GoPro - Onboard the Maico 490

The Maico 490 is one of the 2 stroke MX beasts of the past, that anyone would like to have in his garage. This one is raced by Brad Mair in the Corinium enduro in Cirencester Park UK.

 

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

 

 

Maicowerk A.G. was a West German motorcycle manufacturer. Founded in 1926, the company originally manufactured 98 and 123 cc Ilo two-stroke engines. After World War II, they began producing their own unit construction two-stroke engines, selling complete motorcycles. Maico (pronounced My-co, similar to "Kaiser") made a brief foray into the automobile business with their own line of microcars in the late 1950s. Maico have also made Go kart engines.

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

 

The road motorcycles were named after winds... 'Blizzard' 'Typhoon' etc., but the company was better known for its purpose-built Motocross and Enduro machines, and for its 'Maicoletta' motor scooter, both of which sold in higher numbers than the road motorcycles.

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

Maico motocross (MC) and enduro (GS) racing models proved very successful in both European and American competition throughout the 1970s. While lacking the financial capital and big money race-team backing like that of the Japanese factories of Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki, Maico riders such as Adolf Weil, Åke Jonsson and Willy Bauer proved to be a serious challenge to the Japanese factories and produced numerous top three finishes in the Motocross World Championships. The firm also experienced some success in Grand Prix road racing competitions with rider Börje Jansson winning three 125cc Grand Prix races between 1972 and 1973.  American publication Motocross Action called the 1981 Maico Mega 490 the greatest open-class motocross bike of all time. The 1974.5 400cc and 440cc GP, and 1981 490cc models along with any year 501cc motocross bike are some of the most sought-after vintage MX and twin-shock motorcycles to this day.

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

 

One of the largest contributions to the world of motocross suspension technology came in the 1974 season when the Wheelsmith Motorcycles team in the USA and the Gunther Schier teams in Europe forward-mounted the rear shocks on the Maico factory-backed motorcycles, immediately increasing the travel and ability to trump the competition. This initiated a frantic effort on the part of factory teams and privateers alike; chopping up their frames in a desperate attempt to remain competitive.

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

 

Maicowerk AG filed for bankruptcy in 1983, but continued to produce small numbers of motocross and enduro models (re-badged as M-Stars in the United States due to legal issues) up through 1986. Subsequent manufacturers have purchased the brand name and applied it to their own limited production motorcycles. Modern open-class dirt-bikes are still being produced under the Maico brandname.  The ATK Intimidator dirt-bike (reportedly the most powerful production 2 stroke motorcycle available aside from Maico's own motorcycles) features a Maico motor.

 

Maico 490 - Photography by the Flying Monk
Maico 490 - Photography by the Flying Monk

 

After the company went out of business in 1986, its assets were taken over by a Dutch company.

 

 

 

 

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

 

Maico 490
Maico 490

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