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Shorai LFX Lithium Battery Review
Motorcycle battery technology takes a leap forward
Okay, batteries arenít usually a sexy topic in relation to new bikes. But this technological wonder from Shorai is definitely worth your attention. The introduction of lithium cells in batteries is changing our electronic and transportation worlds, and the Shorai LFX demonstrates a look into the future. It received the runner-up award in the Best Technology section of our Best of 2011 article, and, after further testing, weíre confident it deserves our accolades.
Shoraiís LFX is claimed to be the worldís only prismatic lithium-iron battery, packing more punch while weighing less and lasting longer. Itís at least half the size of your old battery and, once you pick it up, you wonít believe how light it is Ė it actually feels empty. With its lithium technology and carbon-fiber-composite case, Shorai says it weighs 70-80% less than a lead-acid battery.
Pretty impressive so far, right? Well, thereís more. Shorai says the LFX can hold a charge for an entire year without maintenance, thanks to a much lower self-discharge rate than normal batteries. And it purportedly has a service life two to four times that of a lead-acid battery. Itís also claimed to recharge quicker than a conventional battery.
All great things, to be sure, but the most impressive feature to me is how much faster the LFX18A1-BS12 spins my 1992 Ducati 900SSís motor. Having already eaten several batteries during its 1.5 decades in my stable, the recalcitrant old Duc finally turns over at the speed of a contemporary engine and fires up much more readily.
Ducati owners often treat carbon-fiber accoutrements like platinum jewelry, but swapping to a Shorai battery will save more weight (about 7 pounds) than a half-dozen c-f parts. Sure, no one can see it, but itís still a notable weight saving. And the thing is so small, I could store an extra set of gloves where my giant old battery used to live! The LFX is shipped with foam padding to fill the extra space for a snug fit.
Shorai (Japanese for ďthe futureĒ) boasts that its batteries are superior to other lithium-based batteries because they ďall use an off-the-shelf cylindrical cell originally intended for low-rate tool applications.Ē The LFXís prismatic lithium-iron innards are said to deliver more energy faster, with less weight and with less damage to the battery per start cycle than any other brand or technology. Shorai also notes its LFX cells have been formulated specifically for engine starter duty.
While itís difficult to confirm all of Shoraiís impressive claims, we can report this is easily the best battery ever installed in my old Duc. I like how itís massively smaller and lighter than conventional batteries, but more than that, I appreciate how it is able to quickly spin up the Italian V-Twin despite not being run for weeks.
At its $187 asking price, the LFX18A1-BS12 has a significant price premium over a typical lead-acid battery, but there is no doubt of its superior technology. And with its expected longer life backed up by a two-year warranty, itís possible that it could last long enough to be installed in your current motorcycle and your next bike. The Shorai LFX series runs from $99.95 to $349.95, in Ah-equivalent sizes from 7Ah to 36Ah.