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Discussion Starter #1
In the article "Give It a Break-In" in their February 1991 issue, Motorcyclist asked four top engine builders—Jim Leonard and Al Ludington of Vance & Hines, Nigel Patrick of Patrick Racing, and Rob Muzzy of Muzzys—how to break-in a new engine for peak power output and optimum life. What follows is a summary of their break-in recommendations.

Initial start
(If the engine was run at the factory or properly set up by the dealer, skip this step)
Start the engine only to bring the oil and coolant up to temperature with little or no load. Stop the engine and check for oil and coolant leaks. Then allow the engine to cool to ambient temperature.

First ride
Ride for 10 to 15 minutes at 3,000 to 5,000 rpm. Vary the engine load and avoid top gear. Then allow the engine to cool to ambient temperature.

Second ride
Ride for 10 to 15 minutes at 5,000 to 7,000 rpm. Vary the engine load, use short bursts of acceleration, and avoid top gear. Then allow the engine to cool to ambient temperature.

Third ride
Ride for 10 to 15 minutes at a maximum of 8,000 to 9,000 rpm. Vary the engine load, use short bursts of acceleration, and avoid top gear. While the engine is warm, change the oil and filter—use high-quality low-viscosity conventional oil such as Valvoline SAE 30 motor oil. Do not use synthetic motor oil.

Subsequent rides
Ride for 15 to 20 minutes gradually increasing the engine load toward redline. Avoid lugging the engine but rev it freely, especially in the lower gears.

After 250 to 500 miles, check valve clearance. After 500 miles, check the steering. After 500 to 1,500 miles on conventional motor oil, change to synthetic motor oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The following is a longer excerpt of the article.


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 ask four top engine builders what they do to ensure peak power output and optimum engine life. 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.

Realize that an all-new or newly rebuilt engine has oil only in the sump and none in the top end, filter and circulation system. This means that during those initial crank revolutions many of the bearing surfaces are metal to metal until the oil reaches them, causing extreme wear and possible damage. [Jim Leonard, Vance & Hine's chief mechanic] suggests pulling the spark plugs (to reduce compression resistance) and pushing the bike around in second gear to circulate the oil under no engine load and bring the oil pressure up. A high-quality petroleum-based oil (low-viscosity Valvoline 30-weight was a popular choice) should be used. Synthetic oil lubricates too well to allow the rings to seat in properly, and according to the information we received, if it's used during initial break-in, the rings are sure to glaze.

Since heat builds rapidly, our experts suggest that the initial run be limited to bringing the engine up to temperature (both oil and coolant) with little or no load, then shutting it down to cool off and checking for coolant and oil leaks. Such precautions may seem unnecessary with a new bike, but more than one of our experts said otherwise. (Of course, it's likely that a new bike was run at the factory and ridden by the dealer's service techs during setup, so the new bike buyer may reasonably skip this step.)

After a through cool down (ideally back down to ambient temperature) and thoroughly check[ed] for leaks, start the engine and ride it under light loads at relatively low rpm; from 3000 to 5000 rpm is suggested. Nigel Patrick of Patrick Racing cautions against getting into top gear too early at this point in the break-in. Since the rpm should be kept low, using top gear is tempting in order to get up to speed, but according to Patrick, lugging the engine is more detrimental than high rpm, so resist the temptation to use top gear. One key piece of advice is to constantly vary the load on the engine, a constant load is not ideal for breaking in the bearing tolerances. This run should last only 10 to 15 minutes before another complete cool down. In other words, take it easy on the ride home.

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

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

Next, while the engine is still warm, drain the oil and change the filter. Why so early? Well, remember all those peaks and valleys throughout the engine that we're carefully wearing away? All of those tiny metal particles and any stubborn metal shavings left over from manufacturing are now floating around in the oil and not helping its ability to reduce friction. Draining the oil while warm may feel uncomfortable to the fingers unscrewing the drain plug, but it helps get more of the oil out and in less time. Vance & Hines' Al Ludington, who with the riding talent of David Sadowski earned the '90 AMA 600 Supersport title, feels that most of the metal particles that break loose will do so in the first 50 to 75 miles and suggests getting them out quickly thereafter. To ensure that the rings seat well, it's probably best to replace the oil with the same high-quality petroleum based oil used initially, and don't be shy about short-duration, high-rpm blasts through the lower gears after the oil is changed.

A few more 15 to 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 to 500 miles total, it's a good idea to check the valves. After 500 miles Patrick suggests retorquing the head. The switch to a synthetic oil was suggested by most of our master mechanics, but only after 500 to 1500 miles on a petroleum based oil.

Most of our experts warned of the danger of breaking in the engine too easily and consequently ending up with an engine that will always run slow whether it be 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.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Please ask any questions you have. I will combine the break-in procedure and the parts of the article that answer your questions into a few words, which Dave has graciously agreed to add to the FAQ of the site. We can then point new members to the FAQ when they inevitably ask the same question.

Any questions or comments?
 

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I have that article also.

it's pretty much how it should be done.

One thing to note though. Everyone has different break-in procedures and it's a tough subject. Not as bad as the OIL subject though :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Everyone has different break-in procedures and it's a tough subject.
Correct—perhaps that is one reason why Motorcyclist approached experts on the subject. They likely do not have identical break-in procedures but concur that lugging the engine, for instance, is poor advice.

I named the topic How to break-in your 2003 ZX-6R to catch the eye (or search) of those that need it most, not to contend that there is a single proper break-in procedure.

Should I add anything else to the FAQ, the first message in this topic?
 

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I was under the impression that you were supposed to keep the rpm below 4000 for the first 500 miles, and below 6000 for the next 500. Why do they tell us the 'rpm limit' when we buy a new bike if in actuality we are supposed to work it up to redline within the first couple hundred? All of this is so confusing.
 

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Hey Jamal - I noticed the Kawi W650 2 cylinder with a redline of maybe 8k that had the same warning on it. I think it is more a liability issue for a manufacturer. To break it in any of these other ways would probably get too much attention from the cops anyway.
 

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Well, I have never ridden before, and I was about to buy the new 636, and I just wanted to make sure I broke it in right. So are both break-ins equivalent? Because since I don't really know how to ride, I didn't really want to get into the higher RPM ranges for the first month or so I am riding so I can make sure I get a feel for it. But if I will get better performance the way you guys suggest maybe I should let a friend ride for the first 3-4 trips?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Why do they tell us the 'rpm limit' when we buy a new bike if in actuality we are supposed to work it up to redline within the first couple hundred?
For the same reason they state not to remove some stickers from the bike—liability.

If you are a new rider, first learn how to competently ride your bike. You will likely not notice the difference between either break-in procedure.
 

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I was under the impression that you were supposed to keep the rpm below 4000 for the first 500 miles, and below 6000 for the next 500. Why do they tell us the 'rpm limit' when we buy a new bike if in actuality we are supposed to work it up to redline within the first couple hundred? All of this is so confusing.
Yes, they don't won't you to bump it off the rev limiter under the first 500 miles so that piston doesn't come flying through the cylinder wall! in case someone fucked up.
 

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Well, I have never ridden before, and I was about to buy the new 636, and I just wanted to make sure I broke it in right. So are both break-ins equivalent? Because since I don't really know how to ride, I didn't really want to get into the higher RPM ranges for the first month or so I am riding so I can make sure I get a feel for it. But if I will get better performance the way you guys suggest maybe I should let a friend ride for the first 3-4 trips?
You've never ridden before and you're getting the new 636 ??????? [:O]

"Keep yer feet on the pegs and your right hand cranked."
 

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Thanks for the article. Has anyone heard anything new on the release date? My dealer said that mine is in route from Cali to Grand Prarie TX and it should be here within a couple weeks. They got that info from KAWI. We will soon see.


JAMAL: I started out on a zx6r myself. I had never been on a motorcycle before that. Good luck.
 

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"I started out on a zx6r myself. I had never been on a motorcycle before that."


I must be a big freaking pussy or something but I don't think I would be alive today if I started on the zx-6r.....

I started on an ex500 and that thing got me into loads of trouble and it only had half the power of zx-6r....maybe I ride alittle more aggressive or something or I just have bad judgement.


I guess you will be ok if you short shift to keep the power down and be super careful....

p.s.

take the plastic off the bike for the first year, I dropped my frist bike atleast 4 times, and plastic is expensive.....haven't dropped my new bike yet, except for a little lowside ;)
 

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thanks a lot zx6rchk...i 'think' (read 'hope') i will be all right...i'll take it easy for a while, learn how to ride at a college safety course (the colleges bike of course)...
 

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Rob Lee said:
The following is a longer excerpt of the article.


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 ask four top engine builders what they do to ensure peak power output and optimum engine life. 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.

Realize that an all-new or newly rebuilt engine has oil only in the sump and none in the top end, filter and circulation system. This means that during those initial crank revolutions many of the bearing surfaces are metal to metal until the oil reaches them, causing extreme wear and possible damage. [Jim Leonard, Vance & Hine's chief mechanic] suggests pulling the spark plugs (to reduce compression resistance) and pushing the bike around in second gear to circulate the oil under no engine load and bring the oil pressure up. A high-quality petroleum-based oil (low-viscosity Valvoline 30-weight was a popular choice) should be used. Synthetic oil lubricates too well to allow the rings to seat in properly, and according to the information we received, if it's used during initial break-in, the rings are sure to glaze.

Since heat builds rapidly, our experts suggest that the initial run be limited to bringing the engine up to temperature (both oil and coolant) with little or no load, then shutting it down to cool off and checking for coolant and oil leaks. Such precautions may seem unnecessary with a new bike, but more than one of our experts said otherwise. (Of course, it's likely that a new bike was run at the factory and ridden by the dealer's service techs during setup, so the new bike buyer may reasonably skip this step.)

After a through cool down (ideally back down to ambient temperature) and thoroughly check[ed] for leaks, start the engine and ride it under light loads at relatively low rpm; from 3000 to 5000 rpm is suggested. Nigel Patrick of Patrick Racing cautions against getting into top gear too early at this point in the break-in. Since the rpm should be kept low, using top gear is tempting in order to get up to speed, but according to Patrick, lugging the engine is more detrimental than high rpm, so resist the temptation to use top gear. One key piece of advice is to constantly vary the load on the engine, a constant load is not ideal for breaking in the bearing tolerances. This run should last only 10 to 15 minutes before another complete cool down. In other words, take it easy on the ride home.

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

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

Next, while the engine is still warm, drain the oil and change the filter. Why so early? Well, remember all those peaks and valleys throughout the engine that we're carefully wearing away? All of those tiny metal particles and any stubborn metal shavings left over from manufacturing are now floating around in the oil and not helping its ability to reduce friction. Draining the oil while warm may feel uncomfortable to the fingers unscrewing the drain plug, but it helps get more of the oil out and in less time. Vance & Hines' Al Ludington, who with the riding talent of David Sadowski earned the '90 AMA 600 Supersport title, feels that most of the metal particles that break loose will do so in the first 50 to 75 miles and suggests getting them out quickly thereafter. To ensure that the rings seat well, it's probably best to replace the oil with the same high-quality petroleum based oil used initially, and don't be shy about short-duration, high-rpm blasts through the lower gears after the oil is changed.

A few more 15 to 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 to 500 miles total, it's a good idea to check the valves. After 500 miles Patrick suggests retorquing the head. The switch to a synthetic oil was suggested by most of our master mechanics, but only after 500 to 1500 miles on a petroleum based oil.

Most of our experts warned of the danger of breaking in the engine too easily and consequently ending up with an engine that will always run slow whether it be 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 does this mean one should totally disregard the manufacturer's break-in recomendations (even on the ride home, 3k - 5k rpm for the 1st 20min session? ... < 4K rpm is what kawi recommends for 1st 500 miles)? also:
- if you followed this procedure to the letter:
- should you still perform an oil change even if u've only put less than 50 miles on it after the 3 session (articles says it should be done btw 50 - 75 miles)?
- is your bike broken in after the 3 sessions (could be done in a day) or once you hit 500 miles?
- how are gears classified? 1-3 (low) 4-6(high) OR 1-2(low), 3-4(mid), 5-6(high)?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
JimmyG,

Really, there is no one best break-in procedure. It is generally agreed that you should allow the engine to cool between rides and use conventional motor oil, and avoid lugging or overheating the engine or redlining it right away. Beyond that, follow the break-in procedure that you like, be it Kawasaki's, Motorcyclist's, or your own. If you choose to follow Motorcyclist's recommendations and exceed Kawasaki's rev limit, your bike will be fine.

There is no magic number for the proper mileage at which to perform the first oil change. After a few rides, change it at your earliest convenience.

It is hard to say when your particular bike will be broken in. Some test the compression to check if the rings have seated. When they are, you can safely use synthetic oil and break-in is done.

As for the gears, many procedures have you avoid top gear because it is easy to lug the engine if you are not at speed. Use the gears that allow you to use the rev range suggested by the procedure that you like.
 

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Rob Lee said:
JimmyG,

As for the gears, many procedures have you avoid top gear because it is easy to lug the engine if you are not at speed. Use the gears that allow you to use the rev range suggested by the procedure that you like.
thanks for the feedback Rob ... one question u did'nt quite answer .. what is considered 'top gear' fourth to sixth OR fifth and sixth?
 
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