If you own an electric motorcycle, then there is an excellent chance that it is equipped with a lithium battery. This rechargeable option reduces the need for gasoline without impacting the performance of your chopper. It is an environmentally friendly and economical way to travel the open road.
As lithium motorcycle batteries grow in popularity, we are finding that the pros and cons of this technology are similar to what other vehicles experience. Electric vehicles require a high energy density from their power source to become useful, and this technology makes that option a possibility.
If you want to get the most from lithium-ion battery technology, then it is essential to understand the pros and cons of what it can do for your bike. That will allow you to maximize the strengths of your investment while avoiding the potential problems that exist with this option.
List of the Pros of Lithium Motorcycle Batteries
1. It is an energy-efficient technology.
When you purchase lithium motorcycle batteries for an electric bike, then you are using a technology that is energy efficient. This advantage refers to the amount of energy from the fuel source that goes into the power used for motion. You will convert up to 62% of your energy into movement with this advantage compared to the 21% that a gasoline-powered motorcycle can obtain. When you charge your battery with each cycle, then you are putting more of your investment toward powering the bike instead of paying those who created the product.
2. You will reduce emissions with this technology.
Electric motorcycles will reduce the amount of emissions that you produce when conquering the open road. Although it is not a 100% emissions-free technology since the electrical power may come from fossil fuels, there is no exhaust from a combustion process to worry about with lithium motorcycle batteries. If you drive 100 miles, then you are consuming between 25-40 kilowatt-hours of energy. That equates to about $1 for every 40 miles you travel. At $2.50 per gallon for gasoline, you’d only go about 10 miles at the same efficiency level.
3. It is a high-performance option that requires little maintenance.
Electric motorcycles are a high-performance option that offers a quieter motor and a smoother driving experience compared to the combustion-based engines of the traditional design. Although some riders might not want to reduce the amount of noise that their bike produces, you will also have more responsiveness, better torques, and improved reactions because of how lithium motorcycle batteries provide resources. That means you have more control during instinctive, reactionary moments on the road that can make the difference between safety or an injury.
4. There are no leakage problems to worry about with lithium batteries.
When you compare lithium motorcycle batteries to their lead-acid counterparts, you won’t have the same issues with acid leaks to manage while riding. The discharge rate is slower as well, which means that you can store the bike for an extended period without worry about whether or not you can restart it when you are ready to take a ride. This advantage is useful for owners who live in areas where long winters can result in a shorter season to go exploring. Although your range issues can limit your success, hybrid options help you to take advantage of both technologies.
5. You can use lithium motorcycle batteries for high speed bikes.
This technology is useful for full-size, high-performance motorcycles. It isn’t for the small e-bikes any more. The modern lithium motorcycle battery is lightweight, powerful, and more portable than the lead-acid technologies from the past. Some high-speed riders prefer this technology because it allows them to maximize the performance of their equipment with every ride.
You can bring out the design of the bike with lithium motorcycle batteries as well. It is lighter than a lead-acid battery that can hide in the frame without any problems. You can even place it under your seat or have it sitting upside down since there isn’t an acid problem to worry about with this technology.
6. Lithium batteries come with an extensive warranty.
If you purchase a lithium motorcycle battery, then you can receive a warranty of up to 5 years from some manufacturers. Most products in this category provide at least 3 years of guaranteed service. Competitive technologies that supply power to your bike might only give you 12 months of protection or limit the ways that you can make a claim.
You’ll discover that the lithium motorcycle batteries with the longest warranties tend to have the most lifetime discharge cycles. Some of the best products in this category can go to 5,000 cycles if you maintain your equipment correctly.
List of the Cons of Lithium Motorcycle Batteries
1. Lithium motorcycle batteries require protection.
The lithium motorcycle batteries that are available today require protection from being discharged too far or being over-charged. You must also keep them in their safe limits to maintain their lifespan. You can use this option without any special knowledge other than how to plug in the bike so that it can recharge, but there may be issues with repairs to consider if there is no one in your area who is familiar with this technology.
2. These batteries are a consumable product.
Aging is a significant issue for lithium motorcycle batteries. You will need to replace them eventually because there are only a specific number of discharge cycles it can withstand before capacity levels go down. Most can handle up to 1,000 cycles before a replacement is required. Although you can pick one up for under $100 for some models, you can expect to pay about $300 for a high-quality one. It is a technology that is too expensive for some owners, although the cost is much lower than the ongoing price for fuel.
3. You cannot travel as far per trip with a lithium motorcycle battery.
When you are using lithium motorcycle batteries to power your bike exclusively, then you will get a range of 80-120 miles with most options. The best products in the industry can provide up to 200 miles on a single charge if you can maintain optimal conditions for the battery during the entire trip. With the average gasoline-powered motorcycle, you can usually achieve about 250-300 miles on a full tank.
If you were to own the BMW R80 G/S Paris Dakar, then you could get over 400 miles with gasoline, or up to four times the distance that lithium motorcycle batteries can provide. The BMW R1200GS Adventure and the KTM 640 get pretty close to that comparison as well.
4. You will pay more for this technology when you purchase a motorcycle.
The Harley Davidson LiveWire is a motorcycle that is expected to change the industry. Before this bike reached the production line, the lithium motorcycle batteries were going into these small dirt bikes that were barely superior to scooters that you’d run down the sidewalk of your home town. This technology has been available for over a decade in this industry, but it took until the spring of 2019 for this leading manufacturer to offer an e-bike.
You’ll pay for the privilege of ownership too. The current retail price on the motorcycle is about $30,000.
5. It can take a lot of time to recharge lithium motorcycle batteries.
If you want to fully recharge the battery pack for your motorcycle, then a Level 1 or a Level 2 charger might require 8 hours to create the capacity you need to continue traveling. Since you’ll get about 100 miles on a full charge, that means your range will be extremely limited. Most riders who choose a fully electric option only ride their bikes around their hometown because there is such a lack of access to charging stations.
Even if you have fast-charge stations in your area, it may take 30 minutes for your motorcycle to reach 80% capacity so that you can drive home. You’ll need to plan your riding experiences carefully since running out of fuel isn’t easily resolved with an extra gallon of fuel. That’s why this option isn’t for everyone.
6. Some lithium batteries do not come with a warranty.
If you are racing your motorcycle regularly, then your actions will usually void the warranty. Most of the protection guarantees are intended to help the casual rider maximize their investment. With the exception of the LiveWire, most of the guarantees don’t apply to the bigger e-bikes either.
This problem becomes significantly worse if you’re using a lithium battery for a classic bike since this technology needs a stable charging system of 13.6-14.4V. Older motorcycles cannot always meet this need, which means you could damage the battery, cause it to overheat, or create further problems.
7. It may not start well in winter.
Lithium replacements for a lead-acid battery or a full e-bike both struggle to start when the colder months of the year come around. If you have lithium motorcycle batteries at home, then you will need to warm it up for some time before using the starter to get things rolling. If you discharged the battery before coming in for the day and didn’t fully charge it overnight, then you could cause permanent damage to this product that may require a costly replacement.
8. There are fire hazard concerns that you’ll need to think about with this battery.
Lithium batteries have a reputation for getting too hot and catching on fire or exploding when used. This technology is very safe to use under most circumstances, but it can be dangerous when all of its stored energy comes out at once. Bad designs, manufacturing defects, and external factors like extreme heat can all contribute to this potential disadvantage. Only one battery cell needs to fail for the entire product to fail, so thermal runaway issues are a major disadvantage that you’ll want to think about before making the investment into this technology.
The pros and cons lithium motorcycle batteries depend on what you intend to do with this option. Rechargeable batteries can give you a meaningful e-bike experience, especially now that there are more charging stations installed in metro areas. You can avoid the risks of a lead-acid battery at the same time. If your motorcycle can produce the correct voltage and you have ways to plot out your trip to avoid running out of power, then this investment makes a lot of sense.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.