Essex , VT
CBE is pleased to announce that we are now carrying the Alton electric start conversion kits for pre MKIII Commandos. The units are produced by Alton (www.alton-france.com), based in Brittany France. The company designs, manufactures and exports “Modern Technology for Classic Bikes”, notably generators and electric starters for a wide range of British Classics. Their Norton unit is tidy, well made and straightforward to install.
View short installtion video by clicking HERE. It's really fun to watch :)
Many Norton owners have been looking for the convenience and/or need (older hips, knees and ankles being what they are) of an electric start solution. Given the volume of Nortons going through our shop we, too, have been looking for a solution for our customers. To date, our recommendation has been “get a MK III”. But, as most of you know, the MK III starting system has its own issues.
The Alton system, by comparison, looked almost too good to be true. So, we bit the bullet and bought a system to put on Jack’s 74 Roadster. The kit came from France extremely well packed and with good instructions (and pictures!). Out of the box, the system drew many oohs and aahs. As many of our team come from aerospace and/or manufacturing backgrounds, that is saying something. And, just for fun, we let one of our Wednesday night RATs install it using only the instructions. Et voila’ !! In about the advertised time of 3 hours, the unit was installed and running perfectly.
The key to the Alton system is the bolt on/bolt off solution that requires no modification to standard parts. You use their new inner primary casting along with a new alternator. Primary drive, clutch and outer cover are reused. A new center bolt and shims align the inner cover and the clutch basket/drive sprockets are aligned as with any stock Commando. The kit comes with hi amperage cables and a solenoid that mounts with its own bracket on top of your battery. Amazingly, that button on the 71-74 switchgear that doesn’t do anything (red/white) was actually wired for a future starter (that’s the legend). As long as yours is not corroded or skanky (best to clean the contacts anyway), just use as is. That little connection has been waiting for you quietly under the tank all these years....time to plug it in!
For our demo installation, we utilized a high amp hour Odyssey battery and our custom battery tie downs. A battery tender is always a good idea on electric start bikes. But, otherwise, just plug and play with the parts out their box.
The kick starter stays in place and is fully functional, just like a MKIII. Your bike can be returned to stock condition in about the same time it took to install the unit in the first place. So, if you buy another Commando and what to take the starter with you, no problem.
Jack’s Blue Stripe is set up with the new starter and you are welcome to come by, check out the installation and push the button! CBE can install the new starter system for you or lend you the necessary tools to install it yourself (mostly a clutch tool and sprocket puller).
Availability & Pricing
CBE will be stocking units for chain drive primaries and special ordering units for belt drives as there are a variety of belt drives out there. Our pricing will be transparent to our customers and include the following cost elements:
Core Unit: Alton eKit for Norton chain drive is 1600 Euro. CBE will price units in its stock based upon the exchange rate at the time CBE purchases this inventory. For example, if the exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.3 Dollars, the retail unit pricing will be $2080.
Shipping: Shipping charges from France and related shipping charges to customers in North America will be pass through only (no mark up by CBE). Shipping from France to CBE will be approximately $75 on average. We will quote UPS ground for shipments from CBE to customers. There is a modest $25 handling fee for Kay's time. No sales tax for out of state customers. 6% for Vermonters.
Installation: CBE offers turn key installation with one day turnaround by prior appointment. Assuming no issues with your bike, plan on 3 hours of CBE labor at $75/hour. And, yes, you are free to help!
Recommended upgrades: AGM battery and CBE custom hold downs are about $200. If you have an earlier Commando with no faux starter button, there will be a slight charge for a starter button and related wiring. Battery tenders are under $50 and are a good bet for any old bike.
Essex , VT