Alternators – Aftermarket

There is nothing wrong with the design of the BMW Airhead motorcycle’s stock Bosch alternators. Like most anything they will age, and/or they may be abused, they may fail, although not in excessive numbers. They are often never maintained until there is a failure. Wattage output was adequate for most riders when the motorcycles were originally sold by BMW.   The modest electric output may be of concern if you have lots of accessories ….such as heated clothing, heated grips, extra headlights, etc. I am not for or against aftermarket alternators. I am reporting only facts and testing information and conclusions. You may well do fine with the stock system. But, if you have special needs, such as large city stop and go commuting; or need more watts ….perhaps you are approaching the stock alternator limits (which decreases reliability) ….there is plenty of information in this article. The /5 Airheads had a 180 watt Bosch alternator with a stator diameter of 105 mm where it fit into the engine case. It can be upgraded easily by using an EARLY /6 alternator stator (if it is 105 mm, and NOT 107 mm), and any pre-1985 (approx.) rotor (2.8 ohm rotor not recommended) and any /6 or later diode board. Reliability can be improved for ANY Airhead alternator, stock or aftermarket, and this includes a stock /5 model, or a /5 upgraded to the 280 watt 105 mm Bosch; OR EVEN AN AFTERMARKET ALTERNATOR;  ….by using the later, better ventilated, front metal engine cover. If you have an RS or RT model, and the front fiber-glass-like cover is NOT louvred, even more reliability will be had by changing to the louvred type, or putting attractive holes into yours.  
Refer to:

This article includes information that is far beyond what advertisements for various alternators provide. Charging a battery in a vehicle like your Airhead is NOT as simple as you may think; nor, is interpreting the alternator ratings, typically simply shown as wattage. This article presents a huge amount of information; and, also presents information that helps you select an aftermarket alternator. I suggest you read this article completely through to get an over-view; then refer back to the areas you are interested in. If confused, please inquire on Snowbum’s favorite forum for inquiries; an E-mailing LIST, the Airheads List, as hosted by Input will help others, rather than my answering individual inquiries, which are discouraged.

You must be a member to view complete articles on this website. If you are already a member, you can log in here. If you aren’t a member yet, you can purchase a membership here.

Continue readingMore Tag
Scroll to top