A recommended engine break-in procedure.
This is a summation of many articles on the subject found on the internet. Some of the information is from MOTORCYCLIST Feb. 1991, titled GIVE IT A BREAK-IN (How to make your bike run stronger and live longer), and some is from a Textron Lycoming "Key Reprint" article.
The first few hundred miles of a new engine's life have a major impact on how strongly that engine will perform, how much oil it will consume and how long it will last. The main purpose of break-in is to seat the compression rings to the cylinder walls. We are talking about the physical mating of the engine's piston rings to it's corresponding cylinder wall. That is, we want to physically wear the new piston rings into the cylinder wall until a compatible seal between the two is achieved.
Proper engine break in will produce an engine that achieves maximum power output with the least amount of oil consumption due to the fact that the piston rings have seated properly to the cylinder wall. When the piston rings are broken in or seated, they do not allow combustion gases to escape the combustion chamber past the piston rings into the crankcase section of the engine. This lack of "blow-by" keeps your engine running cleaner and cooler by preventing hot combustion gases and by-products from entering the crankcase section of the engine. Excessive "blow-by" will cause the crankcase section of the engine to become pressurized and contaminated with combustion gases, which in turn will force normal oil vapors out of the engine's breather, causing the engine to consume excessive amounts of oil.
In addition to sealing combustion gases in the combustion chamber, piston rings must also manage the amount of oil present on the cylinder walls for lubrication. If the rings do not seat properly, they cannot perform this function and will allow excessive amounts of oil to accumulate on the cylinder wall surfaces. This oil is burned each and every time the cylinder fires. The burning of this oil, coupled with "blow-by" induced engine breathing, are reasons that an engine that hasn't been broken in will consume more than its share of oil.
When a cylinder is new or overhauled the surface of it's walls are honed with abrasive stones to produce a rough surface that will help wear the piston rings in. This roughing up of the surface is known as "cross-hatching". A cylinder wall that has been properly "cross hatched" has a series of minute peaks and valleys cut into its surface. The face or portion of the piston ring that interfaces with the cross hatched cylinder wall is tapered to allow only a small portion of the ring to contact the honed cylinder wall. When the engine is operated, the tapered portion of the face of the piston ring rubs against the coarse surface of the cylinder wall causing wear on both objects.
Each tiny groove acts as the oil reservoir holding oil up to the top level of the groove where it then spreads over the peak surface. The piston ring must travel up and down over this grooved surface, and must "hydroplane" on the oil film retained by the grooves. Otherwise, the ring would make metal-to-metal contact with the cylinder wall and the cylinder would quickly wear out.