Ballistic Performance Components Lithium Battery
16 Cell HD EVO2

 
 
 

After running the Ballistic Performance Components LLC, 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery in my XR1200 for the past two month, I am very impressed with its quality and performance.  On top of that, Ballistic’s customer service and support has been some of the best that I have seen.  Those of you who know me know that I love to tinker, but on the XR1200 I am a no-frills performance kind of guy.  While I wanted to try Ballistic’s 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery, it took a bit of thought for me to spend the extra money on a new battery, even a lighter, slightly smaller, high quality one like Ballistic’s when I had a perfectly good battery in the XR1200.  It was well worth it though.  The upgrade may not be needed by every XR1200 rider but I am very glad that I did it.


The 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery is the battery which Ballistic recommends for the XR1200, and all modern Harley Sportsters and Big Twins.  It is the model of battery that will come up in Ballistic's Product Finder on its web page (www.ballisticparts.com) for the XR1200.  Yes, some people have had success running the smaller and lighter 16 Cell EVO2 battery in the XR1200, but the starting current draw of a modern Harley will push this battery to its limits.  A hard starting situation, or excessive cranking, can cause this battery to internally short.  Ballistic Performance Components therefore recommends the larger 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery for all modern Harleys.



 

16 Cell HD EVO2 Battery (100-014)


The 16 Cell HD EVO2 Battery is a 3.5 lb, 500 cranking amp, dry Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery, vice the nominally 205 cold cranking amps of the sealed lead acid OEM Harley battery (65958-04A) and weight of approximately 11.25 lbs.  The weight savings with the 16 Cell HD EVO2 is almost 8 lbs.
 

Fitment of the Ballistic battery is close to the same as that of a HD battery.  The Ballistic battery is 4.8 L x 3.4 W x 5.8” H, the OEM HD battery is slightly longer at 6” L x 3.5” W x 5.8” H.  The Ballistic battery is, however, a top screw mount design while the OEM battery is a side screw mount design.  Installation of the Ballistic battery therefore requires the battery cable ends be twisted to attach to the top of the battery. Additionally, to use the stock XR battery mount brackets, some foam needs to be cut from the battery’s packing materials to fill space and securely mount it using the stock battery bracket.   A very straight forward battery installation.  While Ballistic sells battery cable extensions and quick disconnect cables, they are not needed for installation in an XR1200.  In fact, unless one re-routed the XR1200’s battery cables and used an alternate mounting point for the XR1200’s main power fuse connection, little would be gained with the Ballistic quick disconnect cables.



The following is a picture of the Ballistic 16 Cell HD Battery next to the OEM HD Battery:

 
 
 OEM HD Battery
                          vs Ballistic LiFeO4
Figure 1 – OEM XR1200 HD Battery (left) vs. Ballistic 16 Cell HD Battery (right)



Overview


The Ballistic 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery is a great light weight battery with excellent starting characteristics. Ballistic LiFePO4 batteries have low discharge rates when stored, and re-charge quickly (e.g. 15 minutes when using a standard automotive charger, or 45 minutes using  a low current 2A charging rate). They are made with custom battery cells, selected to withstand vibration in motorcycle applications, and have quality brass screw terminals for durable long life.  Ballistic LiFePO4 batteries are  more costly than OEM lead-acid batteries, and therefore may not be for everyone, but their long operational life coupled with almost 8 lbs of weight reduction, make them a great choice for racers and riders focused on performance.

 

Also it is important to note the cold weather performance of a LiFEPO4 battery.  The Ballistic lithium battery does have different operating characteristics than an OEM XR1200 battery, or a lead-acid battery.  This may be very noticeable by riders who store their motorcycles outside in winter temperatures.  In winter weather the LiFePO4 battery needs to be  warmed to put out its full cranking power.  The batteries will though, generate internal head just by running current through  them.  So, for those people who just have to store their XR1200 in sub-freezing weather, the battery needs to draw power and build up internal heat to warm up and put out full power.  This may mean attempting to start the motorcycle 3 or 4 times, with a short pause in between each attempt, to get the battery to full  cranking power.  This is normal, and once warmed up by passing starting current through the internal resistance of the battery, the battery will deliver full  power and continure to start the motorcycle normally during a ride.

 

Ballistic Litihium Ferrous Phosphate (LiFeO4) batteries arrive fully charged. Ballistic specs a “service life of over twice a lead acid in similar conditions.”  As mentioned, these lithium batteries lose minimal charge when unused and can be recharged with an ordinary battery charger.  But, to keep the Ballistic battery at peak performance, Ballistic recommends periodically “balance charging” it.  Ballistic’s Digital Balance Charger is used for this purpose.

 

 

Ballistic Lithium 16 Cell HD Battery Installed

 

I am not detailing installation of the Ballistic battery in the XR1200, it is a simple installation as per the service manual – but the picture below shows what it looks like once it is installed.  This is the Ballistic 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery in a typical XR1200 installation.  The foam pieces padding the end and top of the battery are cut from the packing materials that the battery is shipped with.


The XR1200’s main power fuse is pulled in the below picture.  I pull it both for charging, and to keep  the battery from decaying when I don’t get a chance  to ride the bike daily. 

 

 

 

Installed Ballistic
                              battery

Figure 2 – Installed Ballistic Battery

 


 

 

Charging the Ballistic Battery


While the Ballistic LiFePO4 battery does not require a special charger and will charge normally using standard vehicle battery chargers, it has the ability to be “balance charged” using a Ballistic Digital Balance Charger.  Balance charging independently charges the individual lithium cell banks in the battery. 


For balance charging, Ballistic batteries have an additional special connector, or BMS port, that is used with the Ballistic Digital Balance Charger.  Looking at the top of the batteries in the next picture, the Battery Management System (BMS) port is under the Ballistic batter’s center rubber cap.

 

 

Tops of Batteries

Figure 3 – View of Tops of Batteries.  (Ballistic Battery has an extra port under the center connector cap for balance charging the battery's individual lithium cells.)

 

 

Ballistic Digital Balance  Charger

 

Balance charging, or charging the individual banks of cells of the battery equally to nominally 3.38 vdc, optimizes the  lifespan of the battery.  This can be done with Ballistic’s Professional Intelligent Digital Balance Charger (200-002).  The Ballistic Digital Balance Charger can also be used to charge various other battery types such as Lithium Ion, Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride, and conventional lead-acid batteries.  The charger combines a sophisticated digitally controlled charger in a small well-manufactured package with simple controls and a digital display (shown in the following picture).

 

 

 

Digital Balance Charger

Figure 4 – Ballistic Professional Intelligent Digital Balance Charger

 

 


The next picture shows the Baliistic charger with its power supply and connecting cables. 

 

 

 

Charger with cables

Figure 5 – Ballistic Charger with Cables

 

 


The Battery management System (BMS) cable is  the black cable with the computer-style white end connectors.  It connects from a port on the end of the charger  to the center port on the top of the battery (shown below).

 

 

 

 BMS port

Figure 6 - BMS Port

 

 

Installed with cable

Figure 7 -  BMS Port and BMS Cable Attached

 

 

 Note:  I left the BMS cable attached to the battery to make later charging easier. I’ve put some dielectric grease on the connectors and placed a small watertight bag over the end when not in use.  However, this is not recommended by Ballistic.  The BMS port is always hot and the cable needs to be protected from abrasion.


 

 

To charge a Ballistic LiFePO4 battery, one connects the charger’s red and black charging cables to the positive battery terminal and a grounding point, as with other standard chargers.   For balance charging the Digital Balance Charger is also attached to the Ballistic battery via the BMS cable.  Balance charging is then performed by selecting the Balance Charging function of the charger.  When I hooked my Digital Balance Charger to the Ballistic battery with the BMS cable, the charging mode defaulted to Balance Charging.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                     

 

Charging

Figure 8 – Charging the Ballistic Battery

 

 



Pressing and holding the Start/Enter button for 3 seconds begins the charging cycle. Initially the display on the Digital Balance Charger will show the amperage of the charging current selected and the voltage level of the overall battery.

 

 

 

Charging closeup

Figure 9 – Overall Battery Condition

 

 



Pressing the Increment button on the charger switches the display mode  to show the voltage levels of the individual banks of lithium cells.  The next picture shows the voltage of the four individual  banks of cells in my battery during the charging cycle.  (The charger can be set up to charge different battery configurations – the 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery has four banks of cells.)

 

 

 

Balance charging

Figure 10 – Individual Cell Voltage Levels

 

 


When charging is finished the Digital Balance Charger beeps.  The display then flips back and forth between the following two images, showing the type of battery – Lithium 4S in this case, and “Full”.  The length of charging time and final fully charged voltage are also displayed.

 

 

 

Full charge

Figure 11 – Showing Charging Mode

 

 

 

Final charge

Figure 12 – Showing Full and the Final Voltage Level

 

 


According to Ballistic, balance charging does not need to be done frequently.  I ran my battery through the cycle simply for familiarity.  Also, while the Ballistic battery charger can perform maintenance charging, like a Battery Tender does for a lead-acid battery, Ballistic states that the Ballistic LiFePO4 battery does not require maintenance charging.  Since the voltage of the Ballistic battery does not decay quickly, if one is not riding the XR for a period of time the main fuse can simply be pulled to keep the ECM, alarms and other miscellany from drawing down the battery.  Balance charging could be done annually as a part of winter maintenance, unless the battery is subjected to harsh conditions and more frequent maintenance is indicated.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The Ballistic 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery is a high quality, light weight, well-made battery with great cranking power.  It should provide twice the operating life of a comparable lead-acid battery with about an 8 lb weight reduction.  It does have different cold weather operating characteristics than the OEM XR1200 lead-acid battery, and riders who store their motorcycles outside in winter temperatures will want to consider this.  The higher price of a LiFePO4 battery may not make it the choice of every rider, but for a XR1200 rider interested in reducing weight, improving starting performance, and using high quality parts, it is an excellent option.

 

The Ballistic Digital Balance Charger is also a great piece of gear.  It has the ability to charge Ballistic batteries in either a standard or balance charging mode.  It also  can be used to charge most other battery types.  Plus, it does have a maintenance (tender) charging mode.  The charger is easy to use and has an informative digital display.  While not necessary to support a Ballistic LiFePO4 battery, it is a nice option to have to maximize the life of Ballistic batteries.

 

On top of all this, Ballistic Performance LLC has really impressed me with their high quality customer support.  Each time that I have called Ballistic to find out technical information about Ballistic batteries, a knowledgeable individual has promptly answered the phone and provided clear and direct answers to my questions. 


Additionally, after installing the Ballistic lithium battery and using the Digital Balance Charger, I initially had thought that I wanted to leave a pigtail attached to the battery as with a lead-acid battery for use with a battery tender.  I called Ballistic Performance LLC on a Monday to obtain an extra set of charging cables, and received them by the end of the week.  Later, I called Ballistic to obtain an extra BMS cable.  The same quick shipment  happened.  This is even more impressive because these cables are not listed as accessory parts for sale, and Ballistic did not charge me for the cable or shipping!


Not only that, but a nice looking Ballistic t-shirt showed up with the cables.

 

 

T-shirt

Figure 13 - T-Shirt













A Postscript on Ballistic LiFeO4 Battery Failure...

 

As mentioned, the Ballistic 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery (100-014) is the LiFeO4 battery which Ballistic Performance Components recommends for all modern Harleys.  While the lower cranking amp 16 Cell EVO2 battery (100-013) technically has the same cranking capacity as an OEM Sportster battery, this smaller Ballistic battery may not hold up to the high initial starting current requirement of an XR1200.  Some XR owners are using this battery successfully.  Others however, have experienced failure with the smaller 16 Cell EVO2 battery (100-013).  I am not aware of any failure problems with the 16 Cell HD EVO2 (100-014) battery when used in XR1200 motorcycles.


It is important to note though that Ballistic Performance Components will honor its warranty for 16 Cell EVO2 batteries that may fail when used in an XR1200.

ln one case where an XR1200 motorcycle owner on the XR1200OwnersGroup Forum  experienced a failure with this smaller 16 Cell EVO2 battery in his XR, I contacted the individual to see if I could buy the dead battery for testing.  While I do not know the full circumstances, the owner of this battery did not want to, or did not believe that he could, replace the battery under warranty. The owner sent me the 16 Cell EVO2 battery for testing.  Before cutting it open, I analyzed it on a Ballistic Digital Balance Charger.  The Ballistic charger showed that the battery would charge to 13.2 VDC.  But - instead of charging 4 banks of cells to 3.3 VDC each, it was charging 3 banks of cells to 4.4 VDC each.  A high current starting condition had shorted out one of the banks of LiFeO4 batteries in this battery.  This caused the remaining cells to overcharge (for the battery to reach a full charge on a charger), to discharge quickly under load, and to not have the current capacity to start a motorcycle.


Having had good experience with Ballistic's customer service previously, I called the company about this battery and without mentioning motorcycle type, asked them whether anything could be done to restore the fourth bank of cells.  The Customer Service rep simply said that it appeared the battery was internally shorted and that they would replace it under warranty.  When I mentioned that the battery belonged to someone else and that he might not have the receipt, the Customer Service rep simply asked for the number stamped in the battery to show the build date.  Since the battery had been built about 18 months previously, he said that they would be happy to replace the battery for free if the owner had the receipt showing purchase was within one year, but regardless would replace it at their pro-rated warranty cost based on the build date if he did not.  The bottom line was that Ballistic was easy to work with to set up a warranty replacement for this battery.


Now, in  this case, I had obtained the battery for testing for simply the shipping charge.  While I was tempted to send the battery in myself to get the warranty replacement, I contacted the original owner with the information and asked again whether he would like the battery back to send in under warranty.  It turned out that the original owner did still have the sales receipt for a full free warranty replacement, and he decided he would like the battery back - so I packed it up immediately and shipped it back to him.


I was still curious though about using the 16 Cell EVO2 battery (100-013) in a Harley, so I called Ballistic Performance Components back and talked to them about using this battery in a Harley.  The Customer Service rep said that yes, it might work well.  But he stated that the company had found that the high starting current requirement of modern Harleys could cause prematurely early failure of the battery.  Yes, some individuals are using the smaller battery successfully he stated, but recognizing the starting current demands that Harleys put on batteries, the company had developed the 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery (100-014).  Hence, the Product Finder on the company's web site recommends the larger battery.  The Customer Service rep  said that while the company would replace a 16 Cell EVO2 battery under warranty if it was recommended by a retailer and failed, since they identify the 16 Cell HD EVO2 battery in their Product Finder for use with Harleys, they would strongly recommend that an owner upgrade to that larger battery (at a small cost for the difference in the price of the batteries) under a warranty replacement.  Ballistic would strongly discourage an  owner using the smaller 16 Cell EVO2 battery from obtaining a direct warranty replacement for use in a Harley.  And, Ballistic was very willing to upgrade the battery to a larger 16 Cell HD EVO2 during a warranty replacement, if a retailer had sold the battery to be used in a Harley.  Again, the bottom line was that Ballistic was happy to replace the battery under warranty and would work with the purchaser to obtain the proper battery for the starting requirement.  Having already sent the failed battery back to the original owner, I passed this info on to him to use in obtaining a warranty replacement.  (I understand that the original owner of this battery ultimately decided not to obtain a warranty replacement, even though this option is available from Ballistic Performance Components.)


So again,  while I am not aware of any failure problems with the 16 Cell HD EVO2 (100-014) battery recommended by Ballistic for use in the XR, there have been some failures of the smaller 16 Cell EVO2 battery (100-013) in Harleys.  Some owners are using the smaller battery successfully in XR1200s.  Others, particularly those with other maintenance problems, have experienced failure of the smaller battery.  My experience with Ballistic is that they will both warranty on their batteries, and will work with the owner to get him/her the best battery for the starting requirement.