March 07, 2018

Not all lithium motorcycle batteries are created equal

In the US, there is a wide range of lithium motorcycle batteries on the market, and they are not all the same. With many manufacturers now building lithium motorcycle batteries- price point, quality and value are hard to figure out at first glance. 

So, there are some questions about lithium motorcycle batteries that need answers and consideration:

1. What advantages do lithium batteries offer over traditional batteries?

2. What features and functionality do riders want and need in a battery?

3. In a crowded market, how can a manufacturer show their product is superior?

4. How do those questions impact and inform a customers' purchase decision?

We believe in showing our work and pointing out what makes our batteries the best in the business. We did this years ago with our last version of the Pulse battery. With our all new Pulse IPT battery, we're doing it again.

So, here is where we show our work. I hope this is informative.

When we started this project, we spent a lot of time developing a resin to use for the case itself. To survive in a powersports environment it must be light, strong, fire resistant, shock resistant, and oil/gas resistant. The new case material met all those requirements.
We understand that direct fitment of batteries is really important to riders. Having the smallest battery possible is cool too- but most people want a direct replacement size. So, we designed and built tooling for 14 different case sizes, with 32 different power options.

This range covers most applications, and as demand arises for additional sizes, we will respond. To see what fits your bike, visit our product selection tool. Once you find the physical size for your bike, you'll likely have a few choices for power levels.

Pulse IPT batteries are available in a wide range of sizes and power levels.

Along with sizes, we also looked at what people are attaching to our batteries, how they are attaching them, and how we could do it better.

With racers, we saw lots of things: fuel modules, nitrous oxide controllers, boost controllers; the list is long.

With adventure riders, there are lots of accessories that need power; heated clothing, phone chargers, navigation units, etc. Same story with cruisers- now mobile stereos are a part of motorcycling culture.
So, we designed a terminal that has a bunch of very clever features.

First, we chose pure copper with a proprietary coating. These are machined from billet stock. We could have chosen cheap bent cage type terminals, but those are poor conductors, they don't dissipate heat, and their method of attachment makes design compromises we are not willing to make. 

Second, we made two mounting points on each terminal- one on each corner. This allows us to avoid having to produce a "Left" or "Right" version of our products. If your positive cable is on the right side, install the battery that way. If on the left, flip the battery around. With one additional mount point, you can attach your accessories to the unused terminal hole.

Pulse IPT Terminal has four mount points

We include a custom silicone cover- color matched for polarity- so that the terminal isn't exposed. We also have billet 90-degree mount brackets, for bikes that have side mount terminals. This picture shows some of these features.

Finally, the terminal acts as a direct connection to the IPT BMS. This means that we have fewer connection points to potentially fail, and can dissipate heat from the BMS through the terminal. They don't get hot to the touch- but they do manage to help cool the BMS and the battery pack. Because they interface directly with the IPT, we don't lose power that should be going to your starter motor. 

These things help make the new Pulse IPT the best lithium motorcycle battery available. However, the two parts that we are most proud of form the heart of our new product: the cells, and the Intelligent Pulse Technology (IPT) battery management system (BMS).


Pulse IPT Cutaway Image. We Dont Hide Whats Inside.

With the cells, we did something that no other motorsports battery company has done: we designed our own cells. We'd guess few people had ever looked at designing a cell exclusively for start batteries. It's simply too expensive an undertaking. Well, we were just that crazy.

For years, we used a different cell supplier- and they make excellent products. Over time however, other manufacturers have caught and surpassed the quality of that manufacturer. With the development of our new products, we decided to see what else was available. 

We knew- based on nearly a decade of working with very demanding clients- what the inherent weaknesses were with off the shelf cells. Even those cells that were allegedly designed for use in start batteries had significant design limitations.

In developing the Pulse IPT, we worked directly with a large lithium cell manufacturer. We spent a few years doing design work, sample testing, field testing, and ultimately, production. We spared no expense in getting this done. The result is a cell with excellent cold weather performance, great energy density, excellent burst discharge capabilities, and exceptional quality control.

We are proud of what we have designed and we believe this: These are without question the best cells ever designed for lithium motorcycle engine start batteries. They are strong, light, reliable, and supremely powerful. In our opinion, nothing comes close. You can't buy these anywhere but from Full Spectrum Power. They are designed by us and are manufactured for us.  

One thing we have noticed over the years is the almost total lack of safety certification done by any lithium motorcycle battery manufacturers. Well, we see that as reckless.

As background, all lithium batteries sold and shipped commercially must submit to- and pass- UNDOT 38.3 Testing and Certification. On the one hand, it is expensive and difficult to do. And, in reality the chance that anyone will actually get caught for not getting this certification done is quite small.

Since our first product in 2010, we have submitted all of our Pulse and Pulse IPT batteries to UNDOT 38.3 Certification. Can any other battery company make that claim?

All of this brings us to the IPT BMS- our Intelligent Pulse Technology (IPT) Battery Management System (BMS). This is the heart of every Pulse IPT Battery. One thing we learned over the years was that perhaps the biggest obstacle riders faced in switching to lithium from lead acid was the change in care and maintenance of batteries. Well, the IPT changes all of that.

In fact, the list of benefits that the IPT provides is extensive; short circuit protection, active cell balancing, fuel gauging, heat management, on-board real-time diagnostics, over-charge protection, over-discharge protection, and the most important thing: IPT Reset.

IPT Reset is basically a "last chance start" or "emergency start" button on the top of the battery. The short version is this: if you manage to drain the battery somehow- leaving the key on for a week; LED lights used at a bike night draining the battery, whatever it is- at some point the IPT will cut off the power, stopping the battery from being drained to the point of damage.

Well, we have adjusted that cutoff point to leave just enough power in reserve so that you can press the "IPT Reset" button, and you will have enough power to start your bike. How cool is that? 

Here is what this means: You won't be stranded somewhere. You won't need a jump start. You won't need to wait while you charge your battery in the garage.

You just press the button and go.

We are going to be talking about this feature a lot in the future, because we believe it makes the lead acid battery obsolete. In fact, there has never been a better time to make the switch to lithium.