Get the Best Battery for Your Motorcycle
Motorcycle ownership is about more than owning a bike. For those hardcore enthusiasts, a motorcycle represents a lifestyle and a freedom that is missing from the confines of conventional vehicles and day-to-day routines. The idea of racing through trails or cruising down the turnpike are not so much choices as they are mandatory moments in the life of a motorcycle owner. However, without the best motorcycle battery, a biker is limited in their options for riding because a subpar battery won’t last.
Therefore, when it is time to purchase a new motorcycle battery, you better have your ducks in a row and know the best option for your bike. Unfortunately, batteries are not all one-size-fits-all. There are different manufacturers that specialize in various types of batteries that are good for different riding styles. Consequently, to truly understand which battery is best for your specific bike, you must first understand motorcycle batteries and their varying forms.
Motorcycle batteries are different from your standard car battery. While the electrical system and engine of your motorcycle work similarly to your car's, the batteries are different in size, construction, mount, and weight. Also, the specs will be different, and you will need to pay special attention to the cold cranking amp rating. All of the necessary and pertinent information for finding a good motorcycle battery can likely be found in the owner's manual.
Types of Bike Batteries
While every owner's manual will have some basic specifications laid out as to the appropriate size and capacity of a motorcycle battery, not every manual will specify the type of battery. Therefore, before selecting a battery as the best, it is necessary to understand the different types. There are at least four types of motorcycle batteries available, and each one has its pros and cons.
Conventional batteries or flooded cell batteries have been around for over 100 years. While not necessarily the battery of choice today, these units do come in at a significantly reduced price when compared to other models. The reason they are not so popular now is that they do require maintenance because they rely on lead plates and an acid solution. However, they are incredibly reliable.
Gel batteries are similar to conventional batteries in that they rely on an acid, or electrolyte, solution, but these use a gel form of electrolyte. These batteries are great for deep-cycling applications and not as a starting battery. However, many people often confuse these batteries AGM batteries, which they are not. While some AGM batteries do use gel, not all manufacturers do.
Lithium or lithium iron phosphate batteries do not use acid or lead, making them slightly safer than other battery models. However, as these batteries rely solely on lithium-based cells, they can run into issues in the winter months. Also, despite being made for high-performance and incredibly light, these batteries are very expensive, and they might not be worth it for every rider, especially those in colder climates.
Absorbed glass mat or AGM batteries are also lead-acid batteries. However, instead of using a flooded cell construction, these models use fiberglass mats to hold the electrolyte solution. These batteries are the pinnacle of motorcycle batteries as they maintain the reliability of lead-acid models and reduce the risk. Also, this type of battery works in all weather conditions, unlike the lithium model. Therefore, when it comes to the best battery, you are probably looking for an AGM.
Best Battery for Your Motorcycle
While AGM batteries are great for most riders, is it right for your specific bike? What does your manual say? The AGM is a versatile model, and it has a lot to offer most riders, especially those living in colder climates. While lithium models are high-performance, if you live in colder areas, they are less effective. However, as stated previously, the answer to which motorcycle battery is best for your bike can often be found in the owner’s manual, which should always be your first resource.
Car Batteries as Motorcycle Batteries
There is a common question that comes up in the midst of any battery research. Can a car battery be used on a motorcycle? This question often comes up because batteries specifically designed for bikes, especially those designed for particular models, can get expensive. However, when you look at a powersport battery vs. car battery for a motorcycle, the winner is a no-brainer. While you can technically use a car battery for a motorcycle, as they are both 12 volts, the sizing, weight, amperage, and terminal configurations are likely going to be different, requiring significant modifications. Therefore, while a car battery can hypothetically be used for a motorcycle, you are better off getting a battery designed for your bike.
The Best Battery All-Around
The best battery for a motorcycle, in general, is a universal powersport AGM battery. This type of battery gives you the dependability of a lead-acid battery without the concerns for safety. The components are sealed, and the separators made from microfiber help to reduce any risk of leakage. Also, these batteries are maintenance-free, meaning that you do not need to worry about activating or filling them. Additionally, as these are designed for motorcycles, they are constructed to withstand the vibration of the engine, and the universal construction ensures that they will fit your bike. However, the best part is likely to be the price, as they are far more affordable than lithium batteries.
Stop wasting time trying to make a decision on a motorcycle battery. While the number of available options may overwhelm you, the choices mostly narrow down to two: lead-acid construction or lithium. While lithium batteries are an excellent option for warm-climate riders, those who live in varying climates throughout the year will likely find this option expensive and unreliable. Therefore, the only real choice for most riders is a lead-acid battery, and of those, the AGM models are the best. Therefore, stop researching, consult your owner’s manual, and find the best bike battery for your needs.
Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.
Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.
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