An interesting comparison of Commando electric starters

maylar

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And you get a new , more powerful alternator with the Alton, which also looks better, is more unobtrusive and can be used with the standard air filter.
Losing the stock air filter is a consideration. As far as "looks better", that's subjective. And with the CnW kit you get to keep your alternator, which in my case is a 210 watt 3-phase. There are recent threads here about how the Alton alternator sometimes loses its magnetism and doesn't work any more.
 

maylar

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If ANYONE has done any of these comparisons yet, please point me to your conclusions so that I can integrate them, once I get busy with this...
As has been mentioned already, the chances that someone has experience with more than one brand is probably slim. So, making a comparison will have to be done by sifting through multiple responses. I will address your questions tomorrow (Saturday) when I have some time at the keyboard. But my experience is limited to a sample of one, the CnW kit that I installed on my bike in 2019.
 

Fast Eddie

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And you get a new , more powerful alternator with the Alton, which also looks better, is more unobtrusive and can be used with the standard air filter.
Not sure I agree the alternator as a huge plus personally as the stock stuff seems fine to me and is not very expensive, plus the Alton one seems to have some bad press.

But the more unobtrusive overall installation is definitely a plus point to my eye at least.
 
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Mind you, in 20 years time will that question substitute 'conversions' for 'starters' ???
That I'll find interesting :)

(No more shimming isolastics, worries over ethanol, which EI, Amal or Mikuni? or OIL.......) Bring it on!!!

It'll be: Which is the best battery, ad infinitum....
 
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JLN

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Losing the stock air filter is a consideration. As far as "looks better", that's subjective. And with the CnW kit you get to keep your alternator, which in my case is a 210 watt 3-phase. There are recent threads here about how the Alton alternator sometimes loses its magnetism and doesn't work any more.
The CnW looks like something off a Harley. Big, brash and shiny. The Alton, as you'd expect from something French, is stylish and subtle.
 

gortnipper

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As has been mentioned already, the chances that someone has experience with more than one brand is probably slim. So, making a comparison will have to be done by sifting through multiple responses. I will address your questions tomorrow (Saturday) when I have some time at the keyboard. But my experience is limited to a sample of one, the CnW kit that I installed on my bike in 2019.
The only people that have that experience are likely the mechanics/shops who do a lot of maintenance on others' bikes.
 
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FWIW, I installed an Alton kit back in 2013 because the CNW kit wasn’t yet available. No issues @ 10,000+ miles on the Alton with a stock 750….
 
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In regard to the obtrusiveness of the CNW kit - I think the major issue is with the actual starter motor used. I know little about starter motors but I think if CNW had used one that was just an electric motor (like the Alton and the MkIII) with the solenoid mounted elsewhere it would have been much smaller and may even have allowed retention of the ham can. I'm sure the one they used is powerful and will last forever, but it's an awfully big lump of a thing.
 

Derek Wilson

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Well, I selected the Alton for my particular bike for a few reasons:
1. I wanted to keep the original air filter
2. The starter looked more like it was meant to go there (see above)
3. I am one of the weird bastards that like a chain drive primary (every one of my belt drive buddies has a story of adventure after they have shredded a belt far from home, I have enough stories of woe, don't need another one).
4. My dad fitted one to his bike (actually I helped), and he really has not had any issues with it in 5 years of running.
5. One phone call, a 30 minute drive, plop down the Visa, drive home - starter installed a few hours later.
6. CAD was in the pooper at that time compared to the USD, always a money thing....

Now, with hindsight - would I do it again? Yeah likely. Still like the looks, problems are relatively well known and fixable with machine tools (which I have), and Alton have offered me great customer service.

What would I recommend to others? Unless you are some deranged, masochistic sicko like me with a penchant for making things work whether the gods want them to or not, buy a CNW. Alton are a pleasure to deal with, but you shouldn't have to. There are some very well publicized and easily fixed issues that Alton just needs to suck up and own. Even if it drives the price up a bit - it will be worth it.

I like fit and forget - then I can get back to endlessly fettling with Amals, and fitting the EI du jour, like normal people...

My $0.02 CAD... FWIW
 
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Well, I selected the Alton for my particular bike for a few reasons:
1. I wanted to keep the original air filter
2. The starter looked more like it was meant to go there (see above)
3. I am one of the weird bastards that like a chain drive primary (every one of my belt drive buddies has a story of adventure after they have shredded a belt far from home, I have enough stories of woe, don't need another one).
4. My dad fitted one to his bike (actually I helped), and he really has not had any issues with it in 5 years of running.
5. One phone call, a 30 minute drive, plop down the Visa, drive home - starter installed a few hours later.
6. CAD was in the pooper at that time compared to the USD, always a money thing....

Now, with hindsight - would I do it again? Yeah likely. Still like the looks, problems are relatively well known and fixable with machine tools (which I have), and Alton have offered me great customer service.

What would I recommend to others? Unless you are some deranged, masochistic sicko like me with a penchant for making things work whether the gods want them to or not, buy a CNW. Alton are a pleasure to deal with, but you shouldn't have to. There are some very well publicized and easily fixed issues that Alton just needs to suck up and own. Even if it drives the price up a bit - it will be worth it.

I like fit and forget - then I can get back to endlessly fettling with Amals, and fitting the EI du jour, like normal people...

My $0.02 CAD... FWIW
CNW MK 111 upgraded parts for me with D. D. starter. Superb quality . Enjoy.
 
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I selected the Alton in '12, before the CNW came out. If I had it to do over, I would again select the Alton for the reasons Derek noted: I want to keep the OEM Ham Can because it's a vital part of the Commando "look;"
I prefer the less obvious look of the Alton;
I do NOT want a belt drive.

I have purchase quite a few products from CNW and they are all superb, as is their support. I have no doubt that the CNW starter is a superior design and if I was selecting between the two for "most likely to be trouble free for 20 years," I'd pick the CNW but since I've had the Alton on my Commando for 8-9 years now without a single issue, it seems like it might go another 11-12 years! ;)
 

johnm

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Using that logic a Commando should be more reliable than a CB750. It ain't though.
But generally I agree. Simple is reliable.

That's why I don't like vernier adjustments on camshafts.
 

maylar

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The CnW looks like something off a Harley. Big, brash and shiny.
It IS off a Harley. Same starter as used on Sportsters. Available anywhere in black or chrome. The Alton is proprietary.

... And I like shiny :p
 

jaydee75

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It IS off a Harley. Same starter as used on Sportsters. Available anywhere in black or chrome. The Alton is proprietary.

... And I like shiny :p
And that's all you need to upgrade the MK3 starter. I bought a new Sportster starter for $80 off ebay. Took the housing and field coils and 4 brushes out and with my armature it bolted right on to my Mk3. Works a charm and maintains the stock look. You could use the whole HD starter as is , but the pinion gear is wrong.
IMG_3759.JPG
 

maylar

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I'd love to see a through analytical comparison of electric starter conversions for the Norton Commando.
I'll take a stab at this - a sample of one, the cNw that I installed 2 years ago.

-Price
$2787 shipped. I opted for the polished primary and chrome starter. The polishing is magnificent.

-Overall quality of parts included in kit
Superb, both in form and function. Even the packaging is well executed.

-Number of total parts in kit
Dunno, didn't count. There are a few parts beyond the kit mechanicals. New bolts and tab washers for attaching the primary, and a gasket. Clutch locating circlip and shims. A new crankshaft oil seal. cNw's version of the clutch rod seal. A new primary o-ring. A steel shim plate for clutch stackup. They also include a handlebar switch with starter button and kill switch that I didn't use.

-Number of moving parts in kit
Umm.. the starter has a solenoid that engages it (Bendix gear?) to the mechanism. That's why it's so big. There are 2 intermediate gears and a transfer gear that get power to the crankshaft via a gear on the front belt pulley
.
-Number of engagement points between all (OEM & kit) parts in starting train
I count 5 plus the 2 detent plungers that keep the transfer gear from spinning when you release the button.
"The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone..."

-List of OEM parts eliminated by kit
Triplex chain, steel clutch basket, front sprocket. In my case, the bronze clutch plates were replaced with Barnett aluminum backed plates. 9 AH lead acid battery replaced with a Shorai LiFE.

-Number of specific fitments requiring a tool
Nothing beyond clutch spring compressor and sprocket puller, standard Commando tools.

-Number of different tools required for fitment
Standard tool box stuff.

-List of items required for a complete fitment, that are NOT included in the kit
See below.

-Cost of other items required (not included in kit)
Barnett clutch eBay $76
Shorai battery amazon $220
Shorai charger amazon $75 (not required for installation)
K&N air filter cNw $68.90

-Objective comparison of time required for ONE PERSON to install the kit, having EVERYTHING required ready at hand BEFORE starting
Should be doable in a weekend. Mine took longer because I added a left side gearbox adjuster (not required) and took the opportunity to clean up my wiring. Also replaced the gearbox main seal "while I was in there".

-"Cleanliness" of installed kit, as relates to visible apparatus clearly non-OEM (maybe a bit subjective, but somewhat clear)
Looks good to me, other than the air filter. Let's see what the judges think when I show it next month.

48339288936_f9f162dbd2_c.jpg
 

maylar

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How much weight did the starter conversion add to your kick start Norton?
Only about 10 lbs. Steel triplex chain replaced with a 21 mm poly carbon belt, steel clutch wheel replaced with a hard anodized aluminum one, 6 lb. lead acid battery replaced with a 3 lb. Lithium Iron. Bronze clutch plates replaced with aluminum Barnett's. Less rotating mass in the primary actually gives better throttle response too.
 
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