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Thread: 1981 490 Maico vs. 1981 250 Maico

  1. #1

    1981 490 Maico vs. 1981 250 Maico

    I've posted this around in a few spots and thought I'd see if anyone here has an opinion.
    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 ride a 490 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 to have thoughts on the pros and cons of an 1981 250 vs a 490? Parts easier to find for a 490?

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  2. #2
    As mentioned, I had posted this same topic on a few other boards. I was surprised when someone on a vintage forum stated the 1981 490 Maico was already obsolete when it was released in 81. I'm all for people having differing opinions on stuff but it's pretty clear the person saying that doesn't have a few basic facts straight about what kind of technology was and was not available in 1981.

  3. #3

    I had a 81 490 Maico from 88 to 92 & loved it.

    Scott M. has a 81 250, seems to rides the bike a lot & believe out of his stable it is his favorite. Will give him a call to see if he will chime in.

    I am restoring a 81 490 one right now that should have been done a long time ago but I am laid up again from a second auto accident last month
    that left me with me 3 herniated disk in my neck so no rush. Nothing but time so going all out on the restoration.

    The 81's handle very well but years ago mine would swap in the whoops some so modern Ohlins or re-valving would resolve that. Forks were
    simple & worked quite well. In general the bikes are built quite well. Look at upper shock mount to see if gussets were added as that seemed to
    be the weak point on the frame. Trannies hold very little oil so change often.

    There are no cheap 81 250 or 490 parts as both have high demand with the 490 being the King.

    Parts supply is very good but you will pay 2 to 3 times the cost of the average Jap stuff for certain items. Lots of stuff is reproduced & would
    say parts are generally not a issue as most stuff can be had in a few days. Pipes, plastic & cables are reasonable but paid $180 for a complete
    new kicker. Check out used prices for 81 parts on e-bay to get a idea of cost.

    Would pick the 250 or 490 by your preference for motor size but build a 490 and the motor will last forever as I had 90 hours on the top end when I sold mine
    in 92, it still had great compression & would hole shot over 92 KX & CR 500's!

    Going for a restored or project bike, have any bikes lined up yet as if not can keep an eye out for one?

    Joe Day had a 490 for sale but don't know if he still has it or not.

    Maico Mark
    Last edited by mx049; 03/25/2012 at 04:30 PM.

  4. #4
    I've never seen a 250 either and from everything I have heard or read over the years the 81 490 was one of the best bikes
    ever made.
    Special Thanks to Kames Sport Center, Wiseco, Shift, Blur Optics, MX153 training school.

  5. #5
    Dave/Mark, I agree with you guys...not sure why the guy in the link above is talking crap about the 490 by saying that it was obsolete when it was released in 1981 !?

    Mark, I forgot that Scott had an 81 250. I had talked to him about Maicos last year remember now that he had said it was a favorite of his. I think he was even willing to let me take it for a spin. I'll have to get in touch and get his opinion on this.

    Regarding buying one...I'd like to pick one up that is in decent shape as I don't currently have a lot of spare time to be working on restoring one. Plus, having never owned one I'm not familiar with Maico idiosyncrasies.

    I've always wanted one and one of the most vivid dreams I ever as a kid back in the day was one about riding a Maico and how impressed I was with it in the dream. A few years later when I was in the Air Force and stationed in California, I hung out with a family who was into the mx scene pretty heavily and the Dad had some cool bikes he'd let me ride. He had a nice 81 YZ465, an 81 491 Maico and a Kaw 420 that was from about that same time period. I remember that I didn't dig the Kaw, the YZ465 felt kinda hyperish with suspension that was passable while the Maico had lots of smooth power and plush feeling suspension. That's the extent of my experience with riding a Maico.

  6. #6
    Trick 81 250 on Marks Vintage Swapmeet for 5k.

  7. #7
    I'm sure you can talk Scott into bringing some of his vast stable of German engineered MX machinery for you to ride at the
    S.S.V.T.F. sometime soon . He is digging the 2010 KTM 250SX he recently picked up and you might even get a turn on that !
    Don't feel smug when you fly past , cause I'm only riding ...... halffast .

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by mx049 View Post
    Trick 81 250 on Marks Vintage Swapmeet for 5k.
    Thanks Mark, until someone sways me in another direction I'm beginning to lean towards a 490 at this point.

    Did you by any chance look the link I posted above to Marks Vintage site forum where some guy is trying to convince me the 81 490 was obsolete the year it came out! Then as a basis for that opinion, he points to the 1980 KX420 having a single shock...hence that somehow made the 81 Maico obsolete due to it still having 2 shocks. Too bad the 1980 KX420 was a total turd bike that would have trouble getting out of its own way.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by halffast View Post
    I'm sure you can talk Scott into bringing some of his vast stable of German engineered MX machinery for you to ride at the
    S.S.V.T.F. sometime soon . He is digging the 2010 KTM 250SX he recently picked up and you might even get a turn on that !
    I'm looking forward to my next trip up that way. I had a couple of invites last year that I had to pass on, please keep me in mind as things get rolling this year! The 81 YZ250 that I had brought up last year with the RM had a rear shock issue going on at that time and was feeling really stiff in the back. Turns out Race Tech had put a spring separator collar on backwards and was causing the smaller spring to bind up. That's fixed and that bike is running good now.

  10. #10
    mooch, saw that on Mark's but every bike is obsolete as soon as it comes our as a new one is already under way.

    490 is a lot of fun but sounds like you have already put some laps on one but 250 is easier to ride all day.

    I may end up finishing restoring mine & then sell it as don't think I will be on the track for quite a long time as looking at being off work for about 2 months so no riding plans this year. Was going all out with fresh bore, new rod kit, all bearings, seals, new paint, new plastic & cables plus rebuilt Ohlins piggy backers on the rear, wide pegs, re-plated everything, may do black rims plus has a Wheel Smith pipe from back in the day.

    Not sure what I will do with it yet but if you are not in a rush this one will be 100% clean & right when done....almost too nice to get dirty but no garage Queens allowed!

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