Shorai LFX21A6 Battery in cold weather

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by Ty Baxter, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. Ty Baxter

    Ty Baxter Adventurer

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    A couple of years ago I replaced the original AGM Battery in my 2006 R1200GS with a Shorai LFX21A6 Battery (Lithium Iron). Up until this winter the bike has always been garaged and while it started slow a few times in the winter when it was cold, it always started. It now spends the evenings outside (wife's convertible got the garage) and this morning at 25 degrees it would not even try to start. When I purchased the battery they told me that it may start slow when cold but to keep trying as it would get better the warmer it got. If that is the case I am not sure how to get it warm when it won't begin to crank. I can't have a battery that won't start at 25 degrees. Has anyone else experienced this problem with these batteries and if so what did you do about it?
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  2. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

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    I have a Shorai, too. My winter routine is as soon as the cover is off and the cases are unlocked, I turn the key to ignition, and turn on every switch possible. Imagine everything that would drain your battery if left on accidentally and turn all of them on. I do this while I stow the cover, gear, suit up ,etc. Then I turn off the key for a minute. I then proceed to try to start the bike as usual. It might take a few tries, but eventually it gets going.

    Shorai actually recommends this procedure, more or less. Something about warming up the battery. (Check this link to Black Dog Cycle Works' site)

    Part of what makes starting in the cold hard, though, is your oil is cold and thick. The starter motor has a hard time turning over through such a viscous fluid. If you have the ability to put a heat lamp or something under your bike for a bit, do so. I don't have that luxury here on the streets of NYC.
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  3. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher Long timer

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    Yep, I flip on the key as I gear up and turn on the high beam. It will actually light up unlike the low beam. Usually a slow start, but does fire the first time. I only get a couple of low temps a year here though.
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  4. Ty Baxter

    Ty Baxter Adventurer

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    Thanks for the quick responses. 34 degrees out there this morning; I will flip on the high beam and grips for a couple of minutes and see how it cranks.
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  5. RL Lemke

    RL Lemke Long timer Supporter

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    _cy_ is right in that one choosing to go with a lithium battery should be prepared to spend enough money to get the right size. Shorai and EarthX are both wrong in recommending their 24ah battery as it is too small with a real world output of only 7 ah.

    For dependable use one should purchase the 36ah lithium battery.

    My experience with use of the 36ah Shorai battery over two years with occasional parking outside around freezing at Lake Tahoe was plenty of starting power for my K1600. I also occasionally charged the Shorai to keep the cells balanced. Something the EarthX does with the internal circuitry.

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1015182&page=2

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=757934&page=101
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  6. mountainguy

    mountainguy Been here awhile

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    The problem is that LiPo batteries lose power rapidly as the temperature declines. The key is to put the battery under as heavy a load as possible for a minute or 2: high beam, heated clothing, aftermarket lights, etc. This rapid discharge generates heat which warms up the battery. LiPo batteries have very flat voltage discharge curves, so even if you drain 10-20% of the power out of the battery, it will still crank the starter with almost full power. Discharging the battery this way and then allowing the alternator to recharge it may even extend the life of the battery. LiPo batteries, unlike lead acid batteries don't like to live their whole lives being kept at near full charge.
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  7. Monsignore

    Monsignore Plunger Boy Supporter

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    Tagging on to Lemke's post, I remember reading the various battery thread a couple years ago (they were getting as bad as oil threads) that several posters reported that the LiFePO4 batteries they bought with the "recommended" A-hr were too weak. So, I got the Shorai with the most A-hr available.

    It's been 3 years since I installed mine and I've only had to throw it on the charger a couple times, usually because I'd cranked the bike too many times in single-digit weather and killed it. Maybe I'll see if I can upgrade to one with more power.
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  8. Ty Baxter

    Ty Baxter Adventurer

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    Turned on the high beam and heated grips after removing the cover this morning (34 degrees out). Turned everything off after about 2 minutes, turned the key back on and while it spun a little slow it started on the first crank. Should be a little cooler in the morning; hopefully will have similar results (may plug in the heated gear to pull a little more power). Still a little nervous but going to give it a while and see what happens.

    Thanks for the links. I bought the one the BMW dealership recommended, so just assumed it was the right size for the bike. I would not have spent the extra $$$ for the larger battery anyway; I only went with this one because it was only a few dollars more than the stock battery. I like that it is acid free and don't mind losing the weight; but all that matters in the end is that the bike starts.
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  9. mountainguy

    mountainguy Been here awhile

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    As I recall, they recommend you double the amp-hour rating when you go to a LiPo battery. This is mostly due to cranking issues at colder temperatures. The price of the battery and possibly the physical size start becoming issues when you have to double the amp-hours.

    As a side note, the LiPo 12V batteries consist of 3 separate cells which can get out of balance over time. Since the charger charges to 12 volts nominal, the total of the 3 cells could read 12 volts, but you could have one cell at 4 volts, one cell considerably undercharged at 3.5 volts and 1 cell dangerously over charged at 4.5 volts. The Earth-x lipo batteries have a built in cell balancing circuit to prevent this problem. The Shorai batteries do not. To keep Shorai batteries, in balance, you should purchase and occasionally charge the battery using the Shorai lipo charger, which costs around $80.
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  10. Ty Baxter

    Ty Baxter Adventurer

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    I will chock this one up to an impulse buy and move on. I went to the dealership to buy a replacement battery and bought something I knew nothing about. If I had done some research on this forum I never would have bought it; i don't need a battery that doesn't like the cold (probably a great battery for the bikes that are already on trickle chargers for the winter). It will be 28 degrees in the morning. If the GS starts the battery will get to stay on the bike another day; if it doesn't I will go get a new battery tomorrow.

    Thanks for all of the information!
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  11. Botch

    Botch Been here awhile

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    :y0! Bump!!

    Okay, I know what a sin it is to ask a question that's been beat to death. I was surprised there isn't a Battery thread in the "LOOK HERE FORUM CONTENTS" thread. I did a Search on "battery cold weather" and this thread is all that came up; I remember reading it before, but it's 3 years old already.
    My shop recommended, and installed, a "Scorpion" battery, told me it had the best cold-cranking power (I try to ride year-round) but after 7 months it won't take a charge anymore (I had to look up the service ticket to get the name, didn't realize it wasn't even a year old). I use the BMW charger that came with the (used) bike, it worked fine before and gives me a red blinkie light when hooked up now.
    If I can't get it replaced under warrantee, what battery would you guys recommend, especially for cold-weather starting (down to 26F for me)? Shorai is mentioned above, and Yuasa is mentioned often in the bike magazines. Thanks!
    #11
  12. GroceryRun

    GroceryRun Been here awhile

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  13. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore "You ain't black!"

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    For my money you can't beat an Odyssey. The P680 fits the oilheads. I think the 1200 requires a different size.
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  14. JR356

    JR356 Long timer

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  15. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    LiFePO4 (abbreviated LiFe, NOT LiPo, that is lithium polymer, something completely different) battery sellers have completely f***ed up the battery market by deciding to arbitrarily rate their batteries as higher Ah rating than they actually are (three to four times the actual rating.) This is supposedly to reflect what lead/acid battery they can replace based upon cranking ability but now they are saying that is wrong and trying to say you should buy double - which is really still half of the ACTUAL capacity. :fpalm

    Yep, a lead-acid battery will allow current to flow through the fully charged cells without damaging them, while the lower charged cells come up to full charge - so they naturally tend to stay balanced. With an unbalanced LiFe battery, once one cell is fully charged, charging stops, leaving the partially charged cells low. Without balancing, the imbalance will become greater and greater with every charge. Eventually, the voltage across the most fully charged cell will exceed it's safe overcharge voltage and it will start to burn up. A 12V LiFe battery is four cells BTW (nominally 3.3V each)

    You do not have to use a Shorai charger for a Shorai battery. There are a number of cheaper RC hobby chargers that will balance the cells just as well.
    #15