Another 450 starter bites the dust.

A friend of mine pulled the starter on his 03 WR 450 because of worries over the woodruff key. He hasn't had a problem but has had it stall hard a few times.

Well when he pulled the starter he found that the teeth on the starter gear were all chewed up and the idler gear had one tooth missing. No other noticable damage.

I have never had a problem and check the gears often. I have found no damage yet after 2000 miles but it sure makes you wonder if it's coming. The 04 upgrade is sounding pretty good.

BTW, does anyone know if you can just remove the battery or do you need to have it there for the charging system?


Did your friend have the TSB done??

My worry about having the TSB done (and why I've not had it done)is that the woodruff key would no longer break but something else would instead. :)

make sure he takes a good look at the small area of the side cover that supports the other idler gear. they crack and it sounds like he's a cadidate. yes you can remove the battery. just make sure the wires don't touch each other or the frame. by the way, have your buddie write jim owens at yamaha customer relations. he doesn't seem to believe this could happen.

I am pretty sure the TSB was done on his bike. It was done on mine and they were bought from the same dealer. This dealer by the way claims they have had no 03 WR 450's come back with sheared keys and they sold quite a few of them.

After posting this I had to go check my gears again and again they look fine. I had scribed a line on the two gears that make up the idler that are pressed together and those lines have moved away from each other. This shows that they are slipping like they are supposed to.

He said he checked that area of the side cover and found no damage.

I will talk to him about writing Jim Owens.


TSB is what caused the problem! It is better for the woodruff key to break then the idler gear or side case! Their so called fix causes more expensive damage! I can say that I did get 6000. plus miles on my original 03 idler gear and it has no sign of wear. I think I was lucky. We are all doomed to fail over time wiithout the upgrade. :)

I still dont think we are all doomed to failure without the 04 upgrade, if you get rid of the idler gear and do without the e button. Like you said Indy, the kick start might be weak but if that fails in the boonies you can still bump start and get home. It just gripes me to spend any more money with Yamaha. I will gladly ride their bike till the CRF450X is in its second run and then let someone else that cant do without the e button spend the money if they want to. I allready expect to take a hickey on resale but you never know till you sale. Rechecked my torque on the flywheel the other day and the wrench was still clickin at 65#s. %*#(@% on YAMAHA and Jim Owen. Tim

My take on this is most 03's will not fail. The majority have not. This amount can even be further lowered by doing the upgrade that Indy has done. The issue is there is a real problem and Yamaha's handling of it. To do the right thing would cost them some money but in the end it would make them more down there road. I, as others, will be looking around for my next bike and blue won't be very high on my list.

My e-start button busted off a month ago and I have been riding without the e-start and haven't missed it. I am going to remove the battery. Can you just tape off the leads? How would you know what position the starter switch is in without the light?

How much does the starter weight? Would it be worth pulling out also. Are we certain that all key failures are caused by the e-start? :)

Also, where did you get your upgrade springs from?

Trade in value on a 03 WR450 is $3400. Thus looks like we gotta make em work.

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