Which is more reliable ... Points or Electronic Ignition for Airheads?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by _cy_, Sep 17, 2012.

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Which is more reliable for Airheads ... electronic ignition or points?

  1. BMW Airhead electronic ignitions are super reliable. Leave it alone

  2. BMW Airhead electronic ignitions are junk, replace with aftermarket electronic ignition

  3. BMW Airhead electronic ignitions are junk, replace with beancan w/points

  4. BMW points & Condensers are reliable. leave it alone

  5. BMW points & Condensers are junk. replace with aftermarket electronic ignition

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  1. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    conversion is fairly simple .. if existing points/condenser are good inside beancan. only other part needed is a different coil with ohm rating for points. it would be good to order an extra points/condenser to carry.

    biggest drawback, beancan with points came two years only. with everyone chasing one .. they are getting harder to find.

    yes .. more maintenance in keeping up with adjusting points. but it's not that hard to do. advantage is beancan w/point is field serviceable. one will not be stuck on the side of the road.

    electronic ignitions are maintenance free until if/when it dies. which may never happen or it could be your lucky day ... since airheads are getting to be 20+ years old .. that's pretty darn good service. heck it could go another 20 years ..
  2. patrkbukly

    patrkbukly 52 Weeks of warm

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    Thanks CY,
    yes my reasoning and approach is this:

    I have two bikes,

    78 RT and 93 GSPD.

    They both have been across country a few times and I can tell you that my

    RT with points has;
    always starts,
    weak battery strong battery starts immediately,
    21 degrees out or 88 degrees out starts immediately,
    always immedeatly when you hit the button,
    rarely been adjusted.

    My PD has, often had ignition issues,
    often not started,
    often cold start issues,
    if near freezing forget it,
    if bike and battery sits 2 months forget it,

    I could go on and on.

    So I do not mean to open the debate here but rather, I have experimented with 2 bikes side by side for quite a while and I just want points.
  3. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    I believe you also need to change the spark plug caps from 5 ohm to 1 ohm.

    NKG makes 'em for less than $3, but they require the screw-on tops for the sparkplugs that our BMW plugs no longer come with.
  4. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    looks like your mind is made up .. now onward to the search for one of these critters.. the green coil has correct ohm value for points.

    look on ebay for folks putting up airhead parts without model fit .. that's how I scored a beancan with points for about $30 .. all the bmw salvage yards were wanting $300+ .. tell tale sign is condenser attached on side of beancan mean 100% positive ID. don't worry about condition .. they are all fixable, unless it's missing innards ..

    [​IMG]
  5. Skyshadow

    Skyshadow Banned

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    Word of advice; hang one to all your EI parts. I went your route on my G/S, drank the fanboy koolaid and all that about how great points were. In the end I went back to EI and I'm thrilled about it. Point and condensers are getting to be poorly made unlike the OE stuff, if you do have a problem points are one more variable that you must work through.

    Also....for all the reasons you mentioned for wanting points...my bike did it worse with points. If my can goes crap up, I'll get the motorrad electric upgraded stuff and be happy.

  6. patrkbukly

    patrkbukly 52 Weeks of warm

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    Will do and yes you might be right.
  7. Skyshadow

    Skyshadow Banned

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    Always a fun experiment though......:clap. Probably gonna take my points setup as a spare when I travel....but will probably never use it.
  8. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    since at one time ALL airheads ran on points just fine. pretty safe to say if you couldn't get your G/S running right with beancan w/points. either a component was defective or mechanic didn't get settings correct and/or both.

    debate on which is better .. points or electronic ignition is better will probably go on forever .. but what's not been proven is one running better than the other. setup properly either one will perform just fine.

    it's really about needing to be field serviceable w/maintenance vs no maintenance until if/when it breaks. unlikely one will be carrying spare components .. after your bike is towed home and/or garage. the fun starts chasing down which component failed.
  9. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    It has never been proven that electronic performs better? Go to any races vintage or not anywhere and see if anyone is running points. Not if they can help it because electronic out performs points any way you look at it. Going back to points? It's laughable. A bad setup made worse now by poorly made points and condensers. Vintage bikes ran fine with points? Sure, for a while but that doesn't last long because points are degrading the whole time they are being used. Not so with electronic. Besides, newer bikes run MUCH better with out them. Around the world? I would rather carry a spare hall effects sensor and an ICU than a set of points and condenser. One set of points? I would carry several. Good luck getting a decent set on the road.
  10. Skyshadow

    Skyshadow Banned

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    Exactly what I'm saying SS, If a guy wants to spend the money on a points setup, let em. It's their bike. I know on my bike the can was perfect, fully rebuilt with new parts all around. Timing was spot on as well. My condenser went out on a trip and after going to about 3 different auto places that were more than happy to order one for me :puke1 I ended up getting stuck waiting for the Mexican made part to come in. It started acting up a few weeks later.

    For the cost, reliability and benefit of Ricks part not sure why people even look at the points any more. But.....if I hold onto mine long enough I may be able to sell it for enough to buy one of ricks units :deal:lol3

    In regards to which one is better? Wonder why Dyna add on EI came along if points were so hot?
  11. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    out of all of the points/condensers I've messed with for 20+ years. have never seen a condenser go bad. not saying it cannot happen, but it's a rare event. most times I've switched out condenser was simply replacing with points. everyone once in awhile you'll see a condenser that allow points to burn. but a condenser that totally fails, killing motor .. not saying it cannot happen just I've never personally seen one fail.

    most any condenser can be made to work in a pinch .. there's nothing wrong with wanting to stick with electronic ignition. pretty safe to say your one example of not being able to get a point system to work is NOT the normal.

    vs not being able to get an electronic ignition to work is pretty darn common. intermittent failures on electronics is when the real fun starts ...

    yes folks do change out points for electronic ignitions .. but most aftermarket ignitions sold are to replace failed OEM electronic ignitions. And yes Rick and others sells a butt load of em ...
  12. Skyshadow

    Skyshadow Banned

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    one thing with mine also may have been the coil as well. I had a dyna 3 ohm coil as recommended. I use an inductive pickup tach and it was intermittant at best. With the dyna 1.5 and stock ignition it works perfect.
  13. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    Well, I suspect for once I have the majority on my side not that it really matters but . . . . Engines in general? I bet for every electronic ignition converted back to points there has been a thousand points converted to electronic and I am not thinking about the manufacturers. That would be around a million or some such huge number. Real progress. Back to points? The entire notion is hilarious. ATW or not.
  14. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    RE: points

    After the great BMW-sourced points debacle, I found that the Noris points proved to be a reliable, quality part.

    Recently I've tried a set of Bremi points. The look and feel is good, but I won't know for several months how well they perform. Stay tuned...

    BMW part ref# 12 11 1 243 555
    Noris points
    Bremi points
    Source: Hucky's, aka Hans Lowe

    --Bill
  15. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    The Dyna Booster has the advantage of determining the dwell angle value (ie, "coil saturation value") and not by the point gap or physical dwell of the points, so the dwell is unaffected by the wear in the point's rubbing block. However, the wear in the rubbing block still causes the point gap to decrease which, in turn, retards the ignition timing, so you still need occasionally twiddle with the point gap to keep the timing where it should be....

    --Bill
  16. 190e

    190e Long timer

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    So a Dyna booster has internal electronic dwell control ? I've never heard of a points ingnition booster that did that. Most are just an electronic switch triggered by the points so they maintain exactly the same dwell as a points system and the points gap is still the determining factor for dwell. I know my Velleman K2543 points booster does not determine dwell. If the Dyna does it's got to be worth the extra cost.
  17. Big Bamboo

    Big Bamboo Aircooled & Sunbaked

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    Is there a way to identify the bad points that were supplied by BMW? Reason I ask, is I have a few NOS sets that came in heavy white cardboard boxes. Not sure of the age, though...
  18. patrkbukly

    patrkbukly 52 Weeks of warm

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    Stay tuned….
    [​IMG]

    Going into the PD.
  19. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    congrats .. now fill us in on your little adventure finding that little jewel!!
  20. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    I've never heard of a marking that identifies the bad ignition points. Since the problems seems to be too big a rubbing block then maybe you can measure this. Measure a Norris points to compare too. Points with too large a block can have their blocks filed down?