2003 WR450F - good bike?

I've got a chance to choose from a couple of 03 450's. For what seem to be really good $. About $1,000 less than 04-05 models are listed for.

I also see where they have an issue with the electric starter and kickstart assembly. I'm a little sensitive to this as my 98 XR400 broke the countershaft last year

I have no direct experience with any 03 WR450s  I have heard of issues with the starters and a few other issues with the earlier bikes.  From what I  understand there are fixes for all of these and after they are performed, the bikes are very reliable.  I do own an 06 WR450 which shares the steel frame.   I love how the steel frame bikes ride.  I Have heard very little difference in feeling between the first generation aluminum frame bikes and the steel bikes.  The aluminum frame bikes do have the bling factor though. 

As with any older bike, I would expect some repairs and maintenance.  It would be worth your while to disassemble and inspect all moving parts of any of the bikes you pick.  Good luck.

my brother and I bought an 03 and 07 wr 450 this year. they made the bikes better over the years, and the 07 is all pimped out, oversized tank, rekluse clutch, AIS removal, race tech springs.

but I still love the 03 just as much, gotta tighten up the rear shock, and set the sag properly im about 220 pounds and bought it from a smaller fella. the bikes do ride about the same, the slight weight difference is nice, but I don't find the 03 awfully heavy.


al older bikes certainly need some sort of repair or maintenance, I just took my carb in for ultrasonic cleaning (starts when cold way better) and have some engine ice for a coolant change, plus the normal for both of our bikes, back tires, oil, filters, grips. the 03's also getting handguards cause the 07 has them but that's just the stupid crap we all love spending money on ;)

They also had a problem with the taper and key on the magneto side. I think it is a matter of loctiting them.

Personally I would upgrade but there are likely many successful owners.

Edited by stevethe

XRs don't ever break!!!!! The 03 WRs are good once the known problems are fixed. As long as the bike is in good shape otherwise it should work.

Looks like upgrading to an 04 starter clutch is the way to go. $200 for the assembly, another $100-300 for a starter. Anyone have experience with aftermarket starters for any year WR? Curious if certain ones are better. eBay has new aftermarket for <$100.

$300-$500 more seems to be the sunk cost if I buy this '03.

Thanks for the replies!

And, I like that one of the bikes is bone stock. Opinions vary, but maybe a stock bike is ridden a little easier? Just a theory.

I read a Dirt Bike Magazine article from 2013 where they compared a '13 WR450 with an '03. The '03 stacked up pretty well. But where do they find a running '03 for $900??? Finding one on CL for twice that is hard!

They also had a problem with the taper and key on the magneto side. I think it is a matter of loctiting them.

Personally I would upgrade but there are likely many successful owners.



Loctiting isn't necessary if you do the 04+ starter parts upgrade.    That was Yamaha's attempt

to address the problem on the 03 bike without spending a lot of money.   They fixed it properly

with the starter clutch on the 04 instead of the solid idler gear that was on the 03.  They also

changed the crank taper and flywheel in 04 but that wasn't the main issue.


If you have an 03 that has never been upgraded it has already run for 11 years without breaking

and probably isn't going to at this point.  It could still happen, yes, but the chance is low.


However, the 04 parts are still a worthwhile upgrade in any event.

seems like you've done your homework and it seems like a decent purchase. so for the cost of a bike at normal market value you could get a bike with a few new parts if your willing to do the wrenching. that's a good way to go in my opinion.


that's proabably true that the un- upgraded starter assemblies probably aren't going to break at this point. I believe my 03 isn't upgraded, but it is certainly worthwhile to upgrade still.


I think that magazine article you read is interesting, and I believe it. there a pretty good bike, it seems. I bought my 03 and put 300-400 miles on it this year. all that went wrong is a clutch cable went. my brother and I are replacing an xr200 and a tt-r 225 so these wr's have big boots to fill as far as "how hard can I pound this thing before I break it".

Edited by essonlaker

I've got 4 XR's now- 100, 200, 400, 600. The smaller ones are for my boys, and the 400 is my favorite- but it sheared the countershaft, and I also found some top end damage when I tore it apart. A guy gave me a great deal on a complete bike for parts, going to drop the motor into my chassis.

But the WR is appealing for the "button." Yamaha's seem to be pretty well built, I owned a TT500 in the late 70's. Now that was a pig!

I have one and enjoy it. They are very reliable as all Yamaha 4 strokes are. Great bike

I have one and enjoy it. They are very reliable as all Yamaha 4 strokes are. Great bike

ImageUploadedByThumper Talk1421719993.514672.jpg

Well, I pulled the trigger on her...

Good job. Now have fun making it yours and ride the crap out of it. Lol

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now