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The unfortunate reality of the batteries in our motorcycles is that we never think of them until that moment we hit the starter button only to hear the telltale “click-click-click” of an almost-dead battery. Lead-acid battery technology has developed over more than a century to the point that, with little or no attention, the battery powering your bike can be 100 percent reliable for many years before needing attention. Here we will look at the current state of lead-acid battery technology, the increasing popularity of lithium-iron as a replacement, and what you need to know about both types of batteries to make sure your own bike starts every time you press that button.

Long ago, motorcycles did not even need batteries to function. Points and a condenser served as the ignition system, the engine was started with a swift kick of a lever, and Bluetooth was what you got after eating blueberries. Now, however, your bike most likely has electric start, an elaborate lighting system, electronic ignition and fuel injection, and any number of electric and electronic accessories and riding aids. Your battery must be able to start the engine, power all those accessories when the engine’s generator can’t keep up (under extended idling, for example), and help protect the delicate electronics from surges and spikes in the system.

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