Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are commonplace on bikes. They are, to put it mildly, still a mystery to many of us. OptiMate, the market leader in motorcycle battery chargers and maintainers, are experts on Li-Ions. These types of batteries are becoming increasingly popular as OEM recommended batteries for bikes. Most manufacturers now fit 12 Volt Li-Ion batteries to their bikes. They do so because they're compact and lightweight yet deliver high voltages.
They are, however, considerably more expensive than the lead acid units they replace. And, are particularly vulnerable to damage and failure if they're not treated and maintained correctly. Lithium engine starter batteries are normally either 12.8V or 13.2V and will generally be marked as 'Li-Ion', 'LFP' or 'LiFePO4'. If there aren’t markings, test your charging system: if it’s putting out the safe charging rate of 14.4V, your battery is probably Li-Ion; if it is putting out more than 14.6V to the battery, it's likely to be lead acid.
OptiMate Li-Ion - Life Saving
The first and most common way to damage a Lithium battery is by overcharging it. If it’s subjected to a voltage of above 14.6V, rapid cell damage will occur. Excessive overcharging can cause an Li-Ion battery to heat up and eventually self-destruct. It does this by burning from the inside out. The second way is to discharge it to a very low voltage. They often have a lower Ah capacity, so can flatten quickly if left connected for long periods, which is the second way. Once discharged they can be hard to recover.
The third way is to attempt to re-charge it using a lead acid battery charger or optimiser. They’re designed to deliver high current at low voltage and then taper off. Whereas a lithium battery at low voltage needs a controlled low current charge until it reaches 12.8V. The fourth and final way is to not maintain it at all. Li-Ion batteries are typically 1/3 or 1/4 the Amp-hour of the equivalent lead acid battery and will drain up to four times faster when connected to a bike.
OptiMate Li-Ion Charger Maintainer
You also shouldn’t jump-start an Li-Ion battery. This will damage the battery and can cause problems with the bike's charging system and voltage regulator.
By far the most important thing to do is to connect your Li-Ion battery to a charger/maintainer whenever your bike’s not in use. And that should always be a Lithium-specific charger so it’s being charged in the correct way. The OptiMate Lithium series will test, assess, monitor and maintain a Lithium battery within its safe range, without the need for user input. Fully automated, they assess the battery's condition and select the charge programme to suit. Progress is tracked to prevent unnecessary charging; an alternating 'charge and rest' maintenance programme protects against over-discharge. You should also consider a battery monitor, such as the OptiMate O127, so you’ll be able to see the charge status of your battery at all times.
For details of the complete range of OptiMate battery optimisers, monitors and accessories visit OptiMates YouTube channel. The full range is widely available in good bike shops across the globe.
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