Essex , VT
CBE is Alton's Authorized Service Center in the US. We care about Nortons and we care about you. When you buy an Alton through CBE, one of our techs will be available BEFORE you do the install to make sure you have someone to talk to answer your questions, give you some pointers and be there if you need tech support when you get going.
CBE is pleased to be 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.
The Alton eStart is available in either POS or NEG ground configurations.
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, had been looking for a solution for our customers. Previously, our recommendation had 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 ant 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).
Alton recommends the Interstate FAYTX20HL. This sells for about $112.00
Odyssey has the PC310 which matches the power output in a smaller case size for about $178.
The cables in the Alton kit are sized for the Interstate, if you go with the smaller battery you may need to change the wire terminals or use (ugh) washers.
We make up special "J-hook" hold downs that use the standard battery bar with two holes drilled in it. Gets rid of the stock rubber strips that fail all the time. I can make you a set for $25 if you are not handy with torch and bending/painting. Just need to know hat battery you are going with. I'll drill your battery bar if you want us to for the same price.
The Classic Bike Experience
Availability & Pricing
Pricing: We have had excellent success with our Altons so far and have made the commitment to now keep them in stock at all times. Further, we will handle all exchange rate, customs and shipping issues from France.
Your Cost: $2,450*
Shipping: $50 anywhere in CONUS.
* Pricing as of Jan 1, 2014. Cash or check discounted price. Most customers send us checks and we've yet to have one bounce :) Credit card or PayPal pricing is $2500.
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 $85/hour. And, yes, you are free to help!
Recommended upgrades: AGM battery and CBE custom hold downs are about $200 (see box below at right). 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 older bike.
Tech Tips: There are (were?) many subtle variations with the Commandos over the years (eg casting thicknesses, wiring and so on) that should be watched for when doing your Alton install. The most notable are as follows. We ask that you please call us with any concerns or issues.
Essex , VT