhausting the last of inventory on new bikes which is SOP for pretty much every manufacture.

    The old regulator wasn't broken, it simply wasn't ideal.

    Anyway, my two gunnie pigs are on adventures, so if anyone else local wants to hop by....., if it works i'll sell it cheap lol
  20. Mike.C

    Mike.C Stelvio Dreamer!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    594
    Location:
    Brisbane-Australia
    OMG Enough, Enough. Now I am really scared. The Shorias are land fill as of next weekend (well actually in the recycle bin at the local battery supplier). :huh

    Looks like I'll be stumping up the cash for a couple of Odysees. Oztralia is a big place full of nothing and bike recovery from anywhere beyond the black stump is very expensive.

    I still am going to upgrade the R/R though.