What to put in a snowmobile and where did the kickstart go?
Classic Norton. See the pedal under the engine? This is just right for kickstart, which can break your leg. A source
Everyone remembers what kickstarter is? Many people will immediately remember the crowdfunding platform, and, most likely, few people will think about manually starting the engine “with a kick” – the original meaning of the term. Now only gasoline lawn mowers with a cable and a chainsaw are started this way. And before that it was the only way to start a motorcycle like the Soviet IZH. Well, and with some probability from the heart to grab the pedal on the leg if it slipped.
Now kickstart is only found in classic retro bikes, motocross bikes, and is occasionally found in rugged enduro models as an emergency starting method. In all other cases, a battery is used, which is much more convenient. Batteries for motorcycles are made of the same types as car batteries, but they differ in size, weight, capacity and starting current. Basically, they are all lead-acid in different versions: ordinary flooded, AGM, GEL. Lithium-ion batteries, despite their high price, are popular mainly in motorsport, where every extra pound counts.
Now I’ll tell you what makes sense to put in a leisurely chopper, what – in a scooter for pizza delivery, and what is suitable for a snowmobile. I’ll also show you why you shouldn’t freeze the battery and how it boils merrily during short circuits.
Almost the same as in cars, only smaller
There is one very significant difference between the batteries of a car and a motorcycle: much higher requirements are imposed on motorcycle batteries than on the same automobile ones. In addition to size restrictions due to tight packaging and limited space, moto batteries are subject to stringent requirements for vibration resistance and tilt angle due to the constant exposure to an increased level of vibration and shaking, and in some cases – regular operation in an inclined position and frequent falls … Therefore, a separate line of more compact battery models with their own specific design features is traditionally allocated for motorcycles. The second, as a rule, has significantly higher weight requirements. The main advantage of a two-wheeled vehicle is precisely in the dynamics: it does not need to drag a salon with seats, two sacks of potatoes in the trunk and an unfastened mother-in-law with hoes in the back seat. This ratio of engine power to the total weight of the motorcycle makes a significant difference in speed gain.
What to put where
The recommendation is the same – put what is recommended by the manufacturer: this is, as a rule, the most correct option. An upgrade is possible, but it is necessary to assess whether it will be worth it. For example, replacing an inexpensive traditional lead-acid battery in a small scooter will not give you much benefit.
If you have a supersport bike and are into aggressive riding style, then I would recommend the Exide Li-ion for the respective sizes. It can be twisted in space as you like, shaken when cornering and generally subjected to intense loads. The main thing is that the contacts on the terminals do not move away from the vibration and overheat. Always check the fixation. Plus, this type of battery has a very large number of recharge cycles. Typical service life is more than 2,000 charges / discharges. But please don’t charge it with a conventional lead-acid battery, if you don’t want to see how beautifully lithium burns. For the same reason, always refer to the manual when switching from traditional batteries to lithium. Changes to the charge controller will most likely be required.
At the same time, the cost of a lithium-ion battery is several times higher than the cost of other types of batteries. For example, if a lithium-ion one will cost 100 hypothetical guilders, then its analogue GEL – 45, AGM – 35, and the usual one – 20 of these conventional units. That is, the difference is from two to five times compared to lead batteries.
Gel batteries are among the most advanced and therefore expensive in their class.
The very name “gel” indicates the state of the electrolyte, which, due to the addition of silica gel to sulfuric acid, thickens to a jelly-like state, therefore, even with mechanical damage, the electrolyte does not leak out, and the battery can work even at an angle of 90 °. As a bonus, this gives a low sensitivity to vibrations and deeper allowable discharge levels without sulfation. Very low self-discharge and protection against deep discharge make this battery ideal for long-term storage and seasonal use: initially charged helium batteries can be safely stored for up to two years without recharging in a cold, dry and dark room. It is recommended to install such batteries in premium-class motorcycles of tourism and sports tourism, which are crammed with energy-intensive equipment, such as an audio system, GPS, additional lighting, heating systems, water technology, as well as for the most difficult operating conditions.
Be careful when choosing: many manufacturers are cunning and write “iGEL Technology” on their moto batteries. So, these batteries have nothing to do with real helium technology. In the best case scenario, you will get an AGM battery, or even worse, an EFB.
Exide is the inventor of the Gel technology. Exide now supplies gel batteries to many manufacturers, such as the assembly line of motorcycle manufacturer BMW.
We also have an AGM for two-wheeled vehicles in two different designs. One is immediately ready for use out of the box – this is AGM Ready, and the second is simply AGM. It is shipped dry from the factory and must be activated once at the beginning of its life by filling with electrolyte. After that, you can work with it as if it were unattended.
As in automobiles, in AGM motorized batteries, the electrolyte does not splash freely inside, but is fixed on special fiberglass sponges. At the same time, thin glass fibers do not react with sulfuric acid at all, and due to their fibrous structure, they are practically insensitive to vibrations and mechanical damage. Due to their technology, such batteries do not require maintenance, can deliver a high current, be installed at any angle, and have minimal vibration problems.
AGM batteries will be the optimal choice for most motorcycle models. Usually, very powerful consumers are rarely hung on motorcycles, except for tourist ones, but if you suddenly have electric heating or additional powerful light, then this feature will be very appropriate. Also, this type is perfect for aggressive rides with intense loads. In addition, AGM is more unpretentious when working at low temperatures. So it makes sense to put it in the snowmobile. But in cold weather, you always need to monitor the charge level and, if necessary, recharge. The chemistry of the process is still the same, and when discharged it will also freeze.
Traditional lead acid
They are cheap – this is their main advantage. We still make them high quality, but they are not suitable for aggressive shaking and working with large inclines. But this series has the widest range and is suitable for both small scooters and large equipment operating with 6V and 12V systems. These batteries are more suitable for a measured ride on road bikes as standard.
It comes with a package of electrolyte and presupposes pre-filling the battery before using it. The classic design allows you to visually control the electrolyte level, and if necessary, you may need to top up with distilled water. They are serviced.
We also supply them dry so that they do not waste their useful life while they are in the store on the shelf. Therefore, it is not so important when exactly they were released.
How to properly prepare the battery for wintering
Most people don’t ride motorcycles during the winter. No, there are, of course, fans of extreme races on ice on studded tires, but I’m not talking about them now.
Before solemnly covering the transport with a cover, the battery must be prepared. First of all, you need to ensure it is fully charged – up to 100%. Any battery has an inevitable self-discharge, which can be fatal in the case of a lead-acid battery. When the charge falls below the critical level, the active mass will begin to irreversibly transform into large crystals of lead sulfate and crumble. Worse, at a low level of charge, sulfate anions bind to the active mass, and the electrolyte becomes more and more “diluted”, almost with ordinary water. As a result, the electrolyte can freeze at low negative temperatures.
Therefore, the battery should be charged and stored in a dry, dark, cool place, regularly checking that the terminal voltage is at least 12.45 V for full size lead-acid batteries and 6.2 V for small 6V batteries. For lithium-ion batteries, the target value is 12.9 V. If the battery is serviceable, after charging, check the level and density of the electrolyte and, if necessary, top up with distilled water. You can use any chargers certified by your battery manufacturer. We have, for example, Battery Charger 12/2 Li-Ion for all lithium-ion batteries and Battery Charger 12 / 5.5 for all other motorcycle batteries. But you can use whichever suits you best. If only the parameters fit.
This is how the electrodes of the battery of a conventional battery look like, which we disassembled after a fatal overcharge.
It is important not to overcharge the battery. This not only reliably kills the battery but is potentially dangerous to you.
Here they clearly saved on protection and charge balancing systems. As a result, the battery went into thermal runaway with positive feedback. Don’t skimp on chargers.
With lead acid batteries, this fireworks cannot happen, but when charging several times, check the maximum allowable charging currents of your battery. Otherwise, you risk, at best, irreversibly disable it, and at worst, boil it with funny special effects, release of flammable hydrogen, boiling acid and other joys.
Also, be careful when handling the battery. One of the most unpleasant scenarios for her is a short circuit. A very large amount of energy is stored in chemical bonds. For example, for a battery with a capacity of 56 A * h and a voltage of 12 volts, the total stored energy will be 56 * 12 = 672 W * h = 672 * 3600 = 2.4 MJ. This is about a pound of TNT, only slower.
In this case, all the energy is actually used to warm up the battery itself due to the fact that it has a nonzero internal resistance. If the battery becomes hot or you hear a strong bubbling of electrolyte, stop charging immediately, otherwise it may cause an explosion. Look at the video and never do that.
Snowmobiles and frosts
Plate with active mass after freezing. Part of the structure was torn off from the base by ice crystals.
Separator envelope deformed and destroyed by freezing.
The most important thing to be wary of in any battery is its freezing. Both the motorcycle and the snowmobile lose heat very quickly due to their small size. If the battery is very discharged, the electrolyte may freeze even in light frosts.
As a result of freezing, it will most likely rupture the separators and damage the active mass on the plates, which will tear it off from the grates. In the worst case, ice can break the battery case. In this case, the sulfuric acid will gently spray the interior of the car or motorcycle when it thaws. Therefore, always inspect the case for cracks or other defects. Sometimes freezing can only occur in one of the battery cells. This happens with batteries at the end of their service life, with excessive warping and “growth” of the electrode grids from overheating and overcharging, or due to a short circuit in one of the cells. As a result, one of these cells may be over-discharged and freeze with all the attendant effects.
Therefore, like ordinary flooded batteries, AGM and GEL batteries should not be left in a discharged state in the cold. But at least they will not leak in case of damage to the case, if anything.