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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Break-in is a very controversial subject for many. Especially for the uninformed or misinformed. Never take one perspective on this subject. Get as much information as possible and make your own choices. You only get one chance at this.

There are two camps regarding engine break-in.
One school of thought is that the manufacturer knows best, and their engineers’ recommended break-in procedures in the manual will result in the best results.
The other side basically says “ride it like you stole it”, or run the engine and drivetrain in aggressively.

Have you ever noticed that many magazine tests show bikes that make 2-3% more power than many consumers’ bikes or cars? Have you ever noticed that a dealer’s demo bikes run very well? Do you know why? Do you want to? It sure isn’t because these bikes are “ringers” that are built special – despite the old wives’ tales.

Personally, I am a big convert to the aggressive break-in using load and heat-cycles, and frequent oil changes camp. This is the result of break-in on many new engines – some of which I have built myself, and tested the methods.

Over the years, many things have changed. Clearances have decreased, machined tolerances have improved, operating temps have increased, materials have improved, fuels have more and more junk in them (and lubricate less), and oils have improved greatly. BUT the factories still recommend the same break in procedures. And oil change intervals. WHY?

If the engine is machined and assembled correctly, the only parts you need to wear-in or run-in are the rings and bores. Bearings (aluminum, Babbitt, roller, ball, etc.) do not wear in. If you have ever seen inside a freshly machined and assembled engine, you will see that the bores are purposely left rough. This is to help cut the face of the rings to match the bore wall shape, and make the ring seal best.

If the rings are not seated properly early in their life, they will not ever do so. Once the bore roughness is worn off (in the first couple of hundred miles), there is nothing left to cut the ring faces. The bores will actually glaze and prevent the rings from sealing. This is especially so on hard Nikasil bores using harder ring coatings than used on steel bores. Leak down % (blow by passed the rings) is the only way to measure the ring seal. This is why many engine builders also measure crankcase pressure closely during break in.

I have seen several engine builders tear down new engines that did not seal up correctly and then hone and replace rings in order to get their required leak down target percentage. As ring seal is improved, each 1/2 percent becomes a greater and greater issue.

The rough surfaces of the bores and rings break off and are either blown out with the exhaust (by coasting down), or collect in the oil. If the oil is not changed frequently during break-in, these metallic particles can collect and embed in the softer surfaces in the engine causing premature wear of these surfaces.

A cold engine and the same one when hot, will measure differently – especially the bores. As the engine heats up, the bores grow and distort. The pistons do the same. If you heat cycle the engine frequently during break-in, the pistons, rings, and bores will correctly wear to match each other.

There is no reason to rev the engine to the rev-limiter. The peak filling of the engine occurs at peak torque rpm. Turning the engine a bit over this rpm and letting it coast down will force the rings against the walls best, and suck much of the metallic particles from the bores and rings out of the engine.

Using mineral oil with frequent changes while loading the rings during break in produces a better seal than factory recommendations by NOT protecting the bores as well as synthetic oils will do. This improved ring seal makes more power and lives longer as well. This has been proven repeatedly by many engine builders of all types from F1 racing to Caterpillar diesels. Once the engine has sealed up, using good synthetic oil will protect from wear best.

Poor ring seal allows oil into the combustion chamber, carbon to form in the chamber, on the sides of the pistons, and in and around the ring grooves, unburned fuel and air will be blown passed the rings into the crankcase - diluting the oil and increasing crank case pressures. None of this is good for power or engine life.

The vast majority of wear in an engine is at the top of the cylinder bores. This is where the piston ring changes direction, and there is no oil to lubricate the bore walls, but the combustion heat is the most extreme. When the piston is at the top of the bore, the cylinder pressure during combustion is the highest. Any air and fuel leaking passed the rings here because of poor ring seal or ring flutter will burn oil under the rings and dilute the oil with fuel and carbon. This causes premature wear in all parts of the engine, and reduces power and efficiency in an ever increasing manner as oil is blown passed the rings more and more frequently and produces more and more carbon in the engine.

Most engines are at the end of their life when the ring seal is reduced to a given point. If you seat the rings better to begin with, and this seal prevents carbon from wearing the engine during its life, the engine lives considerably longer.

All of this can be seen and proven by testing compression, leak down, blow-by, and oil analysis.

The drivetrain responds the same way. Even ground gear faces need to see load to bed/wear in correctly. Frequent oil changes are even more important here. And a magnet on the oil filter helps tremendously.

If you cannot measure leak down, run the engine hard on mineral oil and change it frequently for the first 1000 miles (the first 200 miles are critical). Then add good synthetic oil and enjoy it for a long time.

I have seen engines that are broken in correctly make 2-3% more power compared to engines that are broken in lightly and never seal up – even more compared to engines that have glazed bores. These same engines also last longer, and use less fuel and oil.

Don't take my word for it; go ask any WINNING race team how they break in engines and drivetrain - in any motorsport. And ask them why they do it this way. Read the Mototuneusa web site. And listen to the “easy break-in” followers – but ask them to check their leak-down at various mileages. If none of this makes any sense to you, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Weeding out myth from fact is your responsibility - it is your bike.

If anyone that broke their bike in easy would like to visit me and have their leak-down checked, I am more than willing to do so.

Links:
www.mototuneusa.com
http://www.eng.wayne.edu/page.php?id=759
http://www.peterverdonedesigns.com/breakin.htm
http://www.peterverdonedesigns.com/600RRbreakin.htm
 

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i didn't read all of that but i broke in my bike by babying it for about 10miles let it cool completley and then been riding hard ever since :police:
 

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i'm with you dev. the even with autos i dont' really follow the engine break in procedure. the only car that i followed the manufacturer's recommendation was my M3...many horror stories of s54 engine's going kaboom. the culprit is bad connecting rod bearings that prematurely wear out due to poor engine break in and running the engine aggresively.
 

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I kick myself in the ass every time I check my oil. I broke my bike in by the triumph recommended method, and now my engine burns some oil. It doesn't smoke, but it has gone through as much as a quart in 1000 miles. I wonder if this could be a warranty claim to get me a new engine? I would run that one in just like Devi says. I was a member of the easy break in camp, but am a recent convert to the run it like you stole it side. I need to document my engines oil consumption. The oil looks clean at change time, and my plugs don't look to carboned up, but the oil is going somewhere...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A quart in 1000 miles is severe.

The plugs can be fine - even when the engine is burning oil. A lot of it will go out the exhausts and build up on the exhaust valve.
Do you have a build up of carbon on the tips of the silencers?

People do not appreciate how hard and slick Nikasil bores can be. A good break in is a must.
 
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I definitely agree with Devious too. I did a lot of research on break in when i bought my 2002 S3 new and came to the same conclusions. The three main things I made sure of when I was breaking in were constantly varying the rpm and keeping the engine under load (either engine braking or accelerating), early heat cycles (as soon as the engine was up to operating temperature the day I picked it up I would stop and wait for it to cool right down before riding again) and very regular oil changes (using mineral oil).

The salesman at the dealer was switched on enough to offer good advice luckily and he said the single most important thing is the varying of the rpm/engine load. The absolute worst thing you can do for an engine that's running in is drone up a highway at 3000rpm.

Interestingly he also said never let a modern bike idle. It's especially important when running in but he said at any time don't start the bike then put on your gear. Get ready to go then fire it up and ride straight off. He said just ride it gently until the thermostat has opened up then ride like normal. I'd be interested to hear what others thing of this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I prefer not to let the bike idle any longer than is absolutely necessary for several reasons. The oil pressure is lowest at idle. The cams do not get sprayed with oil well at idle, and the oil tends to drain to the side, in the head, when idling on the kickstand.
 

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Well, I have heard of people using the "ride the shit outta it brake-in" and now they are burning oil after a few thousand miles. My way is ride it like you normally would ride everyday, and throughout out the brake-in period, spin it up hard a few times. I definitely would not "beat the shit outta it" nor "ride it like a sissy". Just ride normal, up and down through the gears, under load and off again, often as possable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
APtech77 said:
Well, I have heard of people using the "ride the shit outta it brake-in" and now they are burning oil after a few thousand miles. My way is ride it like you normally would ride everyday, and throughout out the brake-in period, spin it up hard a few times. I definitely would not "beat the shit outta it" nor "ride it like a sissy". Just ride normal, up and down through the gears, under load and off again, often as possable.
Revving the engine too high while trying the seal the engine up, can cause issues in the bores and cam bearing surfaces. An aggressive break in is about seating the rings early, not revving the crap out of the engine too early.

Actually, the "sissy" break in tends to burn more oil. A boat engine that is not broken in correctly burns oil like you would not believe. But boats see more load than most other engines. By bike burns no oil between changes - I check volume when I drain it.

AP - How do you break in a rebuilt piston aircraft engine?
 
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APtech77 said:
Well, I have heard of people using the "ride the shit outta it brake-in" and now they are burning oil after a few thousand miles. My way is ride it like you normally would ride everyday, and throughout out the brake-in period, spin it up hard a few times. I definitely would not "beat the shit outta it" nor "ride it like a sissy". Just ride normal, up and down through the gears, under load and off again, often as possable.
I'm not saying thrash it at all, just don't cruise at constant rpm and no or very low load. I was just varying the rpm from 3000-7000 from as soon as it was warm the day I picked it up. Everyone has to do what they feel is best but I'm definitely running all my engines this way from now on.
 

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I usually cut the recommended maintenance in half and stick to their recommended rev ranges, but I switch gears and engine brake much more than normal.

Thanks for noting the bit about not letting the bike idle. I'll be sure to apply that when I get the 1098.

Does what I said above sound like a decent plan for the 1098?

-Vary RPM
-Don't favor a single gear
-Engine brake when slowing down
-Don't let the bike sit and idle
-Don't over rev the bike or redline
-Don't bog the bike in the really low revs
-Don't drone the bike at the same RPM for extended periods

Anything else? I'm hoping to avoid the stalling BS and other crap a lot of new 1098 owners are running into...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Take this as you will. It is the way I do things. You are more than welcome to use some or none of this.

On the road break in:
As soon as I get the bike, I like to change oil and filter if the bike has over 5 miles on it - you never know how much idle time is on it. I like a straight 30 weight mineral oil - semi-synthetics are mineral based with better synthetic additive packages, but a straight 30 wt mineral tends to work better IMHO.

Even if I run the bike on a dyno, I like to do the following afterwards:
I find a slight hill and slowly run the bike up to temp. Put the bike in third gear, and run the bike from moderate rpm to just past peak torque rpm - every bike type is different. Compression brake back down to moderate rpm. Do this 9-12 times. (if you are anal like me, change oil and filter)

Let the bike cool and repeat again. If you have a compression or leak down tester, watch the engine seal up between each session. ;)

After third time, change oil and filter. Rings should be scuffed in, and will now start to seal up quickly.

Change oil at 100, 200, 500, and 1000 miles. At 200 miles start riding more aggressively rpm wise - you can do this the first weekend. Each time you change the oil, look at the amount of aluminum and iron particles (AL will tend to float or suspend in the oil. FE will sink).

At 1000 miles, the leak down will likely be very close to optimum - you can change to full synthetic between 1000 and 1500 miles.

NEVER lug the engine at low rpm. You are better served to run it in a lower gear at higher rpm, than to beat the crap out of the bearings (main and rod) and crankshaft by lugging it. Even the cam bearing journals can show the result of lugging the engine. And it is HARD on the drive chain and cam chain.

Once the bike seals up - even without a compression or leak down test, you will feel the difference between 1000 and 1500 miles - I like to run a de-carbonizing additive in the fuel, and change spark plugs. This can actually reduce the compression a touch, but gets the abrasive carbon build up out of the engine, and makes the engine run better.

Your friends (with the same bike) will likely want to know why your bike is now faster and smoother than theirs. :) I have seen this happen many times.

Kuhlka - On your new 1098 - see the graph below (taken from the Duc Forum link below the graph). Notice that the torque peaks at around 8100-8200 rpm. There is no need to rev it higher than 8500 rpm for the first 200 miles - unless you absolutely can't help yourself. And I bet you exceed the graph below on a Dynojet.



http://www.ducati1098.net/forum/showthread.php?t=724
 

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I have broken in two 1050s. Both behaved the same. I noticed a substantial increase in torque at about 50km mark. That's when the majority of the ring seal was done. I used the "controlled load" method.
 

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kuhlka said:
I usually cut the recommended maintenance in half and stick to their recommended rev ranges, but I switch gears and engine brake much more than normal.

Thanks for noting the bit about not letting the bike idle. I'll be sure to apply that when I get the 1098.

Does what I said above sound like a decent plan for the 1098?

-Vary RPM
-Don't favor a single gear
-Engine brake when slowing down
-Don't let the bike sit and idle
-Don't over rev the bike or redline
-Don't bog the bike in the really low revs
-Don't drone the bike at the same RPM for extended periods

Anything else? I'm hoping to avoid the stalling BS and other crap a lot of new 1098 owners are running into...

exactly what I think/mean.....+2
 
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Can we get this added to the mega thread or a sticky? I'm definitely going to re-read Devious' advice when I get my new 1050.
 

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Devious said:
APtech77 said:
Well, I have heard of people using the "ride the shit outta it brake-in" and now they are burning oil after a few thousand miles. My way is ride it like you normally would ride everyday, and throughout out the brake-in period, spin it up hard a few times. I definitely would not "beat the shit outta it" nor "ride it like a sissy". Just ride normal, up and down through the gears, under load and off again, often as possable.
Revving the engine too high while trying the seal the engine up, can cause issues in the bores and cam bearing surfaces. An aggressive break in is about seating the rings early, not revving the crap out of the engine too early.

Actually, the "sissy" break in tends to burn more oil. A boat engine that is not broken in correctly burns oil like you would not believe. But boats see more load than most other engines. By bike burns no oil between changes - I check volume when I drain it.

AP - How do you break in a rebuilt piston aircraft engine?
Actually piston AC engines are much differant, but the principal/importance of the heat cycle is similar. AC piston engines don't have a transmission and run at fix rpm/manifold pressure settings. An example of a typical brake-in from Teledyne Continental Motors or Avco/Textron Lycoming is as follows:

Period Minutes RPM
1 5 1200
2 5 1600
3 10 2450
4 15 Rated RPM
5 10 *Engine Parameter Checks*
6 10 2450
7 5 Idle RPM600 +/- 25. Cooling Period 300*max C.H.T. before shut-down.
8 15 75% Power
9 15 75% Power
10 15 75% Power
11 15 75% Power
__________________________________________
120 Total minutes
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What is the rated rpm?

What are "engine parameter checks"?
 

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StuckInKansas said:
I kick myself in the ass every time I check my oil. I broke my bike in by the triumph recommended method, and now my engine burns some oil. It doesn't smoke, but it has gone through as much as a quart in 1000 miles. I wonder if this could be a warranty claim to get me a new engine? I would run that one in just like Devi says. I was a member of the easy break in camp, but am a recent convert to the run it like you stole it side. I need to document my engines oil consumption. The oil looks clean at change time, and my plugs don't look to carboned up, but the oil is going somewhere...

*UPDATE*
I have contacted Triumph America, and my dealer. Both act like my oil consumption is severe and want it documented by the dealer. It sounds like I am gonna get me a new engine to break in. We'll see if they decide to try and weasel out of this one...
 
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