A battery is a battery, right? Wrong, there are many different types of batteries and many different technologies that go into making them. In the past, you would buy a lead-acid battery and forget about it because that was your only option. Now there are dry cell, gel, and other types of motorcycle batteries that are a far cry from the old lead-acid batteries we were used to. So, let’s take a look at the best motorcycle battery in each category, after which I’ll explain the different types and the advantages of each. At the end of this article, you can find more in-depth reviews for what we consider the best motorcycle batteries.
|Motorcycle battery||Battery type||Best motorcycle battery for|
|HDX30L - Harley Davidson Motorcycle Battery||Gel battery||Bikes with tilted battery placement and massive battery capacity|
|Odyssey PC680 Motorcycle Battery||Dry cell battery||No-hassle battery placement|
|Shotgun Motorcycle Battery||Conventional lead acid battery||Older bikes|
If you’re looking for a battery charger as well, check out our guide on the best motorcycle battery chargers. A good charger can lengthen your battery’s life, and keep it safe during winter storage. We recently added a best car battery guide as well.
Gel Motorcycle Battery
Also known as gel acid batteries, gel batteries use an acid gel rather than a liquid acid as the electrolyte in the battery. Since they are filled with gel at the factory, these batteries are usually sealed and are maintenance free. This means that you never have to worry about topping them off, similar to a dry cell battery which we will cover shortly.
The casing of these batteries is usually black, blue or gray. The top of the battery is also usually one of these colors, but there are exceptions. Similar to the colors, the product numbers also have a similar theme. In most cases, gel batteries will have product numbers that begin with YT, GT, or CT.
The main advantage of a gel battery is that the gel does not move around. This means that if the battery is mounted at an angle then the electrolyte gel is not going to leave the cells exposed which can damage your battery. This is a common problem with conventional batteries since they just use liquid acid.
Dry Cell Motorcycle Battery
These are not actually dry cells, but instead, they are sealed. Dry cell batteries are filled at the factory and the sealed and shipped to the store. By sealing the battery the manufacturer ensures that the battery will remain maintenance free. With conventional batteries, the electrolyte solution will evaporate and needs to be topped off with distilled water.
Some of these batteries also come with the acid solution rather than having it installed at the factory. In these cases, you will simply need to add the acid to the cells then put the cap on the battery. While the cap can often be removed, it should not be. Once the battery is sealed you should not have to open it for the life of the battery. If you do open it and attempt to top off the levels then you will likely ruin the battery.
Conventional Motorcycle Batteries
Conventional motorcycle batteries, or wet cell batteries, are the most common type and are the same, essentially, as a car battery. They will need to be topped off on occasions since the water in the acid solution will evaporate. What is happening is that as the battery charges it causes a chemical reaction that causes the water in the solution to separate into hydrogen gas and oxygen. This will slowly cause the levels to drop and can eventually damage the battery if it is not kept topped off.
Be careful not to overfill a wet cell battery. Since the acid in the battery cells is not getting replaced, spilling it will cause your battery to become less effective. Sure, you can replace the battery acid, if you have a source that is, but it is generally not considered a good idea. Plus, you never want to mess with acid if you don’t have to. When you do top these off be sure to use distilled water. Impurities in the water can damage the cells.
Choosing The Right Motorcycle Battery
When you have to choose the right battery for your bike it can be a bit difficult to find the right one. Fortunately, many battery manufacturers have series similar to other products and will have the same model battery that has several different iterations so that there is one for every kind of bike.
Making sure you are buying the right battery is pretty easy, you just need to make sure that the battery is the right size and the posts are in the right place. First, check the physical dimensions of the battery and see if it will fit. This is the most important thing to consider. Next, make sure that the posts are either in the right place or that you will be able to reach them to connect the battery. If the posts are on the wrong side and you cannot mount it the other way then the battery is no good to you. Thankfully, Amazon has a battery checking tool that will tell you if a battery will fit your bike. It will also show you batteries that will fit your bike if the one you chose won’t work.
HDX30L – Harley Davidson Motorcycle Battery Review
The first battery on our list is also one of, if not the best motorcycle batteries. It is a gel filled battery so it should work at any angle. It has 400 cold cranking amps (CCA), which, let’s be honest, is overkill here. That being said, motorcycle batteries tend to run on the small side since so little has to run on them. If you have ever had your battery die in the middle of nowhere because you left your lights on a little too long then you will appreciate the extra charge.
ThrottleX makes an entire line of their X-Rated batteries, so you should be able to find one that will fit your bike. This one is specifically advertised as a Harley-Davidson battery, but any of theirs that will fit will work with your Harley or any other bike. Thanks to the gel used, these batteries are not going to be damaged over time by the vibrations of the bike.
Odyssey PC680 Motorcycle Battery Review
Moving on to dry cell batteries we have the Odyssey line of batteries. These are a dry cell construction and should last a long time. The Odyssey batteries have a cold cranking amp rating of 170. This is not nearly as high as the ThrottleX, but it is still more than enough to start a motorcycle. For comparison, most car batteries only have a few hundred cold cranking amps and they are turning between four and eight cylinders.
One of the biggest advantages of the Odyssey line, at least to me, is that they are deep cycle batteries. This means that the battery is designed to be drained and recharged rather than just start the engine and immediately be recharged. If you try to put a normal duty battery through deep cycles often then it will not last long at all. Draining and recharging the battery causes damaged to the cells that cause them to stop storing electricity like they used to. Specifically what is happening is that the lead cells and forming minute cracks. Individually these cracks don’t do much, but together they are one of the main causes of failed lead-acid batteries.
Shotgun Motorcycle Battery Review
Only the rich can afford cheap batteries. This saying used to hold very true, but thanks to advances in manufacturing techniques, conventional batteries are now cheaper than they used to be. While some brands will not admit this and continue to gouge their customers, Shotgun has created a battery that is cheap, and it is at the time of writing by far the cheapest one on this list. These batteries are not your typical discount batteries. They will hold a charge and you can rely on them to last.
Shotgun makes several different versions of their batteries, one for each brand. This means you should have no problems finding one that will fit your bike. If you are not ready to invest in a gel or dry cell battery but need something now then you may want to consider getting a Shotgun battery.
At the end of the day, the type of battery you choose will depend on your situation. Personally, I recommend going with a gel battery such as the ThrottleX. They cost more than conventional batteries but should last longer and they are maintenance free. You can also go with a dry cell battery. If you need a deep cycle battery then this is usually the way to go, but expect to spend more on a good quality deep cycle, dry cell battery. A good gel battery is the best compromise between performance and cost.
If you are simply looking for the best motorcycle battery to get your bike going for now then the Shotgun is the way to go. It is a conventional design, so you will have to maintain it, but if done properly then it should last for a few years at least. Given the price of this battery, it is hard to argue with it. Even if you went through three of them in the same time you would have had a dry cell you are still likely to spend less by using the conventional Shotgun batteries.