Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How to fix broken Royal Enfield front turn signals

A Royal Enfield Bullet front turn signal, before the stalk breaks.
You have to be pretty stubborn and pretty cheap to put up with the Department of Transportation approved turn signals fitted to Royal Enfields in the U.S. back when I bought my 1999 Bullet.

There's nothing wrong with the big plastic signals themselves (except their appearance).

It's their stalks that (literally) let them down. Whether it's heat or age or vibration, the stalks snap, can not be repaired and, if you try, snap again and ultimately turn to powder in your hands.

...and this is that last intact turn signal with my broken ones.
Perfectly fine after-market turn signals are available inexpensively. But because I'm cheap, and stubborn, I've stuck with the originals. I now have a big collection of broken ones.

The solution I've come up with: ditch the stalks. Keep the turn signals.

The stalks eventually crumble and can't be repaired.
I've written before about how I attached the rear turn signals on my Bullet directly to the tail light housing.

I knew, however, that the front stalks would eventually break and so I came up with the following method for doing away with them at the front as well.

Naked bracket with turn signal removed. Note the two holes.
My plan eliminates the stalks and attaches the plastic heads of the turn signals themselves to the solid metal brackets on the motorcycle.

First, note that the base of each stalk has the threads that go through the bracket to be held by a nut. There is also a small lump of material sticking up that fits into a little hole in the bracket, to position the stalk in the bracket.

Note the little nub on the stalk that fits into the little hole.
The head of each turn signal, when disassembled, has a stout plastic tube, normally unseen as it's inside the stalk.

For each front turn signal, then, I rammed the plastic tube into the large hole on the bracket (it sticks in tight and, as it widens near the head, it won't go all the way in).

I drilled a small hole in the head of the turn signal, to fit a screw.
Then I ran a small screw through the little hole in the bracket into a hole I had drilled in the bottom of the plastic turn signal.

The result is not pretty, but the locating screw is largely out of sight. Time will tell if friction and the small screws are sufficient to hold the signals onto the motorcycle. They seem fairly solid.

This picture shows how turn signal head fits on bracket.
And the screw comes in to hold it.
From the front, I rather like the "close coupled" look of the new turn signal placement and they're less likely to catch on my clothing as I work on the bike in the garage.

Comparison shot: Stock on the right, refit turn signal on left.
If time allows in the future, I may enlarge the big holes in the brackets to allow the signals to come in closer and fit flush to the brackets. That will hide the short length of the little screw that currently remains visible and unsightly.

...and here's how it looks with both signals refit.


  1. Yay! Looks neat too!
    I heard the longer stalk ones were so lady riders could hang their handbags (purse) on them.

  2. That looks terrible. The stems are there for a reason and that McGyver repair will come back to haunt you with other busted parts. Contact K&S Technologies, show them your stem dimensions and see what they have that comes close. David, cutting corners isn't worth it in the long run.

    1. It's "the Lazy Man's Way of Doing It," as my father would have said, derisively. For one thing, I wonder if losing the stalks will shorten bulb life due to more vibration reaching them. Also the internal reflectors are thin plastic and may crumble. Luckily I have a whole box of bulbs and reflectors from my broken lights. But they may simply just fall off. Folks, don't try this stunt at home.

  3. Dave, you need to make one other upgrade. Ditch the small headlight and upgrade to the larger one. It will look more natural, more correct, and more bad ass.

    1. You're so right. And I would like to convert my four-speed to right-shifting, too. Then my Bullet would be perfect.

  4. A right shift bullet. Something that is very special indeed.


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