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Old 06-13-2006, 10:25 PM
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Muddy1 Muddy1 is offline
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Breaking in your new bike

Warning - long post

I came upon these 3 posts on another forum about breaking in a bike. Yes, there is a lot of info here.
Do you agree with what the writers say or disagree. Why? Muddy1
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I find this article a good compromise between what motoman has stated and what the factory wants....


How to break in your new bike

This is an area of no small controversy. Here's my opinion, after breaking in 21 new motorcycles. You can get other opinions from Moto Man or in your owner's manual. You'll find what I have to say is in reasonable agreement with Moto Man, and we both contradict your owner's manual rather strongly.

I believe when breaking in a new engine you have several things to accomplish, and several things to avoid. Your new engine is not perfectly machined, and in the course of running for the first few hours a fair amount of metal will be worn off various engine parts and wind up in your oil. These metal chips will quickly overwhelm your oil filter, which is really not made to handle the volume of junk that happens in the first couple hours. You don't want to drive around a for a long time with a lot of metal chips in your oil.

In the first 15 to 30 minutes you run your motor, there can be very small hot spots that get to temperatures that are really not at all healthy for your motor. The motor overall is a large system and will almost certainly not overheat, but this doesn't mean every little spot on your pistons, rings, bearings, and cylinder walls is within temperature spec. Of course, you don't want to overheat your motor.

Your engine rings are probably designed to spin around the piston as your motor runs. If you run your motor for a long time at the same rpm, your rings can cut small spiral grooves in your cylinders that effect your rings sealing and lifetime.

My opinion: The bike should be started and allowed to warm up at an idle for about two minutes. This is to get the oil at something close to operating temperature. Then, ride the bike normally for about 5 miles. Stay off freeways or anywhere else that would make you maintain a constant speed. Don't lug the engine - run the engine in the mid-range rpm band, roughly 1/3 to 2/3 of the red line rpm. You want to be accelerating and decelerating, and using the engine as a brake to slow you down at times. Stop, turn off the engine, and let the engine cool for about 5 minutes. This is to even out the temperature in case there are any hot spots. Start the bike and ride for about 10 minutes, again in stop and go traffic. Stop and allow about 5 minutes for the engine temperature to even out.

Now, ride the bike fairly hard for about 25 to 50 miles. A mountain or curvy road is a good thing at this point. You can use the entire rpm band, up to and perhaps even a bit over the red line. Make sure to accelerate and decelerate a lot, using full throttle and using the engine as a brake. Notice that your owner's manual says at this point you should still be keeping the RPM under something like 4,000. I disagree with this quite strongly. Moto Man gives a good argument on why the factories give such a recommendation, which goes against all my experience and understanding and what every racing team in the universe does.

At about 50 miles, go home and change the oil and the filter. I strongly recommend you use a top quality oil filter, a Purolator Pure One, Mobil-1, Bosch, or SuperTech. I recommend you use a synthetic oil such as Shell Rotella, Mobil-1 SUV, or Delvac-1. If you simply can't bring yourself to use a synthetic in a new engine, use Chevron Delo-400. Don't use a 10w-30 oil. If your manufacturer recommends a 20w-50 oil, use Mobil-1 red cap or Chevron Delo-400 15w-40, which meets the high speed shear standards of a 20w-50 oil. Information on oils and oil filters is available on this web page, see the Lubricants section. When you take out your factory oil, if you hold it up in the sunlight you'll see the color is very good, it looks almost completely unused, but you'll see lots of reflections from metal flakes in the oil. These flakes are very bad for your engine, and can clog up your oil filter so that your filter bypass is activated, meaning you effectively don't have an oil filter. Notice that the factory says you should still be using the factory oil and oil filter. I think this is insane.

Corvettes and Porsches come from the factory with Mobil-1 in their engines. Remember, these engineers have designed world- champion engines for F1, Indy, Le Mans 24 hours, etc.

At this point, the bulk of your break-in is done. Your rings are substantially seated, your cylinder walls are scrubbed in, and your transmission gears have shed the bulk of their machining flaws. You can ride your bike now like it's broken in, except I recommend you try to avoid lugging the engine or running at a constant speed on the freeway for long times until after your next oil change.

When you have 500 to 800 miles on the bike, change the oil and filter again. Again, I recommend a synthetic oil, or Chevron Delo-400, or if the manufacturer recommends 20w-50 use Mobil-1 red cap or Chevron Delo-400 15w-40. If you have a drive shaft, now's the time to change your rear end gear lube. Use a good synthetic in there, like Mobil-1 or Valvoline synthetic gear lube. Continue to ride the bike normally. At this point, you can get on the freeway and drone if you simply must.

At 2000 to 2500 miles, change the oil and filter again. Your bike is now pretty much completely broken in. There will still be a small amount of break in stuff happening until up to 10,000 miles, but it's nothing you have to think about. You can now get onto a sensible oil change schedule. I recommend changing your oil every 2500 miles if you use a normal automotive oil. If you use one of the recommended synthetic oils and recommend oil filters, you can confidently go 5,000 miles between changes. I go 8,000 to 9,000 miles on an oil change, and I measure the oil viscosity and detergent after every change. A good synthetic will hold up this long in a modern water-cooled engine. Except for the Ural, every motorcycle made after about 1985 has what I consider a modern engine. Even Harleys.

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Any rebuilt or new engine has to go through a break in process. Each piece of moving metal must get to know and fit with the piece of metal it is moving against. Usually, the manufacturers put a sticker on the speedometer or tachometer telling you to take it easy for 600 miles or so. Your buddy says "If you want to run it hard, break it in hard." As you might expect, the truth is not on the right hand or the left but, in the center.

The problem is this. All this rubbing produces heat, which can cause oil to fail, which can cause a piston to seize to a cylinder wall. On the other hand, if there is not enough rubbing, the piston rings will not seat right with the cylinder walls. If this happens the engine will not reach it's full power potential. If the only new parts are piston and rings, as in an engine rebuild, we only have to worry about heat build up from the new parts. If the entire engine is new, the heat built up is even greater, because all the parts are new.

Yes, it is true that we have much better machining and quality control on new motorcycle engines, then we did in the past but, moving parts still have to wear in. If you have better, harder metal, it will take longer then if you have poorer, softer metal. Years ago I decided to bore my BMW motorcycle to the first oversize. After a hundred miles of break-in I started to ride normally, which is to say FAST ! Well, the bike just was not running right. I re-jetted the carb and it started to run OK. Another hundred miles passed and I had to rejet again. This went on for over one thousand miles. After the last re-jetting I realized I had just put the stock jets back in ! It took better then 1100 miles for those rings to break-in. The steel used in BMW motorcycles is very hard !

On one hand, if you run the bike too easy, you run the risk of the cylinder walls glazing over and then, maybe, never seating properly. On the other hand, if you run the bike too hard, you run the risk of engine seizure. I suspect, that even if you do glaze the cylinder walls over, if your run the engine hard enough and long enough, the rings will seat. However, this may take a thousand miles, or more, to do.

So what's a biker to do ? Well, a compromise is in order. This is what I do with a freshly rebuilt engine. It will work on new engines too. On a straight, deserted road, I put the bike in second or third gear and accelerate with wide open throttle to about one or two thousand RPM BELOW red line. I then shut the throttle and coast down, in gear, to two thousand RPM or so. I then do it again. I do this about ten times. Then I ride around for a while at an easy pace. I do this several times, if possible. This seats the rings without overheating the engine.

I would continue to do this during the entire break-in period. If you are doing any freeway riding. That is, running long periods of time at a steady throttle setting. I would also add this. Shut the throttle off and then on again, very quickly, every three or four miles. This tends to draw more oil up on the bottom of the pistons, lubing and cooling them. On a freshly rebuilt engine, I like to change the oil and filter at about two hundred miles and then every thousand miles thereafter. On a totally new engine, I change the oil and filter at one hundred fifty miles, three hundred miles, six hundred miles and twelve hundred miles. After that, change the oil and filter every one thousand miles.

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The first few hundred miles of a new engine's life have a major impact on how strongly that engine will perform, how much oil it will consume and how long it will last.
We asked four top engine builders what they do to ensure peak power output and optimum engine life. Their answer:

Piston ring and cylinder seating is critical to get a proper seal for power output and oil consumption.

If the wrong type of oil is used initially or the break-in is too easy, rings and cylinders could glaze and never seal properly. A fresh cylinder wall needs some medium to high engine loadings to get the piston rings to seat properly for good compression but don't lug or overheat the engine either. Use high quality low viscosity oil (Valvoline 30 weight eg.), NO synthetics, they're too slippery, if used during initial break-in the rings are sure to glaze.

Initial run should be used to bring oil and coolant up to temperature only, with little or no load, then shut off and allow to cool right down. After thorough cool down (ambient temp), start up and ride under light loads at relatively low rpm 3000-5000 rpm, keep out of top gear, lugging is more detrimental than high rpm. Key advice, constantly vary load on engine, a constant load is not ideal for breaking-in bearing tolerances. This run should last only 10-15 minutes before another complete cool down.

The next run should be slightly higher rpm, 5000-7000 and under light to medium loads using short bursts of acceleration to seat the rings in early. Again 10-15 minutes of running should do it and again avoid top gear. Allow to cool right down.

The third run should consist of light to medium engine loads with a few more bursts of medium-high rpm, 8000-9000 rpm max, and lasting just 10-15 minutes varying the engine load and avoiding top gear.

Next while the engine is still warm drain the oil and change the filter. This gets out the new metal particles that are being worn away. Al Ludington from Vance and Hines feels most of the metal particles will break away within first 50 -75 miles, so get them out soon after. To ensure the rings seat well, use same high quality oil and don't be shy about short-duration high-rpm blasts through the lower gears after the oil has been changed.

A few more 15-20 minute sessions should be used to work up to the engine's redline gradually increasing the engine loads. After some definite hard running and 250-500 miles it's a good idea to check the valves. After 500 miles retorquing the head is suggested. Switch to synthetic oil but not before 500-1500 miles. Most of the engine experts warned of the danger of breaking-in the engine too easily and ending up with an engine that will always run slow whether it is from tight tolerances, inadequate ring seal or carbon buildup. Engine load is more detrimental than rpm, so avoid lugging the engine but rev it freely especially in the lower gears. Muzzy summed up his break-in concerns most concisely: Basically, be sure not to get it too hot but be sure to seat the rings properly. It's that simple.

So that's it, sure is a lot different than keeping under 4000 rpm for 500 miles then under 5000 rpm for 1000 miles. Maybe bike manufacturers are being super-cautious at the expense of your motor's performance? I think that they take the cautious route that works over time (1000 miles, or about 20 hours of break-in) versus a faster route that can be more easily screwed up. For what it's worth, on the VF1000R, the slower break-in showed better leakdown at 4000 miles than at 1500, and I suspect that the go-slow method of the factory recommendations are looked at more for simplicities sake than for other effects.

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Old 06-14-2006, 12:17 AM
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Lee Lee is online now
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Re: Breaking in your new bike

Hi Pat
I started to read all that and got tired
I just try to vary my RPMs, don't lug the engine and not get too crazy. I do not cruise over the max RPM stated in the manual, but will rev past those points for short spurts.
You live in the perfect area to break a vehicle in. On your back roads you will be constantly varying your RPMs and speed.
Your water cooled 675 is not much different than breaking in a new car.
Now get out there and enjoy that new bike.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:22 AM
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Bobmws Bobmws is offline
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Re: Breaking in your new bike

I used the Motoman method on my '04RS. It has never used more than 1/2 the window between oil changes. The 1/2 window use was between 600 and 3k miles. I just did a 9k ride. Oil changed at 10.5K in Alaska, no usage. This part was in cooler weather, riding in a small group, avg speeds 60-70mph. Home at 15.3K, oil is down 1/4 of the window, trip was mostly solo, down through Cal., across to AZ, NM, TX, 90mph across the desert heat. Average mpg for the trip 40.5. High mpg was about 44 in Canada at high elevation), low around 38, in the humid south east at 75-80mph. Surprised me that the higher speed desert runs yeilded 40mpg.
I feel this break in method has worked for me, the bike runs great.
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Old 06-14-2006, 11:35 AM
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FastEddieb FastEddieb is offline
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Re: Breaking in your new bike

I think it's interesting that Honda calls for the first oil change in my Honda Element at 10,000 miles. That's when I did mine (and again at 20k).

There's no fundamental difference between a 160 hp 4-cyl car engine and a comparable bike engine.

Many of the break-in procedures are left over from when manufacturing tolerances were far looser than they are today. Modern engines really require very little in the way of break-in - it's probably hard to do it "wrong" to the point that the engine is really affected one way on the other.

I try to follow the manufacturer's recommendation regardless - the just might have a clue as to the best way to break-in their own engine.
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Old 06-14-2006, 03:41 PM
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Muddy1 Muddy1 is offline
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Re: Breaking in your new bike

Thanks for the replies guys.
I'm just trying to educate myself .... coming from a non-mechanical background.
The boys mowed the lawn and the girls cooked when I was growing up - but, we ALL cleaned house meticulously.

Perhaps I'm just looking for an excuse to explore a bit more range of RPM than manufacturer's break in suggestions dictate?

Heading out to the twisties tomorrow with a 73 year old former racing friend and his Ducati... or will he be riding his wife's Ducati.. hmmm.

Break in sucks!!
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