Tag Archives: custom

Is A Lithium Motorcycle Battery For You

Lithium Motorcycle Battery Pros & Cons

If you have not heard the buzz about lithium batteries for motorcycles then you have probably been hiding under a rock somewhere. There are many different brands available, and although prices have dropped some you may have noticed that they command a premium price. The question for most people is lithium motorcycle battery worth it? Most of the time yes, but sometimes the answer is no.

Of course there are a number of advantages and some disadvantages of lithium batteries in general. The single biggest advantage they have for the motorcycle restorer or customizer is that they contain no acid. There’s nothing worse than to have your battery burp a little acid out through the overflow tube and dribble it all over you freshly restored paint & chrome. Even if you carefully route the vent tube the acid still seems to corrode the battery box, frame etc.

Figure 1 Battery acid damage to a Gold Wing

<lithium motorcycle battery>

For the collector & show bike enthusiast who does not ride their motorcycles very often, a lithium battery has a very slow self-discharge rate. Especially on older motorcycles that have zero current draw when the key is switched off a fully charged lithium ion battery will usually maintain enough current to start the motorcycle for up to a year. Please note that it is recommended by all manufacturers that you disconnect and remove the battery for storage. If your motorcycle has any current drawing accessories such as a clock or an alarm system the battery must be checked & charged on a regular basis if you plan to leave it connected to your motorcycle.

In racing or other high performance applications lithium ion batteries have the advantage of weighing much less any other currently available battery configuration with equivalent specifications. I cannot recommend them for total loss ignition systems on race machines unless you are willing to be extremely diligent about checking and recharging them, and you accept the fact that this is basically a non-warrantied experimental use in the eyes of the manufacturers. If your racer has a charging system that meets the minimum charging requirements of your battery then you should not continue to handicap yourself by running a heavy lead acid battery.

Customizers love these batteries because they can be installed in any position even upside down. There are a few different from factors, most appear similar to a standard battery, but there are a few oddly shaped batteries available. Li-ion batteries are much smaller & lighter making them much easier to hide in café racer bum stops or under seat trays.

Figure 2 Conventional and Shorai Lithium Gold Wing batteries for comparison

<lithium motorcycle battery>

Warranties are usually better on these batteries running on average 3 years from most suppliers if they are installed in a factory recommended vehicle with a good functional charging system.

This leads to the biggest caveat of them all. Your motorcycle or other powersports vehicle must have a charging system capable of maintaining a steady charging rate of 13.6-14.4 volts during operation. If you have an older motorcycle that has a marginal charging system that is not capable of maintaining this charging rate and you want to run this type of battery some charging system upgrades will be needed. If yours is a fully functional mint condition classic motorcycle with all original parts, I personally would not change it just to run a li-ion battery. For one that is a frequent driver, or just needs a new charging system, look at some of the aftermarket upgrades available, it might be worth your while upgrade your charging system even if you don’t choose a Li-ion battery.

With proper precautions (see the manufacturer’s instructions) these batteries can handle some water spray or a very brief dunking, if you frequently run long deep water crossings on your dirt bike or take your atv and drive it around in the water with nothing but the snorkel sticking up above the water then these batteries are not for you.

Another factor to consider for some is that if something goes wrong & your battery goes dead away from home it can’t be jump started. Once discharged below a certain point these batteries have to be charged back up with the manufacture’s recommended charger, or you risk damaging the battery. So if you’re the life of the party & plan to use the stereo system in your Gold Wing to provide music for the whole campground until late at night & then get your buddy to give you jump start the following morning so you can get home then you shouldn’t even consider a lithium battery.

Since this was published in the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle magazine I must note that if you need a six volt battery, at this time the only manufacturer offering a six volt lithium motorcycle battery is Shorai.

Cold weather operation is a little different & takes some getting used to. When the temperature drops below freezing a li-ion has very different operational characteristics. They actually require a bit of a warming up period to deliver full voltage. For my own personal driver, a 1980 Honda CB650, when the temperatures are at or below freezing I will switch the key on and make sure the headlight is on high beam for about 30 seconds before hitting the starter button. If the engine turns too slowly to start I let go of the button and wait a few more seconds at which point the battery is fully warmed up and will spin the starter normally.  It’s just a little thing & I realize most people are not masochist enough to ride a motorcycle in the freezing cold if they have a car, but it is a difference in the behavior of lithium & lead acid batteries that you should be aware of.

To me the advantages of the lithium motorcycle battery outweigh the disadvantages and I hope that this gives you enough information to help you make an informed decision about whether or not you want to purchase one.

This article originally appeared in the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Magazine in 2015. To learn how to join the club and receive this fine publication 6 times a year visit www.vjmc.org

Disclaimer; Motopsyco is an authorized Shorai battery dealer and will be more than happy to help you with selection of your new battery, so if you can’t figure out which one you need from this battery finder link, feel free to contact me by email at motopsyco@motopsyco.com.


Honda CM400 Custom Project wAmmo Finished

The day I originally brought this Honda CM400 home it was sold and the new owner almost immediately asked me to rebuild it as a tribute to his days as an ordnance technician during the first gulf war. He wanted a rat bike simple and rough edged with his rank and an Ammo Corp logo on it. Olive drab paint was necessary, wrapped exhaust & low bars were part of his specification.  He also did not want a side mount tail light, a rather unusual request on this type of bike. The rest was up to me


rigid frame Honda CM400E>

<ammo corp flaming bomb>

The hand painted logo is not necessarily authentic to his unit but is based on a generic amalgamation of such insignia as I found online.

<od green paint>

The long exhaust pipes were made from small chain link fence posts bent & brazed to the stubs of the original head pipes. The exhaust wrap makes everything look cool and it has a mean sound, just listen to this video.


The rear fender started life as a brand new aftermarket front fender for a Harley Electraglide, that I cut down & installed backwards to make a fantastic custom rear fender. The voltage regulator was bolted to the side and a good old fashioned Sparto tail light was mounted on top.

<cm400e voltage regulator>

A little while back I did a post on twin leading shoe brakes and here they are installed and working just fine on the front of this little Honda CM400

<twin leading shoe brakes>

The factory carbs got a serious overhaul and were re-jetted to work with the 54 mm velocity stacks & open exhaust with a Six Sigma jet kit. The fine people at Six Sigma really know their stuff and can usually set you up with a jet kit custom matched to your application. The key switch is your basis auto parts store universal hot rod part but the alloy bracket and the ABS plastic battery box & side covers are my work.

<hand fabricated motorcycle parts>

The solo seat was a swap meet find that was reworked to fit and the covered in olive drab Cordura fabric.

<Cordura motorcycle seat>

<Honda CM400 bobber chopper>

Here’s a shot of my buddy trying to look all serious and tough when he really wants to smile

<part time tough guy>

The bar end mirrors actually work very well on this bike.

<bar end mirrors>

That’s enough words from me, here’s a little 1 3/4 minute video showing various excerpts from the build and the proud owner taking it for his first spin around the parking lot, and a couple big pictures further down on this page.

<kustom Honda CM400>

<kustom Honda CM400>

Peace Y’all!



Loving the Reader Feedback on This Blog

It’s always great to hear from readers about the various things that I’ve written through the years, for example a little over three years ago I wrote a post underscoring the importance of always using a new cotter pin every time you need one. Just a few weeks ago I received an email from a reader who had a near tragic ending and these next few words will be his.

Comment: I just wanted to share a story about why you should always check those cotter pins.

I had just rebuilt a 200cc bike, and after riding 50 miles, the back wheel came off. I broke my clavicle, went to the ER in an ambulance, destroyed my helmet, broke my crankcase, and scraped up fairings and the frame. The towing & impound were expensive too. In the end, this cost me thousands, and I was out for 6 weeks w/ a hurt shoulder.

All this because I rode the bike without a cotter pin.

I’d torqued up the rear nut to spec, and it only took 50 miles for the nut to back out. I never thought it would happen…but it did.

Now you’ve heard from a man who really knows and yes he still rides motorcycles. He asked me to keep his identity completely private so I will, and thank you very much kind sir for sharing this with us. If the rest of you don’t already have one stop right now & get yourself a cotter pin assortment.

Another post that has generated a lot of comments & feedback was the one entitled Vintage Piston Valve Keihin Carburetor Overhaul. If you look at this post without reading the commentary you’re only getting half of the story. Check out the whole page, I learned as much from my readers as they learned from my meager do it yourself post. Of course this leads into my other series of posts Dirt Bike Carburetor 101.

Those of you with CV carbs don’t fret, I have several dozen detailed close up pictures of 2 different style of CV carburetors that I have worked on recently & will be getting a couple of detailed posts going for you about those.

Some of you may be wondering about the Project wAmmo bobber that I had started on. It’s probably the main reason that I have not posted as steadily this month as I should have because the darn thing needs to be finished. But it’s up on it’s wheels and actually went to it’s first show despite needing a few more details to finish it up. I hope to have it all wrapped up in the next 2 weeks for final pictures in the meantime give a listen to this video.


That’s about it for this post if you haven’t already signed up for email notifications please do so using the box below. There’s a lot of great stuff coming up & you don’t want to miss a thing.

Most of all thanks for the reader feedback on this blog.


The 2015 Bull City Rumble

The 2015 Bull City Rumble

Every year for the last 11 years during the Labor Day weekend holiday the club Ton Up North Carolina has been hosting a great multiday event for vintage motorcycle enthusiasts in Durham North Carolina. The main focus is on vintage café racer styled customs, restorations, competition bikes, and vintage scooters. Ever since I discovered this event three years ago the Saturday bike show has been permanently added to my calendar.

<Durham NC September 5th 2015>

One of the great things I love about this event is the fact that every year at least one really oddball custom will show up. The top motor freak at this year’s show was a diamond plate covered Goldwing that had everyone scratching their heads.

<diamond plate Goldwing>

This being a café racer club there was plenty of fine British & European iron on display including an original unrestored 1983 Triumph TSS with electric start.


<1983 Triumph TSS>

Numerous Moto Guzzi motorcycles were on hand such as this T3 and this old Ambassador

<old Moto Guzzis>

I can’t tell you exactly which one of the two it was but one of these immaculate AJS machines that won best of show, both look so pristine I don’t think it matters

< antique AJS motorcycles>

Fellow VJMC member Mike McSween was showing his terrific pair of restored vintage Kawasaki road racers with his 1971 H1R 500, number 56 in the picture taking home first place. The other green jewel in the picture is his 1972 H2 750 triple.

<vintage Kawasaki Road Racers>

Anytime I get within a mile of a Vincent I have to take its picture. Even though I am normally a Japanese bike fanatic, Vincents like this 1952 model really are my ultimate dream machine. Perhaps one day…

<1952 Vincent>

The award for the best Japanese motorcycle went to this highly detailed & wonderfully conceived CX500 Honda.

< Honda CX500 Cafe Racer>

No matter what angle it is viewed from the artistry & talent of the builder is just amazing.

<custom CX500>

Until 2014 there was no class for American motorcycles and while this was still the smallest class it did attract some high quality equipment including a 1950’s vintage Indian and this fine looking Harley Davidson J model.

<Harley Davidson model J>

I must confess that when the American class was first introduced that I and a couple of others had mixed feelings about it. We feared that an influx of the so called American bikers would destroy the character of this event and make it into yet another chrome, mullet, & tattoo show for us (and our fat wallets) to stay away from. Fortunately this has not happened so far. I was there for nine hours this year and only heard one person make a disparaging remark about the motorcycles with superior engineering, handling & reliability. Since she was blonde I’ll forgive her for not having the intellectual acumen to understand that some of us view our motorcycles as something more than just a two wheeled “Members Only” jacket.

It was great having Rommel Harley Davidson there as a sponsor and I really enjoyed checking out the new Street 750 demo trailer that they had set up. Check it out on the video below at the bottom of the page.
Other motorcycles at the show that I really liked included this very tasteful black Suzuki café racer. These late 70’s & early ‘80s Suzuki cycles don’t get nearly the love from restorers or customizers that they should, even though they were probably the best all-around motorcycles of that time period.

<Suzuki GS cafe racer>

If you love vintage turbo bikes there were a Yamaha Seca & a Honda CX parked side by side on the street.

<Turbo Seca Turbo CX500>

Everywhere you looked there was a good selection of vintage & retro machines, fine people, good eats, and plenty of excitement, and I am already planning to return next year. Check out the Ton Up NC website at http://tonup-nc.blogspot.com/ for more information.

<at the 2015 Bull City Rumble>

I took so many pictures at the 2015 Bull City Rumble that I decided to put the best of the rest into a slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s the youtube video that I made of the event. Watching this is probably the best way to get an idea of the scope of this event.

The 20 Foot TS185 Restoration Part 4!

Mission Main Street Grants

Hello everyone & welcome back! It’s time for just a few more pictures of this little project TS185 I’ve been working on but first let me talk to you a little about the banner ad above. I have applied for one of these grants and I only have until June the 19th 2015 to reach the required number of votes. If you have a couple of minutes of time & a Facebook account could you please go vote for me? It would be greatly appreciated.


<bmx platform pedals on a motorcycle>

As mentioned last time this motorcycle is more of a restomod than a proper TS185 restoration and one of the things that I have always wanted to try out was putting a set of BMX bicycle platform pedals on a motorcycle. So out came the reciprocating saw some scrap metal & the welder.

As I mentioned the last time I was changing the color so here it is just a plain old machinery gray from a Duplicolor spray can.

<suzuki TS185 headlight & fender>

Added the shop logo to the number plates

Of course there were some new parts installed, missing bolts replaced & a few leaks stopped while I was at it.

<ts185 restoration>

Some hard lessons were learned such as don’t install the clutch release arm upside down and that cheap enamel clear really doesn’t spray well in 100 degree temperatures. There are still a few odds & ends that need doing but it is mostly done. Now I just need the upholstery shop to have my seat ready this week!  I also think the new pedals are fantastic looking but I do have to be careful when using the kick starter.

<motorcycle with bmx pedals>

One advantage to doing all of this was having time to sort out the various electrical bodges that previous owners had inflicted on this poor machine. It now has a fully functional key switch, brake & taillights, a battery, fuse etc. Of course it still starts easily & runs like a top!

<1981 TS185 restomod>

Peace Y’all


A Truly Unique Dirty Chopper

Mission Main Street Grants
Carolina Honda Powerhouse, hosted a really nice vintage motorcycle rally today (Saturday May 30th, 2015). While I plan to post a few pictures from that at a later time right now I am overwhelmed with the desire to share this fantastic custom. The owner shall remain nameless here, but he was willing to pose for a couple of pictures with his creation. First just let me give you the list of parts that make up this unique dirty chopper custom bitsa. (You know a few bits of this and a few bits of that, none of it matching but it all works together.)

<Maverick Dirt Chopper>

1978 Yamaha XT500; frame

2000 something Honda Rebel; engine

1969 Yamaha DT-1; rear wheel, brake, sprocket & sidestand

1984 Honda CR125; gas tank, forks, front wheel & brakes

1980 something Harley Sportster; shocks, seat, front & rear fenders

1972 Honda CB500-4; footpegs

1960 something Triumph clutch lever,

It also had a utility trailer tailight, cheap driving lamp headlight, a bicycle handlebar and a bunch of homemade small parts!

Yes I would ride it, would you?

<a dirty bitsa chopper>

<extended shifter>

<auxillary gas tank dirty chopper>

I forgot to mention this awesome auxiliary fuel tank sourced from some unknown ancient lawnmower.


<home built chain guard>

<cheap ass air filter>

<Honda Rebel Voltage Regulator on chopper>

<unique dirty chopper>

How about a view from the cockpit?

<mountain bike handlebars on motorcycle>

Amazingly enough despite it’s ratty origins & seemingly haphazard design when you view it from the side the proportions are nearly perfect.

< a Unique Dirty Chopper>
a Unique Dirty Chopper

<a Maverick Chopper builder>

The final flourish to set off this masterpiece of junkyard art is this emblem added to the numberplate!

<not a ford maverick>

Peace Y’all!

Meditative Machinery April 2015 Website of the Month!

Meditative Machinery is the personal blog of Michael Morgan. Now I have never met Mr. Morgan but I know that he is a kindred spirit who loves his time in the workshop with his motorcycles as much as he loves riding them. I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting a few words from his “about me” side bar.

<Honda CR250 rear wheel>
picture from http://meditarivemachinery.blogspot.com/

Finally I am doing what I want to do in my shop at my own pace. I have discovered that under these circumstances, if I can keep my mind clear, my mechanical work really is a type of meditation. It clears my mind and profoundly relaxes me. That is the point of this blog. Relax, stay in the moment and enjoy the opportunity to restore and refresh these wonderful machines.

This is a nice simple little blog  with great writing & decent photography and although there are a couple of street bike restorations shown, he specializes in vintage off road machinery especially old trials bikes such as the Honda TLR & Yamaha TY series.

Thank you for sharing your workshop with us, and should I ever find myself headed to Baja, I’ll be sure to look you up.

Click here & go spend a little time at Meditative Machinery, you’ll be glad you did.