We all need batteries for our motorcycles or powersports vehicles, but you can spend from under $50 for a traditional lead-acid battery to over $250 for a modern lithium-iron unit. Lithium batteries are definitely high-tech, but is it really worth it to spend all that extra cash? Check out the full article to find out!
Cruiser, dirt bike, scooter, UTV, or even watercraft, one thing every single type of vehicle we serve is that they all need batteries. If you’re on this site, you have a ride that needs one. The hard part? Figuring out which one is the best for you and your money.
Not too long ago, you only had one choice, and that was a lead acid battery – basically a heavy box filled with lead plates and sulfuric acid that reliably created enough power to start everything from a 50cc scooter to a Mack truck. But in the last several years there’s been a revolution in the technology of portable power, and now lithium – the lightest metal in the universe, and soft enough to be cut with a knife – is powering everything from cell phones to solar homes.
Lithium-based batteries are new and high-tech, but they aren’t exactly cheap compared to tried-and-true lead-acid batteries. So are they really good enough for you to drop all the extra coin on one?
The short answer: yes, they are. But there are some conditions, so read on and see if they are really right for you.
Are lithium-based batteries really that much better than lead acids? Yes, they are – but there are some conditions.
Myths & Facts About Lithium Motorcycle Batteries
You’ve probably heard some of the myths about lithium batteries: they spontaneously explode, don’t work in cold weather, and they are just overpriced gimmicks that do the exact same thing that lead-acid batteries do. Sound familiar?
Well, before you write off a lithium-based powersports battery because of internet hearsay, let us explain to you why none of this is quite true.
First off, lithium batteries have been known to catch fire when they are treated improperly – but these are lithium-ION batteries, the kind you find in small devices like cordless tools and RC cars. Powersports batteries are lithium-IRON-PHOSPATE batteries (also referred to as LiPo or LiFEPo batteries) that are far more chemically stable.
They also do work in the cold down to around freezing temps; but their chemistry requires that they be warmed up before use, which can be done by cranking them several times or running the headlights for a few minutes. They actually get stronger with each crank as the battery “wakes up.”
But are they really “expensive gimmicks that do the same thing that lead-acid batteries do?” Well if all you’re referring to is them starting a vehicle, then yes, that is true. But how well they do it, and how long they will do it for, is a different matter entirely.
What Makes Lithium Powersports Batteries So Damn Good
Ok, so we know both kinds of batteries will get your vehicle started reliably – so why spend any more money on a lithium?
- They last longer. Lead-acid batteries can last 500-1000 cycles in optimal conditions, but in real world use, 100-300 cycles is a lot more typical. Lithium-iron batteries will go 2000 cycles no problem, and can go up to 5000 when treated right. In other words, you’ll go through several lead-acids in the time it takes to wear out one lithium-iron – meaning lithium-iron batteries truly do pay for themselves.
- They hold a charge better. Lithium-iron batteries have a remarkably low self-discharge rate, losing only about 10% of their charge a year. Compare that to lead-acids, which lose about 1% of their charge a day.
- They crank harder and longer. Lead acid batteries are considered “dead” at between 50-70% charge – once they hit that mark, they’re useless. Lithium-iron batteries discharge full power until they are completely discharged, so they give fast, powerful cranks right up until they’re dead.
- They are super light. If you’re a performance rider and trying to save weight, you simply need to have one. For example, an OEM battery from a newer sport bike weighs about 8 pounds, but its lithium replacement will weigh only about 1.5-2 pounds – an impressive weight savings of 75-80%.
- They are much safer. Not only will they not catch fire, but the “dry cell” construction of lithium-iron batteries eliminates the use of poisonous lead and harmful sulfuric acid. They can be mounted in any direction, and will never leak acid.
- Much better warranties. Most lithium-iron batteries have impressive warranties, with 3 years being the norm. Most lead-acid batteries have shorter warranties of a year or less.
So yes, they’re better batteries, plain and simple. Ready to find one for your own vehicle? Check them out here.
What Are The Drawbacks?
While lithum-iron batteries are superior batteries and the best choice for most riders, they may not be the ideal battery for everyone. Here are a few drawbacks that may make a lead-acid better for you and your situation.
Obviously, there is the cost. Lithium-iron batteries cost $75-300, compared to lead-acids, which cost around $50-100. If you care more about getting the cheapest than the best, then don’t even think about a lithium and go straight for lead-acids.
In addition, they should be used with a special charger, which of course, is an added cost. Lithium-iron batteries can be charged with standard chargers, but they won’t be calibrated to the same voltage requirements (lead-acids charge to around 12.8 volts, while lithium-irons need 13-14.) The best way to protect your investment is to use a lithium-battery specific charger.
In addition, parasitic draw from accessories (like alarms) is harder on them than it is on lead-acids. If you have a bunch of gadgets draining power on your bike, stick to lead-acid batteries.
Finally, if you ride in cold weather, a lithium-iron battery will work, but it may annoy you to have to go through the warming up procedure. For our customers who ride ADV and touring bikes logging high miles in warm weather, we suggest a sealed AGM battery instead, which is like lead-acid technology on steroids, and super reliable.
Beta OEM Parts Update
Most everybody knows that Get Dirty Dirt Bikes is no longer an Authorized Beta Dealer, we do however continue to support the brand and are always working on new accessories and suspension settings for the RR, RS & X-Trainer models. We have also tried to continue to supply OEM parts to our customers, however due to an ever increasing number of back orders and slow deliveries of these parts we have decided to no longer supply Beta OEM parts.
Get Dirty Dirt Bikes will continue to be the best source for aftermarket parts and accessories for your Beta, and we will continue to service Beta Motorcycles. I am currently working on an Inventory of all the Beta OEM parts that we have in stock and we will add a page to our on-line store to sell all of the remaining inventory at bargain prices. Should be posted by Monday 8/22/16
TM RACING EN300 Shop Race Bike Update
We are right at 70hrs on our bike and have used it for the JBR 6 Hr Endurance Race at Glen Helen and the JBR 10 hr Endurance race at Glen Helen and the Idaho City 100 ISDE Qualifier. The bike has been absolutely stone reliable to this point with the only part failure being the exhaust valve servo cable at 59hrs.
We have made a few modifications mostly for rider preference and to test some aftermarket products and right now I would have to say this is the best handling and fastest 300 I have ever ridden. Here is a list of the mods we have made to the bike.
- Race Tech Gold Valves and Re-Valve to improve handling in rocky terrain.
- VHT cylinder head for smoother power delivery and cooling
- Scalvini pipe and Pro Circuit Spark Arrestor
- Fasst Company Flex Bars
- G2 Ergonomics Throttle Cam System
- Fastway Hand Guards
- ARC Unbreakable Memlon Levers
- Moto Seat Cover
- Billet Aluminum Clutch Cover
Beta OEM Parts Update
Many of you know that we are no longer a Beta Authorized Dealer which means that we no longer have direct access to Beta OEM Parts. We have however worked out with some other Beta dealers an arrangement that still allows us to support our Beta customers. It has caused one issue that we can’t control however, most Beta dealers don’t order parts from Beta USA on a daily basis like we did so there have been delays getting OEM parts. Another issue is the popularity of the Beta brand is catching up with the distributor and many more parts are back ordered than in the past. We will continue to offer the best service possible to our Beta customers but please allow a few more days than in the past. On a brighter note we have found a number of new accessories for the Beta Brand and we will continue to offer the best Beta accessories available, while there may still be occasional back orders it is much easier for us to deal with it because we buy these parts direct or through other distributors and do not rely on Beta USA.
6HR Endurance Race at Glen Helen Raceway
We added the 6HR endurance race at Glen Helen Raceway last weekend with Ralf Schmidt the TM importer for the U.S. and Walter Marienschek, and Dave Turner riding the EN300 in it’s first race of the year. We finished 3rd in Business Class less than 4 minutes out of 2nd. The bike ran the entire 6hrs stopping only for gas and never missed a beat. All and all a great day.
As a side note, had we entered the over 40 expert class we would would have won!
TM EN300 Race Bike Update
The new TM Racing EN300 is really coming along nicely. Our first National Hare and Hound will be in April in Murphy, Idaho. Really looking forward to racing the new bike and wanted to give everybody an update on the changes we have made so far. Most of the changes are rider preference and include the following:
- Fasst Company Flex Handlebars 12 Degree Enduro Bend
- Arc Composite Levers
- Ribbed Seat Cover
- Cross Pro Aluminum Skid Plate
- Scalvini Exhaust Pipe
- Meca Systems Carbon Pipe Guard
- Pro Circuit Spark Arrestor
- 48 Tooth Rear Sprocket (Stock is 50)
Can’t wait to get back to racing and love the new bike, we will also be racing the Glen Helen Endurance races this year and the 6hr race will be March 13th.
Get Dirty Dirt Bikes Makes Switch to TM Racing EN300
for the 2016 season.
We will be racing a 2016 TM Racing EN300 for next year in the AMA National Hare and Hound Series and a number of other select events like the Endurance Series at Glen Helen Raceway and the ISDE Qualifier in Idaho City.
We are extremely happy with the new bike and the support we are getting from Gravity TM Racing the US Importer of TM Motorcycles. Over the next two months we will be testing a number of suspension settings and TM accessories as well as developing new parts for the bike. We will pass on all of the settings we come up with here once they are proven to work.
Here are a few pictures from our first outing with bike.
Colorado 1000 2.0
So I just got back from a great 8 day trip to Colorado for a non-guided dual sport ride. The ride was organized by gpsKevin. The ride started and finished in Durango and in between we stayed in South Fork, Salida, Almont, and Ouray. Each of these towns has it’s own personality and are very nice but my favorites were Almont and Ouray. Almont is where we stayed in cabins for two days, during our stay there I took a day off from riding and went white water rating. You could also choose to go fly fishing with an instructor if you wanted to learn the art of fly fishing. Ouray is like a small town in Switzerland, it is friendly, has great food and the scenery is amazing.
Here is how a trip with gpsKevin works, he supplies GPS tracks, large trail maps, and small maps for the ride. He also hauls your gear to each destination and has a van equipped with some spare parts, air compressor, and battery charger. He is available for advice about trail selection and always has something in the cooler for you when you get back. He also takes care of all the lodging along the way. The ride is your responsibility, you choose the route, your riding buddy or buddies, and set the pace. The tracks are color coded by intended route, ATV tracks, single track, and easier bypass routes. This ride was intended for intermediate to advanced riders and much of the single track was tough but really fun. There is no guide or sweep for the ride so a well prepared bike is necessary and you should be very familiar with your GPS. There was 1000 miles of tracks and as can be expected there was some closed trails so you have to prepared to find alternate routes, Kevin also supplied road maps of the area in the GPS download so you can zoom out and find an alternate route. I believe he has found the perfect way to organize a trip and not have the cost not get out of control, the ride was both fun and affordable.
My advice to you, if you like to dual sport ride, is look up gpsKevin and do one of his rides!!
Two Stoke Pipes
Did you know that there are a number of choices for 250RR and 300RR exhaust systems. Although the 4-stroke guys are pretty limited to FMF systems the 2 Stokes guys have choices from FMF, Pro Circuit, and Scalvini. Each of these systems work well and each has it’s strong points, my favorite is still the Scalvini for both looks and performance but the Pro Circuit is very good if you are looking for mid to top end performance. If you are looking for bottom end lugging power the FMF Knarly is your choice. The other good news is each of these guys offers a full variety of silencers and spark arrestors so you have lots of choices. For Spark arrestor we like the FMF Q shorty but if you want really quiet without any significant power loss you may want to try the Pro Circuit Type 296. If you spend all your time at the track or an area where sparky’s aren’t required I love the Scalvini Carbon Shorty. See you at the track BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP!
We have most of the new accessories for X-Trainer in Stock now, including shock and fork springs. We are working on new accessories as well including a Skid plate. The 250/300 RR skid plate will work but requires modification in the footpeg area.
We are also stocking ProX pistons for both the two and four strokes as well as clutch packs. We are offer Crank Rebuild Kits for the two strokes.
You can find all of these and more in the new products section of the On-Line Store http://shop.getdirtydirtbikes.com/
TM Designworks Products for Beta
Did you know that TM Designsworks make Skid Plates and Chain Guides for all Beta RR and RS models from 2010 – Current. The Skid Plates are available in Red or Black as are the chain guides. We have been using the chain guides for a while on our race bikes and they work great, just put the a skid plate on our 300RR so we could check them out. We have them in stock now at Get Dirty Dirt Bikes
Beta Service Info for 2010-2014 RR/RS Models
Here is what I really like about Beta and Beta USA. There have been a couple of Beta RR/RS models that have had an issue with loose motor mount bolts, so they have issued a service bulletin to dealers to inspect all of their customers 2010-2014 RR/RS Models. If you have one take it to your dealer for a free inspection. In addition a service bulletin has been issued for 2011 Beta RR/RS model (except race editions) . This bulletin is for a clutch inspection and replacement of the innermost clutch plate. This is all covered under warranty even if your bike is past the warranty period. Beta is a great company to be involved with and this is one of the reasons why. If you have one these models get it checked by your local dealer.
2013 Tank Conversion Update
Today I installed the 2013 Natural tank on my 2010 and I made the seat modification to the 2010 seat to fit the 2013 tank. It does not require much to make it work and it makes the cost of the conversion about 285.00 less. All that is required is to remove the seat cover and foam. Set the plastic on the bike and mark the part that needs to trimmed off the plastic to match the seat. Trim the foam to match the plastic and reinstall the seat cover. I did this one in about thirty minutes and I am sure if you spent a little more time it would be even better. In the pictures below I have the two pieces of plastic I trimmed off. The larger one is the correct amount. I also have some pictures of the bike after the ride today.
2013 IMS Tank for 2010 – 2012 RS Models
I have had a number of customers ask about installing an IMS tank on there 2010 – 2013 RS Models, so I decided to try and install one to see what it would take to make the conversion. Turns out it is not really a difficult job but it does require some cutting and drilling and you not only need the tank but also a 2013 seat and radiator shrouds as well. Here are some pictures of the initial install, not very detailed at this point but you’ll get the idea. If enough people are interested in this we will make up a kit and some detailed instructions for the install.
This is how the bike looks with the new tank, side panels and seat. We also trimmed the side panels near the seat tank junction to better match up with the 2013 radiator shrouds
This is the stock rear tank mount that must be removed to install the IMS tank.
Here is what it looks like after removal.
The IMS rear mount is on the sub-frame, we moved the wiring to the far left marked the hole for the rear mount and then installed a nut sert in the sub-frame for the mounting bolt.
The IMS front mount works without any modifications required.
The IMS tank is very narrow when compared to the Clarke Tank but it also carries about 8/10th of a gallon less fuel. If money is no object this is a pretty cool set up however the cost of a kit without graphics will be around 600.00 (seat, tank, side panels, and hardware). Graphics will run another 115.00 because the radiator shroud graphics are only available as part of a complete graphic kit.
Torque Values for Beta Chassis Parts