From “ride it like you stole it” to “you can ruin your engine in the first hour if you’re not careful,” you’ll hear more superstition and voodoo around engine break-in protocol than about virtually any other aspect of motorcycle ownership.
Most riders want their engine to have a long life, produce good power, and not burn oil. Here’s what to do to make sure that happens.
MIX IT UP Avoid operating it at droning, constant rpm for the first several hundred miles or kilometers. Speed up, slow down, repeat—this exercise creates both positive and negative pressure in the combustion chamber and especially on the rings. The alternating forces help create good ring seal, which in turn boosts power and cuts down on oil consumption.
EASE INTO REVS Don’t over-rev the engine, but don’t under-rev it either. Taking it up to 50 percent of redline for the first 50 miles (80 km), and then up to 75 percent for the next several hundred is a good rule of thumb. Practice this in turn with the alternate on/off power and load technique we’ve discussed.
KEEP IT UP Never neglect the need for routine maintenance. Many bikes call for an initial inspection after 600 miles (965 km): adjusting the chain, setting the valves, changing the oil. Do it—especially the oil and filter. Oil isn’t like wine or scotch—it doesn’t get better with age. In those first few hours of operation, your engine is producing tiny metal shavings as the parts wear in, and all that metal ends up in your oil and filter. Pull the plug and get that junk out of there