Japanese for ‘the future,’ Shorai setting current trend
Battery manufacturer sees ‘explosive growth,’ picked up by Tucker Rocky
In an industry where race wins are earned by fractions of a second and new product performance gains can provide an edge, the tech wizards at Shorai are transforming the powersports battery category and enjoying “explosive growth.”
Best friends since their early teens, company founders David Radford (battery expert) and Kevin Riley (marketing and distribution pro) reunited two years ago to mass produce, market and sell the world’s first prismatic, lithium-iron battery.
Replacing a 150-year-old technology with a significantly stronger, smaller, lighter, longer-lasting and price-competitive option, Shorai batteries provide dealers with another product alternative for their customers.
“When it comes to [Shorai’s] motorcycle batteries, you can save anywhere between 4-15 pounds. Shorai batteries also have a much lower self-discharge rate, and they don’t sulfate,” explained Riley, Shorai’s executive vice president, sales and marketing. “And lithium iron is much more earth-friendly than lead acid. We have been selling directly to the dealers until now, but in mid-May, Tucker Rocky will also be distributing our products.”
In English, Shorai translates to “the future.” The logo features the easily identifiable Japanese “rising sun,” but the battery isn’t made in Japan, as one might assume.
“David lived in Japan for many years,” Riley said. “The original engineering work was done there, but we are in northern California now. We utilize a Chinese factory, but the quality assurance and testing is done here in the Silicon Valley.”
Show Me the Money
Riley said Shorai has showered the U.S. marketplace with customer support, so it’s a clear win-win for the company and its customer. Dealers are finding the battery makes an attractive alternative.
“We’ve sold a lot of them,” said Terry Holloway, assistant parts manager at Owen’s Cycles in Yakima, Wash. “We’ve sold over 50 since [the] first of the year, when we started carrying them. It doesn’t take much to motivate a customer to upgrade to the Shorai. We sell it on the features. You get double the cold cranking power, and it’s extra light. Our custom Harley riders are looking for maximum power to fit in a small space.”
Because it is a performance-driven battery, larger displacement bike customers who run multiple add-on accessories appreciate the Shorai option, Holloway said.
“Hopefully this technology will work its way over into the OEM stuff. That is what I am hoping for,” said Brad Plemmons, owner of Superbike Supply in Union Mills, N.C. “I’ve been in the lithium battery business since the beginning and selling the Shorai batteries since January of 2011. I think it is the best package out there. We sell to the track day racer who wants the lightest battery possible to shave weight to the street rider or commuter who is replacing their stock battery and wants more power to last longer. We see a lot of touring guys that have heated grips, GPS and multiple plug-ins. It really spans the whole spectrum of riders.”
Plemmons has used the product himself, and said it “is profitable for our shop and provides good margins.”
“Use it yourself in your own bike. Learn how it works. I stock pretty deep into the Shorai line, because I believe it is a good brand,” he added.
“Educating the customer is key,” Holloway said. “Battery tenders without auto desulfation modes are fine to use. The few warranty issues we have seen are all self-inflicted by the customers.”
And while there are very few returns, Shorai handles the entire return process on behalf of its dealers, if the dealer prefers.
“We have tried hard to have a very customer- and dealer-friendly service policy. We have received a lot of positive feedback on that front,” Riley said.