Engine Break-In Period, GSX-R Electrical System, and Backfiring Issues

Free Advice

Just Chill
I'm about to buy a new 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and have a weird (or maybe it's just stupid) question about the engine break-in period. I live in Philadelphia, where it's starting to get cold. Are there any detrimental issues with breaking in a new engine when the outside temperature is cold (approx. 40 to 55 degrees) vs. spring or summer-like conditions? For example, someone recommended running the engine through many heat cycles (i.e. riding the bike for about 20 minutes and then allowing it to cool down before riding again), but I wasn't sure if somehow the colder weather, which would cool down the engine much faster than warmer summer weather, would cause any engine break-in issues (i.e. the rings not sealing). Also, is it a good idea to change the oil several times before the recommended 600 miles to clear out any of the bad metal fragments earlier?

Joseph Varano
Philadelphia, PA

With such profound concern for the inner workings of your new bike to be, you're overthinking the situation. Relax: Aside from being a grievous waste of dead dinosaurs, changing the oil before 600 miles could actually hamper the break-in process, especially if you change to a super-slippery synthetic during those formative miles. The oil filter and magnetic drain plug do a fine job of keeping those tiny bits of metal out of circulation. Beyond that, Suzuki says the recommended break-in procedure would not change for 40- to 55-degree riding; the standard 10w40 is recommended for this temperature range. An engine run in cold weather will cool down faster after it's shut down, but this doesn't have an effect on break-in. The key for any break-in procedure is to obtain and maintain normal operating temperature.

Too Hot to Handle?
I just bought an '06 GSX-R1000 and have a Gerbing heated vest (77 watts) and gloves (27 watts). Does my GSX-R's electrical system have enough power to use these items without affecting anything? Will the battery be drained by using it? I'm not sure if a bike's battery gets recharged during a ride like a car's does. FYI, I always place a Battery Tender on the bike when it's parked.

Joseph Varano
Philadelphia, PA

Busy month, eh, Joe? Congrats on the new bike. Here's the deal: Your alternator makes more electricity than the bike needs to keep all the lights turned on and power the engine-management computer, fuel-injection system, cooling fan, instrument pod and so on. But since a big alternator adds weight and parasitic drag to the engineering equation, the GSX-R1000's electric powerplant is no bigger than absolutely necessary. Suzuki's engineers shaved 400 grams from the 2004-spec alternator in '05 by using 15 poles on the stator instead of 18, and 20 poles on the motor in place of the previous 12. They did all that without actually losing output.

It makes plenty of juice to power standard electrical items and recharge the battery just like your car. There's even a bit of extra capacity built into the equation. That's enough, according to the technical types at Gerbing, to power your vest (which they say draws 54 watts) and gloves (which need somewhere between 22 and 24 watts). Especially considering you're conscientious enough to help out with supplemental electrical transfusions from that Battery Tender. Still, we'd hold off on the plasma-screen TV and DVD player for now.

Big Bang Theory
My new '06 Star Stratoliner has a backfire when upshifting or backing off the throttle at 3000 rpm or more. It didn't pop at all with the stock pipes, only after the accessory Speedstar pipes were installed. It has been back to the dealer many times, had a Cobra FI 2000 fuel module installed and a Yamaha service rep even worked on it. He said with the Speedstar pipes, I will get some backfiring. Is this normal? Can anything be done to correct this annoying problem?

Russell Hamlisch
Via e-mail

Let's assume you've already ruled out the possibility of an exhaust leak, loose flange or bad gasket where the new headers bolt to the exhaust ports. Let's also assume no defects in the pipes themselves. The next likely explanation for your external-combustion problem starts with the bike's emissions system. When the standard air-injection plumbing ignites unburned unleaded in the new exhaust system, it explodes. The simplest fix is to stop said flow with the appropriate block-off plates. The authorities won't like that, so don't tell 'em we told you.