dual sport reliability

i would like a wr450 that has a dual sport kit on it, but am concerned about valve train and piston life. don't want to have to rebuild the thing every six months. any advice from personal experience? already have an 04 wr250 with a kit on it for the wife and it is a blast! feels like i'm getting away with something every time i ride it, just need some thing for me now.

Most of us WR Dual Sport riders average 80-90% dirt to 10-20% street riding. Haven't heard of any engine longevity problems at these ratios. My WR450 has about 1500 miles with no problems. If you are going to ride more street, or long stretches of continuous RPM's, there are some things to do to the bike. Can't remember any right now, but these TT guys will enlighten you, no doubt.

I've got about 15,000 miles on my '99 WR400 and it is dual sported. I've had my share of problems but it wasn't due to too many miles-just too much abuse.

what kind of problems? how long does the top end last? what about the titanium valves, are they problematic? does anybody make stainless steel valves and are they better?

They didn't put titanium valves in the WRs until model year 2001, so I can't answer that. But I ride with a guy who has an '01 model and rides as much as I do (literally- we ride together every Sunday and put on at least 100 miles each day) and has never had a valve problem. Mine has the original cylinder head and valves in it.

Most of my problems have been due to faulty maintenance. I trusted the dealership to do the work on my bike at first-big mistake. They left a part floating around in the engine that caused the whole motor to lunch itself when it was about 3 months old. Needless to say, I do my own work now. (The dealership did own up and bought about $1300 worth of parts for me.)

There have been a few reliability issues. The first was fifth gear going out on me about 2-1/2 years ago. The exact same thing eventually happened to my friend's bike at about the same mileage. Fifth gear's dogs wore down and the slot on third gear ramped so they wouldn't stay in fifth gear. Luckily, that costs less than a couple hundred bucks in parts and I did the work myself.

The carb slider has cracked two times. That was a real pain because you don't know what's happening at first and it's expensive relative to the small part I had to buy to replace the slider. But I think that's not a problem with the newer models.

About a year ago, the cam chain had stretched to the point that it jumped a tooth. I got a new cam chain and everything was good to go again. I should have changed it when I noticed it was pretty slack at the valve adjustment. I thought to myself "that chain looks a bit loose. Oh well, it will be fine.) Again, faulty maintenance did me in. Lesson learned: if the cam chain seems loose, get a new one. They are cheap.

Just recently I had to hone the cylinder and put some new rings in it.

Considering the amount of miles I have on the bike plus the serious abuse I give it, besides normal oil changes, clutch rings, valve adjustment, and the occasional seal or gasket going bad, the bike really has been a rock.

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