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View Results: Which is more reliable for Airheads ... electronic ignition or points?
BMW Airhead electronic ignitions are super reliable. Leave it alone 19 32.76%
BMW Airhead electronic ignitions are junk, replace with aftermarket electronic ignition 3 5.17%
BMW Airhead electronic ignitions are junk, replace with beancan w/points 5 8.62%
BMW points & Condensers are reliable. leave it alone 27 46.55%
BMW points & Condensers are junk. replace with aftermarket electronic ignition 4 6.90%
Voters: 58. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-18-2012, 09:42 AM   #16
Bigrider
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Points or Electric?

I have both a 1976 R-90 with points and three other airheads with electric (1x 83 RS, 2x84 RT, RS) . I have had no trouble with any of them as far as ignition issues go. Perform normal Maintainance on them and they will perform for a long time.

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Old 09-18-2012, 09:47 AM   #17
blaine.hale
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I judge reliability by "can I fix it on the side of the road."

After having bad experiences with my Boyer, it seems much easier to just carry a spare set of points if the current one burns out :)
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:49 AM   #18
Airhead Wrangler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blaine.hale View Post
I judge reliability by "can I fix it on the side of the road."
My definition is a bit different. Reliability to me is "how often do I have to fix it on the side of the road."

"Can I fix it on the side of the road" is 'repairability' (to me at least)

Electronic is much more reliable, but infinitely less repairable by my definition.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:19 AM   #19
disston
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler View Post
My definition is a bit different. Reliability to me is "how often do I have to fix it on the side of the road."

"Can I fix it on the side of the road" is 'repairability' (to me at least)

Electronic is much more reliable, but infinitely less repairable by my definition.
You are absolutely right AW. Now you have added another whole new level to the debate. And all with out really changing any bodies mind about which one is the right choice.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:42 AM   #20
Airhead Wrangler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disston View Post
...which one is the right choice.
To me at least there is no "right" choice. All options are a compromise to some degree and the intended use of the bike as well as the rider's mechanical competence should be factored in when deciding which option is best for one's own circumstances. There are no absolutes in this case. I feel that what I have is the best option for me, but it all depends on what you'll be using the bike for and where.
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Old 09-18-2012, 01:26 PM   #21
supershaft
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Cy is figuring his amperage from 12 volts. Points drop the voltage to around 9 volts. That's how electronic has a stronger spark and why you need a stronger battery for the ignition to even work with electronic. Points work with a very weak battery. Electronic not nearly so much. Surely a lot of readers have found that out the hard way? It's common knowledge about electronic needing a stronger battery. The points using less voltage is the reason why.

Electronic is way more reliable and has a hotter and more accurate spark. If I was worried about repairability on the side of the road, I would get an aftermarket electronic unit that has a hall effect that is easier to change than the BMW bean can. Change points on the side of the road? Why not change your hall effects sensor on the side of the road? The hardest part of repairing an aftermarket can on the side of the road will be remembering where you stashed your hall effect sensor 15 years back.

supershaft screwed with this post 09-18-2012 at 01:32 PM
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:08 PM   #22
newride
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put electronic ignition in the R 90 when I bought it, runs great, no problems in ten years of ownership with it.
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:21 PM   #23
wmax351
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supershaft View Post
Cy is figuring his amperage from 12 volts. Points drop the voltage to around 9 volts. That's how electronic has a stronger spark and why you need a stronger battery for the ignition to even work with electronic. Points work with a very weak battery. Electronic not nearly so much. Surely a lot of readers have found that out the hard way? It's common knowledge about electronic needing a stronger battery. The points using less voltage is the reason why.

Electronic is way more reliable and has a hotter and more accurate spark. If I was worried about repairability on the side of the road, I would get an aftermarket electronic unit that has a hall effect that is easier to change than the BMW bean can. Change points on the side of the road? Why not change your hall effects sensor on the side of the road? The hardest part of repairing an aftermarket can on the side of the road will be remembering where you stashed your hall effect sensor 15 years back.

A lot of modern electronic ignition can work way below 12 volts. Depending on the setup, the actual triggering (via Mosfets) and electronics (timing) should likely work to around 6 volts.
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:31 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmax351 View Post
A lot of modern electronic ignition can work way below 12 volts. Depending on the setup, the actual triggering (via Mosfets) and electronics (timing) should likely work to around 6 volts.
What ever it takes for an electronic ignition to work, points ignition will work on quite a bit less. That's been my experience new bike and old. Same with cars.
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:56 PM   #25
tete
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i made a phone call today over to Rocky Point Cycle inquiring about the Boyer System. Ted (i think) said that with the most recent versions they are way better at handling the volts needed. Now he says its between 6-7 volts nowadays. this is much better than the 12 volts number I've been reading about.

It also sounds like, if planned correctly for example , vacuum seal you points and advance mech if needed and store on bike. Without moisture they should store fine. in the event of failure on the road, simply re-install and off you go. have points be the back up plan for any given scenario.

But then again I am the least experienced, most boob of noobs on these here forums so what do I know.

if it weren't for Charlie id probably pull all my hair by now.
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Old 09-18-2012, 04:52 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supershaft View Post
Electronic is way more reliable and has a hotter and more accurate spark. If I was worried about repairability on the side of the road, I would get an aftermarket electronic unit that has a hall effect that is easier to change than the BMW bean can. Change points on the side of the road? Why not change your hall effects sensor on the side of the road? The hardest part of repairing an aftermarket can on the side of the road will be remembering where you stashed your hall effect sensor 15 years back.
if Electronic ignition are soooo much more reliable... then why do threads appear regularly on Adv crying about their airhead electronic ignition dying in the middle of the road, etc.

recently it's not just BMW airhead electronic ignitions failing, but several threads on aftermarket electronic ignitions failing on airheads too.

sure points can fail on the road too... but you can bet your ass, I'll be back up quickly again. vs if you go down with an electronic ignition odds are slanted against you getting back up quickly.

note I'm referring to airhead electronic ignition failures only ... seems for just about everything else that runs electronic ignitions are just dead reliable. why that is... have no clue.

_cy_ screwed with this post 09-18-2012 at 05:10 PM
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:39 PM   #27
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Sure aftermarket electronic ignitions fail just as often. They use the exact same technology as the bean can plus some more in the electronic advance (I prefer the mechanical advance for tuning). They might fail more often for that for all I know?

Do you notice all the people having issues with their points? Besides, in my experience all these 'bad' electronic ignitions aren't actually bad. I have used and sold quite a few 'bad' bean cans that other mechanics took off bikes. All with how I got them right up front and a year warranty. I know it involves some luck but I never had one come back on me. I tested them but still . . . . 100% markup for me and great deals for whoever bought them. I think I sold six or seven of them like that for $50 each? Of all the hall effect sensors I have seen go bad (the mechanical advance is about as rock solid as you can get despite all the BS sayng otherwise), I have seen tons more problems with points. When I was real little I use to ride two strokes with points. Talk about a weak link! Points on two strokes are twice the trouble and half the performance. They don't turn at half speed on a two stroke. Man what a difference CDI makes on a two stroke!! Night and day! Like I always say (because it is true), every time I work on a bike with points that isn't running right, the points are the first thing I look at because a good part of the time that is what is wrong with them. It's a huge time saver! I have got 44 years experience riding motorcycles and almost 40 years experience working on them. I wouldn't put points in a bike that had electronc. I like riding too much!

Don't blame electronic ignitions for not knowing how to work with them.

Electronic ignitions fail on other machines too. You just don't hear about it. I have seen it many times over.

supershaft screwed with this post 09-18-2012 at 05:49 PM
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supershaft View Post
They use the exact same technology as the bean can plus some more in the electronic advance
not all of them.. some are crankshaft mounted, some have photo gate sensors, some have selectable curves...

but yeah, I'm wondering about why we hear about failures of stock and aftermarket ignitions regularly, when it seems like other vehicles, like lots of cars have no problems. could be they just don't care enough to report them. it's funny, I work on old mopeds all the time, and they do often have point problems, but this is another case where there are lots of stock and aftermarket electronic ignition problems as well... I always chalked it up to moped parts being made cheaply.
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Old 09-18-2012, 07:12 PM   #29
One Less Harley
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Uh, haven't seen this mentioned, but points are set imprecisely by feel....don't points as they wear change the timing of the bike as dwell angle changes???? I used to use a feeler gauge get the gap close then adjust further to get the correct dwell angle. At least when messing with Austin Healey's and 240Z's.
Not sure if there is a dwell meter for a two cylinder. Seems electronic ignition would hold timing more consistent.
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Old 09-18-2012, 07:58 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One Less Harley View Post
Uh, haven't seen this mentioned, but points are set imprecisely by feel....don't points as they wear change the timing of the bike as dwell angle changes???? I used to use a feeler gauge get the gap close then adjust further to get the correct dwell angle. At least when messing with Austin Healey's and 240Z's.
Not sure if there is a dwell meter for a two cylinder. Seems electronic ignition would hold timing more consistent.
only time I set by feel is during an emergency when a feeler gauge is not available.

cannot overstate importance of using a tiny dab of high temp grease. usually will set points 2-3 thousands over spec to give allowance for wear.

then static time, followed by timing light. dwell is 1/2 of 4 cylinder setting. have never seen two cylinder setting for a dwell meter.

yes electronic ignition holds timing more consistent but not by much.
a properly setup points system will need very little attention for 25k+ miles. ran the same set of points and condenser in my 1956 Austin Healey 100-4 BN2 for 40k+ miles. it's got that same set when I parked her years ago.

points will always get you home if you carry spares and are mechancally competant.
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