Is there REALLY an advantage to electronic ignitions?

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Jan 16, 2008
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I read all the trials and tribulations of people on this board regarding problems with various electronic ignitions. I understand they can improve performance at higher RPM's.

But for the normal rider, is there really an advantage. I still have points in my Commando, and my Triumph, along with all my old Honda's and Guzzi. They NEVER fail me. Every once in a while file them a bit, hit them with a timing light or static time with an ohm meter and it's good to go for several more years. Granted my time is shared between several bikes so they only see action a couple times a month but still.

Kind of like the argument about trading away from the amals. They still work and both my brit bikes are 1 or 2 kicks max, warm or cold.

Might just be a waste of my time to ask this as I'm sure this has been brought up many times before, but I kind of adhere to 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy.

I would say yes IF you worry about the timing changing due to wear of the fiber block rubbing on the point cam, aside from that, points will work just as they did for decades. Electronic ignition is more precise with the spark occuring at the same point every revolution, points can vary a lot. Electronic ignitions will not work if the battery voltage is too low, points will continue to work at very low battery voltage, then there is the cost of adding something to your bike.

Cars have abandoned points for reasons of keeping a precise timing, getting rid of the distributor and all the mecanical parts of the auto advance unit and keeping the emissions in check for long period of time. On a bike you don't worry about emissions, but low maintenance is a factor to consider.

Well, for me, the issue isn't really points vs. electronic as much as it is eliminating the mechanical advance mechanism. I have a coffee can full of these and all but one has deep grooves in the advance weight slots. If you rotate the mechanism to full advance with your fingers and release, they tend to stay at full advance. That is why so many points equipped Nortons have erratic idle.

When my '73 was new, I would pull the auto advance during each winter "maintenance session" and lube and smooth the ramps with a file. When the ramps were too far gone to smooth, I priced a new auto advance and found it was more expensive than a complete Boyer! I installed the Boyer and ten years later had to repair the pick up leads, but the original Boyer is still sparking. And the idle is smoother than it was before I fitted it.

As far as performance, I ran both Boyer and now RITA on my cafe racer and, at least for that particular motor, the RITA seems to be more responsive. On the stock MkV 750, I don't notice any difference between points and Boyer in performance, just better starting, idle and less maintenance.

I will choose electronic over mechanical advance every time.

My $.02. YMMV
I agree with Ron here. When I bought my first (second hand) Commando, I went straight to the spares counter and bought a couple of sets of points (I've never bought a bike that didn't need new ones).

When I got home, I looked at the previous-owner graunched adjuster and fixing screws, the body which seemed to jam on the spindle despite excessive clearances and the erratic action of the weights.

Like Ron, I priced up a new A/R - At that time they were about £40 and a new Boyer was £35 so no contest really. I still have the Lucas points in their original packing. I don't suppose that I'll ever use them now.

My feeling is that being shaken about on the end of the cam by a length of chain is a bit hard on a mechanical bob-weight assembly.
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