20 comments on “How to break in a new engine

  1. I just bought a used bike. It’s a 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Classic from the original owner with only 3100 kms. The oil was clean and full when I checked it out so I bought it. I just found out that it has never had an oil change and the oil I’in it is the original oil. The owners manual states that the first maintenance should be performed at 1000 kms… Is the bike likely to run into any problems because of this? Thanks for your time and I appreciate help

  2. hi i have a ktm 390 .and its done first 200 km all below 6000 rpm and above 3000 rpm …in many forums people say to use non synthetic.or half synthetic oil to help polish up the engine for a vibration less ride later …but i got the bike with motul synthetic oil .should i change the oil to non synthetic now and run it till 1000 km ..or just continue with the synthetic oil …


  3. I’d say run your engine between mid to high. based on my experience, i’ve had two bikes already, the second one which i have right now, runs perfectly unlike my first motorcycle, unfortunately for my first motorcycle it got experimented on. the method i used for my first bike was the “ride it like you stole it” method, i ran it hard for a 100km then i changed the oil after and changed the oil frequently. after the break in period for my first bike, i experienced *hard starting **the motorcycle feels like its getting choked ***it vibrates a lot ****it cant go higher than 90kmh where other motorcycles like it can go further no sweat and the lists goes on. those are some of the symptoms i think of having a bad initial break in engine. so for me i definitely would not recommend going high rpm often on initial break in.

    As for my second motorcycle, i ran mid to high, what i mean is you know what your manufacturer tells you to don’t go beyond this rpm for the break in period, you can find it in your manual, make that rpm your limit then use short burst accelerations, do not go full throttle just pull the throttle gently but fast to middle until you reach the said limit and change gear smoothly, and do brake engine smoothly, and go beyond the limit sometimes lets say about just an rpm a half more.

    One thing more, always pre heat the engine before riding it, always. And let your motorcycle settle, turn the engine off for 10-20 mins, after riding for an hour straight. Now i’m not experiencing any problems to my motorcycle like the others i’ve heard about like the engine is stalling while running. Nada, zero problemo, my engine is running smoothly like no other.HOPE THIS HELPS

  4. You realize what makes pistons rings seal ?
    This is gas pressure, not a spring tension of the ring.
    This is why it makes sense to run it hard from the start.

    Your “lazy” method of braking in never really worked for me, or many of my friends
    making it necessary to hone glazed cylinders again and start from scratch with new rings.
    Now I brake in my engines hard and it works.
    I didn’t have any negative effects of this form of breaking in either.
    Mind you, I’m talking old engines, old British bikes from 50 / 60 ties.
    With new Japanese bikes any braking in is questionable, they do not really need it being build to very tight
    tolerances ( specially nikasil bore / piston ) and spending some time on the factory dyno.
    If you do not believe – check the movies done by “big four” on Youtube about their engine factories.
    But to brake in the engine hard you need some knowledge too and it doesn’t mean going to high revs and stopping.

    • We’ve had experience with lots of 70’s and 80’s Japanese bikes, and of course with modern bikes.
      With modern bikes, breaking in is of course less important, but it still *is* important.

      When you say “But to brake in the engine hard you need some knowledge too and it doesn’t mean going to high revs and stopping”, I am curious what you mean by saying “breaking in hard”, and if you did understand what our breaking in method really is: the word “soft” doesn’t cover it at all.

  5. I have an Yamaha R15 and have rode it in quite a strange way.
    The manual says to do up to 5000 rpm till 500 kms and up to 7500 rpm for 500-1000 kms.
    I combined this with the Motoman technique to keep the rpm below 5000 and yet give more load on the engine by going at low speeds at high gears.
    I changed oil once at 350 kms (grade 20W 40) and now at 550kms. Now, I am riding till 7500 rpm and i am accelerating hard.
    The engine goes to 7,500 only at full throttle while the range is upto 10,500 rpm. I guess something is wrong is with the engine.
    What do you think is the status of my engine now?
    If my engine is damaged, can i rectify it by controlled riding henceforth?

    From: Karthik

    • @Karthik – I’m not an expert, but when revs are low and gears are high, you are essentially lugging the engine. During this time the engine comes under lot of stress. Never do that to any engine. Always try to keep revs within range for a particular gear.
      About your problem, please show to a competent mechanic or factory workshop. Hope things will work out for better. Good luck

    • Hey karthik,I have bought an r15 and I have the exact same problem. And I break in the very same way. Since your post is very old, I would like to know what is the status of your engine now. Did your problem got rectified?

    • That’s hard to say, because it depends on whether the cylinders are coated with Nicasil or not.
      The first 500 to 1000 km should always be done carefully, especially in air-cooled engines.

  6. Hi, This is good to hear and I am glad that someone is putting that other article that is on the net in their place.
    I have had many bikes offroad and on. Over the years I have noticed that a smooth break in is mutch better that this wild reving and stopping that some dudes do.
    I support the easy on the engine way as this makes mutch more sence even if you look at vibrations.
    I just got myself two brand new quads and would like to knoe if you have any remarks on this as I will not have rev counter to keep an eye on the rpm’s.
    Thanks for setting things streight.

    From: Japser

  7. Hi. I think you have some very good information, but for this text, I’m not sure I agree: “Uneven – When you would forget to do that, the
    cyclinder would stay uneven: the cylinder would have been polished smoothly, apart from a small area in the upper part: that area will only get polished when the piston gets a very high speed, at high rpm’s.”
    Are you saying that unless the engine is run at high rpm, there isn’t enough pressure on the rings to seal them at the top-dead-center point?

    From Byron Morrison

    • No, what we are saying is, that if you run the same RPM threshold every day, you will build up a “wall” for the rings, making the motor reluctant to revs.
      While you get a nice “taper” if you variate you RPM’s a awfull lot while breaking the engine in, and that means also revving it buiding slowly up to the redline in the course of it.
      Starting with a threshold of half redline the first 200 km, and building it up to redline in the following 700-1300 (depending on bike of course).
      That will give a really smooth and consistend operating engine, with nice response and longivety.

      But beware, while breaking in, the revs themselves don’t hurt, it’s the *work* it has to perform that wears out an engine at break in, so take care to let it run freely, variate the revs, and don’t push it to hard at first, *and* don’t let it slump in the cellar, to little revs kill too, so don’t let it slip under 3000 rpm while breaking in!

  8. Thank you, that was very informative. I am getting a new bike and I want to look after this one a bit better than the last.
    I have a question.
    Is it very important to warm up the engine before riding it, during the break-in period?
    I stopped warming the bike up after a while, as it seemed to run OK without it (except in wet weaher).

    From: Paul

    • For clarity: warming up the engine is done *while* riding, after initial startup.
      It is never a good idea to let the engine run extensively before riding.
      That siad, yep, warming the engine will ever be important, when the engine is cold, the oil is too, and will get later on the places that need lubrication, the longer it has been standing in the garage, the more important it will be to be cautious, because a lot of engineparts are lubricated by splatter lubrication of other moving parts.
      So be verry mild to your engine the first 5 miles or so (longer if the engine is bigger) and don’t think you can warm the engine by leaving it ticking over on the drive way, then it only warms the cylinder, but the oil is only pumped verry meagerly by lack of revolutions…

      So start put on your helmet and ride away with only a quarter throttle max.

      P.S. most of the mechanical wear in a engine finds place right after start up, it is almost to say, the miles an engine runs hardly matter, it’s the times it is started, and more important even, the lenght of the stationairy interludes in which the oil can drip away/oxidise from to be lubricated surfaces…

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