Battery technology has made significant advances over the last few years, with smaller and lighter batteries for everything from cell phones to electric vehicles. That progress has made it to the motorcycle aftermarket, and several companies are now offering lightweight replacement batteries, which can lighten your bike by several poundsa huge savings from such a simple upgrade. One of those companies is Shorai, and we replaced the OEM battery in our long-term Yamaha YZF-R1 with a lightweight Shorai equivalent to see how it compared.
The stock battery in the R1 is a Yuasa YTZ10S unit, which weighs 6.9 pounds and measures approximately 6.0 x 3.75 x 3.5 inches. The Shorai replacement LFX14A2-BS12 scaled in at just 1.5 pounds and measures 5.25 x 4.5 x 3.5 inches. That’s a savings of almost 5.5 pounds in weight, a huge amount when you consider the cost of, for example, an exhaust pipe or carbon fiber parts that drop an equivalent amount. To realize those savings, the Shorai batteryas with most of the lightweight batteries availableuses lithium-iron cells rather than the traditional lead-acid construction. Shorai, however, uses prismatic cells rather than the cylindrical cells used by most other manufacturers, for an even smaller, denser package.
The battery installed easily enough, and the company includes a number of foam shims in the package to account for its smaller size. The terminals, while spaced slightly differently than the stock connections, lined up closely enough that the stock connectors bolted on without any trouble. The battery was fully charged as delivered, another bonus. The stock Yuasa battery is rated at approximately 9.1 Ah (amp-hours) of capacity and 190 CCA (cold cranking amps), while the Shorai lists lead-equivalents of 14 Ah capacity and 210 CCA. Because the internal construction of the two batteries is different, the capacity and cold cranking ampsaccording to Shoraimust be expressed in equivalent ratings. In any event, the Shorai battery, once installed, cranked the R1’s engine quite a bit quicker than the stock battery ever did.
Even after sitting for a couple of weeks at a time, the Shorai starts the R1 easily, and the company claims that, provided the bike does not have any current draw when turned off, the lithium-based battery will hold its charge longer than a lead-acid batteryup to several months. On the other hand, we’ve noticed with lithium batteries on bikes with some current draw (such as an alarm or clock) that the batteries drain much quicker in those circumstances than lead-acid batteries do. Shorai highly recommends its own charger that works specifically with its batteries in these circumstances; the charger plugs into a separate, 5-pin connector on the battery rather than the main terminals.
While we did not encounter any difficulties with the Shorai battery, any lithium battery requires some special care compared with a lead-acid battery. Overcharging or excessive discharge is more harmful, and while that is normally not an issue it could cause trouble if your bike has electrical troubles or difficulty starting on a regular basis. At $154 the Shorai battery is more expensive than an aftermarket lead-acid replacement, but the weight savings alone makes it an easy decision if you are at all performance-minded, and especially if you are racing and your organization’s rules allow that change. We’ve got a couple of the Shorai batteries for long-term test and will report back in a future issue how they fare, along with more details about lithium-ion batteries in general and some of the other options available.
What We’re Testing
Arai Vector 2 Helmet
Although it’s the lowest-priced full-face helmet in Arai’s lineup, the Vector 2 is hardly a cheapo entry-level lid. Wider eyeport, fully removable/washable liner, larger bottom opening, redesigned vents/wing combination are just some of the improvements.
ContourGPS Video Camera
Few things are worse than blasting your favorite section of road, only to find out your camera caught none of it. Enter the 5.2 ounce ContourGPS, a rotating-lens equipped camera that can be paired via Bluetooth to your iPhone or iPod touch, which then acts as a live viewfinder.