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Thread: Your thoughts on Lithium Batteries in vintage bikes?

  1. #1

    Default Your thoughts on Lithium Batteries in vintage bikes?

    I've been running a 6 volt BS06 Shorai Lithium battery, for about 3 years. Trouble free.

    Recently, I was told a horror story of a '46 Chief that nearly caught fire, that was running a Lithium battery, on OEM 6 volt electrics.

    That didn't sit well with me, so I contacted Shorai, directly. I was surprised by two things... 1, the speed at which they responded (less than 5 minutes) and 2, the fact that they told me to STOP putting miles on my bike, with the OEM generator and cutout relay (what some call a regulator), with the BS06 Lithium battery installed.

    They told me that the Lithium battery is rated for a top input of 7.65 volts and that above that, the battery can become compromised and "melt down". I read this as "catch fire". I work in an industry that uses large capacity Lithium batteries and the D.O.T. regulations are numerous and ever changing, to transport these things, so I can see the need for caution.

    I later consulted Gene Harper and he also cautioned me to stop putting miles on my bike. He indicated that the 3 brush generator output was hard on the batteries and that the "regulator" is not a regulator, per se. The OEM generator has a potential of putting out up to 9 volts. Way beyond the safe top end of the BS06 Shorai battery, also, adding that the battery cannot take the charging oscillation from low voltage input, to peak voltage input, found on longer rides.

    I've since taken my bike off the road and am waiting for Gene's solid state regulator and will be modifying my 3 brush generator, to accept the regulator.

    There is a lot of confusing info, out there, about these newer technology batteries, but I believe an honest and open discussion about them will help the membership who are looking for an alternative to the cheap quality India made lead acid leakers, we all have run, at one time, or another.

    The BS06 Shorai is an 18 AH battery and fits well inside an Indian battery shell. It is so small, I don't see why it wouldn't fit virtually any application, but see what's available to you, for your marquee.

    Like I said, I've been running this battery, trouble free, for a few years, but it sounds like it only takes one trip to compromise a battery like this. Let's stay safe and discuss, for other members.

    I'd like to hear your researched thoughts on this.

    Bob Vega
    Riverside, California
    AMCA 30550

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    Bob, I put about 2500 miles on a Shorai in my '46 Chief with zero problems until... one day! The negative terminal snapped off inside the battery shell it was hidden in (walked home in the dark on that one). Shorai replaced it no charge but I had already purchased a lead acid replacement so I sold the replacement Shorai. The lead acid just finished year three and 15k miles so I think I'll get another when it's time. But the Shorai worked well with my Indian Frank rebuilt generator and regulator!
    Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Seaford, NY


    Yes, the lithium batteries need a regulated charging system. I have the Shorai with Gene Harper's regulator. I did the conversion to 2 brush and it's works very nice. Gene offers an excellent service and I would recommend.

  4. #4


    Howdy Bob,

    An important attribute of these batteries often overlooked by us vintage machine riding types looking for something that won't etch our paint off with leakage is they are referred to as "starter" batteries, meaning they have the ability to provide maximum amps for a brief time to start your 130CI OCC chopper without taking up a lot of unsightly space performing that task. They rely on your killer alternator and electronic regulator to recover from that task once underway. If you read your included instructions on the BS06 you'll note they even want you to warm the battery by turning on the headlight before even undertaking this feet of strength. You're battery is not a true 18amps, that is a corrected rated based on its ability to discharge itself to a lower rating than an LA without damaging itself. Flip it over and look at the bottom, it's really only about 6ah based on storage capacity. The latter is what we are all about, we need all the storage capacity we can manage, not cold cranking amps, our generators do not duty cycle in an average riding situation to keep a small capacity battery fully charged. On the other hand, the larger the storage capacity the more flexibility you have for a poorly controlled charging system like one on three brush/cutout or not much better mechanical regulator equipped machines. One attribute of Shorei's is they have so little internal resistance, that same attribute of efficiency that starts that chopper means they also take a charge very quickly and with no storage capacity will turn into a bomb in short order, you've not smelled anything like it when they explode. Nothing negative here when applied in environment they were designed to excel in, we just have to bridge the gap to our needs as best we can. Whereas on low charge rate British machines I'll get by with one, on my Indians and HD's its two wired in parallel to reach for a little more storage capacity. They must be electronically regulated with a device designed for m/c lower amperage output charging systems.
    Last edited by PRG; 02-03-2017 at 08:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    Thanks for the tech update Peter! You helped put it all in perspective! I use and recommend the Shorai batteries with my regulators. They are great, but don't like a high uncontrolled voltage input or a complete discharge, both of which will permanently damage them. Like my lovely wife tells me, "I'm all about proper control honey"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Minot, ME


    another guy who tried to get around those leakey batterys that were available the lithium battery worked ok around town short trips etc go on a 200 mile ride the charging over powers the battery resulting in burning out your points your coil now you are 100 miles from home on your day off afoot if you didnt burn things up a hardwarestore 6 volt lantern batt might get you home it really does not like a charge swells up not unlike the lithium batt usually they heat up the connection breaks inside the battery over at harley they have a 6 volt h1 battery made in vietnam these work well they are like a big sponge on a long ride they dont act up we even use them in our chiefs they will fit been there tried that just one guys two cents worth paul bergeron minot maine 7989

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010


    Cool show on pbs 2 nite ago.guy shows cellphone lithium batteries & what causes them to self ignite..liquid inside.He makes battery with plastic inside between electrode instead of liquid..shows them cutting/puncturing his battery & still works,no fires..the lithium liquid explodes in fire same tests..I'm ready to see bike batteries made like this before i try one..At Waseon one burned /morphed while sitting with key off,I'm guessing the vibrations acted like the punctures

  8. #8


    Well howdy Gene,

    Still work'n on that control part there sir. Here today at Cayne Garden Bay in the BVI, drink'n extree strong Pain Killers, with a wink assured the missus it was all about moderation....with intensity.

  9. #9


    Thanks for all the great replies, guys.

    Much appreciated.


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