Skip to Main Content »

Security Seals

Welcome to Impact Battery!

Part Two: What I learned About Lowriders, Batteries and Charging

I took my two boys to the Lowrider Hopping Nationals in Louisville KY over a week ago. We had a mission to learn as much as we could about lowriders and find out from those in the pits what batteries they used, why they use them and how they charge them. We—well, I (my boys did not find the “grown up talk” very exciting) had the privilege of chatting at length with a couple of guys from Those Dudes and Louisville Slugger. These guys were very accommodating and patient as they answered all my questions and educated me on what it takes to build a champion and best of all, how the competition works. I found it all very fascinating as I was ushered in to a part of the automotive world I really knew nothing about. I now have a good grasp on what the perfect lowrider battery should encompass.

Competition Goals

For those of you that may have been like me and know very little about lowriders, allow me to provide a quick overview of how it works. I may get some of the facts a little wrong, but I trust you all will forgive me and appreciate the general idea.

Lowrider Battery and Charger OptionsFirst, there are two aspects of competition: the highest hop and a dance off. The highest hop is broken down into several categories based on type of vehicle and the number of pumps in the vehicle. There is a single and double pump category and a radical category where anything goes. If I am not mistaken the single and doubles have to keep their wheelbase true to the vehicle. The winner is measured by whoever gets the bottom of the front tire the highest. If you stand a car up (this really only happens in the radical division), you are disqualified. In the dance competition, teams have to perform various moves, such as the pancake, back hop and front hop. I have no idea if it’s judged for proficiency and style like figure skating and gymnastics or if it is by completing the moves the fastest or a combination of both or by entirely different metrics. I do know it was fun to watch!

High Voltage!

I expected to see a bunch of batteries in the trunks of these cars and I was not disappointed. What I found interesting was that there is no limit, aside from physical space, to how many you could use and to how these batteries were stringed together. Every team I spoke with used a group 31 sized battery as it seemed to have the best physical size to power ratio to fit the space. There were cars there producing anywhere from 72 volts to 120 volts DC. That is some serious output!

As one could expect, these high voltage high flying setups produced some spectacular fireworks! The trunk fires were quickly extinguished by bearded burly men diving head long into the smoke filled cavern armed with nothing more than the air in their lungs. The best line from the DJ came during one of these hair singe moments where he jokingly belts out “Don’t worry folks! We’re all about safety third!”

The Lowrider Charger of Choice

I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to chargers. Before I arrived at the Hopping Nationals I jumped on some forums and saw people talking about the Battery Tender 10 Bank. Luckily I did not encounter anyone using this charger—it is severely underpowered to re-charge 100 plus amp hour batteries.

Those Guys had about a dozen of the Schumacher INC-812A charger. It is 12V charger with 8 separate charging banks each capable of producing up to 12 amps. I have not personally used any of Schumachers larger chargers and do not know if they have altered their charge profile in relation to their smaller units. If they haven’t, then I will say for the record I doubt I will be a fan of its charge profile. If a team is willing to invest in some serious charging hardware with great charge profiles then perhaps Quick Charge’s 6, 8, 10, and 12 bank chargers or Pulse Tech’s SC-6 or SC-12 should be considered.

The Lowrider Battery of Choice

My prediction was correct regarding conventional batteries but wrong regarding which brands I would encounter. My hypothesis also suggested two properties would be highly sought after: High RC Capacity and High Vibration Resistance. Again that water glass was half full on that prediction. Having a battery outlast the insane rigors of hopping was an easy check-mark in the win column for my predictions.

Teams avoid conventional wet batteries like the plague! They make a mess and rust everything out quickly damaging the trunk and hardware. That answer came directly from the ‘heavy weights’ in the competition that obviously at some point in their history drew these words of caution from first-hand knowledge. Those perhaps just getting into the sport or those extremely low on funds will use this less popular (poor choice) option. But they soon realize the error in their ways and ante up for a sealed AGM lowrider battery.

The people I spoke with indicated they were using the sealed XS Power batteries. When asked why they chose this brand and not the more widely known pure lead batteries such as Odyssey the response was quick and consistent, “We can’t afford them!” Prior to these conversations I had a limited knowledge of the XS Power brand, but I recalled thinking they were not very cheap. This spurred some further questions where I learned they apparently have some sort of promotional relationship with the teams making them very affordable and thus the current battery of choice.

None of the teams knew exactly which XS Group 31 Battery that was being used. A visual inspection turned up nothing as the labels were either removed or on the offside of the battery and not visible. However, some investigative work and some assumptions leads me to believe it is the XS D3100 versus the MX3000 or XP3000.

I came to this conclusion based on my second faulty hypothesis in which I thought RC would be important. All the teams indicated they required explosive power for repeated short bursts for no longer than 5 minutes (Which makes sense now that I have witnessed a competition). This would mean the Pulse Cranking Amp, Max Amp (also know as the Short Circuit Current) and to a lesser extent the Cranking Amp would be most relevant. The XS D3100 battery has the highest Max Amp of the three options. In fact it is 66% higher offering a peak of 5000 vs. 3000 max amps.

I suggested in the first article the NorthStar battery which could ‘get you through hell and back’ would be one of the best AGM batteries you could use in your lowrider. After all, it still performed optimally even after being shot with a rifle (click here to see the video).

When I quickly compare the numbers for the XS D3100 battery and the NorthStar NSB-AGM31 battery they appear to be on pretty equal footing. The short circuit or max amp numbers are both stated to be 5000. The Cranking Amp (CA) is virtually the same with NorthStar edging XS by a hair; 1370 CA vs. 1360 CA. The warranty period is again in NorthStar’s favor providing 4 years instead of XS Batteries 3 year warranty.

The idea of your battery being shot may sound fanatical, but when you think about the tremendous forces being applied to these cars, those in the industry know all too well what can happen. The speed at which broken components fly off is no less damaging than a bullet ripping through a battery. I have only come across one company willing to perform and then post the results of this crazy sounding test. And consequentially have only seen one battery company emerge victorious! That gaping hole did not diminish its ability to start the truck. With that we can only assume, as a lowrider battery, it can do no less. That’s performance when it counts!

Final Thoughts on Low Rider Batteries

Sometimes it is not the lowest up front cost that should be considered, but rather the lowest cost of ownership. Selecting the right charger and the best battery will lower your overall cost of ownership by not having to replace batteries as often. I know all the teams indicated the best batteries are too expensive, but when you consider the car was purchased for a less than $1000 and $30,000 to $60,000 was put into it to convert the machine to a champion low rider then why in the world would you not invest $3-5K for premium batteries and high performance chargers that will last? The upfront cost may be slightly higher, but the long-term cost is significantly less.

Perhaps to help bridge the gap we should encourage a group buy. All the teams despite being ardent competitors, view each other as family. If resources are pooled, the cost of ownership could be even lower allowing teams to install the best of the best.