Best Motorcycle Battery? Lead-Acid v. AGM v. Gel v. Lithium

to understand a battery is to dig

through the steaming pile of marketing

on top longer faster conqueror of Ice

Ages cure of global warming let's test

that each of these 12-volt batteries

contains nine amp hours of energy each

could be fitted to the same late-model

motorcycle but each is different parts

Unlimited offers a conventional battery

the convention now 150 years old is to

flood lead plates with acid a cheap

method that cost me 40 bucks another

five in sulfuric juice and 3153 grams

for 15 dollars more I get an AGM battery

same principle except the acid is

absorbed in spongy fiberglass sheets

between electrodes so I can ship this

with the acid already sealed inside and

that doesn't make me a mail bomber

I can also crash without spilling

sulfuric acid onto my crotch thank you

very much absorbent glass mat two

thousand nine hundred and sixty grams

for a hundred and thirty bucks


will sprinkle some silica into the

battery to gelatinize

the acid so gel batteries are also spill

proof but without needing to wear furry

fiberglass underwear like an AGM this

should be cooler in hot weather though

slightly heavier three thousand and

twenty five grams finally you can get a

lithium battery for a hundred and fifty

dollars shirai is our only contestant to

completely abandon lead acid chemistry

lithium iron phosphate is five times

lighter it's 609 grams and half the size

while some of the other contestants can

be mounted sideways lithium is also the

only one that can be stuck upside down

why would anyone do that first we test

voltage sag as your starter draws

current and the battery voltage begins

to drop and as in puberty some drop is

normal but you don't want it to say

too much because eventually you won't

have enough voltage to start the bike

while these batteries are as new as

possible I'll minimize manufacturing

date discrepancies by fully charging

each with the same charger usually

lithium cells require a different unit

because a high voltage diesel station

stage of lead acid charging can cook

live batteries but I found this battery

tender Junior 800 which does flooded

lead-acid AGM gel and lithium batteries

hmm one charger one less barrier

I run a light to skim the surface charge

off each battery then force each current

through a bunch of resistors voltage is

recorded after 15 seconds of load I then

freeze my batteries we can repeat the

test cold because Canada our

conventional battery sagged the most 11

point to 2 volts warm 10.43 cold that's

unsurprising the electrode plates need

to be strong enough to stand up so you

can't use pure LED is too soft you need

an alloy an alloy is less effective the

AGM battery did better 11.40 warm in ten

point five eight volts cold because the

electrodes are wrapped in a fiberglass

burrito they're insulated from the cold

and also structurally supported so you

can use damn-near pure efficient wet our

gel battery did even better at room

temperature but slightly worse in the


probably because gel stiffens when

chilly increasing internal resistance

and the lithium battery was okay

considering how tiny it is clinging to

eleven point two nine volts warm i was

only able to coax nine point seven five

from it cold but you got to know what

you're doing with cold lithium for one

these bears hibernate in winter you must

wake them up with 30 seconds of

headlight action before hitting the

starter and to never charge a lithium

battery below zero degrees Celsius at

that temperature instead of

intercalating into the anode the ions

to plate it forming dendrites spiky

dendrites they can pierce the membrane

to the cathode and poof small short big


anyway the ability for a battery to

avoid a voltage sag wow crank now amps

is abbreviated CA or CCA for cold

cranking amps rather suspiciously our

batteries both CCA numbers that

perfectly match their price points now

our test was not calibrated to industry

standards because that would been using

a different load according to each

battery CCA rating which would screw up

our real-world comparison so while not

CCA numbers our results do indicate how

each battery would crank on an actual

starter next we test your recharge speed

in these hundred watt light bulbs on our

12 volt batteries will take about eight

point three amps and we're gonna draw on

them for 15 minutes so we conclude that

ou will draw 2.1 amp hours or so out of

each of these nine amp powered batteries

but more shockingly we conclude that

highschool science is actually good for

something this is the electric octopus a

danger you should avoid in your home

immediately onto the charger we count

how long it takes to put to hand powers

and change back into these cells while

we wait I'll explain why I drained them

to a 25% depth of discharge you see it

would be unfair to drain our cheapest

contestant any further the lead plates

in a flooded lead-acid battery sulfate

when significantly discharged crystals

building up that tend to stick around

and permanently decrease the battery's


ah absorbing glass mat and gel batteries

have this problem to a lesser extent

though they still prefer to be stored

charged and lithium rather apropos has

no mood swings whatsoever forget it for

eight months

charge it up forget it again it just

doesn't care

aha the conventional battery reloads in

125 minutes AGM is a little faster at

118 gel quicker yet at 112 and lithium


well that's disappointing our battery

tender is smart 2 dumps more or less

based on the capability it senses in

each battery lithium is usually famous

for being able to take whatever you can

throw at it

hence alongs hard-on for fast charging

lithium but not the case here with our

batteries freshly zesty I place them on

the shelf and think existential thoughts



two months seriously I gave our

contestants 60 days to you nothing but

approached death omnia Vanna toss which

cycle results but how dead are they the

conventional battery lost to 0.23 votes

considered a 20% state of discharge and

perfectly normal for flooded lead-acid

AGM lead to 0.35 volts poor gel loss

point to 5 to the ether and lithium

dropped a mere point O 7 volts

we are comparing apples to oranges to

plums to prune because each starts with

a different open circuit voltage and a

different scale of discharge but it's

still clear that lithium stores best for

all the others I'd want a trickle

charger through winter our results here

confirm a well-known phenomenon lithium

reaches a wonderfully slow

self-discharge for most of its withering

gel to a lesser extent and the rest go

more linearly so when it comes to

thumbing that 12-volt starter after a

nine-month Canadian winter no maybe but

probably only lithium is still gonna do


lithium a dominate our storage test but

the final challenge will flip that

outright capacity taming the might of

electricity until it is safe is this

little kitten see sure I labels this a 9

amp hour PB EQ the equivalent of lead

acid 9 amp hour battery unfortunately

they do some weird mental maneuvers to

hit that number saying well our

batteries don't damage under deep

discharge so you can use more of them

and there's the third the internal

resistance so they pump more amps under

cranking loads so yeah this is kind of

like a 9 amp hour LED battery even

though it's only technically 3 amp hours


our familiar 8.3 amp light bulb should

take just over an hour to drain these 9

amp hour batteries of course the lead

acids will struggle with that rate of

discharge it's faster than what the

manufacturers use to test their capacity

lithium will be fine with the rate but

we know there ain't 9 amp hours in this

to begin with it's kind of a crapshoot

test but leaving your headlight on is

real world relevant so I'm keen to see

how this suicide mission goes suicide

because to bleed the entire capacity out

of the battery is to kill it

posthumously flooded lead-acid proved

the most heroic capacity shortly

followed by gel and AGM the lithium

equivalents are not at all equivalent

but recall that lithium had the slowest

sitting discharge gel the fastest

recharge time and AGM the smallest

voltage sick so each contestant took one

test weird we can add a couple more

rankings wait lithium is by far the

lightest burden AGM and gel only a

couple grams apart flooded lead-acid

though is the heaviest and must be

mounted in only one orientation then

ease of use conventional sucks you got

to top it up with distilled water every

month so they say and clean corrosion

off the terminals AGM and gel only need

the usual trickle charger after a couple

months lithium though is truly


aside from requiring a careful hand in

cold weather all that for naught but

three points between them


so why spend more flooded let asses are

cheap as rocks and basic to build many

companies like parts Canada can easily

acquire identical batteries the fancy

brand names like you asked

only to turn around and undercut the

price by 40% alrighty then thanks for


electricity play it safe don't know why

they put that sort of commercial on at

this time of the morning nobody's gonna

take any notice anyway it's all a load

of rubbish and it must have cost

thousands so to use that money to reduce

our bill would have been a damn sight

better well time to be awesome