Lithium starter batteries are said to be the coolest, lightest batteries available and able to deliver way more cranking power than lead-acid batteries, which is all true. But one thing they both have in common is the need for maintenance when the engine is not running – when the motorcycle is parked or stored, short or longer term.
In fact, what a lot of people don’t realise is that a lithium battery, for all its advantages, needs charge maintenance more than a lead-acid one, and there are two main reasons why.
First, the amp-hour capacity of the lithium battery is typically a third of the equivalent lead-acid battery; it runs down faster due to parasitic drain from the vehicle electrics.
Second, once it has run down low, it needs special charging to bring it back to life, so it is best to avoid it discharging in the first place!
The cells in a dead-flat lithium battery are in a weak and sensitive state and in need of a slow, controlled charge to recover to a level (typically 9V-10V) before the battery can once again receive high charge current.
Receiving a burst of high current via jump starting or bump starting can cause the weakest cell in that flat lithium battery to overcharge and fail – and overcharging is fatal for lithium batteries.
Even though motorcycles and lithium batteries are rather hi-tech pieces of equipment, when it comes to charging, riders usually just want the easiest solution. Martin Human, the CEO and CTO of TecMate, says “most riders do not know and, unfortunately, many do not care, what type of battery is in their motorcycle.
“All they care about is that the engine starts when they want to ride. Most (fortunately) know they should maintain the battery to achieve that, but then it must be easy for them, and these days the smart money is spent on a fully automatic, multi-purpose charger that can charge both 12V lead-acid and 12V/12.8V/13.2V lithium (LiFePO4) starter batteries.
“That is what we designed the new OptiMate 1 DUO to do – make it easy! All the rider has to do is simply connect the charger to the battery. The OptiMate 1 DUO automatically determines what the battery needs and adapts its charge programme accordingly.
“Best of all, the maintenance programme is 24-7-365, meaning riders can safely store their motorcycle for days, weeks or even months. The OptiMate 1 DUO will keep guard over the battery, protecting against excessive drain from the vehicle, which is especially important for those small lithium batteries.”