Motorcycle Engine Break-In

I have no idea how many motorcycle engines I have broken in since I bought my first, a Triumph in 1955. I do know, however, that I always followed factory recommendations with good results, I assumed.

In 2011 I purchased two Suzuki DR650SE’s, one for the dirt and one for the street. Prior to beginning my set-up procedure I needed to break in the engine. I was worried about the factory suggestion that I use a petroleum blend motorcycle oil for break-in, so I decided to call Jim Hackl, the founder of Millennium Technologies Company, the NSC experts. In short Mr. Hackl informed me that Suzuki used chrome rings in their DR650SE’s and NSC coated aluminum cylinders, and that I risked getting vertical scratches and poor oil consumption if I used anything but the very best full synthetic motorcycle oil. He further warned me not to use the choke on my carbureted DR except in cold weather conditions, and then only for a moment until I could take control with the throttle, thereby preventing thinning of the oil film due to excessive fuel richness.

I followed Mr. Hackl’s instructions on both motorcycles, draining the factory oil from the engines and replacing both oil filters before start-ups. I then installed the proper amount of of Maxima Max “4” “triple ester” 10W-40 full synthetic oil in both engines, and I was ready to run. The results of following this advice were impressive. Although both motorcycles took a few more miles than the factory break-in method, the results compared to the other (4) DR650SE’s I had broken in previously (2002, 2005, 2007, and 2009) were spectacular.

Years ago I had devised a method of accurately checking my KL650A oil consumption by using a protractor on the rear brake disc in conjunction with the site glass in the clutch cover. Done properly the method was very accurate and most importantly it worked equally well when applied to the DR650SE.

Before I report to you the results of post break-in oil consumption on my two 2011 DR650SE’s, I’ll confess that other practices also help limit burning of the slippery stuff. For example I’m almost always in the RPM range between pumping and friction losses. When conditions require a gearing change I have several sprocket drives equipped with sprockets of varying numbers of teeth, for example:

15/44 for all around paved back road riding

15/45 for most Baja dirt riding

15/42 for high speed open road pavement travel.

By following the above practices I almost always get 50-58 mpg on paved roads, and close to 50 mpg in the dirt.

The last time I checked, my 46,000 mile 2011 DR engine was going 44,000 miles on one liter of oil; while my 34,000 mile 2011 DR engine required 60,000 miles to burn a liter (better than Pauline’s Toyota Camry). What that means is I never add a drop of oil between 4,500 mile oil changes.

I wouldn’t blame anyone who refuses to believe the oil consumption figures on my two 2011 DR650SE’s, but I promise you I will never break in another motorcycle engine except by employing Jim Hackl’s NSC break-in advice. Makes no difference whether I’m dealing with an NSC or steel liner. It also doesn’t matter whether fuel injection or carburetion is involved.

Finally, none of the previous four DR650SE’s that I broke in according to factory recommendations ever traveled more than 6,000 miles on a liter of semi-synthetic oil. Couple that with Mr. Hackl’s advice to only use the choke on a carbureted motorcycle when absolutely necessary and then for only the shortest period of time, and you realize how thorough and accurate was his advice on the subject.