Lithium Battery Upgrade

Lithium batteries are an improvement over lead-acid in every way. They are approximately 80% lighter than their OEM counterparts, hold more power, and store long-term with virtually no maintenance. They have a remarkably low self-discharge rate; months without a battery tender is no problem. And in the event they do lose their charge, they also recharge many times faster than their lead-acid counterparts. But that’s not the real fun stuff. For the serious rider, the real bonus is the dramatic weight savings these batteries offer, and the way it translates to performance.

Weight savings is critical to motorcycle performance; even more important than adding power. It is often said that decreasing weight has the net effect of adding usable horsepower – but it’s really even more than that. In most bikes like the DRZ400 the battery is usually stored near the top of the frame, so by shedding several pounds above your wheels you’re essentially lowering your center of gravity which will improve overall handling.

Who would have thought a battery could make your bike handle better?

How big is this difference, really? Consider this comparison. An OEM battery from a newer sport bike weighs about 8 pounds, but its lithium replacement will weigh about 1.5-2 pounds; a remarkable weight savings of about 6 pounds, or 75-80%.

Now six pounds or so may not sound like much, but to measure the bang-for-the-buck impact of this simple upgrade, consider some other weight saving alternatives you have to choose from. The one other area of the bike you’ll typically be able to shave such a big amount of weight would be a performance exhaust, but this is an upgrade that will cost from several hundred to well over a thousand dollars. Other weight saving mods like replacing OEM parts with titanium or carbon fiber replacements could cost thousands just to add up to the same total drop in weight.

So what are the downsides? Cost mainly. The up front costs of the lithium batteries can be slightly higher but that’s easily made up over time due to their longer life. Another thing to consider is a charging management system. Your old Battery Tender isn’t recommended for lithium batteries but Battery Tender does make a new charger specifically designed for the newer Li Ion units.

Overall, the advantages far outweigh the extra cost and I know I’ll be jumping on the bandwagon. Now I just have to wait for my battery to go tits up again!

If you’ve switched over to a Li Ion, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave us a message in the forum.