Hands on Review: The Best Motorcycle Batteries to Boost Your Bike’s Performance
Get the best motorcycle battery so you can comfortably enjoy the ride.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Mike Bumbeck / LAST UPDATED ON June 24, 2021
A great motorcycle battery provides your engine with the power needed to start your bike regardless of the weather conditions. It's the backbone of your bike’s performance. However, not all batteries are the same. You need the right battery that's built for your bike and provides the best performance. Our buying guide offers a rundown of some of the best motorcycle batteries on the market today.
Premium quality AGM lead-acid battery is a durable, high-performance choice for motorcycle and powersports applications.
- Absorbed glass mat construction improves performance
- Maintenance free
- Available for a wide range of applications
- Higher cost than conventional flooded wet cell lead-acid batteries
- Heavier than gel or lithium types
Ultralight lithium iron phosphate LiFePO4 dry cell battery with sophisticated power management and cutting-edge engineering.
- 80 percent lighter than lead-acid equivalents
- Holds full charge over long periods of time
- Maintenance free dry cells
- Requires specific minimum and maximum charging system outputs
- Higher cost than lead-acid types
Economically priced lead-acid battery with gel electrolyte for improved stability and performance through deep discharge cycles.
- Can be mounted in any location
- Maintenance free
- Lower cost than AGM or Lithium batteries
- Deep discharge cycles
- Not as durable as the AGM type
- Overcharging can create gas pockets that cause unseen damage
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
About Our Motorcycle Battery Review and Guide
The first thing to figure out before you order a new battery is why your old battery died. Inadequate maintenance, deep discharge, a malfunctioning charging system, the passage of time, wiring shorts, bad grounds, and nine times out of ten - loose or corroded battery terminals can kill a battery before its time. Start with the simple fixes and test the charging system before ordering a new battery.
In this case, the motorcycle batteries shown in this buyer’s guide are application-specific, in this case, a mostly stock original 1982 Honda CB900F Super Sport. Since we’re not sure what you’re riding, we linked through to all the batteries made by each company available through our trusted retail partners. Choose stock replacement or upgrade by year, make, model, or grab a universal for a chopper or custom.
In the interest of transparency and gratitude, we would like to thank Shorai and Mighty Max for providing us with batteries for this buyer’s guide and review. We purchased and installed our best overall choice over five years ago, so we would first like to sincerely thank Yuasa for making such an awesome battery and sending us a shiny new flooded wet cell battery for original equipment comparison purposes.
Types of Motorcycle Batteries
Flooded Lead Acid or Wet Cell
The flooded or wet cell lead-acid battery was invented in 1859 and is still the most common type of rechargeable battery today. Lead plates swim around in a soaking bath of liquid sulfuric acid electrolyte so the electrons can work their magic. Flooded lead-acid batteries have the low-cost advantage but require topping off with distilled water to replenish the electrolyte and prevent internal damage to the lead plates.
Absorbed Glass Mat or AGM
The AGM battery is a durable, efficient, and maintenance-free version of a sealed lead-acid battery with absorbent mats between the lead plates for improved performance. The mats capture liquid electrolyte and bring it into close contact with the lead plates for reduced electrical resistance and greater impact protection. The sealed case design recombines gases created during charging back into the electrolyte and eliminates the need to add water.
Mixing silica into the electrolyte and turning it into gel results in a highly stable, maintenance-free, sealed lead-acid battery. The viscous electrolyte recombines gases and vapors back into itself and maintains its jelly grip on the electrons without adding water. Gel batteries can be mounted upside down or any orientation and endure more deep discharge cycles than their liquid electrolyte lead-acid cousins.
Lithium Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4
The latest generation of motorcycle batteries relegates lead-acid batteries to history with ultra-lightweight dry cells that punch out power above their weight. LiFePO4 motorcycle batteries can weigh 80-percent less than their lead-acid equivalents. Lithium Iron Phosphate cells are far safer and more thermally stable than their Li-Ion relatives that power cell phones and other low current devices.
Pennsylvania USA-based Yuasa manufactures batteries for motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, scooters, snowmobiles, and personal watercraft that set the powersports industry standard. The American company has been an original equipment supplier since it was founded in 1979, and its Japanese parent company GS Yuasa recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Shorai was founded in 2010 with a laser focus on developing a full line of premium quality high-performance LiFePO4 Lithium Iron Phosphate powersports batteries and chargers. Shorai LFX batteries are available in a wide range of case sizes and polarities for a direct-fit that makes upgrading easy, and the website is loaded with information so you can decide if a lithium battery is right for you.
Established in 2006, Mighty Max manufactures a growing catalog of sealed lead acid, absorbed glass mat, gel electrolyte, and LiFePO4 batteries for the motorcycle and powersports markets. The company also offers a line of solar panels, inverters, and specialty batteries for everything from golf carts to RC airplanes.
Motorcycle Battery Pricing
- Under $100: Don’t expect economy-grade batteries to go the distance, but there are more than a few outstanding performers towards the upper end of this price range. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales as battery prices fluctuate with demand.
- $100 and up: Money spent on a high-quality battery can be worth the investment over the long term. Larger batteries reflect materials cost, and the price lines of premium lead-acid and LiFePO4 lithium batteries are converging.
Size matters when it comes to replacement motorcycle batteries. If the case is too small, the battery will rattle around in the box. Too big and it won’t fit. Order a battery by year, make and model and pay close attention to the alpha-numeric naming. The number 14 in our Yuasa YB14L-A2 conventional battery designates case size.
Cold Cranking Amps and Amp Hours
CCA and Ah are two different measures of battery power. Cold Cranking Amps, or CCA, is the maximum starter-spinning current output a fully charged battery can deliver for 30 seconds at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. In this case, 190A. Amp Hours measures battery capacity over longer periods. This 14.7ah battery can deliver 0.73A for 20 hours.
Polarity, battery terminal orientation, and vent exhaust location are a few more pieces in the motorcycle battery selection puzzle. This battery is a direct replacement for the Yuasa battery that came with the CB900F in 1982. The L and A2 mean the positive terminal is on the left front side with the battery installed. The vent hose connects to a clip on the right side battery box door.
- Quality Counts. The metals and plastics used to make batteries are subject to the same cost concerns as any other product. Investing in a high-quality battery that lasts for five years can save you time and money over the long haul.
- Recycle and Reuse. The materials in a dead battery are toxic and worth a few bucks at your local recycling center. A marginal battery that still holds voltage is great to have around the shop for testing bulbs, relays, and other low-current electricals.
- Terminal Hardware. Motorcycle battery terminal nuts and bolts are universally loathed and easily lost. Pick up a few extra sets of hardware for your battery now for a future of lost nuts. We’re a big fan of SEMS bolts with built-in lock washers.
Best Motorcycle Batteries Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Motorcycle Battery Tips
- A new battery won’t fix a bad charging system. Test the charging system before ordering a new battery. Use a multimeter or inexpensive tester and check voltage at idle and average RPM.
- Always check the easy stuff first. Corroded or loose battery terminals can cause charging problems and kill a battery. Add a battery check to the pre-ride inspection routine.
- Hold-downs help prevent external and internal damage and loose terminals. Use foam inserts to make up any space for a secure fit. Don’t let the battery rattle around in its cage.
- Electrolyte is corrosive, and charging a battery creates explosive hydrogen gas. Wear gloves and safety glasses. Remove watches, jewelry, and watch your tools. A single spark can wreak havoc.
Q: What kind of battery is best for my motorcycle?
A direct replacement in the same size, type, and amp hour rating as the original equipment battery is the best in most cases. An upgrade can deliver improved performance but can also overtax the charging system. Lithium Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4 batteries are a lightweight choice for high-performance riding.
Q: Can I use a car charger on a motorcycle battery?
It depends on its charging modes and amperage output. Anything over 2A can overcharge and ruin some lead-acid batteries, and automatic desulfation and pulse repair modes can permanently damage lithium batteries. Go with the manufacturer’s recommendations or a charger that has a dedicated low amperage motorcycle battery mode.
Q: How long does a motorcycle battery last?
Industry insiders generally point to an average lifespan of 3-5 years, depending on the type, maintenance, and use. Our best overall Yuasa High-Performance AGM sealed battery is soldiering on past the five-year mark. We’ve had economy-grade batteries expire after a single season and mild winter.
Q: Do I have to charge up a new motorcycle battery?
Yes. Some batteries ship dry and require you to add electrolyte followed by a full charge and test before use. Factory sealed AGM, gel, or Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries might be ready for action right out of the box, but it’s cheap insurance to check and charge a battery before installation.
Q: What kind of electrolyte do I need?
Check with the manufacturer, but motorcycle batteries generally use the same stuff as car batteries. Battery electrolyte is available from auto parts stores—just walk into your local parts house and ask for battery acid. Always wear eye and skin protection while working with corrosive liquids like battery acid.
A high-quality sealed battery like a Yuasa High-Performance AGM is a durable and maintenance-free performer. For a more budget-friendly option, any Shorai LFX battery would be a great addition to your motorcycle.