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Ignition and Charging upgrades and the best solutions for your Airhead Boxer. A bit of a read but worth it I think.

August 29, 2016

The reason for this blog is that a potential customer made some enquiries over the weekend about a system which combines an alternator and an ignition system together into one Crankshaft mounted unit. The system is called the "Silent Hektik"


Some of the services here at the Boxerworks include upgrading (and repairing) ignition and Charging systems. Firstly, let me say that I don't import or sell components. My service involves supplying and fitting what I consider to be the best most cost effective solutions for those who use their bikes in such a way that some of the original (now more than 20 years old at best) components are struggling a bit or alternatively, for those who want the peace of mind knowing that their ignition and charging systems are all virtually new and reliable.  If a customer has a wish to fit any particular component or type of equipment, even those That I am not overly impressed with (and this could be for reason of cost as much as quality. Then I will do the research and advise what I have found. Same if a potential customer has purchased a system and / or wants to purchase a system and have me fit it, Of course I will fit it.


Over the years I've struck a few Crank mounted Ignition systems the "Powerdynamo" comes to mind but I've never had anything to do with the "Silent Hektik" system. I spent an hour or two looking at the specs and reading through some user forums and by and large it seems to be a well made, quality piece of kit. Alternator output is quoted at a few different numbers but on balance would appear to be 410 watts. Over time there have been many discussions (arguments even) about the advantages of a crankshaft mounted ignition unit (or more simply put : spark trigger) One of the main points of advantage of a system like this is that the timing is deadly accurate due to being on the crankshaft rotation which is unaffected by timing chain wear. This is true but like everything in life (including the OE set up) nothing much is perfect in every way and compromises must always be made. There is, in my opinion (unless you are going to Bonneville or racing), no real advantage in using a crank mounted ignition system in "normal circumstances". If the argument was to be made that the timing can be way out due to timing chain wear, then changing the ignition unit to  one that fires off the crank will fix one issue but not the real problem which is fluctuating valve and ignition timing caused by a worn timing chain and or tensioners.....  Any competent mechanic would advise on and address this situation as a matter of urgency.


Another thing that the Silent Hektik unit has is mappable advance curves. A very good idea to facilitate one size fits all fittments but on a standard road bike...infact on any BMW airhead there are only about 3 or 4 alternatives any way so a nice feature but one more thing to confuse the average "punter". The killer for me though was the price...(although I have accounts with Motor Israel and Siebenrock and the rest so I am sure that it can be bought better) at about $1300.00 plus post to add GST as well because it is over $1,000.00 and then you have to fit it so with out really researching prices because it is only an enquiry at this time, you could be looking at close to $2k for this upgrade. Over all a really nice bit of kit and from what I read, when installed and set up correctly very effective.



1: What if you only want / need an improved ignition unit and find the OE charging system completely adequate for your needs?

2: What if you are completely happy with your existing ignition system and number of spark plugs but find the daily commute and stop start that YOUR particular bike does most of the time means you have to charge the battery all the time when the bike is not being ridden?

3: How about people who travel a lot on their bikes in any weather and want to use additional lighting and perhaps heated clothing / grips?

4: What happens if it shits itself when in the middle of no where? how do you or who can fix it?

5: What if you can only afford to upgrade in stages as finances allow?


Over about 30 years, I have learned to look and listen. I only use things that I find to be practical and reliable and that I would be prepared to use my self (this applies to anything from Cars to tyres to oils to any other thing I do and is not necessarily price driven but  is certainly value for money  / quality driven).


For ignition and charging systems, I use and recommend products sold in Australia under the Red Centre brand. These products and many others are manufactured by Emerald Isle and are distributed around the world in Europe and the US and the UK. They are beautifully made and engineered and are superior to the OE equipment that they are designed to replace. Although I can source products from anywhere (one of the values of the WWW) I buy this gear from the Australian Red Centre distributor, John Olive for a few reasons. 

1: In Australia, John has a stock of parts always on hand and will help with replacement or warranty parts straight away. If you are in Brisbane you can (most times) go and collect the bits you need.

2: Given exchange rates and postage from Overseas, the Red Centre product is always (in Australia) better priced than the overseas version.

3: I've used the Ignition, 450 watt alternator, drive shaft, paralever bushes, gaskets and other rubber products in my GSPD (and my other bikes too)... for over 100,000 klms in some of the hardest country Australia has to offer with out an issue of any sort.


My research into the Silent Hektik and many other systems has not shown me any reason to consider changing my opinion.


The reasons I use and recommend this gear:

1: If you were to replace the complete ignition system and charging system with the top of the range in both units (including a 600 watt alternator) the cost of purchasing all the hardware....including wiring and brackets (so nothing else required) would be A$1,100.00. so even including fitting, it would be cheaper than any crank mounted system I've seen and have 190 watts of extra charging capacity.


2: The ignition system is a redesign of the OE system and swaps straight in or out so once fitted, can be easily serviced or repaired but looses all the hard stuff like bob weights and springs, heat sink paste and so on. With the simple purchase of a spare replacement controller and a hall sensor (both of which can be fitted by even the most non mechanical person by the side of the road and with basic tools and I teach people how at the time of fitting) you can ride into the sunset with absolute confidence. If at some stage (say for concourse reasons) you wanted to revert to OE fitments the complete swap back is dead easy. The complete Red Centre upgrade parts kits come to $450.00 each spares are available seperately (so a hall effect and or Controller) with different mapping for standard, twin plugging, special applications etc. 


3: With the charging system, the top of the range 600 watt unit costs $650.00 complete. This includes a rotor, a new stator winding, a VASTLY improved diode board with a massive heat sink and solid mounts, a 14.3 solid state voltage regulator and all the neccessary wiring. This is sufficient to drive virtually any electrical upgrade you may want for your bike...


Even buying the two systems and spare Hall trigger and ignition module, the price will still be less that the Silent Hektik unit.



There are several variables on the charging system that are less expensive and may suit your individual needs much better. for example:


1: You can just install the diode board, solid mounts and 14.3 volt regulator and continue using the existing OE alternator. I've done this for 4 or 5 people now and the improvement in performance and reliability makes it a very cost effective mod. (also does away with the chance of failed rubber diode board mounts allowing the board to hit the timing cover with amazing consequences.


2: You can go for the standard upgrade which is the same as the 2 above but includes a new rotor (better made and wound) that fits into the standard Stator housing. I did this on an R100R recently. Installing the system and new wiring plus cleaning up all the connections made a very big difference to the charge rate. The added bonus being (assuming your old rotor is OK) is that the kit comes with a rotor extractor bolt and you can use your OE unit for a spare. (cost is $395 for the kit)




Here is a link to the silent Hektik unit to show what I mean by "crank mounted"


Here is a link to the standard charging system up grade: (the 600 watt unit looks very much the same except larger, and has a stator winding included in the pic


Here is a link to the Red Centre ignition upgrade:


Here is a link to the Red Centre ignition upgrade for early points ignition Airheads:


This is a pic of my own PD fitted with the Red Centre ignition unit and 450 watt alternator.....both done well over 100,000 klm....the new ignition can has been modified so the pick up can be changed with out removing or moving the about 10 minutes:























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Copyright 2016 Mark Morrissey, all rights reserved