How to Break In a Motorcycle Engine

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Any new or rebuilt motorcycle engine will need to go through a break-in period to make sure it reaches its full power potential and runs smoothly.

Your manufacturer’s shop manual may have a specific break-in procedure, which can be helpful.

Otherwise, there are a few different methods to breaking in a motorcycle engine.

The break-in period allows new parts to seat and move together as they should.

If you’ve replaced the piston rings, a proper break in will allow the rings to seal properly and avoid having the cylinder walls glaze over.

You’ve got to be careful not to break-in your new engine too easily or too hard.

If you go too easy on the bike, the cylinder walls are bound to glaze over and your piston rings won’t seal properly. If you go too hard breaking in your rebuilt engine, you run the risk of it overheating and seizing.

They general rule of thumb for breaking in a motorcycle engine (new or rebuilt) is to try to vary the RPMs and throttle position every few miles.

Option 1: Standard Motorcycle Engine Break-In

The most common way to break in a motorcycle engine is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. These typically involve:

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  • Avoid using full throttle or high engine speeds for the first 500 miles.
  • Do not stop or start too quickly.
  • Allow your engine to warm up before revving it.
  • Avoid lugging the engine.

In general, you’ll want to be sure to vary the speed and RPMs – don’t ride it too hard and don’t baby it too much.

After 500 miles, change the oil and the filter.

Option 2: Track Method Motorcycle Engine Break-in Routine

During the break-in period, which typically lasts for the first 500 to 1,000 miles, you can follow this drill to help your rings seat without overheating the engine:

  • Find a long, straight and empty road or track.
  • Vary the engine RPMs in the lower gears from low-mid range (or about 1/3 or the redline) for about 10 miles.
  • Stop the bike, turn off the engine, and let it rest.
  • Repeat the process and bring up the upper end of the RPM limit about 1,000 RPMs and increase the miles up to 20.
  • Stop, turn off the engine, rest again, and repeat – upping the RPMs and mileage each time until you reach about 500 miles.

After 500 miles of this type of break in, it’s time to change the oil.

At this point, you can ride on the street or freeway, but still try to vary the engine RPMs, making sure to not stay in one range for too long. Change the oil and filter again once you reach 1,000 to 1,500 miles.

Oil Changes During Engine Break-in Periods

During your break-in period, you’ll also want to change your oil more frequently. Some recommend changing the oil and oil filter on your motorcycle at the following intervals:

  • 150-200 miles.
  • 300 miles.
  • 600 miles.
  • After 1,000 to 1,200 miles.

The most important oil change to perform when breaking in the engine is around 500 miles.

Changing the oil on a rebuilt engine is necessary to get any metal out as parts find their position and to ensure the oil stays as fresh as it can as the new parts are breaking in.

Learn more about changing oil on a motorcycle.

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