I am a "senior" rider (in my 60s, but pretty fit), but am fairly competent at riding briskly offroad. I've been riding on and off road since Lyndon Johnson was president. I've also owned all kinds of dirt and DS bikes -- including a 65 Ducati Mountaineer, and several 2-stroke YZs, I am also shorter/smaller (5'9" with a 30.5-inch inseam and 165 lbs) than most of the young(er) guys I ride with.
For many years, I've been (barely) keeping up with my friends' WRs, CFRXs, EXCs, TEs, and KLXs on the rocky technical trails around here. I have have more or less decided, that I'm punishing myself unecessarily by riding my trusty (but VERY heavy -- 320 lbs wet -- not counting the tools and other stuff strapped on to the bike) DR-Z400 over terrain and at speeds that the bike -- as good as it is -- was never intended to be ridden.
It is not uncommon for me to get halfway through a steep boulder field, fall over or stall and hope my buddies miss me and come back to help me get the bike back up and going, although I can usually do it myself with a little grunting and cussing. Nevertheless, I believe that a lighter bike will make me more competitive. It looks like a WR will save me at least 40 lbs - maybe more.
So...I've been looking at WR250Fs, but have not found one that really checks all my boxes -- so my search has now turned to the 450s -- that seem to be more plentiful. Money IS an object, so my search has concentrated on older WRs -- most of them 2005-2006s. But I have located a 2003 for sale that is priced right. But the bike has some obvious liabilities. First and foremost, the bike has been sitting for several years. It won't start. My suspicion is that the carb is in need of a rebuild, but it could be something worse. It also has an aftermarket exhaust -- from which the owner has removed the spark arrestor. So that's worrisome, since quiet riding is important to me.
I've also found the bike, with a 39-inch saddle height, to be tall and somewhat ponderous -- just as my DR-Z was, prior to the installation of a short seat, lowering links, and dropped fork tubes.
So my question to you guys is this: What else should I be looking for on this bike? I know all the normal stuff like compression, chain/sprocket wear and loose/worn out assemblies. The bike appears to be pretty good in all thouse respects. But short of pulling off the carb and cleaning it out, I doubt I can make this thing run quickly and easily. So I will be taking a huge risk by buying it without hearing it run and shift gears.
I read the list of first-gen 450 shortcomings in the FAQ thread and various other forums and there seems to be a real dichotomy on whether these bikes can be lowered without serious penalty. I ran into the same sort of disagreement when I went to lower my DR-Z. Several people told me that it would ruin the handling of the bike. This turned out NOT to be the case. I can keep up with any stock DRZ across whoops, rocks, and through turns. In fact, the bike turns better than it did stock. The only liability so far has been the rear suspension bottoms over big dips occasionally. I'm still playing with the preload and compression dampening on the rear spring to get the right balance.
So my thinking is that I can do pretty much the same on the WR and get the seat height down below 37 inches. I'll add a Yamalink, shave the seat foam, and drop the forks.
What do you guys think? Are the 2003s to be avoided? Can I ever make the bike comfortable for a Munchkin?
TIA for your responses.