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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 06-23-2014, 06:52 PM   #166
_cy_ OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyshadow View Post
damn you make it sound so dang easy to have points.....the truth is
I can change my oil and adjust my valves in the amount of time it takes what you are suggesting to get back on the road with points......and this is on a naked r80g/s. If I add the lower PD fairing....add another 10 minutes.

I don't know...I am just not seeing the benefit yet when a person can simply carry a spare bean can.
LOTS of folks have trouble chasing down issues related to dead and/or intermittent electronic ignitions.

you are one of the few that has problems getting a points ignition to work properly.
when that happens a phantom ground needs to be checked with a meg ohm meter like Fluke 1520.
find a mechanic that has one .. they are not that uncommon.

this is assuming you've already done the easy replacement parts route. especially using known to be good parts.
the usual complaint for points ignition is not getting it running properly ... it's the upkeep points require vs electronic no maintence at all

Fluke 1520


old Biddle Meggers comes up all the time for cheap. old timers prefer the crank versions when megging larger armatures.
paid all of $25 for mine at a flea market .. works just as good if not better than the Fluke 1520.


_cy_ screwed with this post 06-23-2014 at 07:18 PM
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Old 06-24-2014, 08:59 AM   #167
bgoodsoil
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The stock electronic ignition failed on me during a road trip and left me stranded. The ICU failed--likely because I forgot to replace the heat sink paste during my rebuild. Several days of 100+ degree traffic in Mexico was as hard on the bike as it was on me I guess.

It was easy to troubleshoot, you undo the 3-pin connector and ground out certain pins to determine which component failed, and I found a spare ICU from a Volkswagen Jetta for $25 at a local parts shop. Fired right up and I was off and running.

When I got back from the road trip I picked up a rebuilt points-can from Datchew for cheap. I didn't mistrust the electronics but I liked the idea of an old-school, mechanical system. If you don't like old-school mechanics you probably shouldn't be riding an airhead anyways. I've lived with the points for 40 or 50k miles and I've been pretty happy with them.

I didn't switch the 5k electronic plug out for the 1k points caps but the bike ran fine on them for tens of thousands of miles. The greater resistance caused some juice to leach through the insulator where the wire from the condenser goes through the can to the points though. It melted the resistor once and a blob of molten plastic fell down on the points killing the bike. I scraped the plastic off, wrapped the wire in electrical tape where it passed through the can, and I was off again.

I'm on my 3rd set of points--once I replaced them when they didn't need it and once they were burned up. I probably could've sanded the points and they'd have worked but I had a spare so swapped it. Still on the original condenser.

I had a new set of Bosch points fail on me the day after I installed them when one of the contacts fell off. The stories of the newer parts being poorly made might be true. I'm running a set of off-brand points made for some car now and they've held up fine for 10k or so.

I can't complain about either set-up. It was never cold-natured or finicky about idling/accelerating with either one.

I've got an Enduralast alternator and I'll likely get their crank-mounted electronic ignition once they get the bugs worked out. I'll keep my points can installed though.

Anyways, there's my two cents after having put a lotta miles on both.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:59 AM   #168
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I have always cleaned and re-applied heat sink paste to ICU's when I have them off for whatever reason. (Almost always for something other than replacing the ICU.) Regularly re-applying heat sink paste as scheduled maintenance? I have been around SO many ICU's that never had that done including my own that I find it hard to believe it would make any difference. Fixing a bad ICU with heat paste? I haven't seen that many ICU's go bad but heat sink paste wasn't the issue with bad ICU's I have found.
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Old 06-24-2014, 10:58 AM   #169
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Well for whatever reason it definitely died at about 40k miles\25 years. I remember there being a discussion about the paste and I know I didn't get to it before the trip.
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Old 08-08-2014, 03:57 PM   #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgoodsoil View Post
I've got an Enduralast alternator and I'll likely get their crank-mounted electronic ignition once they get the bugs worked out. I'll keep my points can .
What bugs need working out with these?
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:30 PM   #171
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What bugs need working out with these?
nothing wrong with enduralast charging except it's a less desirable permanent magnet system.

several folks having problems with eduralast ignitions
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=924786
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Old 08-09-2014, 03:58 AM   #172
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Originally Posted by _cy_ View Post
nothing wrong with enduralast charging except it's a less desirable permanent magnet system.
That is one opinion. Some se the PM system as more desirable because they charge at lower engine speeds and there are no brushes to maintain (or fail). The parts count and complexity of the system is less and the heat producing element (the regulator / rectifier) is removed from the already hot timing chest. A spare R/R is inexpensive and easily carried as spare. Much lighter and less space than all the spares for a Motorola style system.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:03 AM   #173
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Originally Posted by supershaft View Post
I have always cleaned and re-applied heat sink paste to ICU's when I have them off for whatever reason. (Almost always for something other than replacing the ICU.) Regularly re-applying heat sink paste as scheduled maintenance? I have been around SO many ICU's that never had that done including my own that I find it hard to believe it would make any difference. Fixing a bad ICU with heat paste? I haven't seen that many ICU's go bad but heat sink paste wasn't the issue with bad ICU's I have found.
My ignition flaked out several times, i.e., stalls and after a minute starts up again. While trouble shooting, I pulled the ICU and the original paste had turned to dust. It was never renewed and I figured the ICU might have been permanently damaged. But I cleaned it up, applied new heat sink paste, and it hasn't missed a beat in 2 years now. Still I bought a replacement module, just in case.
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:32 AM   #174
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Originally Posted by RaystheBMW View Post
My ignition flaked out several times, i.e., stalls and after a minute starts up again. While trouble shooting, I pulled the ICU and the original paste had turned to dust. It was never renewed and I figured the ICU might have been permanently damaged. But I cleaned it up, applied new heat sink paste, and it hasn't missed a beat in 2 years now. Still I bought a replacement module, just in case.
Probably just about how this urban legend got started.
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:38 AM   #175
bgoodsoil
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A spare R/R is inexpensive and easily carried as spare
this is a bit of a tangent since this thread is about about ignition but where are you seeing inexpensive R/Rs? All the one's I'm looking at are over $100. I've seen some used ones at ~$60 but that's still pretty spendy. It'd be nice to have a spare but EME wants $140 for theirs.
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:18 AM   #176
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I'm still running on my original ignition components and alternator on my 1990 R100 GS.

Other than renewing the heat sink compound on the ignition module, they all seem to work fine and are reliable.
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:48 AM   #177
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Originally Posted by Global Rider View Post
I'm still running on my original ignition components and alternator on my 1990 R100 GS.

Other than renewing the heat sink compound on the ignition module, they all seem to work fine and are reliable.
that's pretty outstanding service and testimony to just how rugged original charging and ignition systems were. but it's now 24 years later ...
how many miles does your 1990 R100GS have and under what conditions was it stored under?

what's the charging voltage at idle and 3k rpm?

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Old 08-13-2014, 11:07 AM   #178
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Originally Posted by _cy_ View Post
that's pretty outstanding service and testimony to just how rugged original charging and ignition systems were. but it's now 24 years later ...
how many miles does your 1990 R100GS have and under what conditions was it stored under?

what's the charging voltage at idle and 3k rpm?
For its age, low mileage (I have other bikes), but the systems have seen plenty of heat cycles. Stored in my garage and well maintained.

I am about to install one of my LCD voltmeters as I have on my oilhead BMW and car, so I can't recall V numbers, but I have never had a charging issue while operating within the design limits. Batteries (FLA) have lasted 9 years considering sporatic use.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:40 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by Global Rider View Post
For its age, low mileage (I have other bikes), but the systems have seen plenty of heat cycles. Stored in my garage and well maintained.

I am about to install one of my LCD voltmeters as I have on my oilhead BMW and car, so I can't recall V numbers, but I have never had a charging issue while operating within the design limits. Batteries (FLA) have lasted 9 years considering sporatic use.
there's a common misconception that the original charging system doesn't put out enough wattage when their airhead's battery goes dead. when in fact the problem of sluggish charging can be traced to low charging voltage, NOT a lack of output.

sure stock alternator may only put out 280 watts or less. but our airheads don't have the same overhead modern bikes do.

duh .. if you take out more AH than you put back into battery ... at some point that battery will not start your bike. as you know if charging voltage is too low, the rate that amps gets pushed into battery goes down accordingly.
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