Convert Your Rear Turn Signals Into Run-Turn-Brake

Light The Night (butt light?) - You have options

If you're anything like me you want to be as visible as possible while riding your motorcycle. Many of us add light bars to the front of our machines, not so much to see better at night but so we can be better seen in the daylight. But what about the back? Well, there are many solutions ranging from adding bright LED's to flashers.

This page originally featured a homebuilt method of turning the Vulcan's turn signals into combination signals and brake lights. The method involved a trailer module and a bit of tinkering with the wiring. It worked well for those who didn't mind changing out bulb sockets and, well, tinkering with the bikes wiring. That method has since been superceded by some really trick gadgets that do electronically what we did physically before.

Before we get to those here's the simplest most cost effective way to make your rear turn signals full time running lights (or brake lights, but not both). Find a set of front turn signals. You've probably noticed, your front signals are on whenever the key is one. If you can find someone who has added a light bar to their Vulcan chances are good they have their old set of front signals complete with dual filament bulbs gathering dust in the garage. To connect them you'll have the same ground and signal wires as your current rear set plus one more wire that will connect to your running (red) light wire under the seat or behind the tail light. Simple and!

Another low-cost DIY option comes from Bare Ass Choppers and involves assembling your own collection of LEDS and resistors. This mod gives you full run-turn-brake lights with your existing 1156-type signals.

And now the aftermarket gizmos. You'll find these in numerous places including:

Signal Dynamics. Their product is called the "Tri-Star XP." At $60 (as of this writing) it's a bargain. You can also buy it on Amazon. Another module type product that adds several seconds of flashing to the turn signals when brakes are applied is called the "Sound off Safety Priority Plus" and can be found here (maybe no longer available) priced at $70. Kuryakyn has added a module of their own priced around $90. See it here.

tristar2Whichever module you choose, if you visit you can probably get OEM connectors allowing you to plug the unit inline with your existing wiring rather than splicing into your wiring harness. It makes for a clean easy-to-change installation.

And now some legal advice. DOT rules require rear facing lighting on motor vehicles to be either red or amber. Amber can only be used for turn signals. This means if you plan to turn your turn signals into always on running lights you'll need to modify your bulbs or your lenses. There are a few simple ways to do this.

  1. Purchase red lenses for most Classic/Nomad models. A variety are available at Amazon and Custom Dynamics. Note Kawasaki changed the lens design with the 1600 models. Options for the 1600 can be found on Kuryakyn's website. You'll either have to paint those lenses using transparent modelers paint or use a red bulb.
  2. Paint the inside of your OEM amber lens. You can use transparent paint as sold at most department and hobby shops. A coat or two of red sprayed 'inside' the amber lens will only allow the red wavelength your bulb to come through making the lens appear to be red unless the lights are turned off.
  3. Switch your amber bulbs to red. Red bulbs show red through both amber and clear lenses.


A popular related mod is to switch your turn signals to LEDs. Check this Gadget page for more information.


Now, go light up the night!

Tag: lighting

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