Here are my input on your question. First, a little back ground, I have owned a 2001 WR426 for the last couple of years. Secondly, I am in CA and you are in Nevada. I only say this because in CA the 2001 is green stickered and until the 2005 WR450 it was not green stickered in CA (anyone correct me if I am wrong). So, until 2005 in CA the positive of the E-button was offset by the lack of green sticker. So, back to your question; over time I altered my 2001 WR426 with the 2003 450 YZ cam which eliminated the need for the de-comp lever, allowed "bump-start" starting and basically made the kick-starting ritual easier overall. It, along with other "free-mods"mproved it's performance. This modification (with my labor) cost something under $150 when you include the cam, valve shims, oil change etc. Next I changed to an IMS
3.4 gallon "narrow/ deep tank" and to a YZ seat to "skinny up" the front end area and let me sit more forward on the bike. This was a big improvement and made the rider and the bike more "as one". This cost me about $225 for the tank and about $100 for the seat. So let's say including the cam I spent a little under $500 to get my 2001 WR426 to be "the best that it could be". Basically, along with other reasons, these mods were done because I have a short inseam of 30". I am not that short overall (5'11") but short legs. They all made a big positive difference. But you still don't just push the magic button to start her up. From second hand knowledge I believe the suspension on the 2001 is better than the following couple of years and then eventually improved over the 2001. So, what is the bottom line? If I had it all to do over again and the E-button had come out earlier on a green sticker CA bike I would have bought a "new" one. Now that I have made all of the improvements ( I did not list the Scott's stabilizer
, hand guards, after-market (?brand?) kick-starter, J-D jetting kit, Dr. D hot start lever, !/2 of Uni
-guard radiator guards
(yes, 1/2- if you put an after market tank on, alot of the rad. guards won't totally fit), I don't know what I will do. Crashing, trying to hot-start, stalled going up hill and being tired makes me want to kill for a E-button; but 90% of the time the WR426 is still my main love. Last comment, 426 VS. 450 (449) means nothing- you will never realize it's full potential. Sorry for the long post. Good luck on your decision.