article has been written primarily for owners of the
BMW R1100RT motorcycle. The specific mileages, engine
speeds, and oil types mentioned apply directly to
it, and the other members of the oil-cooled boxer-engined
the dynamic factors, the general nature, and the specific
methods, if not the precise operating magnitudes apply
to all new motor vehicles. Parts is parts.
should follow the the recommendations of the manufacturer
of YOUR vehicle. But, understand, the process
outlined herein is most likely MORE STRINGENT than
those recommendations. Consequently, these recommendations
suggest, but not direct you to be MORE CAREFUL than
manufacturers generally direct. Lucky for you, huh?
I want to state that I HATE the term Break-In.
I don't want ANYTHING on my vehicles BROKEN. Worn:
Yes. Broken: No. What we're after is to WEAR the new
parts down so they mate well - WITHOUT damaging the
helps us focus on the POSITIVE aspects of the process,
and the desired eventual result.
new vehicle process is to WEAR-IN the parts efficiently.
One "runs" the vehicle, so Run-In is appropriate
treatment a new vehicle receives is a large determinant
in the quality of service it returns across its life
span. It's perhaps an even more important factor than
which oil is used and how often it's changed (within
reason), or how "hard" its driven across
motive parts of modern vehicles are constructed from
materials, and receive surface treatments, that make
them very durable. But, the condition of those surfaces
after they are machined, and even polished, is still
much rougher than is optimum for both ultimate performance
and longevity. If the roughness is not removed, or,
God forbid, enhanced, the vehicles will return poor
service, and require much earlier rebuilding or replacement.
Wear-In process is designed to remove that roughness
in order to produce the lowest friction, and thus
wear, during the heart of the vehicle's life. This
initial operation must be done in a way that does
not promote damage.
the years, countless experts have clearly stated the
Policies you'll encounter here. Yet for some reason,
they don't get clearly, and consistently communicated
to the vehicle operating public.
listened to some folks tell of buying their new car,
truck, or motorcycle, and then just driving off and
continuing to run it "like they always do",
and "nothing bad ever happened". Their Ducati
got traded in at 40,000 miles, or their F-150 at 80,000,
or their Toyota at 100,000 because "well, it
was getting a little 'old'".
buy new vehicles every two years or so. BUT, these
"passing fancies" live with one or more
units from the motorcycle, car, truck categories that
are TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD. Their AVERAGE mileage is
TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND MILES. I don't intend to rebuild
their engines, or to replace any of them soon either.
good results like that stem from a good care program
overall. But "overall" includes the "start
of cycle" part, and that had to have been good
what it was.
new, tolerances in the engine and drivetrain are larger
and less precise than when Worn-In. Some believe they
are tighter (and some in fact are). Measurements taken
SEEM to confirm this. WhatÕs happening is that roughness,
UNEVENNESS of the surfaces exist after machining,
and even honing an lapping. The SUM of the tolerance
between ENTIRE surfaces is greater than the measurement
because of bumps being read rather than the true matching
particular, your cylinder bores are not round. Whether
they ever get to be round, we know that right now,
the rings are not fully touching the bore EVENLY.
SameÕs true with the valves vs. the valve guides and
oil seals. You WILL use oil.
were the oil level to drop to a critical level, UNWANTED
contact of surfaces could occur. The subsequent galling
your oil every 50 miles
After running 50 miles, let the bike sit on the centerstand
on a level surface for about 10 minutes and check
the oil level in that stupid window. Add oil to its
CENTER POINT. Higher oil levels do NO good. The oil
is wasted because it is ejected - probably coating
your catalyst and the Oxygen Sensor. Poor running
high an oil level has also been linked to rear crankshaft
seal failures in the R1100's. That's not uncommon
in other vehicles as well. It's just easier to do
on the BMW's because of the poor oil level measuring
device the factory did provide, and the clear and
precise directions it didn't supply.
the BMW R1100's the oil capacity is four quarts. The
majority of that is used for cooling rather than lubrication,
and there's more than needed for both. Consequently,
running with an oil level a LITTLE low causes no problems.
the short 600 mile span the Wear-In oil is present,
seldom does a rider consume enough to warrant addition.
However, my VIGOROUS application of the process, and
its conduct in the hilly, and winding roads of King
Canyon and Sequoia National Parks meant I was under
deceleration much more than is normal. My oil level
reached the minimum.
WEAR-IN oil ONLY
BMW placed a very LIGHT weight oil in the crankcase,
and possibly the transmission and rear drive. It's
purpose is to ALLOW the moving parts to achieve contact,
or at least high pressure. They WANT things sliding
around over one another so the Wearing-In process
occurs more quickly.
materials, and surface treatments they use are somewhat
harder (at least more durable) than is common in the
motorcycle industry. This promotes longevity of the
product. This also LENGTHENS the Wear-In time. With
time comes the probability an injurious or destructive
event might occur.
lighter oil speeds the process. It also carries away
the worn off metal better, and allows the oil filter
to remove it more easily. Mixing some OTHER kind of
oil defeats the purpose.
well, ANY other oil is NOT LIKELY to be compatible
with the Wear-In oil. It may not mix properly, and
run through the engine as gobs that DISRUPT the average
tolerances, and then allow a "slam down"
contact to occur.
well, its "wear saving" additives (not present
in the Wear-In oil) WILL get deposited on working
surfaces. Again, this slows the Wear-In process and
leaves us liable to damage.
you think you MIGHT be under deceleration much of
the time, get a pint of compatible oil from your dealer.
general admonitions to "Avoid constant throttle
settings", and "Change speeds often",
fall short of communicating what the operator should
do and HOW.
people focus upon NOT HURTING the machine during Wear-In.
Good, but not Best.
there are things to do that ASSIST the Wear-In process,
and thus decisively improve the machine's characteristics
further down the road.
large throttle openings
With any running, those rough places will wear down,
and better mating of all the shearing and sliding
surfaces will take place. However, in the case of
the cylinders, HIGH INTERNAL PRESSURES, as with low-speed,
full-throttle operation, RAM one or more of those
rough spots into either the rings or cylinder walls,
and SCAR IT. ThatÕs true for any of the mating surfaces
that to occur, it might take the normal wear of 100,000
miles to Òpolish it outÓ - if ever. In the case of
the cylinders, power would be lower, and oil consumption
higher as gasses and oil escape through the gaps.
In the case of gears, vibration and whine would persists.
alter the throttle position AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE
At a given load and speed, matching parts wear across
a given area. A different speed means a different
area is involved. Consider that at 50 HP the piston
and rings are driven down X inches. At 75 HP they're
driven down farther because the applied force compresses
the piston and rod, and stretches the crank throw.
It also slams the crank harder into the journal bearing.
Different places get touched. Minutely, but definitely.
we run the engine at a constant RPM only THAT area
gets "wiped" and worn. Later, if we run
it faster, the rings will have to "climb a hill"
to get out of the smoothly worn rut. As they do, inertia
will cause them to reduce pressure on the cylinder
walls, or separate entirely. Blow-by occurs, and power
is lost. But worse, gas cutting, "etching",
occurs on on both surfaces. Now the rings will NEVER
seat, and the condition will worsen.
avoidable by revving the engine UPWARD with a "high"
throttle setting, not just "rolling" the
engine up to some higher speed. The "high"
throttle opening produces a high internal cylinder
pressure, forcing the rings against the cylinder walls.
That promotes sealing that prevents gas cutting, and
also enhances the wearing contact we're striving to
the higher RPM has been reached - HOLD IT THERE MOMENTARILY.
Keeping it there, in this new, "poor contact"
area leaves us open to gas cutting and mechanical
galling. So don't tarry. But DO get up there - and
CLOSE THE THROTTLE FULLY to
decelerate to a lower RPM. This creates the lowest
possible pressure in the cylinders, which will DRAW
OIL UPWARD to lubricate and clean the "new area".
the throttle also produces the greatest DECELERATION.
That means the driveline component matching surfaces,
get to visit "new areas" on the OTHER side
of the scale. Thus they run more smoothly in the "common"
range you'll use in your mature vehicle.
repeat: CONSTANTLY, that is EVERY MINUTE you're on
the road, Rev Up Smartly; Hold; Close Down FULLY.
from 3000, up to 3,500, and back to 3000 RPM. Repeat,
repeat, repeat, ad infinitum.
you notice this disturbs or irritates drivers behind
you, change lanes, or pull over and allow them to
pass. IT'S YOUR VEHICLE. Get
it running right for its LIFETIME.
increase maximum engine/vehicle speed GRADIENTLY throughout
What we're trying to achieve is a sort of
"groove" where matching surfaces "come
to meet and play" during NORMAL operating loads.
We want those surfaces as SMOOTH as possible. That
will provide "smooth operation", and low
vibration, of course.
it also will provide the best sealing, and the best
"lubrication bed". Sealing will reduce fluid
passage and/or consumption. Fluids include the combustion
gasses (blow-by: gas cutting), and oil (blow-by: oil
loss). A smooth lubrication bed allows those tiny
strings of oil molecules to run out onto the floor,
all join hands, and act like a trampoline to keep
matching parts from contacting each other.
one to wear-in the surface area associated with "3000
to 4000 RPM", and then suddenly run the engine
at 5000 RPM, it would "jump the slope" as
mentioned earlier. MUCH better to "slowly eat
away" at the ridge that has formed just beyond
the 4000 RPM spots.
the ridge away slowly. Then cut some more, and so
on. A relatively good model might be:
might consider that a LONG time to Wear-In a vehicle.
My justification for that program stems from a Porsche
owner who raced in the SCCA South-East region in the
1960's. Porsche made him a deal on the newly introduced
911, that he would drive on the street, AND in competition.
This Wear-In program allowed him to continue to RACE
his vehicle all the way to the 100,000 mile mark.
Ultimately, with a single engine rebuild, he ran and
raced the car to 200,000 + miles. No transmission
second justification comes from my racing cars. I
Wear-In my Ford V-8 motors for 100 hours before they're
installed in the race car - about 8,000 miles. They
last over 60 hours of racing. That's 2.5 Le Mans races,
guys!!! The savings in rebuild cost (US$15,000 - $25,000)
allowed me to buy the needed track time, and a "mule"
for the Wear-In, as well as testing components and
settings. Roushe hates it. But my cat loves the extra
cat food I can buy.
notice in the chart that the mileage SPAN at a given
RPM increases. That's because you will have changed
out the Wear-In oil, and the heavier oil will decrease
the pressure and contact of matching surfaces, thus
slowing the wear process. Your "high" throttle
acceleration will overcome that thicker oil barrier
and continue the Wear-In process.
because the surfaces are more highly smoothed during
any increment of the process than if done for a lesser
duration, the wear rate slows down, and finally reaches
a point where you can happily run the engine a full
throttle up to Yellow Line CONSTANTLY, and not experience
much wear at all. That's what RACING is like,
quit the process too soon
My V-4 Honda 1100cc Sabre has 225,000 miles
on it. When the heads were removed to do a valve job
recently, the cylinder bores looked like those of
a typical 20,000 mile vehicle. Good oil and frequent
oil changes helped. But, my Operation Policy is the
strongest reason for such good condition.
having a 10,000 RPM Red Line, I never operate the
engine over 7,000 RPM. My normal shift point is 4,000
RPM, and 5,000 when I'm in a hurry. At those engine
speeds, I can walk away from ANYBODY'S BMW R1100RT
on torque alone
when I ride I STILL set aside SOME time to run it
up and down the rev range as if I were Wearing-In
a new motor.
result is the SMOOTHEST RUNNING MOTORCYCLE YOU'LL
notice that every time I take my BMW R1100RT up on
Angeles Crest (our local Nurburgring), when I come
back, it's running more smoothly, and quietly. Up
there: One third of the time I'm under nearly full
throttle; One third of the time I'm at constant throttle;
One third of the time I'm at closed throttle. Decelerate
up to the turn - Constant throttle on toward the apex
- Full throttle out of the corner. Hours on end. Boy
am I lucky.
One More Thing:
Typical advice about an air or oil cooled engine is
to start it and drive off, then drive moderately
until operating temperature is reached. That's supposed
to get the engine to operating temperature most quickly,
and thus expand things to their best tolerances. Less
wear that way.
show that running an engine at about 1250 rpm, with
no forward (cooling) motion, warms it up fastest IN
A MANNER that produces the
LEAST WEAR. This is according to the engine builders
for MG and Jaguar, circa 1968.
1982 I bought two Honda Civic CRX's, for my (ex)wife
and myself. We drove the same route to work
(a tough mountain commute), except for the last 7
miles. Hers needed an engine rebuild at 80,000 miles.
Mine was traded-in at 125,000 miles with no rebuild.
I warmed my engine up before driving off. She didn't.
new, or mature, engines wear less destructively if
warmed up properly before normal operation.
you always operate with a sufficient quantity of Wear-In
oil ONLY. Then, after the first oil change, keep the
crankcase/sump filled with CLEAN oil AT THE PROPER
rev to the Current RPM Limit under "high"
throttle, hold the RPM level for about 10 seconds,
and then close the throttle FULLY until the starting
RPM is reached. Constantly means ALL THE
the Current RPM Limit GRADUALLY across the Wear-In
the Wear-In actions across the life of your vehicle.
your vehicle up at 1250 RPM, at least until a minute
after your temperature gauge begins to register, and
then drive moderately until full operating temperature
actions will provide the longest and most satisfying
maturity for your vehicle
article does not contain much in the way of numbers,
nor graphs. It doesnÕt even state the sources for
the ideas I tried across 40 years. IÕm not able to
provide comparative engine measurements (I only have
the "Good" ones), but I will share with
you that I went to the engineers at the BMW automobile
and motorcycle factories, and to their Le Mans Prototype
racing team. I showed them the Mechanical Factors
in the article and asked:
is false in these statements?"
is wrong in the recommendations?"
do you disagree with?"
was only one disagreement with my statements: Following
BMWÕs short statement of actions to follow during
"Break-In" yielded the range of life span
to the motorcycles that was a manifest fact (and in
itself, highly laudable). But, they agreed that longer
life spans would PROBABLY result if the stated recommendations
ALSO included my recommendations about Warm-Up. BMWÕs
manual paints a picture of a motorcycle idling away
to the point of CATCHING FIRE. I doubt ANYBODY would
warm up a motorcycle THAT long. In fact, MY recommendation
was to warm the vehicle before riding only to the
point of the temperature gauge beginning to register
(probably about 120F to 150F degrees). If your BMW
catches fire at THAT temperature, your problems are
far beyond your warm-up technique.
to justify my opinions, I suggested to the engineers
that greater Smoothness of operation should result.
That was met with, "YouÕll never be able to prove
Facts" of my article, or "Mechanical Factors"
as I referred to them earlier, really do take place,
and (I hope) as described in the article, are understandable
things to most readers. ThatÕs really how it works,
and the engineers agree. "How hard" and
"how smooth" the delivered parts are determines
how much of them are going on. But they do go on,
and as described.
reader has taken particular issue with "high
throttle openings at low RPM" stating they could
be damaging. I agree. I believe his issue stems from
my reference in the article to "high" throttle
settings when accelerating to "The Current RPM
wrestled for a means to describe what I meant by "high",
and couldnÕt find an accurate "numerical"
magnitude I could express. I ended up contrasting
it to "simply rolling on the throttle" hoping
the reader would see THAT as kind of "prissy
and without authority". Also, there is a specific
recommendation in the article AGAINST "High Throttle
Openings". What weÕre after is to "Produce
a NOTICABLE load on the engine, that will distinctly
INCREASE the internal cylinder pressure." Please
note the increase in pressure on parts ATTAINABLE
by ANY throttle opening pales in comparison with the
FORCE achievable, the SQUARE, with a velocity increase.
the end, I failed to express that clearly, and the
reader was right to object. I "know" how
far to open the throttle, and can show you. I just
canÕt express it in words yet. I apologize.
REAL genesis for the offered recommendations comes
from Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce. I dealt
with factory reps from both since I grew up on an
airport that housed an aircraft engine overhaul facility
for both engine types. Both used chromed bores and
rings, common to earlier BMW motorcycles. This is
how these engines are STILL run in on an engine stand,
and then in the aircraft. Remember these folks are
at HUGE liability should their engines fail.
follow-on, the CONTINUATION of my opinions stems from
attending an engine assembly class conducted by a
NASCAR engine supplier (who must remain unnamed) who
uses, letÕs say, very similar part coatings and surface
treatments to those used in BMW motorcycles.