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Batteries: have a quick look around your home now, and see how many things need batteries to operate properly. You’ll be surprised, as many appliances and items require auxiliary power, as opposed to that provided by the mains. Batteries are a very important part of our daily lives. You most likely carry a mobile phone, and we reckon you probably charge it up once every 24-hours. Then there’s your laptop and any portable devices that you carry around with you. And that’s the problem: batteries lose their power, and need recharging, or in some cases, they come to the end of their natural life and need replacing.
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The latter is particularly so when it comes to vehicle batteries; your car or motorcycle will have a battery in order to ensure all of its relevant systems are running when needed, and that battery has a finite life. So, you need to be able to buy a new one and one that is suitable for your particular bike, safe in the knowledge it will be reliable and get you on the move. There are many batteries on the market, so we decided to have a look at the best of them, so you can make the right choice.
Before we go on to review our top ten, bear in mind that research into batteries is one of the most active areas of R&D in the world, largely because they are not the most efficient of items – we’ll talk a little more about that in a moment – so what you buy now may be radically different to the battery you might see in just a few years’ time. So, what is a motorcycle battery, what does it do, and how does it work?
The Top 10 Motorcycle Batteries
A battery is a battery, right? Well yes, and no; there are some batteries that – to paraphrase George Orwell – are better than others. This one, from the well-known Yuasa brand – is a good example of a quality motorcycle battery at a sensible price,and one that guarantees reliability. There’s really not much to say about the design of a battery; it’s a box, with the right stuff inside it and on the outside. It is designed to fit in the battery well of the bike, and that’s about it.
This one weighs 4kg – due to the nature of the materials involved, bike batteries (and all batteries, in fact) are heavy, and it is about the standard size for such an item. The manufacturer lists a range of machines that it is suitable for, which is far too long to list here, so it’s worth checking in advance to see if yours is among them. It is a sealed battery so never needs filling, but will need charging occasionally for efficient use. Plus, the maker claims it will last as much as three times longer than rival batteries – take that as you wish. At under £40 it is sensibly priced, so well worth a look.
You will be reading a lot more about Yuasa during this review, and for good reason: this is the leading manufacturer of best motorcycle batteries in the world today, and its products are fitted as new to most, if not all, new motorbikes as they come out of the factory. Thus, you get a guarantee of a quality replacement item – from the same maker as your old battery – as well as the peace of mind that this battery has had all the research and development into it that it possibly could have.
Left stored – perhaps as a spare – this battery will need to be charged occasionally, but the technology used means it will need to be charged less frequently than others. It has 8-amperes available, so is suitably effective, and is a leak-free design for a maintenance-free life. Once again, the list of models it is suitable for is simply too extensive for here, so check the list before you buy, but this one comes highly recommended if suitable for your model, and is very good value at around £30.
When we set out to review batteries, we knew there would be some repetition, so we make no excuses for including another model from the Yuasa range. When a brand can genuinely claim to be the leading name in a market – such as this one can – then it is our duty to make sure we include its products, as we want you to make the right decision. Once again, this is a typical Yuasa product in that it offers you quality that is top notch, and it’s a maintenance-free design that leaves you free to get on your bike and ride with total reliability.
This model is, as with all Yuasa products, leak-free so there is no risk of corrosion from nasty acids (which are a necessity in battery construction) and it comes with an 18-month guarantee. The list of bikes it is suitable for is extensive, so check that yours is there before you buy, and if you are to keep one in storage as a spare, bear in mind it may need a quick charge once in a while to keep it ready for immediate use. Off the shelf, it is fully charged, ready to bolt on and go. At a shade more than £20, it’s also very good value.
It takes a great deal of time, effort and careful building of brand loyalty to become the acknowledged market leader in any field, so we can only applaud Yuasa for managing such a feat. That their products are endorsed by the leading names in the motorcycle world is simply further proof that they are providing quality products. This one follows their typical design philosophy in being maintenance free and leak-proof, and like its fellow Yuasa models, has a low self-discharge rate, so will only need charging once in a while if kept as a spare.
It comes with Yuasa’s extensive guarantee, and also the knowledge of quality build and performance, and is suitable for a vast array of makes and models, so check that yours is on the list before you buy. It might be interesting for you to read the manufacturer blurb for this model, as it gives you great insight into the care and attention that Yuasa puts into its products, and also the methods they have developed for producing top quality batteries. At a little more than £20, it’s also typically great value.
Now, not all motor-cycles are big, powerful hairy-chested beasts that tear up Route 66; some are small, economical machines designed for commuting to and from work or the shops. In fact, in many cities across the world, small-engined bikes are the best way to get around, given the traffic and congestion, and also the most economical. This Yuasa battery is designed for these types of bike, and is perhaps the most reliable model you will find if that is what you ride.
It is also suitable for snowmobiles and some boats, and is well-made and comes with a sensible guarantee. It’s low maintenance despite being a basic, simple design, and it is certainly worth having one of these as a spare for if your fitted battery fails to get you going. Remember, this is a Yuasa, so you get the guarantee of top quality, and at around £15 you can’t afford not to have one ready to go!
Let’s be honest, all batteries contain some pretty nasty ingredients; that’s unavoidable, as it’s how they work. The search for a completely ‘clean’ battery continues, but it is very much a Holy Grail. For the first time in our reviews we come to a model that is not Yuasa; it’s from another known brand – BC – and is an innovative design. It’s a lithium battery, which is a relatively new innovation in best motorcycle batteries, and that gives it one major benefit: it is very light, at less than half a kilo. That’s no small improvement over the three-plus kilos of the conventional battery design.
The Yuasa range comprises mainly trusted lead batteries, and there are some controversies about how lithium is extracted from the earth, but there is no doubt this model has some advantages. If you are using your bike for performance, for example, the weight saving will be welcome. Also, there are no acids involved in a lithium battery, so it claims to be more environmentally friendly (although this is challenged in some quarters). It’s also very fast to charge, and holds its charge well. If this suits your bike, it may be worth considering, but be aware it is more expensive than a conventional battery at around £50.
If there is one brand that chases Yuasa in the motorbike battery world it has to be Exide. A long-established brand with a range that covers many different areas of vehicle batteries – and others – Exide has reputation for excellent quality and sensible pricing, as well as reliable batteries that are fit for the purpose. This is a traditional-style lead battery with a no-frills approach, and it does what it is designed to do.
Should you buy it over one of the Yuasa models? It is difficult to say as Exide is a known brand with a great reputation, but there is nothing to recommend this battery over any other that does the same thing, and we simply feel that if the bike manufacturers are using Yuasa, then they must be doing something right. Nevertheless, the simplicity of this design – it’s a battery style that hasn’t changed in decades – will appeal to some, so it is certainly worthy of being on this list, and at a shade more the thirty quid, it’s not expensive.
Here’s another well-known brand, and one that has a reputation for providing a wide variety of top quality automobile parts, especially when it comes to electrical systems. Lucas has been in the business for many decades, so cannot be overlooked, and while Yuasa has the market for bike batteries, Lucas is one of the biggest names in a broader sense. This model is a typical lead battery design that offers reliability and power, as well as quality manufacture.
Indeed, it follows a similar philosophy to the Exide model above, in that it is a simple and proven design. Apart from the somewhat controversial lithium battery developments, not much has changed in car and bike battery design for half a century, which says a lot about how difficult it is to advance much further in this area. So, this one presents a dilemma, as above; at just under £40 it’s not expensive, but it’s not cheap either, so the choice is yours!
Another well-known name in the world of batteries, Varta has an extensive range that includes this model. This is akin to the Yuasa batteries reviewed at the beginning in that it is sealed and, therefore, leak-free. It won’t leak even if you tilt it, which is very handy on a bike! It’s a quality model with many excellent attributes, and comes with a sensible and welcome guarantee. It’s ready to fit and go, and the range of models it is suitable for is too long to list here, so check before you buy.
One aspect of this battery – and we should say most of the Yuasa range – is that it comes with AGM technology; put simply, this means it can be charged and discharged repeatedly with no loss of performance. It’s a well-designed model that is a dry charge battery, and will give you the best life possible, and it is certainly worthy of inclusion on this list. At a little under £50, however, we feel it is comparatively expensive in this company, but it is a quality item, so it’s up to you.
For our final entry we return to our friends at Yuasa, and this one is typical of the brand in offering a quality battery at a sensible price. However, unlike a lot of the Yuasa range, it is an open-lead style battery, which does not give the benefits of the sealed batteries and may be susceptible to leaks. However, it is a quality product, and as the range of bikes it is suitable for is extensive, we recommend you check the list before you buy.
You get a simple, tried and tested battery design that is akin to those that have been around for decades, from the leading brand in the business and with a 6-month guarantee. It’s not the most advanced battery you will find, but it does the job it is designed for efficiently and will keep your bike on the road. In short, there is nothing special about this battery, but it’s designed for specific bikes so doesn’t need to be clever. At less than £30 it’s not bad value, but we feel there are some that are better.
There you have 10 of the best motorcycle batteries, each with its own merits, and each with plenty to offer. Before we go on to sum up, let’s have a quick reminder of the main points to look out for.
How Does It Work?
The invention of the battery as we know it came about thanks to a scientist in the late 1700’s dissecting a frog. No, seriously, it did: this esteemed gentleman noted that, when he touched the dead frogs leg with a scalpel, it twitched. He believed that the source of the movement came from the leg itself; so, had he been right, we would all be carrying mobile phones and riding motorcycles with myriad frog’s legs attached. Fortunately, he was wrong, as was proven by another scientist, Alessandro Volta, in 1800, when he presented the first practical battery.
Now, it is easy to see – more than 200 years later – what an important invention this was back then, and how it changed the way things were done. Suddenly, there was access to an electrical power source – perhaps the greatest advance in technology at any one time. The battery has undergone great leaps in development since then, but in truth, the basic concept has changed very little. And, of course, they still wear out or lose their charge. There’s a much-used saying that your iPhone has as much computing power on board as the Saturn 5 rocket that took man to the moon – if that’s true, it’s no wonder it needs charging every night!
So, a battery as we know it today is not much different to that invented by our friend Mr Volta (hence the ‘Volt’ if you had not already guessed) over 200 years ago; it still performs the same purpose, and it does so as efficiently as possible. Now that we know its limitations, let’s have a look at the top 10 best motorcycle batteries available right now, so that you can find the one for you.
Main Features to Consider
To be honest, buying a bike battery is about finding one at the right price that is suitable for your bike, but here goes:
Suitability – the first consideration; is the battery the right one for your bike? Check carefully, as a mistake can be costly.
Type – open lead, closed dry charge, or lithium? Each has its merits, and some may not be right for your bike, so again, check carefully before you buy.
Brand – if you want to replace like for like, you are probably looking at a Yuasa, but there are other brands to consider, so don’t be afraid to look elsewhere.
That’s about it, unless price is a concern, but with these things, it is prudent to get the best for your money. Now, all that remains is for us to wrap things up!
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Let’s Wrap It Up
This is one product where making a recommendation is pointless; we don’t know what bike you ride, so we can’t tell you which to buy! It all comes down to the make and model, and the suitability of the battery. We recommend you check out Yuasa as the leading name, and if your bike is fitted with one of these from new, why not stick with it?
So, get yourself ready for the summer months, check your bike over and make sure it’s roadworthy, and off you go in search of perfect roads to enjoy!