Woodruff key

I'm looking to buy a '03 WRF450 but have been told they have loads of trouble with the woodruff key. Does anybody know if this is correct and if so can they tell me more please? The bike I am looking at has done 2800 miles.

After how long?

Is it expensive/easy to replace?

Should i steer clear?


Thanks for that but I could not get the link to work. Is it correct?

The 2003 WR450 was the first year for electric start. There was a design problem with the starter mechanism which was corrected in 2004. The "woodruff key" breaking problem was a symptom of this design flaw.

There is an upgrade to the 2004 parts that costs around 200 USD. Some guys on this forum put together an awesome description of the work. Go to wr450.com for more info.

If the 03 bike you are looking at is in good shape, buy it and do the starter upgrade.

I sure enjoy my 03! :thumbsup:

My advice is do not do the recall (loctite) fix. It was a poor bandaid to the problem and resulted in a myriad of other problems like broken gear teeth, damaged starter clutchs, cracked case covers, etc. The real fix is to install the '04 starter drive parts. While many have not had any problems with their 2003's there have been just as many if not more that have had the failure. I paid $170 for the '04 parts (check Zanotti Motors or the TT OEM store). IMO that's cheap insurance not have to worry about having to be towed out of some remote area. See this link for details:


One more thing. Do not buy the whole side cover. The bushing for the existing cover can be purchased from Yamaha for ~ 50 cents. Then you can do the whole install in about 10 minutes since there's no need to drain the oil and remove the side cover.

Thanks for that but I could not get the link to work. Is it correct?

I tested the link and it worked for me :thumbsup:


PBDblue and I were in on the very beginning of the "sheared woodruff key" issue on the 2003 WRs. Go to this discussion thread and read it in its entirety, I have several posts in the thread.


You will then know all there is to know about the real cause of the woodruff key problem, have an accurate parts list, a source for the parts, with prices and accurate instructions for installing the necessary upgrade parts.

The 2003 WR is a great bike, I owned one. The 2004 WR is virtually identical to the 2003WR with the addition of the improved starter gear train and improved jetting --- American versions were jetted VERY lean on the pilot and main jets.

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