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  #1  
Old 11 May 2002
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New bike break-in

I'm looking for advice on how to properly break in my new K1200RS so that it'll be around for a long, long time.
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  #2  
Old 11 May 2002
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I'm partial to the simple method, and it's worked well for me.

I stick to the factory manual recommendations, driving as smoothly as possible, never lugging it. After that, I use it but don't abuse it. In other words, I ride it very hard, but don't overrev or lug it. Most damage is done by lugging, and many many people are guilty of enjoying the low-end grunt of a big engine a little too much.

After about 15,000 miles I'd switch to synthetic oils throughout, but not until. BMW's take a long time to break-in, so be sure. Oil mileage should be excellent, with negligible consumpion before switching to synthetic. If it's still using oil it's not fully broken-in, and it must be before using synthetics.

Ride it, enjoy it, don't sweat it. You MIGHT be able to get fanatical in some way or other and extend the life by ... 0.5%. Who cares, if you're not enjoying it along the way?

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Old 12 May 2002
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I remember reading an article years ago in Two Wheels (Australian publication) on this exact topic, not ever having the luxury of buying a new bike, ie married, children, schooling, blah blah blah, oops! I went on a tangent.
Anywho, the article read like this...first 'drop' the oil and filter on pre-delivery, ride the bike home, 'drop' the oil and filter again, this is as within the machining and build-up of the engine bits and pieces, ie metal filings swarfe, gasket pieces and bits of glue/paint all get washed around with the oil.
Now fit a new filter and refill with oil, I cannot recall it there was mention of synthetic or mineral, it was an old article (1980's) so taking a punt mineral was the 'go'. Ride for another 50kms and you guessed it...'drop' the oil and filter.
Basically the article was big on repetative oil and filter changes for up to 100kms, where the philospy was cleaning out all the oil galleries of any foreign matter.
I tend to agree with the author of this and have modified this to suit engines (bike & 4WD) that I've owned (used) and change oil and filter more than the manufacturers recommendations.
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Old 12 May 2002
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Agreed - I tend to change oil more frequently than recommended during break-in, and always use a new filter.

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Old 12 May 2002
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When you break the bike in slowly, which I agree is the right way, a minimal amount of carbon builds up in the Nikasil lining of the cylinders. This will prevent oil usage, which goes from a little usage to next to no usage. Then, as you tend to get more “familiar” with the bike, suddenly oil usage goes up again. Your pulling out your hair … Why is this happening? The reason is that when you start to ride a bit more enthusiastically, the carbon gets blown off, the seal is lost and oil starts to be used. In reality, you didn’t really seat the rings properly. The solution is to ride the bike well over the rev range for about 500 kilometers. This will now truly seat the rings and presto, the oil consumption goes back to near zero. I had this happen and a long term mechanic told me that this is what happens. Most bikes that are “demo” bikes use the least oil since there is much less care taken by the prospective customers as to the break in needs. Ironically, this is better for the engine. However, I agree that the middle road is the one to follow. Ride it home, change the oils and filter, ride it nicely (don’t lug it, EVER), change oil again. Then after a 1000 or so kilometers, drop the oil and filter again, and go have fun. Run it to the top of the rev range, going up slowly, holding near max, let it come down again slowly. Repeat this 10 times, cover 500 kilometers and USE that engine. No more oil use after that ride. Done this personally on two break-ins. No oil top-off required between changes (5000 k). Don’t get cheap oil, buy Spectro, synthetic if you want after 10-20K and DON’T use synthetic tranny oil. Bad kaka, as it’s too slippery for the gears and in a number of know cases, bearings will slip and wear flat spots versus “rolling” as there is so little resistance with synthetic in the tranny. Have fun

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  #6  
Old 8 Jun 2002
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Just a quick question for clarity:

Most dealers that I have talked with, and, I believe, most owners manuals (for the air heads anyway) that I have looked at recommend keeping the engine under 4000rpm for the first 1000km when new or after a rebuild. While I don't consider 4000rpm lugging, the advise above would seem to promote a more liberal use of the rpm range and put more emphasis on not consistently running the engine under, say, 3000 rpm. Overall this makes more sense to me. I have talked with several general mechanics who advised the important thing was not to 'sit' at any one RPM range for two long during the early breakin period. The idea being, as I believe Grant is saying, to use use the rev range gently - no 'banging it off the top', and no short shifting
So is the recommended under-4000rpm-for-1000km misguiding?

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Old 8 Jun 2002
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Ummm, no, but at about 500km I start increasing the revs gently, smoothly accelerating up to 5000 or so every once in a while in the lower gears, like every 50k or so. (Note we are talking an engine - Airhead BMW - with a redline of 7200rpm, adjust for YOUR engine's redline)

You really need to USE the rev range, just keep the load down.

To clarify what's happening a little - newly machined parts are anything but smooth, (think of mountain peaks rubbing against each other and you get the idea) and need to be smoothed out by running.

The oil's job is to prevent metal to metal contact, but of course if the surface is rough enough, you WILL get metal to metal contact. If you ride it too hard, you will get lots of metal to metal contact, and scoring and abrasion. The break-in period is supposed to wear off the peaks gently.

However, if you don't rev it up and use the engine occasionally, what seems to happen is that the engine never fully breaks in, in other words imho perhaps the peaks aren't knocked off and are only rounded, (which if you think about it will wear much more slowly than sharp points) so oil consumption is higher and power isn't as good, as the piston ring/cylinder sealing isn't as good as it should be.

In short, my recommendation for what it's worth, and to keep it simple and by the numbers:

Ride it smoothly and gently below 4000 for the first 500km, then for the next 500 rev it smoothly in 2nd and 3rd to 5000 or so every 50km or so, then next 500 to 6500 same way, then next 500 to redline, same way, then RIDE IT! But NEVER lug it.

Note that a racer is "broken-in" for about 5-10 laps, then flogged mercilessly. Oil consumption is unimportant, power is. My experience here on several bikes is that a production class racer broken in this way is noticeably faster than an identical straight street bike broken in "properly". BUT it's unlikely to last as long, and oil consumption is certainly higher.

Change oil and filter at 500 and 1000 and 2000km. Changing oil at 100km is probably not a bad idea. For airheads, ordinary inexpensive good brand motor oil is fine during break-in and probably throughout it's life. MAY be an improvement in engine life with expensive premium brands, MAY save money with them, but I'm not personally convinced on cost/increased life. Synthetics do win though. Feel free to disagree!

Change to synthetic at 15,000 miles / 20,000 km. or when oil consumption is near zero. (less than 1/2 litre down between changes.)


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