AGM vs Lithium Motorcycle Battery. We deep dive into the Pros and Cons.
The battery to choose for your motorcycle from AGM and Lithium is Lithium. If you have the funds.
When it’s time to ride your bike, you do not want its battery to hold you back. With advances in bike tech, an optimal battery is a must for all modern bikes.
There are several kinds of bike batteries available, including Wet Cell and Gel Cell. But we will compare Li-ion and AGM batteries.
It is handy to understand the pros and cons of each. Then you can decide which battery is best for your bike’s performance.
Here we go head to head and drill down into the question of which is best: AGM vs Lithium Motorcycle Battery.
What happens inside a battery?
Motorcycle batteries contain electrodes that conduct electricity and an electrolyte (containing charged particles) that converts chemical energy into electrical energy.
Today, motorcycles boast advanced settings that not only improve ride quality but also enable various driving modes by delivering different power inputs to the engine.
So, it is the battery that ensures the smooth functioning of the equipment by feeding an uninterrupted power supply.
And, most importantly, the battery cranks the engine, hopefully without any hiccups.
Let’s take a look at two of the most common types of batteries used on motorcycles these days.
What is an AGM battery?
The AGM or ‘Absorbant Glass Mat’ battery is one of the most widely used batteries. It is the ‘dry’ successor to the conventional flooded lead acid battery. So it is still a lead acid battery but is more advanced than its predecessors.
And unlike its predecessor, the AGM functions well over a range of temperatures. Furthermore, it is sealed and maintenance-free. It has superior cycling performance and emits less noxious and combustible gases. And it is resistant to even extreme vibrations.
The AGM is a separator between the terminals. It absorbs the lead acid electrolyte inside the battery. The electrolyte is then stored in a ‘suspended’ or ‘dry’ state. This is an improvement on sloshing around in free liquid form, meaning you don’t need to add water.
As the battery operates, the electrolyte moves from the mat to the battery plates as required.
This characteristic gives exceptional cycle stability. As a result, you can charge and drain the battery repeatedly without performance loss.
Moreover, thanks to its low resistance, the AGM battery can handle higher temperatures; as a result, its self-discharge rate is as slow as 3.5% per month.
What is a Lithium Ion battery?
Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that have gained huge popularity in recent years.
A Li-ion battery consists of a lithium positive electrode and a negative electrode made from carbon. Its electrolyte consists of lithium salts in an organic solvent.
They work by sending lithium ions to the positive terminal from the negative. During charging, the process reverses. They are generally more efficient, lightweight and compact than AGM batteries.
AGM vs Lithium-Ion Batteries
The following explains the various advantages and disadvantages of AGM and lithium-ion batteries.
AGM batteries are bulky and large in comparison to lithium-ion batteries. To match the capacity of a lithium-ion battery the AGM battery would need to be around 2.5 times the size of its counterpart.
The amount of energy generated by four lithium-ion cells is equal to the power generated by six AGM cells.
So lithium-ion batteries are more compact and more energy efficient than AGM batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries have a longer life cycle than AGM lead-acid batteries. The life cycle of a battery depends on discharge rate, depth of discharge (DoD) and temperature. AGM batteries are more sensitive to these factors than lithium-ion batteries.
For each rise of 15 degrees F more than 77°F, the life cycle of the AGM battery halves. But the lithium-ion battery holds up OK at similar temperatures. It remains stable until temperatures exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
The performance of both battery types declines in persistent cold weather. the lead-acid battery loses its capacity faster than the lithium-ion battery.
Making AGM batteries needs the extraction of large quantities of raw materials. An AGM battery contains lead, tin, lead oxide, sulphuric acid and other metals. This can leave manufacturers open to accusations of unsustainable mining practices.
Lithium-ion batteries are more compact and need fewer harmful materials.
Even so, AGM batteries used have an environmental edge over their newer counterpart. This is because they are recycled up to 97 percent. Li-ion batteries were new and their recycling was not considered viable.
In the meantime, though, the battery industry has come up to speed with recycling li-ions. Lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt can now all be recycled from waste batteries.
And you have to bear in mind that a li-ion battery can last for up to 10,000 cycles. This is around five to ten times more than the AGM will.  So for the same amount of use, five to ten AGM batteries need to be produced for each li-ion battery.
That is a much bigger footprint even when you consider differing manufacturing practices.
The initial cost of AGM batteries is low when compared to lithium-ion batteries. If you are looking for a battery on a tighter budget then AGM Batteries might be for you.
Lithium-ion batteries have a high initial cost. But Lithium-ion batteries are more cost-effective. Because although they are two to three times more expensive to buy, they last five to ten times longer.
WINNER: AGM – WITH A CAVEAT
Lead acid AGM batteries need little maintenance. For a two-wheeler in regular use, all you need is to keep the battery terminals clean. But if the bike is rarely used, the battery tends to self-discharge. This means that the effective capacity of the battery reduces.
Lithium-ion batteries are not prone to self-discharge. They can remain active over a long idle period. But they are charger specific and need charging with their specific chargers.
AGM vs Lithium Motorcycle Battery – FINAL VERDICT
Batteries play a crucial role in our daily lives. Both AGM and lithium-ion batteries have their own pros and cons. But the suitability of each type of battery depends upon the factors explained above.
An AGM may be more suitable for mild temperature conditions as its rate of discharge is not extreme. Whereas a Lithium-ion is best suited where size matters and you need a compact power source.
But you can’t ignore the fact that lithium-ion tops almost every category. It is the clear winner. Even the one where it does not, the price, it does really because over time they are so cost efficient.
So it is undeniable. Lithium-ion batteries are the best.
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