An interesting comparison of Commando electric starters

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Whilst it's a laudable quest to provide a: 'Tale Of The Tape' style presentation of the two contenders, the cynic in me can't help but think that even with such information expertly presented, our hapless punter will still be guided by either price or the personal (biased or otherwise) opinions of current or past owner/users...

Just saying.... :)
 

grandpaul

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Whilst it's a laudable quest to provide a: 'Tale Of The Tape' style presentation of the two contenders, the cynic in me can't help but think that even with such information expertly presented, our hapless punter will still be guided by either price or the personal (biased or otherwise) opinions of current or past owner/users...

Just saying.... :)
Still nice to have facts...

Personally, the nuts and bolts aspect interests me the most. As you may or may not know, every added part becomes a possible point of failure. Also, every additional interface between parts becomes another possible point of failure. Not casting aspersions on the Norton factory, or producers of any of the parts in either kit, nor on designers of any of those parts, but creation of a new part can sometimes have an unexpected failure mode that is only revealed in use over time; that's another possible point of failure even in a "static" part.

All of these are FACTS, borne out in real-world implementation.

Some people will appreciate knowing all the facts, and they're the only ones that matter, I suppose. If some people don't care, let them eat cake (or blown drive belts, or sheared woodruff keys).
 

ILLF8ED

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Hi GP
My aversion is spending a lot of money on modern upgrades for a Commando.
 

baz

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Hi GP
My aversion is spending a lot of money on modern upgrades for a Commando.
I understand what you mean but if your knee goes and you can't start your commando what then?
Sell the bike?
Mothball it?
Or carry on riding with an electric starter it's not that dear then
Cheers
 

ashman

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Money is a big factor and plays a big part for me anyway, in 46 years of owning my Norton I did all my upgrades to my Norton when I was working and had money to spend, after taking a redundancy from my job of 31 years near 8 years now and living on a forenight Super pension (self funded) and living on a budget, paying up to $5000 to install a electric starter is beyond my budget.
But I did make improvements to make my Norton a easy one kick starter over the years when I was working with improved parts like the Joe Hunt maggie with big spark for one kick every time start, longer kick starter with the RGM T160 folding kicker which makes a big difference to kicking my Norton to life, installing good carbies that are jetted and tuned right and keeping the maintenance up so my Norton is always running and starting with ease.
So in the long run MONEY does play a big part in their investment, some people just no longer have the budget to buy these expensive electric starter kits, might seem cheap to some, but not for my budget, but I do own my modern Triumphs as well that I had before retirement except for my last bike I brought out of my pay out money.

Ashley
 

ILLF8ED

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That aversion fades at the same rate your body's abilities fade...

Hopefully, your play money account doesn't fade as fast!

(you can always sell a kidney if you still have 2 good ones)
When I get too old to kick start the Commando it’s time to to either stop riding or buy something suited to my ability. I’ve been riding motorcycles for 53 years. I don’t really mind packing it in if needed.
 

baz

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When I get too old to kick start the Commando it’s time to to either stop riding or buy something suited to my ability. I’ve been riding motorcycles for 53 years. I don’t really mind packing it in if needed.
It's not always about age
I was 58 when my knee gave out
I fitted the Alton and carried on riding ,I'm coming up 61 now and I have no plans to pack up riding !!
I'm on the waiting list for a full knee replacement and when it's done and I can kickstart my bike, or even stand on my right leg so I can kick with my left I'll consider removing the starter
 

johnm

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I have a CNW starter on my bike. And I shall try to answer as many questions as I can in the original post. Matt supplies a very comprehensive packing list with the starter so those questions should not be too hard.

But before I do I'm going to be a pain and say you have missed two very important items I think.

Firstly the look of the integration of the starter into the original design. To fit the CNW starter you mast take off the ham can air cleaner. To me this is one of the characteristic design components of the original Commando and I thought very hard about losing it. In the end we made a shorter ham can which retains some of the original look but this was a loss for me. OK I just re read the OP and maybe this is included under the cleanliness point. But anyway I'll keep it for clarity.

The second item is probably the most important. Reliability. There is a long thread on the Alton reliability at present and for me that's close to a deal breaker. My friend and I both had the sprag clutch bearing go on our CNW starter but they were replaced by Matt immediately and took maybe an hour to change out.
 

baz

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I have a CNW starter on my bike. And I shall try to answer as many questions as I can in the original post. Matt supplies a very comprehensive packing list with the starter so those questions should not be too hard.

But before I do I'm going to be a pain and say you have missed two very important items I think.

Firstly the look of the integration of the starter into the original design. To fit the CNW starter you mast take off the ham can air cleaner. To me this is one of the characteristic design components of the original Commando and I thought very hard about losing it. In the end we made a shorter ham can which retains some of the original look but this was a loss for me. OK I just re read the OP and maybe this is included under the cleanliness point. But anyway I'll keep it for clarity.

The second item is probably the most important. Reliability. There is a long thread on the Alton reliability at present and for me that's close to a deal breaker. My friend and I both had the sprag clutch bearing go on our CNW starter but they were replaced by Matt immediately and took maybe an hour to change out.
I'm wondering just how unreliable the Alton is ?
I've spoken to a few people that have them and I have yet to hear of a problem
I've read about some problems on here but have no Idea how many have been sold that are working perfectly or how often they are actually used
etc etc it could be as bad as the trispark ignition or as good as the trispark for example , depending who you ask
 

grandpaul

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The second item is probably the most important. Reliability. There is a long thread on the Alton reliability at present and for me that's close to a deal breaker. My friend and I both had the sprag clutch bearing go on our CNW starter but they were replaced by Matt immediately and took maybe an hour to change out.
The thing is, reliability can come and go. Still, noted. I already mentioned customer service isn't nearly as easy to nail down.

I do think maybe ease of installation is a factor, but that falls under the "time to install", and is still tied to installer's general mechanical ability, and not so much the kit itself. Also noted...
 

grandpaul

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I've read about some problems on here but have no Idea how many have been sold that are working perfectly or how often they are actually used
etc etc it could be as bad as the trispark ignition or as good as the trispark for example , depending who you ask
YAHTZEE!

I have posted here, and on other forums, regarding my assumptions which faded in light of the reality regarding Boyer ignitions:

Boyers have the most failures, because there are more Boyer ignitions than most other brands combined (or nearly so).

Boyer failures AS A PERCENTAGE OF THOSE INSTALLED may not be any higher, and may be lower, than any OTHER specific brand's failure rate.
 
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Having been a long term owner of 850 commando's the last one being a Mk2A, I needed to look at an electric start [knackered knees due to MotoX and Speedway racing] also I am not a fan of a belt primary- one example [reason] a few years ago I was on a run hundreds of mile from home with a friend with a 1981 HD Sturgis, when refuelling he broke a primary belt, we were able to get it trailered to a HD dealer but there was no belts available in NZ, luckily we were able to get a second hand one but it had to be flown from the other end of the country, a worn chain would have still got him home. Anyway I decided to buy a dismantled 850 Mk3 which I am currently rebuilding with the plan to have upgraded battery starter etc. I am still to finish the project [ waiting for a new paint job] but I am confident my plan will work.
 

Fast Eddie

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I'm wondering just how unreliable the Alton is ?
I've spoken to a few people that have them and I have yet to hear of a problem
I've read about some problems on here but have no Idea how many have been sold that are working perfectly or how often they are actually used
etc etc it could be as bad as the trispark ignition or as good as the trispark for example , depending who you ask

Those who suffer issues tend (understandably) to be far more vocal than those who don’t. It often clouds the reality of trying to understand reliability. It’s a universal thing and certainly not just about e starts or even motorcycles.
 
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As I have said many times, My Alton has been bulletproof since Feb '13 when I received the updated alternator rotor from Alton. Based on MY experience, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one. My experience over 8 years is that it is 100% reliable. :rolleyes:

OTOH...

I had a poor experience with a Boyer that was on my bike when I bought it in '06. I replaced it with the OEM ignition (points/AAU), which worked perfectly. That influences MY opinion of Boyer - I would not buy one or recommend one because MY EXPERIENCE is that they have a failure rate of 100%! Of course, just as with the Alton, that's not a scientifically accurate assessment of failure rate but it's difficult to disregard personal experience.

Frankly, there are so many variables involved with these types products and subsequent assessment that a scientifically objective evaluation is very difficult. An error made in installation may affect the results, even if the installation error is not directly related to the quality of the product itself. Additionally they are installed by folks with different levels of experience, different levels of care, different levels of tools, different levels of time and patience, different levels of drinking beers (or whatever) on the job,' etc.

AND, of course the more complex an aftermarket system is, the more chance there is to err in some way. IOW, there is a much better chance of screwing up the installation of an electric starter system than there is in installing an LED headlight.

If the same mechanic installed 10 Alton and 10 CNW E-starts on Commandos that were subjected to the same driving regimen afterwards, I'd say one could get a reasonable feel for reliability, ease of installation, etc. But a one time experience isn't worth much scientifically speaking. ;)
 

baz

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Those who suffer issues tend (understandably) to be far more vocal than those who don’t. It often clouds the reality of trying to understand reliability. It’s a universal thing and certainly not just about e starts or even motorcycles.
Yep I'm wondering how many kits have been sold? I know they have a number on them
Maybe anyone that's bought an Alton kit very recently could tell us the number on it?
Cheers
 
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Those who suffer issues tend (understandably) to be far more vocal than those who don’t. It often clouds the reality of trying to understand reliability. It’s a universal thing and certainly not just about e starts or even motorcycles.
Too true... and also I believe there are those who are perhaps too stubborn or embarrassed to admit they've been sold a pup for big money. And they will keep throwing money at it...
I read many guitar owners who will buy the established brands, change the pickups, nut, electrics, tuners, frets et al... then fiercely defend the brand as being great guitars!
 
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