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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 12-02-2012, 11:49 PM   #76
squish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _cy_ View Post
worth repeating...

electronic ignition failures in all but airheads are just about non-existent. yes all electronic can and do fail, but are very reliable.

would we be having this discussion in say Honda or Yamaha bikes? yes ignition failures do exist, but for everything except for airheads they are rare indeed.

someone will be along shortly to deny it all. but for some reason threads on electronic ignition failures for airheads both OEM and aftermarket ignitions consistently pop up.
First hand experience from someone who's a true believer of Electronic Ignitions...

1983 R80ST, bad Bean Can to be replaced with A/M bean can.

1993 R100GS Bad Bean Can replaced when the bike was still under warranty.

1993 XR650L died, on the freeway (Carrying my wife) Trouble shooting lead to a failed CDI box AND bad trigger winding.
Replaced the box and stator, (which also includes trigger winding) and problem went away never to return.

1983 CB750F, Ignitor potting failed leading to Ignigtor failing. When the Ignigtor fails the bike no longer has Ignition.
This mind you is an age and heat related problem, so an outlier when it comes to electronic ignition.

But I've had far more experiences with points needing work and futzing and hard starting and...
To sway me to go back to running points, ever.
But I'm also a fan of fuel injection over carbs.
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Old 12-10-2012, 04:46 PM   #77
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Either one seems OK

1971 R75/5,rode it 4 years and 50k miles, never touched the points, no problems

1984 R100RT, rode it 26 years, 40k miles, no (ignition) problems.
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:55 AM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _cy_ View Post
Which is more reliable ... Points or Electronic Ignition for Airheads?
Do you mean more reliable or more maintenance free.

Electronic Ignition is more maintenance free...simply because you really can't do anything to it.

Points are more reliable...because I can fix them roadside and get going again. Try that with an electonic ignition module that has failed.

And in both cases, they have coils, which can fail no matter what system you have.

The last thing I'd want is "high tech" when riding in really remote areas.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:26 PM   #79
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points

Points are very simple, file / replace, ride, If you are going to put a electronic unit in, carry a set of points as a back up? They don't take up to much space.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:38 PM   #80
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I have had points fail in the middle of nowhere. The spare set I had would not work as they were bent out of shape from being the the bottom of my tool tray for umpteen years. So had a set sent to me via courier. Got them 2 days after ordering and was on my way.
Had a bean can die up in the Yukon, back in 1993 while on my 81 RT. No dealers around with a bean can available. So had one sent via courier from Vancouver, got it 2 days later, installed myself and was back on the road.

So, 2 days to get either a set of point or a bean can. Not a big deal to me. Sure, both were inconvenient, but not a trip breaker. Those were the only 2 times I ever had any sort of ignition issue in the past 35+ years of riding airheads.

Both are extremely reliable. Points are more finicky and old school.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:25 AM   #81
disston
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The solution preferred by a significant number of riders is not a part of this survey. Myself an many others keep the ignition points but add a Booster. If there is an electronics failure the parts to convert back to the OEM ignition are still on the bike, they do not need to be carried in the tool box, all that's needed is moving a couple of wires.

Ignition points are made cheaper and the tips are made thinner than in years past. They burn out sooner. They should be checked and re-timed after run in and and checked again at each tune up. If using a Booster the ignition points will be more stable requiring fewer adjustments.

I recently bought a Velleman Electronic Ignition Kit. I received this yesterday.



I have to find my soldering gun but think I might be able to install this later this month.
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:35 PM   #82
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Points will always be more reliable than any type of electronic ignition on any engine. Yes, they require maintenance. But like carbs over FI, a points ignition can often be repaired beside the road, or at least made operational enough so that you can nurse it home or somewhere that you can fix it right. When electronics fail, they fail completely, and there is no way to fix them. They are also very fragile, especially on a motorcycle.
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:53 PM   #83
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I got my R75/6 15 years ago when I got my father's old R75/6 it had a Dyna III electronic ignition. I have had exactly zero issues with it. I make sure I clean the connections but otherwise it is left alone and simply works.

Would I convert to one? Probably not, if I had one with stock points I would leave them be. Both systems work fine. One needs a little more maintenance, but otherwise they both work well.
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:21 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by JerryH View Post
Points will always be more reliable than any type of electronic ignition on any engine. Yes, they require maintenance. But like carbs over FI, a points ignition can often be repaired beside the road, or at least made operational enough so that you can nurse it home or somewhere that you can fix it right. When electronics fail, they fail completely, and there is no way to fix them. They are also very fragile, especially on a motorcycle.
Bingo!!! We have a winner.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:06 PM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryH View Post
Points will always be more reliable than any type of electronic ignition on any engine. Yes, they require maintenance. But like carbs over FI, a points ignition can often be repaired beside the road, or at least made operational enough so that you can nurse it home or somewhere that you can fix it right. When electronics fail, they fail completely, and there is no way to fix them. They are also very fragile, especially on a motorcycle.
Kinda depends on what you mean by "reliable". One view would be something that's limp-able if it screws up, so it's reliable in at least getting you to somewhere. The other view is it doesn't screw up so limp-ability is moot.


But absolutely anything can screw up. Old style points depend on two seals to keep functioning. If either fails you can be walking pretty quick. The points in a can are more robust, but you still have condenser failures. The electronics are far from fragile physically, but they get funny about big stray voltages and in some cases reversed polarities. I blew up the module in my Toy truck hooking a battery up backwards. Not wanting to spend more than $300 for another, I threw a chevy unit in (and a spare in the glove compartment). The original one was reputed to be good for 350,000miles and I had 275,000 on the truck so I wasn't crying. But I cut the old one open...talk about a brick shthouse. That thing was built! The BMW units are built the same way. The bike isn't any tougher on them than a car or my rattly old truck, in fact they run a bit cooler. And the exact same module is in a whole lot of cars. You don't see those cars piled up ton the shoulders with dead electronic ignitions. It's old hat technology by this point. Still, if you want dead nuts no-questions make-it-to-somewhere reliability you carry a spare the same way you carry spare points, condenser and a points file. Fortunately the electronic ignition takes up little space and can be changed in 5 minutes. And you're not limping, it's full go. The hall sender in the beancan is more problematic. Off the beaten path I carry a spare. Otherwise it's packed up in a small box like my spare rotor and a phone call will get it over nighted to me.

I'm looking at some beancan changes that will make replaceing a hall sender as simple as replacing points. The senders are small so at that point the stock electronic will be superior.

Some of the aftermarket electronics have everything fully accessible. A small set of spares and you can be back running, completely, in the event of any component failure.

My experience with the Dynas is they can get intermittent. Very annoying and tricky to diagnose.

I think people tend to prefer things they understand, and points are pretty easy to understand if you stay away from the electronic theory behind them. The electronic units are all mysterious black boxes with who knows what inside.

For myself, they can be as mysterious as they like. I can understand the inputs and outputs and how to mount them so that's all I need. Points are just too limited and I am saddled with enough stone age technology as it is (pushrods? I think my old mower has those...)

As an aside, I follow one of the IBMWR tech lists, the one for the newer bikes. Every sort of issue comes around. But not ignitions. I can't think of the last time I saw a question about an ignition problem. ABS seems to be endless headaches, but the ignitions don't give anybody trouble.
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Old 08-01-2013, 11:13 PM   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaka View Post
Kinda depends on what you mean by "reliable". One view would be something that's limp-able if it screws up, so it's reliable in at least getting you to somewhere. The other view is it doesn't screw up so limp-ability is moot.


But absolutely anything can screw up. Old style points depend on two seals to keep functioning. If either fails you can be walking pretty quick. The points in a can are more robust, but you still have condenser failures. The electronics are far from fragile physically, but they get funny about big stray voltages and in some cases reversed polarities. I blew up the module in my Toy truck hooking a battery up backwards. Not wanting to spend more than $300 for another, I threw a chevy unit in (and a spare in the glove compartment). The original one was reputed to be good for 350,000miles and I had 275,000 on the truck so I wasn't crying. But I cut the old one open...talk about a brick shthouse. That thing was built! The BMW units are built the same way. The bike isn't any tougher on them than a car or my rattly old truck, in fact they run a bit cooler. And the exact same module is in a whole lot of cars. You don't see those cars piled up ton the shoulders with dead electronic ignitions. It's old hat technology by this point. Still, if you want dead nuts no-questions make-it-to-somewhere reliability you carry a spare the same way you carry spare points, condenser and a points file. Fortunately the electronic ignition takes up little space and can be changed in 5 minutes. And you're not limping, it's full go. The hall sender in the beancan is more problematic. Off the beaten path I carry a spare. Otherwise it's packed up in a small box like my spare rotor and a phone call will get it over nighted to me.

I'm looking at some beancan changes that will make replaceing a hall sender as simple as replacing points. The senders are small so at that point the stock electronic will be superior.

Some of the aftermarket electronics have everything fully accessible. A small set of spares and you can be back running, completely, in the event of any component failure.

My experience with the Dynas is they can get intermittent. Very annoying and tricky to diagnose.

I think people tend to prefer things they understand, and points are pretty easy to understand if you stay away from the electronic theory behind them. The electronic units are all mysterious black boxes with who knows what inside.

For myself, they can be as mysterious as they like. I can understand the inputs and outputs and how to mount them so that's all I need. Points are just too limited and I am saddled with enough stone age technology as it is (pushrods? I think my old mower has those...)

As an aside, I follow one of the IBMWR tech lists, the one for the newer bikes. Every sort of issue comes around. But not ignitions. I can't think of the last time I saw a question about an ignition problem. ABS seems to be endless headaches, but the ignitions don't give anybody trouble.
reliable means not leaving you dead on the side of the road. in the unlikely chance points actually fail .. points/condenser can be replaced without much fuss on the side of road. very seldom have I seen actual failure from a condenser.

most common failure point on airhead electronics seems to be halls and OEM 12v Bosch coils with a few brain box failures thrown in just to make tracking down problems more fun

seems some folks run BMW electronics for 150k+ miles with zero maintenance .. but LOTS of airhead folks are not so lucky... chasing down intermittent electronic problems are no fun.

if BMW electronic ignition failures were rare .. there would not be a host of aftermarket electronic ignition systems out there.

a beancan with new points/condenser and Dyna Coil is just about durable as it gets.

a favorite combo for reducing maintenance seems to be adding an ignition booster. suppose to extend life of points to 15k+ miles.

only reason I've not added an ignition booster is .. there's been no real need... std points/condenser is working excellent!!! once a condenser with correct value is found, metal deposits no longer transfers between contact surfaces .. I've ran same points/condenser combo for 30k+ miles. when points was finally replaced, kept same condenser. real points grease was used.

drawback to points is as points rubbing block wears or contact burns .. points contact closes down. making now hard to find points grease even more important. adjusting points is a small price to pay for knowing you will not be stranded on side of road from ignition failure.

much rather carry spare points/condenser vs spare beancan w/new halls and ignition module

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Old 08-02-2013, 03:27 AM   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryH View Post
Points will always be more reliable than any type of electronic ignition on any engine. Yes, they require maintenance. But like carbs over FI, a points ignition can often be repaired beside the road, or at least made operational enough so that you can nurse it home or somewhere that you can fix it right. When electronics fail, they fail completely, and there is no way to fix them. They are also very fragile, especially on a motorcycle.
I would disagree that electronic systems are fragile on a bike, the Boyer I fitted on my R80, did north and south America, got taken off the R80 when I sold the bike and put on a 90/6, which was then ridden round Australia, lots of vabration and temperatures from -5C to 45C. No issues. Both of my current bikes run aftermarket electronics, no problems with either, and perfect ignition and ignition curves, not affected by mechanical wear and tear. When points need fixing by the side of the road it's usually because they have become loose and fallen out of adjustment, hardly a failure?

I would not fit an electronic ignition where the electronics are kept inside the timing chest, such as the Omega ignition once sold by Stephen Bottcher, I really do think that similar designs are asking for trouble, there seems to be issues with the Trispark ignition sold for Commandos and in my view part of the problem is that all the electronics are encapsulated in the timing chest of Nortons and those engines do vibrate.

People do need to remember that electronic systems will have different requirements as to both Coils and the resistance on plug caps, this needs to done if an electronic system to last and some systems that use a V shaped timing curve at low revs to stabilize tickover (eg Boyer Microdigital) must be timed at full advance.

Points versus electronic? Maybe it's a philosophical thing
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Old 08-02-2013, 04:47 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by chasbmw View Post
I would disagree that electronic systems are fragile on a bike, the Boyer I fitted on my R80, did north and south America, got taken off the R80 when I sold the bike and put on a 90/6, which was then ridden round Australia, lots of vabration and temperatures from -5C to 45C. No issues. Both of my current bikes run aftermarket electronics, no problems with either, and perfect ignition and ignition curves, not affected by mechanical wear and tear. When points need fixing by the side of the road it's usually because they have become loose and fallen out of adjustment, hardly a failure?

I would not fit an electronic ignition where the electronics are kept inside the timing chest, such as the Omega ignition once sold by Stephen Bottcher, I really do think that similar designs are asking for trouble, there seems to be issues with the Trispark ignition sold for Commandos and in my view part of the problem is that all the electronics are encapsulated in the timing chest of Nortons and those engines do vibrate.

People do need to remember that electronic systems will have different requirements as to both Coils and the resistance on plug caps, this needs to done if an electronic system to last and some systems that use a V shaped timing curve at low revs to stabilize tickover (eg Boyer Microdigital) must be timed at full advance.

Points versus electronic? Maybe it's a philosophical thing
maybe it is a philosophical thing about not wanting to be broken down in the middle of no-where.
if I'm traveling very far .. carrying spare diode board, rotor, points/condenser.

OEM electronics lives in a pretty harsh environment under front engine cover. seems most everything electronic there are prone to failure. except Stator and condenser seldom goes out.

OEM halls effect sensor, rotor, diode board are all common failure components. certainly these are the most likely to fail parts.

it's not just electronics aging in harsh conditions as is certainly the case now with all airheads that's actually ridden. there's been a healthy demand for aftermarket replacements for airhead charging systems and ignition systems for decades.

there's a slew of very expensive $$$ replacement charging systems and replacement electronic ignitions out there. those mfg would not have stayed in business for long unless they sold a ton of new systems.

so yes .. LOTS of folks have zero problems with their OEM electronics ... but evidence indicates there must be a butt load of failures out there to keep all those aftermarket mfg in business all these years

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Old 08-02-2013, 05:39 AM   #89
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If I were taking an airhead around the world, it would have points. I've owned many airheads in the past 30 years, equal mix of points and electronic ignitions, I've had far fewer problems with the points bikes. Yes, they require more maintance, but jeez, it's not THAT much trouble to adjust them once in a while.
but when something goes ZAP, your shit outta luck if your in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:22 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by georgesgiralt View Post
Hello !
To return to topic,
The sensor was complaining; I had intermittent ignition failure for weeks (the ignition was cut for a fraction of a second during riding).
Of course, as an engineer with a degree in electronics, I first searched for a bad contact around the kill switch and/or the wiring between the battery , lock key, and so on.
The bike, as always, was kind enough to die in the garage .... during a routine carb sync after an oil change.
I tested the sensor and it was dead. After having replaced it, I saw that the wiring between the can and the Junior timer plug was also faulty, so maybe the sensor was not at fault.... I would never know.
I had a deal with a pal, he sent me 4 bean cans, failed in one sort or another, for replacing the sensor into one of his cans, and keep a bean can for me as a spare. Most of them where actually functional, running good when cold and having problems when hot. I've found these with the black plastic housing of the sensor to we somewhat worn out (it shows the white underlying plastic) and I wonder if it's the problem showing or what ?
On the other hand I do not know how this has happened, as the metal clutch disk was not touching the sensor.
IMHO, the wiring is more prone to failures than the sensor. The 4 cans had a deteriorated wiring, mainly because the wires were cut at the strain relief on the bean can or by a pinch caused by the timing chain cover.
Now, what I've learned :
1) use the Siemens HKZ101 sensor. The riveting job is much much easier.
2) on the later bean can with the two plates riveted (instead of the two tapered screws) DO NOT try to break the rivet... Remove the sensor and drill a hole on the lower plate in order to rivet the new sensor in place.
3) If you've to change the wiring, the male 3 prong connector can be found, it is P/N 1-962581-1 and Farnell has them in stock. (Just googled, not even a customer).
If I had to make a living out of this, I would buy sensors with the correct length of wire attached, and plug a new plug at the end and basta !
here ya go Mr. EE .. perhaps you should be explaining this instead of me

anyways ... since I've not been able to find instructions anywhere for actual testing of Halls sensor module. here it is ...

what we are testing is a halls module made up of voltage regulator, trigger circuit and actual Halls sensor.





when magnet passes in front of halls, a signal is generated in millivolts. Fluke 789 process meter is being used. but any precision VOM can be used.

HP regulated power supply putting out about 12v is used to power module. but most any power supply 4.5v to 24V can be used. a 9v battery works fine.

here's a picture showing what wires to test without breaking down beancan.

red (yellow/green) = + ... black (blue) = ground ... green (brown) = signal

after hooking up wires as shown .. rotate beancan shaft, if halls module is working. you will see a millivolt signal for a brief fraction of a second.

intermittent output are the worst ... if you are that deep into beancan .. replace that halls module and be done ... or better yet switch to beancan with points!!!



green & bottom red is from 12v power supply ... middle red and top black is from Fluke 789 set to DC voltage. if halls module is working, a brief milliamp volt signal will show.




when magnet rotates closeby .. millivolt signal is generated sending a signal to ECU which then triggers a spark.
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