Ask MO Anything: How Long Will a Lithium-Ion Battery Last?

John Burns
by John Burns

Dear MOby,

It feels like it’s about time to replace the battery in my Speed Triple again, even though it’s a 2011 model and only eight years old. Last time I went with the regular old-style lead-acid battery it came with just because it was cheaper. Lately, though, I see the price of a couple of lithium-ion batteries has come down low enough to possibly justify one of them next – especially if it’ll last longer than the four years I’ve gotten out of these last two lead-acid units. Any thoughts?

Yrs trly,

Recently Discharged

Dear Recently,

Funny you should ask, as the Shorai LFX (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery that I stuck in my R1 back in 2010 just gave up the ghost last month – it lasted nine wonderful years, and might’ve gone longer if I hadn’t mostly used it to just start the bike and let it idle for a few minutes, every week or two, to keep the bike’s pilot jets unclogged. I pushed the starter button a few weeks ago to do exactly that, and was met with silence. Plugging it into the Battery Tender did not resuscitate it. The end.

Nine years seems like a pretty good run, almost 1/6 of my lifespan.

Maybe if I’d ridden the bike around a while to charge the Shorai back up every time I started it, it might’ve lasted even longer than nine years, but from what I’ve read lithium batteries prefer to sit around partially charged – which is why Shorai, and most lithium battery makers, say you really don’t need a trickle charger like conventional batteries do. The Shorai always cranked my R1 right up with gusto, right up until it didn’t anymore. C’est la vie.

MO Tested: Shorai LFX Lithium-Iron Battery Update

There are actually a bunch of different types of lithium batteries on the market now, maybe read up as much as you want here if you’re interested in the finer points. There are more than a few horror-story reviews for some of the cheapest ones, but then that’s equally true of my more expensive Shorai, which I personally had zero problems with right up until the bitter end. Former Editor-in-Chief Duke also had (has?) a Shorai in his Ducati 900SS, with equally positive results, but a sample of two is pretty small.

Bike Bandit, who probably put up with many more disgruntled and gruntled customers than we do, has put together an excellent Lithium Battery Buyer’s Guide here, which also gives the lowdown on the most popular brands it sells. All of them carry at least a two-year warranty, so if it’s me doing the buying, I think I’ll probably go with another lithium of some kind when I get around to replacing my Shorai. The only thing you’ve got to lose, really, is about six or seven pounds and your trickle charger.

Send your moto-related questions to If we can’t answer them, we’ll at least do no harm in the time it takes to seek out a believable answer. And we’ll occasionally even admit we were wrong, even if we were right at the time. Depends on what the definition of “is” is.

John Burns
John Burns

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  • Alaskan18724 Alaskan18724 on Jun 06, 2019

    This is an interesting thread, presenting arguments on both sides of a question I never considered. I generally run stock batteries or OEM replacements in all of my bikes, rotate them on the tenders, and can't recall ever having a problem--unless I didn't ride a bike for weeks in the winter time and failed to put it on the tender--in which case I'd charge it up and off we'd go. The weight difference, as discussed below, is more than offset by normal fluctuations in body weight (I can lay off the Dr. Pepper and drop ten pounds in a month, every time), and I don't recall a battery ever giving me less than five to seven years of service. Hard to complain about that, given the abuse they take. My '06 Super Glide is still running the original battery, knock on wood. I feed it a gentle trickle and it rewards me with an immediate kick every time i touch the button. I'm not ever going to complain about that sort of service life!

    • See 2 previous
    • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Jun 11, 2019

      Yes, the Battery Tender trickle charger charges at 14.5V. If you are not riding your bike during winter then a trickle charger is essential.

  • Joe Gresh Joe Gresh on Jun 15, 2019

    My '08 Husqvarna 510 chewed through 3 batteries in as many years. I tried Yuasa to yourass brands. Even new they had a hard time cranking the high compression thumper.

    Three years ago I went with a Western Power lithium-polymer. The thing weighs nothing. Like an empty plastic box. It starts the Husky without needing the compression release. It can sit 6-months and start right up. No need to alter the bike's stock charging system.

    The damn thing is amazing.