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99 DR 350 starter gear failure?

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My cousin just bought a 99 DR 350 that seemed to be in good mechanical shape, but poor cometic shape. Today was the first day he has rode the bike. The bike made a loud sound and appeared to lock up. After inspecting the motor it was discovered that the starter gear behind the flywheel broke a tooth and the smaller gear that it runs on also broke a tooth. The question I have is...is this a common failure? What could have caused it? I dont want to replace the gears and later find out that there is a deeper issue with the bike. In the link below gear #3 broke and the large gear it runs on.

http://oem.thumpertalk.com/images/Suzuki/1997/Motorcycles/1911_6.gif

Edited by dav

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