For years, I’ve claimed that self-canceling turn signals were the answer to a question I never asked. I’d yet to experience an automated system that didn’t introduce one or more problems or adaptations I had to make in order to utilize turn signals the way I preferred to use them. Some systems turned the signals off too soon while others kept them on for an eternity, but both forced me to take my eyes off the road to check if the signals were on or off before and after a turn.

When I was asked by E-i-C Duke to test the Smart Turn System, I said I was willing, but I fully expected to dislike the Smart Turn System and remove the unit from my bike once the test was complete. Well, it’s time for me to eat a little crow and say up front that the little black box I installed on my personal R6 is going to stay.

Smart Turn System

This little black box needs to be mounted level securely to the bike with the arrow pointing forward. After taking the photo, I used a zip-tie to make sure the STS stayed in place over the long term.

The Smart Turn System (STS) is just a little black box, measuring roughly 0.9 in. x 1.0 in. x 1.75 in., that gets spliced into a bike’s wiring harness. Fortunately, the splices are in the wiring that connects the turn signal switch on the left grip to the main harness, meaning that if you butcher the job the only system on your bike that will be affected is the turn signal. Like many (perhaps most) people, I am loath to cut the main harness of my motorcycle unless it is absolutely necessary.

The kit itself is remarkably simple, consisting of the STS unit with its 10-inch wiring, three wire splices, two wire taps, four foam spacers, and a piece of hook-and-loop tape. The real work of the installation is uncovering the correct wire harness. Although my R6 required that the tank and the airbox be removed to give the harness enough slack to splice into the individual wires, I suspect that many bikes will be much easier to expose the correct wiring.

Smart Turn System

With the turn-signal switch pushed to one side, a foam pad is inserted into the assembly to keep the switch from latching in the on position.

Since this is a modification of a system that was designed for manually resetting the signal, the first step is preventing the turn-signal switch from latching in the on position and requiring the button to be pressed to reset the switch. So, I spent a mere 10 minutes opening the left grip’s switch housing and inserting a pair of soft foam pads into the switch. These pads allow for the switch to make an electrical connection while preventing the switch itself from locking in the on position. Once the STS is completely installed, it receives the brief power signal from either the left or right side of the turn-signal switch and then the STS itself handles the switching duties.

When I initially opened the STS package, I was distressed to see the clip-on-type wire connections. In the past, I’ve spent many hours chasing intermittent electrical issues caused by a loose clip-on wire tap. Still, I decided to use the taps on this install for a few reasons. First, I think I should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to completely test a product. Second, many people are not comfortable with soldering connections – even though it is really easy. Finally, since I expected to hate the STS, I figured that I’d be removing it after writing my highly critical review, and unclipping the connectors would be much cleaner than unsoldering the STS wires before resoldering the places where I’d clipped the harness wires.

Smart Turn System

The old adage of check twice and cut once applies here. The yellow wire on the bottom is the one linked to the high beam circuit. An hour’s worth of troubleshooting solved the riddle of why the STS wouldn’t work.

Although the directions and the wire listing specific to my bike were very clear (with one mistake), I highly recommend having the factory service manual with you when you perform this installation. That way, if something goes wrong – as it did with my install – you’ll have the factory wiring diagram to troubleshoot your issue. In my case, the wrong wire was listed as the one to get the switched 12V power for the STS. The wire on my instructions was for the high beam and not the headlight itself. This meant that the STS would not function unless the high beam was powered. When I discovered that the STS didn’t work, basic troubleshooting with my multimeter pointed out that the unit was not getting any power, and a quick trip to the wiring diagram pointed out the problem. Time lost: about an hour.

Once that glitch was sorted out, the STS worked like a charm. After a quick set up that involved turning each signal on for 30 seconds and then manually turning them off, I set out to see how the STS worked on the street. Before I’d gotten to the end of my block, I’d tested the lane change signal cancel. Pass. At the end of the block, I sat for a couple minutes with the signal flashing away. Pass. As soon as I turned right from a stop, the signal flashed one more time and then canceled. Pass. I tried every combination of braking and turning I could think of, and the STS correctly canceled the signal every time.

The only way I was ever able to trick the STS was pulling into my driveway. Because it is steep and narrow, I swing wide into the left lane to make my approach after turning right into the driveway as straight as possible. The STS canceled the right turn signal after the swing to the left. However, this is such a minor – and quite esoteric – issue that I almost didn’t include it in my review.

Smart Turn System

The wires are all connected, and the STS is working properly. To make sure everything stays in place, the entire assemblage of connectors and wires should be securely taped together with electrical tape. This makes it pack tighter into the bike and minimizes the chances of one of the connectors vibrating loose.

The other small quibble I have with the STS is that my right turn signal required a slightly harder press to get the signal to activate. Since the switch has a foam pad inside it, I had to spend 10 minutes opening the switch up and trimming the pad slightly. Not a big deal at all. Additionally, now that I intend to keep the STS installed on my R6, I plan on redoing the wiring with soldered connections. While many riders may be fine with the clip-on splices, they just bug me – though not enough to get out my soldering iron and do it before this story was due. It’s a project for another day.

The Smart Turn Signal has converted me from someone who didn’t like self-canceling turn signals into someone who thinks that this implementation is a pretty cool idea – self-canceling turn signals the way the OEMs should have done them in the first place. The STS retails for 149€ ($167) can be ordered direct from the manufacturer in Slovenia at www.safer-turn.com.

  • Alan G

    why?

  • Josh

    Or you could push the button

    • Evans Brasfield

      Yeah, I know. In fact, that’s how I’ve felt for years. You did read the first two paragraphs, didn’t you?

      • Josh

        Nope sorry I was on a break at work just casually flipping through the feed. I appreciate the content though thanks!

        • Evans Brasfield

          Ha ha! Thanks for getting back to me.

  • Douglas

    Self-xcl signals shd be std equpt on all bikes, as they are on cars & trucks. Orange running lites as well, so the bike won’t be “mistaken” for a one-eyed cager. ABS, too, to maybe cut down on wrecks & injuries. This is all IMHO, of course….

  • Old MOron

    All that time you spent doing this stuff, you could’ve been wrenching on Troy’s new race bike!

    http://www.motorcycle.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/100516-Smart-Turn-System-9661-633×388.jpg

  • john phyyt

    I have left turn signals on so many times. I press cancel compulsively. Just to be sure . This sounds like another must do from Evans. I will have to refrain from reading his stuff for a while. No time.

    • Adrian von Grueningen

      It’s the Cancel-OCD.
      I do it too. Constantly.

  • TC

    My 1980 Yamaha 850 triple had self cancelling signals. I guess the bike manufacturers don’t want to spend the extra couple of bucks to do it nowadays. Personally, I would not cut into my wiring to install an aftermarket device.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    I have self-cancelling turn signals on my Harley and do not like them. They sometimes turn off before my turn comes, if the the bike leans a little. So I have to keep checking and reactivate them if required. More trouble than its worth. My KTM 1190 R has one mechanical switch on the left handlebar that you flick left or right and push in to cancel. I never have to check it. It never turns off by itself. My memory is not that far gone that I can’t remember to turn off a signal. Besides, the indicator is blinking right in front of my face. Like you said, a solution looking for a problem. Technology for technology’s sake. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. It’s to put one more bullet point on the marketing material. Simpler is always better.

    • Gruf Rude

      I’m all for simple, but I disagree that this is a “solution looking for a problem.” I’ve ridden with too many folks who forget to cancel their signals not to recognize the problem. In fact, I’ve seen it on EVERY group ride I’ve been on over the years. Awfully pricey, but for a couple of guys I know, the price would be nothing compared to the cost of the collision I see in their future. . .

      • Alan G

        good for newbies

      • Kevin Duke

        Also, depending on the switch, a jab to cancel it sometimes doesn’t do the job.

        • Gruf Rude

          I WISH the indicator was “blinking in my face” but for me, my helmet chin bar blocks my indicator light from peripheral vison on every one of my bikes. It would help if my indicators were in the bottom of my helmeted vision field.

  • Self cancelling turn signals are on my BMW which uses the flappy paddle type indicators favoured by BMW. IT took me a couple of days to get used to the different style of indicators and now I’m looking for a new bikes, I have to confess I’ll miss them. The BMW’s system turns the indicators off after either 200m or 10 seconds of travel. Doesn’t sound like much, but it actually works perfectly for just about all turning or lane changing situations.

  • Michael Howard

    Nice to finally see a self-canceling system that actually works in most situations. My remaining issue, though, is the fear of unlearning the habit of hitting the cancel button after every turn on any other “old-fashioned” bike I find myself riding. Then I’d be one of “those” riders I scoff at for leaving their indicator on.