Vintage Maico Special

Inside the perfect bikes

May. 12, 2009 By Rick Sieman

I first saw one of the Rage Maicos on display at an open house at Bill Ramseys Motorcycle Accessory Shop (MAS in Mesa, Arizona).There was a small crowd gathered around the 1981 490 Maico and most of the people just shook their heads and jaws hung wide open. The bike was staggeringly beautiful and the attention to detail was incredible.

Later on, I had a chance to talk with Lynn Shoup, owner of Rage Racing ( 602-957-7150 or 602-470-2761) and asked him about the Maicos that he built. He scratched his head a bit, then said: I want to make the bikes perfect. Better than stock.

I made a mental note to find out more these Maicos. A month or so later, I headed out to an AHRMA Vintage event and saw a Maico that Rage had prepped for the track owner, Bobby White. As per usual Rage practice, the bike was literally perfect in every detail.

1981 Maico Vintage DirtbikeThe Bobby White project started out with a 1979 Maico 250 core bike. It was dismantled, sorted and the work began.

The chassis was an early '79 model and the Maico factory intelligently used up their 1978 model frames by modifying them into a new '79 configuration.

Theses mods included: removing the old style foot pegs and fitting them with a new style and adding a rear fender loop by welding a smaller diameter tube into the larger 78 seat rails. This frame retained the 1978 side panels and lower rear motor mounts till they were gone. The 1979 frame came with a continuous small diameter seat rail to fender loop, new style side panels and elimination of the lower rear motor mounts.

Everything on this bike was rebuilt or replaced.The chassis was gusseted, the lower side panel brackets removed and powder painted the whole works. The donated tank was prepped and squirted with a color matched enamel paint.

Next, Rage installed 1981 and up Maico 42mm forks. This modification really helps the front end steering stiffness, because the 38mm forks were at end of life on their tube length. Maico had been increasing the travel on the 38mm forkssince 1975, while loosing overlapping year after year. This created a fair amount of flex by the time they got to be at 11 of travel. Converting to the 42mm forks required three major modifications: one inch shorter steering tube, shortened tubes and shortened damper rods. Finally, the forks were assembled with anodized sliders, .48kg springs and Bel Ray fork oil.

On the rear end, Ohlin'sbuilt some sweet Piggy Back shocks, which were rider tuned bySRD Suspension.These shocks were so dialed in that no further adjustments had to be made to assure a flawless ride.

When building the wheels, the hubs were machined, stainless spokes polished and the Akront Rims re-anodized, then the whole works was assembled and tensioned industriously.

The motor, beneficially, was a low hour 250 motor; the crank was set up with a new rod and the KK ported cylinder was bored.All the standard parts were rebuilt or replaced; bearings, seals, primary chains, clutch springs and gaskets. In addition, the cases were acid-etched so they looked as if they just came out of the Maico factory. Then the motor was topped it offwith a 38mm Mikuni carburetor, a folding shifter, billet ignition cover and a case saver.


Labor - $2,000
Core - $1,000
Powder coat frame and swingarm - $150
Parts for motor rebuild - $1,000
42mm forks with mods - $400
Spokes - $85 set
756 Dunlop tires - $80
DID ERT2 black chain - $85
Rebel gears sprockets - $100
Paint, decals, and tank - $200
New seat foam - $65
MXM seat cover - $65
Bob's Vintage's plastic - $200
Oury grips - $10
Vintage Iron bar pad, throttle, cables and number plate backgrounds - $150
Alloy bars - $65
Circle F pipe and silencer - $325
Rage racing goodies galore; All the billet parts, ignition cover - $9
Brake pedal - $105
Chain guide - prototype
Backing plate - $45
Cable guide - $30
Cable holder - $30
Case saver - $30
IMS Rage Pegs - $135 (kit)
Fuel hose retainer - prototype
Ohlins shocks - $850

Click on any picture to see a larger image - rate it, share your comments!

Circle F pipe. Ohlins shocks work the rear end. Shift side view of the Bobby White bike.


Business end of the 250. Billet brake pedal and Mikuni carb. Slim non-skid saddle.


Front view. 1981 style forks work fine. Vintage Iron supplied number plate and cables.


Fresh sprocket, trick backing plate and chain guide grace rear end. Extra wide pegs and custom brake pedal. Attention to detail is superb.


Lean and mean, shift side view.

1981 MAICO 490

A close look at one of the 490s that Rage built shows the same care and detailing that typifies his bikes.Even though the bikes retain the older look, theres a quality feel that takes your breath away. If you decide to have Rage build your Maico, don't look for an ultra-quick turnaround - Lynn won't be rushed. Good things take time.

1981 Maico Vintage Dirtbike

An '81 490 Maico loaded with all the good stuff. Newsletter
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