I'm struggling with electric starter problems on my 2003 WR450. I used to have a WR400 and I liked the bike a lot but at 61, I'm getting too old for kick-starting a bike after picking it up. The 400 was a bear to kick over but started easily once you kicked it right. I liked it but I really wanted the magic button.
So I sold it, and a few months ago, I bought a 2003 WR450. I got a good deal on it, but like most of the bikes I buy, it needed some TLC.
It also didn't have a starter in it at the time. The seller gave me some BS story about removing it for the weight. But he didn't remove the whole starter mind you, just the inside parts that spin. I got a good deal on it so I bought the bike and I put a starter in it. And a new battery.
(I had to put in a new head gasket too, but I don't think that has anything to do with starters failing) PFA.
Each new e-starter starts out working great for the first few starts, but after a couple of rides, it starts binding and working intermittently- sometimes nothing at all, click-click as I press the button, sometimes it starts fine, and sometimes it struggles to turn the engine over as if it's under a great load. I replaced the solenoid just because it was cheap and easy to swap, but that wasn't the problem and didn't change anything. I checked voltage at the starter when I hit the button and I'm getting 12+ volts there. I've been through 3 starters in 4 months.
I thought the first starter was defective when it went bad. I got it swapped out for a replacement and within a couple of rides, it was bad too.
So I decided maybe that brand of starter was poorly made. I bought the third starter from a different seller, and a different brand of starter.
The first 2 were Mitsu/AMDD and the third and fourth are Arrow.
When I removed the last one (#3), it had chewed up wear marks on the starter spline. I began to suspect it's compression kick-back problem against the starter that's doing it, so I bought the 2004 starter upgrade parts and I will put those parts in with starter #4.
The good news is, I'm getting much better at changing the starter. When I did the first one, I removed the subframe, carb, and a lot of other stuff. Now I'm down to about 15 minutes to have the starter out. The bad news is, I haven't ridden this bike very much in 4 months. I actually bought another bike that I'm riding while I get this one sorted out.
If it doesn't work out this time, I'll probably sell it and move to something with a more reliable e-starter. I'd hate that, because I really like my 450, but the e-starter was the only reason for selling my plated 400 and buying this 450.. for when I'm winded, beat, gasping for air and dog tired after picking that bike up too many times.
I've researched a fair amount, and the only 450 starting issues I've found are bikes that don't want to start. This one starts up fine, and actually kick-starts pretty easily. So I'm wide open for ideas or suggestions on this.