Brand vs. Brand: where we stack rival brands against each other in an honest and fair-minded showdown, to help you choose which one is not just best – but best for you. This week, we’re featuring three top brands in motorcycle batteries – which one will you pick to replace that dead battery come spring time?
It’s the middle of winter and the entire country is getting pummeled by winter weather, and with riding still a ways away, starting your bike up might be the furthest thing from your mind. But spring is approaching, and that long-awaited first riding day will soon be here – and when it arrives, the last thing we want you to encounter is a bike that wont start!
Unfortunately, improper winter storage is the killer of many batteries, and we here at BikeBandit get a surge in orders of new batteries right around the beginning of riding season for that exact reason. During winter storage (or any kind of storage, really) your battery should be either pulled out of the bike, or hooked up to a battery tender to maintain a full charge, as batteries naturally lose charge just by sitting (up to 5% of their charge every month!) But if you’ve forgotten to do that, or if your battery is just nearing the end of its days in general, you’ll need to go shopping for one soon.
And when you do, the big question is – what kind of battery should you buy?
While that’s a big topic to tackle, with many considerations to take into account (such as application, budget, frequency of use, current draw, and so on), what we’re going to cover in this segment of Brand vs. Brand is an overview of what our three most popular battery brands – BikeMaster, Yuasa, and Power Source – has to offer. While we won’t delve too deeply into the technical aspects of batteries here, we will give a general overview of the characteristics of each brand and what they bring to the table to help guide your buying decision based on what it is that you’re looking for.
Let’s get started!
BikeMaster Powersports Batteries
What BikeMaster has to offer in two words: Selection, and Support
BikeMaster is one of the heavy hitters in the powersports aftermarket, and they offer an absolutely unmatched selection of products (and not just in batteries, but tools and replacement parts as well.) When it comes to batteries, they have literally every base covered, with five separate product lines in dozens of sizes to cover every powersports application imaginable. When it comes to options, BikeMaster is absolutely going to be the brand that gives you the most to choose from.
In the battery segment, BikeMaster has five product lines ranging from the bare bones lead-acids to the top-of-the-food-chain lithium options. Here is a brief rundown of each one, to give you a basic understand of where each one falls based on features and price.
Conventional (Non-activated) Lead-Acid Batteries
This is the most basic BikeMaster battery – a bare bones lead-acid battery, consisting of a core of lead plates bathed in electrolyte (AKA battery acid.) These batteries come with the acid in tubes that you must pour into the battery yourself to activate it. These are the least expensive variety, but dealing with corrosive chemicals isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and the non-sealed nature of these batteries means the acid can spill out if your bike goes down. You also have to check fluid levels yourself, as these “old school” style batteries do dry up. They are also very heavy, and like any lead-acid battery, they require regular maintenance charging.
Maintenance-Free (Sealed) Lead-Acid Batteries
BikeMaster’s Maintenance Free batteries use the same basic technology as non-activated lead-acids, but they are sealed from the factory, meaning you never have to deal with any corrosive chemicals or check fluid levels yourself. These are a little more expensive than non-activated batteries, but the simplest to use, and what most customers want when they are looking for a replacement battery that just works.
Platinum II AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) Batteries
These higher-end BikeMaster AGM batteries still use the lead-acid chemical reaction to create power, but using a more modern method that is more stable and consistent – by using electrolyte soaked fiberglass mats in between the lead plates instead of just fluid electrolyte. These batteries are more expensive, but also have longer storage life, higher performance, and are lighter than regular lead-acids, and also have a 2-year warranty instead of just one.
BikeMaster’s Tru-Gel line uses the same technology found in AGM batteries, but adds the use of a nano-gel electrolyte instead of regular fluid, which takes the performance of these batteries up a notch. Out of all the lead-acid varieties, these are the most modern and highest peforming, but also the most expensive (before making the jump up to lithium.) 2 year warranty on these as well.
BikeMaster’s Lithium-based batteries use a completely different technology than lead-acid varieties, and truly are the batteries of the future. They are super-light (about 1/3 the weight of comparable lead-acids), crank very powerfully, hold a charge far better than lead-acids, last twice as long, can be mounted in any direction, and use a completely dry cell with no risk of ever spilling. All this performance comes at a price though – they are quite a bit more expensive than lead-acids, require special chargers, and become a little sluggish in cold weather. (For a more in-depth discussion on lithium-based powersports batteries, check out our full article, Lithium Motorcycle Batteries.)
As you can see, BikeMaster has a huge product selection, and all of their products are priced to be a great value, so that no matter what your budget is you’ll find a BikeMaster battery that works. In addition, BikeMaster has great customer support, and tend to be pretty easy to deal with in terms of technical support and warranty claims. BikeMaster’s batteries are more middle-of-the-road than top tier, but they are very affordable, reliable, and they make it easy to find the product you need, so they are popular with our customers.
Yuasa Powersports Batteries
What Yuasa has to offer in two words: OEM Dependability
Yuasa truly is a “name brand” in the world of powersports batteries – possibly the most established name brand in the industry. In the 115 years they’ve been in business, they have become the OEM battery supplier for huge worldwide brands such as Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki, with additional applications in Polaris, Arctic Cat and BRP vehicles. Yuasa is the #1 powersports battery brand in the USA, and odds are, if you’ve ever bought a vehicles from any of these brands, it had a Yuasa in it already.
Yuasa’s whole reputation is built on dependability, which is how they have become such a prolific OEM supplier. As Steve Turner, Yuasa’s US Representative, told us:
“What we want to be at Yuasa is the brand that doesn’t just work on those 75-degree days when everything is perfect – we want to be counted on by the guy whose watercraft stalls out in the middle of a huge lake, or for the guy trying to start his snowmobile a few miles deep in the back country in sub-zero temperatures. We want to be able to be counted on in situations where you wouldn’t trust anything less than a Yuasa, and that’s why so many worldwide brands trust their own reputations to us too.”
Yuasa is a Japanese company, which is part of where they get their commitment to reliability – but contrary to what many people believe, 70% of their battery production is actually done right here in the U.S., at their manufacturing facility in Redding, PA that has been in operation since 1979. When it comes to reliable, consistent batteries you can absolutely trust, Yuasa is a brand you can’t go wrong with.
On the other hand, being a brand that is so heavily invested in the “dependability” aspect of their batteries also means they are much more resistant to exploring new technologies that might be less proven. Lithium batteries are now at the forefront of battery technology, and continue to be developed into what will eventually be a total replacement for lead-acid batteries – but Yuasa has still not introduced a single product in that market.
However, YuasaYuasa is performing research into the lithium-based battery market internationally (currently only in industrial applications), and according to Turner, will introduce lithium batteries “only when they can match the same level of reliability and performance their lead-acid batteries are known for.” Between now and then, however, if you want a high-performance lithum battery, you’ll unfortunately have to look elsewhere.
Power Source Batteries
What Power Source has to offer in two words: Simplicity and Value
Of the three battery brands we’re featuring here, Power Source features the smallest and simplest product selection, with only 35 products available compared to the large selection of Yuasa (with 123) and the massive selection of BikeMaster batteries (a whopping 238!) Nevertheless, Power Source is consistently one of our top-selling battery brands, month after month, and there is a reason – Power Source is a very popular and trusted brand in the Harley-Davidson market as an OEM replacement battery.
Why are so many Harley-Davidson owners switching to Power Source? Harley-Davidsons actually have a pretty poor reputation when it comes to their OEM batteries – many owners complain of high prices and poor performance with Harley’s own branded batteries (as numerous reviews on their own website will show you! Take a look, we’ll wait.)
The Harley-Davidson market is enormous, encompassing more motorcycles in the U.S. than any other brand by a wide margin – and for many Harley owners who opt to replace their parts with high-quality, reasonably priced aftermarket batteries in place of OEM, Power Source is the go-to name we carry. Power Source batteries are nothing fancy or exotic – just solid, reliable batteries at a great price that you know will get the job done, and that’s why our customers love them.
Feel free to peruse our product selections for BikeMaster, Yuasa, and Power Source, and for more information on the difference between each type of battery, check out our cool and informative video, Motorcycle Battery Crash Course. If you still have questions, feel free to email us at [email protected], call us at (888) 339-3888, or visit our live chat by clicking on the link at the top right of the screen, and we’ll get you the battery that will be perfect for you!