Ride it like you stole it.Hi all, I'm new to SBN as this is my first post. I've spent lots of time reading about what I should buy for my first new bike and decided on Ninja 500R. The loan paperwork has gone through and I'm supposed to pick it up on tuesday.
I'm planning on taking the MSF course when they offer it next, but i've ridden dirtbikes since I was 6 so I do have a little bit of experience. This will be my first NEW bike, as well as my first STREET bike.
I've searched for articles and posts about breaking in a new cycle and I've seen several different approaches. Everything from, "drive it like you are going to drive it", to "don't go above 55mph for the first 700mi".
I found an article that seems to make sense, but I figured I'd ask around before I make a mistake, and mess up my engine.
Here is the article I found. New Motorcycle Check list and Break in
This is an area of no small controversy. Here's my opinion, after breaking in 21 new motorcycles. You can get other opinions from Moto Man or in your owner's manual. You'll find what I have to say is in reasonable agreement with Moto Man, and we both contradict your owner's manual rather strongly.
I believe when breaking in a new engine you have several things to accomplish, and several things to avoid. Your new engine is not perfectly machined, and in the course of running for the first few hours a fair amount of metal will be worn off various engine parts and wind up in your oil. These metal chips will quickly overwhelm your oil filter, which is really not made to handle the volume of junk that happens in the first couple hours. You don't want to drive around a for a long time with a lot of metal chips in your oil.
In the first 15 to 30 minutes you run your motor, there can be very small hot spots that get to temperatures that are really not at all healthy for your motor. The motor overall is a large system and will almost certainly not overheat, but this doesn't mean every little spot on your pistons, rings, bearings, and cylinder walls is within temperature spec. Of course, you don't want to overheat your motor.
Your engine rings are probably designed to spin around the piston as your motor runs. If you run your motor for a long time at the same rpm, your rings can cut small spiral grooves in your cylinders that effect your rings sealing and lifetime.
My opinion: The bike should be started and allowed to warm up at an idle for about two minutes. This is to get the oil at something close to operating temperature. Then, ride the bike normally for about 5 miles. Stay off freeways or anywhere else that would make you maintain a constant speed. Don't lug the engine - run the engine in the mid-range rpm band, roughly 1/3 to 2/3 of the red line rpm. You want to be accelerating and decelerating, and using the engine as a brake to slow you down at times. Stop, turn off the engine, and let the engine cool for about 5 minutes. This is to even out the temperature in case there are any hot spots. Start the bike and ride for about 10 minutes, again in stop and go traffic. Stop and allow about 5 minutes for the engine temperature to even out.
Now, ride the bike fairly hard for about 25 to 50 miles. A mountain or curvy road is a good thing at this point. You can use the entire rpm band, up to and perhaps even a bit over the red line. Make sure to accelerate and decelerate a lot, using full throttle and using the engine as a brake. Notice that your owner's manual says at this point you should still be keeping the RPM under something like 4,000. I disagree with this quite strongly. Moto Man gives a good argument on why the factories give such a recommendation, which goes against all my experience and understanding and what every racing team in the universe does.
At about 50 miles, go home and change the oil and the filter. I strongly recommend you use a top quality oil filter, a Purolator Pure One, Mobil-1, Bosch, or SuperTech. I recommend you use a synthetic oil such as Shell Rotella, Mobil-1 yellow cap, or Delvac-1. If you simply can't bring yourself to use a synthetic in a new engine, use Chevron Delo-400. Don't use a 10w-30 oil. If your manufacturer recommends a 20w-50 oil, use Mobil-1 red cap or Chevron Delo-400 15w-40, which meets the high speed shear standards of a 20w-50 oil. Information on oils and oil filters is available on this web page, see the Lubricants section. When you take out your factory oil, if you hold it up in the sunlight you'll see the color is very good, it looks almost completely unused, but you'll see lots of reflections from metal flakes in the oil. These flakes are very bad for your engine, and can clog up your oil filter so that your filter bypass is activated, meaning you effectively don't have an oil filter. Notice that the factory says you should still be using the factory oil and oil filter. I think this is insane.
Corvettes and Porsches come from the factory with Mobil-1 in their engines. Remember, these engineers have designed world- champion engines for F1, Indy, Le Mans 24 hours, etc.
At this point, the bulk of your break-in is done. Your rings are substantially seated, your cylinder walls are scrubbed in, and your transmission gears have shed the bulk of their machining flaws. You can ride your bike now like it's broken in, except I recommend you try to avoid lugging the engine or running at a constant speed on the freeway for long times until after your next oil change.
When you have 500 to 800 miles on the bike, change the oil and filter again. Again, I recommend a synthetic oil, or Chevron Delo-400, or if the manufacturer recommends 20w-50 use Mobil-1 red cap or Chevron Delo-400 15w-40. If you have a drive shaft, now's the time to change your rear end gear lube. Use a good synthetic in there, like Mobil-1 or Valvoline synthetic gear lube. Continue to ride the bike normally. At this point, you can get on the freeway and drone if you simply must.
At 2000 to 2500 miles, change the oil and filter again. Your bike is now pretty much completely broken in. There will still be a small amount of break in stuff happening until up to 10,000 miles, but it's nothing you have to think about. You can now get onto a sensible oil change schedule. I recommend changing your oil every 2500 miles if you use a normal automotive oil. If you use one of the recommended synthetic oils and recommend oil filters, you can confidently go 5,000 miles between changes. I go 8,000 to 9,000 miles on an oil change, and I measure the oil viscosity and detergent after every change. A good synthetic will hold up this long in a modern water-cooled engine. Except for the Ural, every motorcycle made after about 1985 has what I consider a modern engine. Even Harleys.
Please let me know what you think and maybe point me towards a better article?