Get the Best Battery for Your Motorcycle
Batteries lead a very thankless existence in the sense that they just have to work and work every time. Motorcycle batteries are no exception, and, if anything, fall into the same category as power sport batteries where they aren’t used every day, and are therefore subject to discharging over a gap in use, and at some point, fail. When that happens, you’ll be searching for a new motorcycle battery. Unfortunately, batteries are not all one-size-fits-all. Consequently, to truly understand which battery is best for your specific bike, you must first understand motorcycle batteries and their varying forms.
Motorcycle batteries maintain the same general structure as a car battery, but they are smaller in size, construction, mount, and weight. Also, the cranking amp specs will be different. All of the necessary and pertinent information for finding a good motorcycle battery can likely be found in the owner's manual or online for your particular make and model.
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. These are still a very common choice today, and these units come in at a significantly reduced price when compared to other models. These units are often shipped dry and require you to add the acid solution to the battery, and in many cases, then trickle charge afterward.
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 better for deep-cycling applications and rugged use. 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 ion 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. The main benefit of a Lithium battery is that they are extremely light compared to their lead counterparts. 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. For starters, most car batteries are considerably larger than motorcycle batteries, and therefore would never fit. 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.
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.
Keep in mind, that using a battery maintainer or trickle charger is crucial for any motorcycle or power sports equipment that you don’t use regularly.