So many motorcycle components must be in top shape if you want to have an enjoyable ride.
Every rider knows how not to joke with batteries because, without a good one, you risk a constant breakdown of your bike. Your battery must meet the required specifications of your bike, but it must also be lasting enough to serve you well.
That’s why Lithium and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries are two of the most popular motorcycle batteries because of their apparent strengths. But first, a quick reminder on the importance of a battery in a bike.
Batteries power the electrical components in an automobile or motorcycle through chemicals stored inside them. When the motorcycle is ignited, the battery converts its chemical energy to electrical energy and keeps the machine running efficiently. In fact, the battery ignites the engine by providing the necessary power that would ignite the spark that revives the engine.
A weak battery means it would take a lot of effort to get the engine to start. When the battery dies, the engine can’t start. So, a battery is at the very centre of the smooth running of a motorcycle. If there’s anything you want to be at its strongest, it is the battery.
There are many things bikers argue about, and the battery is one of them. Which type of battery is the best for a motorcycle? It’s a question you may not get a straight answer to. But naturally, the debate often centres around AGM Vs Lithium motorcycle batteries, being the most popular.
Bikers have not been able to come to a consensus on which is the better of the two. That’s because they both have their unique strengths (and weaknesses too). We have tried to settle the argument once and for all by looking at the overview of both motorcycle batteries, similarities, differences, and which one we think is better.
Fans of AGM motorcycle batteries love it for a reason, and some people also cherish lithium motorcycle batteries for many reasons. However, if you’re yet to decide which to go for out of the two, we have the perfect content for you.
We begin the AGM Vs Lithium Motorcycle Battery matchup with an overview of the AGM.
AGM Motorcycle Battery
One of the challenges of batteries is the need for frequent maintenance. You must have tried reviving a dead battery in the past by topping it with liquid. However, it soon requires toppings again. Then came the AGM battery. And all that ended. With its absorbed glass technology, you don’t need to keep changing or topping up the battery water, saving you maintenance costs and stress.
As noted earlier, AGM stands for Absorbed Glass Mat. That’s because the battery’s strength is derived from its glass mat, which is used to keep the electrolyte solution in a dry state.
It does this by separating the liquid (electrolyte) from the battery plates and then only releases the chemical to the plates when the battery is functional. It absorbs what should have been freely flowing liquid and thus preserves the battery’s life as the fluid is kept neatly.
Because of how well secured the electrolyte is, AGM batteries survive better under extreme temperatures and conditions. The positive and negative plates of the battery are permanently separated by the absorbent glass mat, which then absorbs and holds the battery’s acid in place, especially during vibrations.
There are times you want to go for an adventure on rugged terrains. You need a battery that won’t constantly be under pressure. As said earlier, the absorbed glass does the work of keeping the battery dry. You won’t need to refill or maintain it when you buy it.
Also, when in motion, the AGM battery charges very fast and does not discharge efficiently when not in use.
AGM batteries discharge very little power when not in use
It can be easily and quickly recharged even when it discharges
Allows multiple charges and discharges without affecting its performance or output
The battery requires no water toppings/maintenance
It has a long life cycle
It is very rugged and resilient to vibrations
Although they are not cheap, they are not as expensive as Lithium motorcycle batteries.
AGM batteries have a shallow risk of lead sulphate crystal build-up
It is heavy
When it requires charging, it needs a very specialized charger
It can be easily damaged when charged improperly
Lithium Motorcycle Battery
Lithium batteries (which can also be referred to as Lithium IRON batteries) are a newer brand of motorcycle batteries popular for their rechargeability. Those who have switched from other types of batteries to Lithium would immediately appreciate three things about them. They are:
The incredibly lightweight
The long-lasting nature
It is light in weight because, unlike other types of batteries, The battery consists only of lithium and carbon electrodes and lithium ions that are dissolved in a solvent as electrolytes. This makes for more compact packaging and even greater efficiency.
If you switch to a Lithium motorcycle battery, you will save a lot in weight. That’s why it is a favourite among racers. The Lithium motorcycle battery is certainly long-lasting because it is made without acids or gels. As a result, it doesn’t need extra space or weight.
The Lithium motorcycle battery works by allowing the lithium ions to migrate to the lithium electrode when it is discharging and moving to the carbon electrode when charging.
Many people are genuinely concerned about Lithium batteries because of things they’ve heard, especially about how easy it is to explode. The truth is lithium motorcycle batteries are not the same as Lithium ION batteries, which are popular with small electronics like mobile phones.
Unlike the Lithium ION batteries that have caught fire (an occasional occurrence, we must also add), your Lithium motorcycle batteries are not that vulnerable. They are made from a blend of Lithium-Iron-Phosphate, which is strong enough to maintain stability and withstand heat.
That is why Lithium motorcycle batteries are better referred to as Lithium-IRON batteries and shouldn’t be confused with Lithium-ION.
Whenever the Lithium motorcycle battery is cold, to get it warm would require giving the battery between 30-45 seconds when you press your starter. You can then start the motorcycle, and your battery is strong enough to ignite the engine.
So, you have an environmentally sustainable battery, lightweight and compact. What’s there not to love about it? Well, maybe one thing, the cost. Naturally, the Lithium motorcycle battery is more expensive because it is still a relatively new technology. But it certainly delivers.
The lightweight is a delight. For a motorcycle, this is a significant plus.
Very low self-discharge properties
Excellent performance in very cold weather. They also perform excellently in hot temperatures (as high as 120°F)
Lithium batteries are very safe and fire-resistant
They are easily rechargeable
Lithium motorcycle batteries have a higher energy density than lead-acid batteries.
It lowers the emission of your motorcycle
It is quite expensive
It needs a charger
It costs more to maintain
Always at risk of dying permanently if it discharges below certain thresholds
It gives no sign of running down. Once it’s done, it just stops working.
So, that’s the overview of both types of batteries. Now, let’s go into greater detail about how they compare, their similarities, and their differences.
We compare the two types of batteries by looking at certain specifications.
While the AGM battery has six cells of about 2 volts each, Lithium batteries have four cells of about 3 volts each. That means both batteries have similar capacities of 12 volts. Although they have identical capabilities, their current flow rate is not the same, as AGM batteries have higher ratings in that regard.
As noted earlier, AGM batteries are maintenance-free except if you rarely use your motorcycle. That’s because they have a higher discharge rate than Lithium batteries. Lithium batteries do not require any special maintenance and do not discharge efficiently even when not in use.
AGM batteries are bigger and heavier in size than Lithium batteries, and they are almost three times heavier in size. Because of their different components, people who are concerned about size would prefer a Lithium battery.
Because of how well it can be maintained, a lithium battery lasts longer than an AGM battery. They are not just lighter, but they have a slower discharge rate, and perform better in cold temperatures, giving them a longer lifespan. Also, once the temperature rises beyond 92°F, it becomes difficult for AGM batteries to retain their efficiency. However, for, Lithium batteries keep functioning at temperatures as high as 120°F.
Lithium motorcycle batteries are more expensive. They are believed to be efficient and environmentally sustainable. They are also more compact and are made with newer technology. This makes it more expensive.
There are several similarities between the two types of batteries. First, they have similar capacities. Then, they both react negatively to overcharging.
Both batteries are also long-lasting, although the AGM battery requires appropriate conditions, including constant usage, to retain its efficiency.
That’s where the similarities end. Let’s look at some of their differences.
Here are some of the differences between the two types of batteries.
The most obvious has to be the weight. Weighing three times (some analysts say four!) more than the Lithium battery, the AGM battery is not desirable whenever weight is a burden. If you need your bike to be as light as possible, going for a Lithium motorcycle battery is ideal.
It also takes less time to charge a Lithium motorcycle battery. It does not discharge easily as well. Lithium batteries can retain most of their power when left idle for long. During hot temperatures, the Lithium battery retains most of its power. The AGM battery quickly loses its power in extremely hot condition.
Which one should I get?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. For example, are you very concerned about weight (especially if you ride for sports)? Or do you ride only occasionally, and your bike is idle most of the time? Again, do you ride your bike on very rugged terrains? Or, do you ride in the city, where you have very clement weather?
Whatever your specifications are, the choice of which type of battery you’ll pick should depend on the answers to the questions above. If you use your bike frequently and the weather is fine, there’s no reason to go for a more expensive Lithium battery.
If you need a smaller-sized battery or need to travel on very tough grounds and want a more compact battery, or wish to keep your bike idle for a long time, you should go for a Lithium motorcycle battery.
When making a choice, it is essential always to consider these factors. Although many people are making the switch to the Lithium motorcycle battery and are relishing the experience, the durability and power of the AGM battery make it a perfect choice for many users.
Interestingly, both have similar capacities, so it would be safe sitting on the fence in answering who the clear winner is in the AGM Vs Lithium Motorcycle Battery matchup.
Both Lithium and AGM motorcycle batteries are efficient, although both have different advantages over each other. Yet, it is important to understand their peculiarities before making a choice.
While Lithium batteries have surged in popularity and have obvious edges over AGM batteries, you should consider all factors outlined above before making a switch (if you must).
Jeffrey Bryce is an experienced motorcycle rider with years of experience caring for motorcycles. His natural fondness for motorcycles have made him come up with LetsGoForARide.com, which is dedicated to answering and teaching you how to care for your bike with the care it requires. LetsGoForARide is the one of his important lifework in reaching out to communities of motorcycle enthusiasts on how to take care of their bike and choosing the correct spare part.