1981 490 Maico vs 81 250 Maico?

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3/23/2012 4:44 PM

For quite some time I've wanted an 81 490 Maico and as I get closer to breaking the piggy bank, I find myself wondering how the 81 250 compares to the 490. Back in the day I had the opportunity to race a 490 and ride it enough to become familiar with it...really liked it.

Never rode the 250, come to think of it, I don't think I've even seen one in person. I'm an intermediate rider and weigh about 165 so it's not like I need gobs of power.

Anybody have any experience with both bikes or even just the 250? Thoughts on the pros and cons of an 1981 250 vs a 490?

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3/23/2012 7:34 PM

Honestly, the 490 was considered one of the best motocross bikes of all time. The 250 was not even the best in it's class in 1981. I remember the 81 model RM250 and YZ250's being considered the best in their class that year. The 1981 RM250 was the first Full Floater and immediately had everyone trying to catch up when it came to rear suspension.

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3/24/2012 5:24 AM

Been doing the vintage thing since '95 had several of the Maico's. As we get older IMO the 250 is actually a better ride for us. ( Of course I have all Open Class :-) The '81 Maico 250 is a pretty sweet ride, MUCH easier to start. The '81 490 is like dating a Super Model.....a blast to ride but a real pita to deal with.....

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Kevin Windham‏ @kdub_14

Not 1factory racer hasnt been told that if ucan help teammate out, then do it 4 championship. Few r in a position like MM25 #partofthesport

3/24/2012 7:53 AM

Wandell, yep I currently have an 81 YZ250 and a 1984 RM250 for post vintage in the 50+ class, as you could imagine I look at the YZ as a back up bike due to the suspension on the RM being light years better. I've done the Race Tech gold valve treatment to the front and rear suspension on both bikes, which made the RM suspension stand out even more as being awesome. Based on the huge difference in suspension between these two bikes, it's hard to believe they were both being sold in the same year.


Bultokid, your comment on the 250 being an easier bike to get along with is the same thing I've heard from a few people who've ridden both. While others who've ridden both are hooked on the power of the 490. Even though I tend to prefer the more manageable feel of a 250 over an open bike, i'm kinda drawn to the classic reputation of the 490.

Parts availability would seem to be better for the 490...?

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3/24/2012 2:14 PM

The 490 was a great bike, my friend had the 250 and I rode it a few times , it sucked. the rear end felt like a pogo stick.

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3/24/2012 4:31 PM

maico 250's were not da shit...unless you spent some bucks on the motor, then it was da shit.

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3/24/2012 10:42 PM

Depends on how much you enjoy getting holeshots :-)

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Bret Bonham

3/25/2012 12:04 PM

I had posted this same topic over on a vintage only site and was rather surprised to get a response that someone felt the 1981 Maico 490 was "obsolete" when it was introduced in 1981. Hmmm...

http://www.vintagemx.us/message_board/viewtopic.php?p=22730#22730

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3/25/2012 4:37 PM

490 was GREAT.....250 was SLOW

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The older I get, the faster I was

3/26/2012 6:41 AM

I had a few (3) 81 Maico 250 give me a lesson in ridding in that hard pack Georgia red clay. I was riding a stock 82 rm 250 that just would not turn (pushed). Those Maicos I know were well preped. but it was just a frustrating day to get beat like that.

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3/27/2012 1:12 AM

Parris wrote:

I had a few (3) 81 Maico 250 give me a lesson in ridding in that hard pack Georgia red clay. I was riding a stock 82 rm 250 ...more

Maico's will turn on a dime and give you 9 cents change for sure.

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The older I get, the faster I was

3/27/2012 8:01 AM

For the smoother VET style tracks consider a 1978 Maico 440cc. Lot lower than an 81 490cc, handles better etc. Some riders make what they call frankenstein bikes by slotting a 490cc RV motor into a 78 frame!.
Steer clear of 1980 Maico, they went overboard with long travel suspension that hurt the Maico excellent handling traits!

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www.robkinsey.com
http://robkinseyart.wordpress.com
Accountant's only look at the bottom line, whereas an Artist see's it all!

3/27/2012 1:44 PM

What you need is a rare 81 400!

My friend Steve Russell had a 400 our other friend Jeff Witherell had a 490 Like me, both were So.Cal CMC pro's & Steve (160lbs) could pull Jeff's (200lbs) on the start.

Both did well on them, Steve told me that eh 490 was just to tiring (sp) to ride for him as it would just ware him out.

Rob is right about the 78 turning a little better then the 81' If you want a great bike see if you can find a 78' 400, install a set of cut down 81' forks ( don't flex as much as the 78 forks) & an 81 swing arm with good shocks.

A 81 250 can be made to haul ass, but it take a pipe, carb & port work & you have to ride it like a 125..Don't ever let it get off the pipe or it will fall flat on it's face!

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00' BMW K1200 RS
83' Maico 490 ( The Project bike)
81' Maico 490- FOR SALE
03' KTM 525 SX (In ICU)
14.5 KTM 450 Fe- FOR SALE

3/27/2012 5:12 PM

Regarding the 78...was there a 440 and 400 model that year? You mention putting an 81 swingarm on a 78, is that pretty much a quick bolt up kind of mod?

Yep, I'm familiar with the 1980 Maicos not being ideal handlers due to setting high.

Since I have an 84 RM 250 that I'm pretty happy with for EVO, I'm beginning to lean more towards the big bore Maico rather than the 250 to give me a little more variety in what I have to ride.

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3/27/2012 11:47 PM

robkinuk wrote:

For the smoother VET style tracks consider a 1978 Maico 440cc. Lot lower than an 81 490cc, handles better etc. Some riders ...more

!978 Maico Magnum 400. My favorite bike of all time.smile

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3/28/2012 4:51 AM

mooch wrote:

Regarding the 78...was there a 440 and 400 model that year? You mention putting an 81 swingarm on a 78, is that pretty much a ...more

Mooch,

Yes there where both a 400 & a 440 in 78!

The swing arm mod is pretty much a bolt in mod, but you might have to remove a little metal from the inside of the frame on the 78, it's been so long since i did one of those I can't remember.

But you can use the same swing arm bolt from the 78 in the 81 arm, Maico didn't make just to say look at our new Parts, they tended to use what worked from year to year.

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00' BMW K1200 RS
83' Maico 490 ( The Project bike)
81' Maico 490- FOR SALE
03' KTM 525 SX (In ICU)
14.5 KTM 450 Fe- FOR SALE

11/9/2019 3:14 PM

Hi guys I'm new on here,
Was interested to read your points raised on the maico.
Many yrs ago I raced the British champs on my 440 1979 maico... Although almost identical to the 78 maico they changed a few parts the loop on the back of the frame foot pegs were now welded not bolted on and the late 79 had 40 mm carb
That was the model I had
I then stored this away for a memory and in 2017 pulled off the cover to see the bike
Tyres and tubes had rotted along with the filter and spokes rusted away
I decided to restore the bike which was put to a company I've know for yrs with 90 % original pats the rebuild was more re Cleaning painting and nickel plating
It goes on show in the UK 4th 5th Feb 2020
I also have a 1980 400 engine complete it was a spare team engine put in a box and forgotten about the engine has been looked over and apart from mains and seals it's perfect ready to bolt into 78 79 80 81 frame and go
This will be for sale once assembled next year

However have been after an 81 490 that a school buddy of mine bought new in Feb 82 rode for 5 months only and was sadly injured in a car accident his father had this bike ever since sat in his garage covered in 2 inches of dust
I had been onto him to sell me this bike as it had only done about 6 hrs from new a rare find to say the least
He agreed August this year I could have the bike
Once I got it home and dusted off it still had everything original plastics exhaust seat in fact everything was original
It's now stripped down as each part is checked and removed and replaced with after market parts as my son plans to race this next year
Once he's had enough the bike will be restored with every original part I've removed back in place and like my 79 440 will never be ridden but will be on show only
Photo

Photo

Pictures above are the 490 work partly done and the 440 corte and cosso rear shocks after refurb
I hope you don't mind me sharing my story guys

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11/10/2019 1:42 AM

What a stroke of luck finding a 81 with such low hours on it Have years of fun on it! Thinking of getting a new ignition for my 81 250cc What make do people recommend?

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11/10/2019 4:14 AM

Hi
Thank you for your email on my bikes
Yes was an amazing find.. But I knew it was there for close to 20 years.. Just had to wait until he was happy to sell
But yes yrs of fun is the plan
Reference ignition it's a minefield as so many advertise there's is the best and will improve power etc
For 250 400 440 possibly but the 490 requires high power spark from the ignition at low revs this is where you need do your home work on asking and searching
Of course the original motoplat were great
I have friends who have tried aftermarket ignition systems
Some claim they feel the difference others wouldn't probably know
In truth if your bike is Jetted well and has a good top end and correct heat plug you'd gain much more from the bike in power
Sorry unable to help with your question but sometimes the standard parts when made in Germany by maico with years of testing can be more reliable
Thank you
Andrew

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11/17/2019 12:29 PM

Have ridden friends’ 81 and 82 490s, owned several Maico 250s, 440s and several 400s (which I still own).

Of all these bikes bikes my favorite are the 78/79 400s (GS & MC) - Less vibes/fatigue, easier to tune, and easier to ride aggressively/faster for a longer duration than my 440s.

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Earn it!

11/20/2019 11:18 AM

Photo

1978 Frankenbike. Basically a 1978 Magnum frame with a 1981 250 Reed and 1981 Suspension. With the 1978, the rear of the frame should be gusseted right below the seat, behind the number plate.

I finished this bike a few years back, back I am finally healthy enough to ride it next season. So, I cannot offer feedback on the engine.

I built this version instead of a 1981 frame based build because of all the feedback that the 1978/79 were much better handling. I used a 1981 Thor replica arm, bolted on with no modifications.

The forks came with the Magnum I bought for this build, these were modified by Rage Racing in AZ. I have some 49 mm Showa's off the 1998 RM that I might used after trying these forks. There was some posting on a Maico page on FB that explains how to swap the forks to a 1981. A 1978/79 take less modifications to fit.
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11/20/2019 1:51 PM

That's a beautiful Maico RF145.

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11/20/2019 4:06 PM

MaxPower wrote:

That's a beautiful Maico RF145.

Thank you

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11/20/2019 5:46 PM

MaxPower wrote:

That's a beautiful Maico RF145.

Agreed Richard, beautiful bike.
Hope that you are doing well, glad to hear that the back is doing a little better

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11/20/2019 8:27 PM

tydog wrote:

Agreed Richard, beautiful bike.
Hope that you are doing well, glad to hear that the back is doing a little better

tydog, thanks. The back started getting better in 2015 with the help of a very knowledgeable doctor who treated the root cause (deep muscle spasms around my S1). It only took 5 years. After a year of PT to help this little doggie get started back to living and riding, it became apparent that both knees that saw very little use from 2010-2015 needed replacement. Thank goodness for e-start.
I am actually building my 1977 Maico 250 AW.
Never give up, never surrender.

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11/21/2019 10:14 PM

5 years in pain sucks but you are fortunate that you found a good Dr. Too many people live in misery or are kept from living their passions like mx because of Dr's that are dunces. Now you are going to get to tear up Unadilla on that Bad Ass Maico

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11/22/2019 9:07 AM

Mine
Photo
Photo

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The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

11/22/2019 11:28 AM

MaxPower wrote:

5 years in pain sucks but you are fortunate that you found a good Dr. Too many people live in misery or are kept from living ...more

MP, this upcoming season (2020), I will be ready to finally return to VMX, but I am starting a new shift (fourth shift) which is 7-7 Friday/Saturday/Sunday.
Go figure.
In 2021, I will have vacation time to go race.

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11/24/2019 11:30 PM

Jeff, That's the sickest swingarm I've ever seen on a Maico
I wouldn't expect anything less on a bike that you have built

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11/24/2019 11:34 PM

MaxPower wrote:

5 years in pain sucks but you are fortunate that you found a good Dr. Too many people live in misery or are kept from living ...more

RF145 wrote:

MP, this upcoming season (2020), I will be ready to finally return to VMX, but I am starting a new shift (fourth shift) which ...more

I hope your job overpays you by triple and love what you do for a living,because I can't think of a tougher work shift. The only good thing is you won't have to deal with Friday summer shore traffic

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