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So it’s time to dig your trusty Harley-Davidson or moped out of the garage and hit the road Jack. Only problem is that your battery is probably dead or dying after a long period of inactivity. Time to get on the Internet and search for a replacement but what exactly do you search for when looking for the best motorcycle battery?
Obviously the first step is to check the old battery to see what size and type it is. Secondly you have to decide if what you want is a simple replacement for the dead battery or if it is time to explore your options and upgrade to a better battery or one more suited to your specific requirements. Time spent now checking out what is best for your motorcycle can save you time and money later as well as a lot of grief.
Take This into Consideration
There are five types available and the following is a brief description of each.
- Conventional Battery. The cheapest option and the standard battery for most motorcycles. Lead based acid conventional batteries must be used in an upright position or they leak. The big disadvantages include the necessity of keeping the battery topped up with distilled water, regular checking for electrolytes and the fact that they contain corrosive acid.
- Maintenance Free Battery. As the name suggests these batteries need no maintenance. There is no need to top up with water and the sealed units prevent any acid leakage. Although more expensive than conventional batteries, it is worth the expense in terms of time, worry and effort saved.
- Maintenance Free Dry Charge Battery. Almost identical to the Maintenance Free Battery except that battery acid (supplied with the new battery) must be added before use. However, once that task is completed these are the same as the regular Maintenance Free variety.
- Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Battery. Almost incombustible and developed for longer life, these batteries provide exceptional chemical and thermal stability. The big plus in using LiFePO4 batteries is that they are almost totally maintenance free and have an average life of five years.
- Sealed Gel Cell Batteries. Using an electrolyte gel, with no water required, these batteries come in a completely sealed unit. Not only are Gel Cell batteries less susceptible to vibration damage than conventional batteries but they also have a longer lifespan and are more environmentally friendly. Gel Cell batteries are usually used for customized bikes as they do not have to be mounted upright but the downside is the price.
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So what can you say about a battery? Once it does what it’s supposed to, what more is there? The UBCD5745 does exactly what you want from a conventional lead acid battery. Bought for a reasonable price, I installed the new UBCD5745 on my ageing Honda, with absolutely no problems regarding fit or size, fired her up and started first time. Perfect!
According to the literature, this battery has an average life-span of four years and having used it now for a little over two years, I can only say that it still functions as well as on the first day and I look forward to getting another two years and some more mileage out of it yet.
An added bonus is that the battery is spill- and leak-proof and so far so good. I guess if there is nothing to complain about in terms of price and performance, then that has to be a pretty good recommendation in itself.
For owners of Kawasaki or Yamaha motorcycles the Yuasa YUAM320BS is probably the best motorcycle battery for your requirements. While the 320BS is versatile and fits most motorcycles, it is particularly suitable for Japanese models and gets high praise from friends of mine who all drive Japanese-made bikes.
This is a dry charge maintenance free battery meaning you must add the supplied acid first before charging the battery but once that is done you then have a maintenance free battery. If you have never done this before and it sounds a bit daunting, believe me it’s not. It is simply a matter of letting the acid drain into the battery (takes approximately 20 minutes), replace the cap and charge up the battery for a couple of hours and you’re ready to roll.
Some websites claim that the life of the YUAM320BS battery is almost infinite which sounds a bit too good to be true but I do know of bikers who have gotten eight years from their battery which is still exceptional value for a reasonably priced maintenance free battery.
RBC7 Replacement batteries are relatively inexpensive and maintenance free. While perhaps not ideal as your main choice of motorcycle battery, RBC7’s are nonetheless effective and affordable and ideal as back-up in case of emergencies.
Although the manufacturers state that the RBC7 has a life of between 3 and 5 years, I have some reservations about those claims. Yes, I have been told that some bikers have gotten up to five years from their battery but these were not riding as many miles as I would and the lower figure of three years is probably more accurate.
That one possible doubt aside, RBC7’s are still an economical alternative to higher priced batteries on the market and excellent to have on stand-by or in case of emergency.