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3 years ago

DT May 2018

  • Text
  • Durability
  • Bikes
  • Racing
  • Maico
  • Motocross
  • Riders
  • Rear
  • Rider
  • Yamaha
  • Tyre

THE GLORY DAYS: Dirt

THE GLORY DAYS: Dirt bikes started becoming enormously popular in the mid and late 60s in the United States. By 1970, the big hitters in the game were CZ, Husky and Maico. If you rode one of these, you were among the elite. You had “Yur-peen” iron. Your bike handled, had correct power and went where it was pointed with no ugly surprises. Your options were few: You rode an illhandling, utterly reliable Japanese bike, or some half-finished British or Italian machine made up of ill-matched parts. Hunky says: “Right around 1971, the Maico was so superior in handling and power that it was almost like cheating. I can recall being a back-of-the-pack Novice with a Yamaha DT-1, then almost immediately after buying a 400 Maico, I actually started winning races!” The power of the big-bore Maicos was not only there in abundance, it was smooth from idle all the way to peak revs. A properly jetted 400 or 440 Maico would simply eat any other bike of that era alive in the race to the first turn. Certainly, they were fussy. Learning to live with the temperature-sensitive Bing carb required patience and a tool-box full of jets. The primary chain driven left side of the engine required constant attention, and key nuts and bolts had to be secured with industrial strength Loctite. The front brake was more decorative than effective. Rims, grips, air boots, cables and fiberglass fenders were all disposable items. All that aside, the Maicos would turn under anything else on the track, go straighter than a tossed spear and accelerate like the Hounds of Hell were after it. Forget the marginal brakes; the rider could simply concentrate on keeping the throttle pegged and passing everything else in sight, with absurd ease. Sales, during this era, were spectacular. Dealers reported groups of riding buddies coming into their shops and all of them buying new Maicos at the same time. One dealer noted that when the new ‘71 400s hit the market, he received 40 orders for bikes on a single Saturday. Ah, yes, those were glorious days. Simple days. Days when a brand new 400 Maico sold for about 00. You could race it for a year, then sell it for maybe 0 or so. Guys the Rand was stronger than the Dollar back then. When long travel hit, Maico was right there with the AW series. Girling gas shocks were moved forward on a beefed-up swingarm, and the familiar forward-axle forks got longer to match. More and better power was extracted from the heavily-finned engines. All through the mid and late ‘70s, the big Maicos dominated, in spite of an indifference in attention to detail. When the 44 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE MAY 2018

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