Running In your Motorcycle. Do’s & Dont’s

Yup, that is a controversial topic, and yup I have decided to make my stance clear on this.Well actually, I have been intending to do this a long time back, but laziness always seems to get the best of me in such situation. Moreover after loads of requests and questions I keep getting from many people who get their new bike on how to run in their bike, and giving individual answers each time, I thought, why not just write an short post about it, might reach more people who are looking for this information. So what is run-in/break-in, here is a shameless copy paste I did from Wikipedia, since it does explain stuff so well and concisely.

Break-in or breaking in, also known as run-in or running in, is the procedure of conditioning a new piece of equipment by giving it an initial period of running, usually under light load, but sometimes under heavy load or normal load. It is generally a process of moving parts wearing against each other to produce the last small bit of size and shape adjustment that will settle them into a stable relationship for the rest of their working life.

Ok, so now we know once and for all, that break-in or run-in is something that does matter a lot, now the next obvious question, How do we do it ? And here is where the confusion/controversy all arises.

1. Conventional Run-in (Refer your Owners Manual)
2. Motoman Run-in

Now, what is the confusion & controversy all about ? Well, only that the both methods are polar opposites of each other and each says the other one is wrong and will fuck up your engine. So that is what the confusion is all about. So naturally, you get confused, so which should I try out for my new bike and not have to haul it up to the service center to repair it in case it fails.
Well, I have a method for you. Well, I am not claiming it as a method I found or anything, just something I have learnt along the years myself and from other experienced bikers which I have been experimenting with my bikes. In the span of last 5-6 years I have run-in about 5 bikes so far, all fresh from the factory. Each in a different way, nothing too risky as I have managed to not seize up the engines so far nor had the need for any overhaul for a long time.

So here it is, unlike the old combustion engines, you do not have to run-in the bike for over 1000kms at end, engines have come a long way from that time, now the most important time period for a new engine is the first few hundred kms you are going to ride it, and all that matters is how you take care of those hundred kms. So now if your manual(Oh Yes, the manual is important, MAKE SURE you go through it first before operating the bike, no matter if you are 20 or 80) says run-in spans for more than 1000kms, just take it lightly and shrug it off.here goes. So , how should you run-in the new motor.

The Startup’s

As I said earlier the first few hundred kms are the most crucial, for this period, do as the manual says, take it easy, first make sure, each time before you start riding the bike is idles for a few minutes, this is what some of us refer to as warm-up, try not to blip the throttle more than what is needed or better even, do not touch the throttle at all, let the bike do its job. Once the bike is warmed up you are ready to ride.

 photo DSC03439.jpg

 

The Ride – First 100-200kms

Now this is very crucial, make sure the bike is always relax during this period, try to maintain the bike in low revs most of the time, do not look for the speed you are running in, this is the most common mistake people do, instead be aware of the RPM you are running the motor in, each bike has a different speed it runs at the same RPM, don’t ask me why, Google can answer that for you. Next, never run the bike in the same RPM range for over a minute, keep varying the RPM by different throttle position. Running the bike in same RM causes what is called piston glazing. Which is something you don’t want, trust me.

Next, always make it a point to give the bike a few minutes rest every 15-20kms you ride , this is needed only for the first 200kms or so.
Why ? Well, will explain it along with the next point. Next, once you have reached 200kms or so, drain the engine oil and replace the oil filter. This is probably the most important part of the whole run-in process. So now many will ask, why drain oil now when manual says its only needed after 1000kms, well to keep it short, when the engine is new, all parts are having a tight tolerance , but it is not yet a smooth and tight fit, that is achieved by the first few kms the parts run together, causing parts to rub against one another and attain the correct tolerances and this is what causes the extreme heat when the engine is new, and it is also during this time that small metal parts are shaved off in attaining that perfect fit, you can see this metal shavings on draining the oil. So having this metal shavings going around your engine parts along with the oil is not the best practice , so it makes sense to get rid of them as soon as you can. Same goes with the oil filter.

Oil Change . Image Courtesy : The Internet

 

So now that we have done that the main and most crucial part of the run-in is over, now is the time to seal it off by conditioning the engine the way you want it. So lets get into it.

The Conditioning 300-1000kms

So going by the manual you are still asked to keep the RPM down and to go in slow speed. Well, it’s a pretty good advice , if your bike is a commuter bike and you do not want it be as responsive as you wish it to be. You see the problem with this kind(manual suggested) of run-in is that the engine is conditioned to be very lazy and linear, the bike tends to be a bit sluggish when you want it to be responsive.
Now this how to deal with that, instead of keeping the rpm low, after the first 200kms start taking the bike to higher rpm, yes, that’s right, but keep one thing in check, do not yank the throttle for this, make sure you do it slowly and smoothly, this makes sure that the bike gets used to being taken to higher RPM and the helps in keeping the bike responsive. So as and when the ODO reading increases , you can take the bike higher and higher the rpm range. A few high rpm runs in between is also recommended, this keeps it interesting. The added advantage of this method is that within the first 1000kms you fully understand the power range for the bike and how it would behave in most conditions that you might have to encounter. Now one you have hit that magic number of 1000kms its time for again another oil change, bu now the engine has set in beautifully and is now ready to be ridden the way you want(abusing the motor by redlining it anywhere & everywhere doesn’t count as riding). P.S: There is no fixed point when we can say the run-in is complete. It is usually done within he first few hundred kms itself. Also , the comparison of the bike run-in normal way being sluggish, the comparison is felt only once you ride a bike which has been run-in as per manual instructions and one run-in this hybrid way,back to back.

Run-In Complete

Now you guys might be thinking, now where does the Motoman method fit in. Well, Motoman in a nutshell is “Ride it like you stole it” although going through the Motoman method might make sense to some, but think about this, the amount of heat that is generated from riding like that right from the start and combine it within our city conditions where most of the time we are crawling around riding the clutch, chances are the motor is going to over-heat, which is something I would want to avoid, this one factor is more than enough to make me keep away from motoman method. If you disagree, you are more than free to try this our with your brand new motor and do let me know how it went.Yup, that’s about it, you have a well run-in bike to now enjoy. Happy riding.

Do check out this article on some points to remember when before you set about to your daily ride.

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Do leave a comment below if you have something to add/correct.

Cheers
Ride Safe
Krishna

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19 responses to “Running In your Motorcycle. Do’s & Dont’s

  1. Is it ok to replace the engine oil after 250km as u mentioned in ur above article,
    If so thn pls suggest me which brand engine oil to replace for my Pulsar 220F

    Like

  2. Hi Krishna, I am getting delivery of my CBR250R next week. I will be riding it from Mumbai to Bangalore once the delivery is done. Here are my questions.

    1. Is it safe for the engine to clock such a distance just after delivery?
    2. Whats the ideal crusing speed to maintain since it will be in running period? How much RPM?
    3. Should I take frequent breaks to rest the engine?
    4. How can I change engine oil after 200 kms since the stretch I am covering is 1000 kms. (In 2 days)

    Please let me know.

    Regards,
    Darshan

    Like

    • Hi Darshan, congrats on your new bike.
      1. It is absolutely no issues to go on a trip as soon as you get the bike, you just have to be a bit more careful than usual is all.
      2. Well, I do not do the manual specified 40kmph / 4k rpm thing. I like to modulate the rpm and not concentrate on speed during run in , I prefer to run the bike with smooth throttle transitions, always being careful not to keep the bike in same rpm all the time and also, never ever lugging the engine in wrong gears.
      3. Yes , taking frequent breaks is advised as its a new bike and some parts are stilling bedding in, so that means more friction and more hear, giving enough time for proper cooling goes a long way in keeping the engine cool and working.
      4. You could probably do an oil change if you want prior to the trip by covering a few 100 kms. Its not a big deal to cover that much in a day to be honest, changing oil in between trip is not advised as it’ll consume a lot of time and is risky too considering you will be on the highway. So I would advice to do a short 200kms ride first, get the oil and oil filter change done and then go for the trip.

      Hope this helps,
      Cheers
      Krishna

      Like

  3. hi Krishna, I have done 200kms and changed the oil, as you mentioned here, from now on can i cruze tripple digits with linear throttling, as the 5th and 6th gare speed with out redlining is upto 120. i guess, and also varing between 100 -120 is this ok ?

    Like

    • Hi Santosh, that’s great. Yes now you may cruze at higher speed, it’s all well as long as you get to those speeds gradually and keep varying the rpm. Do not stay in the same speed for long period of time.
      This is exactly how I used to run in my bike.

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  4. accidentally hit 9k for 30km during initial break in period of my bike before that I have done 250km on normal speed below 70 I have dominar 400

    Like

  5. accidentally hit 9k for 30km during initial break in period of my bike before that I have done 250km on normal speed below 70 I have dominar 400

    Please help

    Like

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