New to me: 2003 WR450, need advice on preventative maintenance


7 replies to this topic
  • RockRogue

Posted May 31, 2011 - 11:30 AM

#1

Hey guys! I have read a ton on this forum, and this is my first post. I spent some time bike shopping and landed a deal on an 03 WR450. I thought I had the full story on starting issues prior to purchase, but then I found a repaired right side case and I wanted to call on some experts to help me understand what causes the kick starters to fail on these bikes.

I know there are two ways these bikes can have starting failures, and both are caused by a backfire/kickback while trying to start:
  • When the starter is under power and the engine backfires, and the damper assy fails (not slipping). This is known to commonly shear the woodruff key, crack the left side case, or break a gear somewhere between the starter and the flywheel where the opposing forces originate and terminate. This one is easily fixed with the 2004+ damper assy. I have no questions about this failure or solution.
  • The other failure is caused when the bike kicks back while being started with the kick starter. When this happens, sometimes the kick starter slams into the kick stopper hard enough to break it off. The broken stopper can bind up any number of gears in the right side case and crack the case while damaging gears. I have not read about a fix for this failure. I want to know how to fix this.

Info about my bike: It is a 2003 with what looks like about 3000 miles on it maybe, and not a lot of maintenance done. It has a repaired right side case (the typical crack on the inside of the kick starter portion of the case. You can see it when you look in front of the rear shock from the clutch side of the bike). It was welded, and the work looks like it was done very well. I really want to avoid having this problem in the future, as i hear the cases are very expensive.

Normally on a 2003 with no 2004 damper assembly, I would just use the kickstarter exclusively to start the bike. But this bike has a history of failing at the kick starter, so I now feel that there is no safe way to start the thing.

NOTE: Please do not post unless you have something constructive to add. Saying "the 04 starter is better, no more broken woodruff keys" is not going to help.

  • bg10459

Posted May 31, 2011 - 03:58 PM

#2

The fix is just to replace what's broken or worn. When the stopper is worn, bent, cracked or broken, the bike sounds like a bag of broken glass.
My starter went after about 4k miles and then I solely kickstarted my bike for another two years (1500 miles?) and only had one kickback in that time. It broke the stopper, ratchet and gear, but fortunately, not the case. I fixed the kick parts and the starter motor and now they both work like a charm. If i get another 4000 miles, I'll be happy.

  • mikewrf18

Posted May 31, 2011 - 09:38 PM

#3

Not necessarily constructive to fixing your issue, but wanted to say congrats on the new to you WR and welcome to the site from another Northwesterner! :smirk:

  • RockRogue

Posted June 01, 2011 - 07:38 AM

#4

The fix is just to replace what's broken or worn. When the stopper is worn, bent, cracked or broken, the bike sounds like a bag of broken glass.
My starter went after about 4k miles and then I solely kickstarted my bike for another two years (1500 miles?) and only had one kickback in that time. It broke the stopper, ratchet and gear, but fortunately, not the case. I fixed the kick parts and the starter motor and now they both work like a charm. If i get another 4000 miles, I'll be happy.


That makes sense... It is just a little scary, I'm used to owning older cheaper 2 strokes with so many fewer parts. I will probably kick start it until I get the new damper assy unless I hear more on the kick starter failures.

This bike is AWESOME though. All I can think about is riding it again! Thanks for the welcome to the forum. Great community here.

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  • miweber929

Posted June 02, 2011 - 02:48 AM

#5

Wouldn't the main "upgraded" part from the 04 (that damper piece) also help the kickback problem for kick starting or am I mistaken? Guess I haven't done a ton of research as mine is an 04 and starts kick or electric very easily but I would think the upgraded parts kit for the electric leg may help dampen the possible kickback issue when kickstarting as well.

To me at least the electric start was a big selling point or I'd have gotten a YZ and made that more woods so I can't understand not using it. I'm also quite obsessive compulsive so something not "fixed" would cause me sleepless nights.

An expert who's looked at the parts may be able to tell better if the parts are an all around fix. Just a thought.

Mike

  • travertt

Posted June 02, 2011 - 08:07 AM

#6

There is lots of info about the 03 starter motor/woodruff key problem on this site.

Suggest you try the search function and read thru some threads.

Good luck

  • bg10459

Posted June 02, 2011 - 04:22 PM

#7

Wouldn't the main "upgraded" part from the 04 (that damper piece) also help the kickback problem for kick starting or am I mistaken?

No. The damper only protects the flywheel side of the engine, i.e. starter, idler, starter clutch, flywheel, woodruff key. There's nothing to protect the kicker side.

  • RockRogue

Posted June 03, 2011 - 07:42 AM

#8

There is lots of info about the 03 starter motor/woodruff key problem on this site.

Suggest you try the search function and read thru some threads.

Good luck


Thank you for the search suggestion Travert... I have read every thread on here I could find about these 2 issues. Nearly all of them are about the "woodruff key" issue, which most of us know is really the damper assy issue (the symptom is the woodruff key). I tried to avoid being "search flamed" in my original post. There isn't much on the board about the kick start failures.

BG10459- After looking at the diagrams in the FSM, that was my guess. Most of my post was looking to confirm that. The other part of my question was how to fix/prevent the other common starting issue that can cause catastauphic damage, the "kickback case crack". From what you said in your first post, it sounds like this issue is not common and also not all that likely to crack the case every time it happens. I think I can skirt the issue by regularly inspecting my stopper and pulling the cover to inspect the stopper after a kickback (although that is a serious inconvinience in the middle of a ride).

I did think of a potential way to create a sensor that would alert a rider when the stopper is broken. The side case could have a hall effect sensor installed very close to the stopper, and be wired to a relay. They relay would remain open until the hall effect sensor no longer sensed magnetic field presense, indicating that the stopper has moved. When the relay closes, it closes a circuit that goes to a bright red dummy light on the handlebars.




 
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