1981 Maico 490 – George Marshall


Was cruising the net and found your website. Heres some pics of my 81 490. I got into vintage Maicos when I bought a basket case 82 490 and once completed discovered it did faster lap times that my new CRF 450! Since then I became the 07 AHRMA +40 and Ultima 500 Expert National Champ and the 08 AVDRA +50 and GP2 500 National Champ.


My 81 490 Maico handles better and is faster than any new 450 I’ve riden. Everything people say about the handling and power of these bikes is true! Thats why they are hard to find under $5-6000. Amazing for a 28 year old dirt bike!

The legend lives!! Long live Maico!

George Marshall
Santa Rosa, CA


George sent in an update to his story. Be sure to check out the action photos below.


One other thing with my story is once I discovered the Maico was faster, I sold my Honda. Ever since then when I take the Maico some place to practice it always get lots of attention but not just for being old, but being fast too. Its always fun to pass modern bikes with it!!

Thanks for the stickers!!

Heres a pic of each Maico I’ve had, 81, 82, & 83. 82 & 83 are good but the 81 is the best.







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11 thoughts on “1981 Maico 490 – George Marshall

  1. I’m with you brother. Nothing like beating up on a state of the art 450 with an “antiquated” dinosaur.

  2. George is as fast as his bike. I had the pleasure of looking at his rear fender all weekend in Monticello, UT at an ADVRA national.
    His bike is very trick. He machined the REED VALVE himself. I like the new disc brake front end. I have one hanging from the wall waiting to be installed–any advice?

    BTW-I understand George will be giving a riding clinic at Speedworld in Phoenix the last Friday in January.

  3. George,

    It would be great to get your opinion of that particular vintage Maico. You say you like the ’81 best, but what makes it better than the other years? Especially in competition with modern machinery. Can you compare it to similar vintage machines from other manufaturers?

    I bring this up because with limited availability for 2-strokes, folks are going to want to turn to vintage bikes and, as your are doing, compete against modern technology.

    You opinions would be greatly appreciated.


  4. Kurt,
    Sorry I took so long to write back I just checked this site and discovered the comments. The 81 has a lower center of gravity than the 82-83 and is about 10 lbs lighter than the 82. It corners like no other bike I’ve riden, well except for the 78-79 Magnum. It completely opens up every corner and gives you a choice on how you want to attack it. Rail the berm, square it off, dirt track the inside… and you can change up mid corner and change lines. It allows me to set up the next corner way before I get there. The modern bikes I’ve had and riden tend to want to lift under acceleration and run wide. It is also very forgiving. I have a dream of building up an 81 with modern forks, wheels and brakes and sponsoring a pro and I’d bet it could run up front if not win against 450s.


  5. Thanks George. Your comments are very helpful. I hope your dream comes true and we get to read about it here!

    On that thought, it would be interesting to see a comparision on how those changes effect the machine. We know the ’81 was an excellent bike. We now see how it compares to a modern Open Classer. Just how much better would modern brakes be? Then add the suspension pieces…would it end up that much better than a modern bike? Would it be as good as the Service Honda?

    Anyway, thanks again. Now if I can just find an affordable ’81 Maico!


  6. George, its great to see your doing well. I haven’t seen you at any races this year. I’m sure your still going fast. I was looking at the NM race they added in the AVDRA series. Hope to see you. Trey

  7. George, I’m impressed with your racing successes on that Maico. I’m considering returning to the dirk bike scene after 30 plus years on street bikes. I was a Maico rider in the 70’s and would like to find a 490. Do you have connections to anyone with one that may want to part with it?

  8. George,

    I have a 1981 Maico 490 too….I agree 100% with you….it is the finest bike ever.


  9. Hello George,
    Great info on the Maicos!
    Can you tell us alittle more about the Mods your did to your 1981 and the front disc brake set up?

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