Breaking In Your Pocket Bike Engine

Lyle Ellerbee

Don’t let the excitement of your new purchase overwhelm your good sense. A new pocket bike must be broken in correctly if you want the bike to function correctly. If you do not take the proper steps, you will dramatically decrease your engine’s life. Opinions vary significantly on the correct way to break in a bike. We will discuss two widespread methods to break a pocket bike in. The most common method is often called “heat cycling.” Heat cycling means you run the engine at idle or barely above idle for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. After this time the engine will be right below the normal operating temperature. Then you turn the engine off and let the bike cool down. Once the engine is cool, you turn the bike on for another 10 minutes and then shut it down again. Do this process for a total of three to four times. When you have finished this process, run the bike at an easy pace for about 1 full tank of gas. Don’t put stress on the engine and avoid high RPM. When you have run through the tank of gas, your bike is ready to go and can be used at normal speeds.

The second method, called “racing break in” is less commonly used, though it is more fun. First, warm the engine for 5 minutes by letting it idle on the stand. Slowly bring the throttle up to figure out where the clutch engages. This way you can avoid getting ejected by applying too much throttle when riding. Then you hit the track. Take the first lap slowly to warm up the tires. On the second lap you can hit the gas and ride for 10 to 15 minutes. By accelerating, decelerating and hitting varying RPMS you will break in the engine. Remember to make sure that the engine has been sufficiently warmed up. Although you don’t have to ride the bike too hard, you also shouldn’t ride so slowly that the clutch never completely engages or you will burn out the clutch. You will be able to tell when the clutch is fully engaged by the sound of your motor and the feeling of the bike. It may be necessary to adjust the clutch to the rider’s weight.

When you are breaking your bike in, your oil and gas mixture will be slightly different than during normal riding. Some experts say that it is best to use a richer mixture of oil (40 parts gas to 1 one part oil) during break in instead of the standard ratio of 50 to 1, while others will say you should always stick with the normal mixture. Read your instruction manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. During break in you should use non-synthetic oil. This helps the piston ring to seat fully. After the first gallon of gas, you should use full or semi-synthetic oil.

After your first ride look the bike over for any loosened fasteners. You should also periodically check your spark plug to verify that you are using the correct fuel mixture. If your ratio is correct the plug’s insulator will be a medium tan-ish color. However, if you see that your plug is white-ish or grey than you know that your engine is running lean.

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