Your smart phone, laptop and other electronics run off lightweight, efficient lithium batteries, so why are you still using a lead acid battery in your motorcycle? Those lead-acid batteries weighs nearly four times a comparable lithium design, so when it’s time to replace that stock battery – and the time will come sooner than you think – consider shelling out a little extra cash for a lithium battery. The weight savings are significant and the performance benefits are quite noticeable.
The BikeMaster lithium battery saves pounds over the standard lead-acid battery.
Lithium batteries hold charge much better than a lead-acid battery. At most they lose between 3–10% of their charge when stored for a year. Lead acid batteries loose about 1% of their charge a day, which means they need a charger/maintainer if left for any amount of time. This brings us to the BikeMaster DLFP-7ZS lithium Ion battery ($99) we’ve been testing the past few months in our YZ250FX off-road bike.
Installation of the BikeMaster lithium battery took only a few minutes and was as easy as changing out a regular lead-acid battery replacement. It was particularly easy on our 2015 YZ250FX because the DLFP-7ZS is virtually the same dimensions as the stock battery. Some lithium batteries are significantly smaller than the stock units, requiring extra padding to hold them in place, but we didn’t need to use any of the provided foam to fit the application.
Because the BikeMaster battery was the same size as the stock unit, it dropped right into place.
Our BikeMaster lithium battery saved just about three pounds over the stock lead-acid battery. For street bikes with much bigger stock batteries the weight savings are even more significant. Considering riders spend huge sums of money to drop a few pounds, upgrading to a lithium battery is money well spent. Because lithium batteries have such a low drainage rate, the BikeMaster battery didn’t need any charging once installed and spun the electric start faster than the stock battery, starting our YZ250FX quicker and more consistently.
To really put the BikeMaster battery to the test we wired up a Baja Designs Squadron LED light straight to the battery with an inline on/off switch for a 10-hour night race at Glen Helen. We also did some days of testing at the motocross track with the light on leading into the race and never once heard the starter turn slower, even with the light on and burning bright. Lithium batteries charge faster than lead acid and, thanks to EFI, modern dirt bikes have much more powerful charging capabilities, allowing us to run the bright light all night without ever draining the battery. Even after letting the bike sit for a few weeks the BikeMaster battery spins the starter as fast as ever, bringing our YZ250FX to life instantly.
After a few months of use and abuse we can’t come up with a complaint or a reason not use the BikeMaster lithium battery. It is lighter, more powerful and fits perfectly into our dirt bike application. BikeMaster sells many different sizes, so even if you don’t own a dirt bike and want a better battery for you street bike, they most likely have an application to fit your ride.
While our replacement battery worked great straight out of the box, the best way to charge a lithium battery is through a specialized lithium battery charger. BikeMaster sells an affordable charger with built-in circuit protection against overcharging, short circuit and reverse polarity. Don’t use a traditional lead-acid trickle charger, as they sometimes don’t have auto shut offs and can damage a lithium battery. In our experience we’ve never had to charge lithium motorcycle batteries because they hold their charge for so long and once the bike is fired up they recharge very quickly. However, if you are going to leave your lithium battery unused for a year that might be a reason to keep a charger handy, just as insurance.
If you ride a lot in temps below freezing there could be some issues with a lithium battery. They often need warming up, which can be done by running the headlight for a few minutes or cranking the starter. It seems strange, but current draw on the lithium battery brings it to life when cold. Still, if you live and ride in very cold conditions, a lithium battery might not be your best choice. The BikeMaster lithium battery comes with a two-year warranty and for only $99 is a great deal.
- Super lightweight
- Great cranking Power
- Ultra slow discharge rate
- Higher price compared to lead-acid
- Reduced performance in very cold conditions