Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | TSTM

Honda CR500 vs. Maico 500 Drag Race

The Honda CR500 is a bike legends are made of, literally. A legend is something that usually starts from truth but then evolves into myth that is still regarded as accurate and true. This is what happened to the Honda CR500. Many believe that the CR500 is the HE-MAN of dirt bikes, the most powerful dirt bike in the universe! This is especially true when you read comments from people on the internet where the legend is that nothing can beat the CR500. So much so in fact that no one actually knows what the true horsepower of a CR500 is.

A "slight" modification can get you 80 horsepower some claim while others claim a stock CR500 does over 100 horsepower. The truth is that a stock CR500 makes 50-55 horsepower and a Kawasaki KX500 does indeed beat the CR500 in a drag race. Sorry, that's just facts. A tuned CR550 Liger engine can make 91 horsepower somewhere in the range of 7,000 to 9,000 rpm and that's tuned and 50cc more than the CR500. You can see this in the video below.

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Story of my 1974 Suzuki TS250

The 1974 Suzuki TS 250 was the second real dirt bike I got to own and ride. This is excluding go-carts and three wheelers as this was the second true dirt bike. The first dirt bike was a 1971 Kawasaki 100, which was either a KE 100 or the predecessor to the KE. The 1974 TS 250 was one that my dad had bought new back in 1974. He sold it to a friend but they weren't riding it so it just sat in the garage. The thing was all metal, including the tank and by today's standards of course quite heavy for an off-road bike.

The question was if the bike was too big for me at the time after all not only was it a 250 but a very heavy tank. I came up with the idea that well the main thing was if I fell I'd need to be able to pick the bike back up by myself. So that became the test. We laid the bike down and I had to pick it back up, which I did with little effort and so we got the bike back.

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MStar 500 at the 1986 Gila Bend GP

The photo is of me at the Gila Bend GP in Gila Bend, Arizona in January of 1986, the bike is an M*Star GM 500. As you well know this is a motocross bike, with a small gas tank. The race was a GP format with a parade lap through town and as it turned out I should have either skipped the parade lap or refueled before the start of the race. Why? Because I ran out of gas on the first loop. Luckily the Arizona Desert Racing Association (ADRA) required all racers to carry a canteen (pre camel back era).

However, the canteen rule did not specify what liquid should be in the canteen; so I had pre-mix in mine. This race was the first time I had ever ridden a dirt bike at near sea level. I spent the better part of a day trying to jet my bike perfectly, and then chickened out and ran it a little rich. This proved to be one of the few smart things that I have ever done since the race was run through some fast arroyos with deep sand (just like we have here in Albuquerque but we are at 5000ft).

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In Maico Madness you ask for more pictures and information about Maico. Probably you will be interrested in my story about it. In 1978 our Motoracing team "De Blokhut" stopped his existance, the members of this team did not want to stop their whole club so they started looking for an other option which was related to Motorsport. Since about 1960 in Dordrecht (beside Rotterdam) Motoball was played.

Our members got interrested in this game and started their own club by then. What is Motoball? Motoball is, like the name says, playing football on motorcycles. The bikes can have maximum 250cc and they need some assimilation like being closer to the ground etc. The ball is 45 cm across. The rules are fundamentely the same like in a soccer game.

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Rick McDowell's 1974 Maico 450

Thanks for offering to put the pictures of my Maico on your web site. It is an honor to have my pride and joy on the one and only Maico Madness web page. I bought this 1974 Maico 450 when I was 15 years old and raced it in the Open class for about three years. In 1978 I retired it to unfortunately sit in the back of my garage for the next twenty years. Since I had been out of racing for quite a while, I didn't know how these bikes have gone up in value. When I found out I decided to put some bucks into it and get it back to as near to stock as I could. I could never sell this bike, it is too dear to my heart. I even tell my daughter that it has more seniority than she does. :-)

I started by completely stripping all the old paint off and to repaint it to exactly how it was when I bought it. New tires were a must as it still had the original front on it. I put on new fork tubes as the originals were a little twisted from the last ride (crash) 20 years ago. I put on the heaver tubes that are being made now. Every single part was painted, beaded, brushed or other wise refinished back to like new. Most of the parts were purchased from NW maico, those guys really helped me alot. As it sits now it has all the original parts except the fenders, handlebars and grips, fork tubes, seat cover and rear shocks.

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Mike Yelland's First Maico 490 Ride

I'll never forget my first Maico 490 ride...'81 it was, currently (at the time it was 1982 I think) and it was a buddy's who raced Open A. That was back when men were men and could ride something which would rather spit you off like a bronco. Ok, at the time in history I was riding/racing a 78 Maico 250 which was a nice nuetral handler without too much power but very user-friendly. So the story begins with some friends and I riding around a local pit/track...we all take turns out there, come back, go out, etc...well I'm out there and I hear something behind me. Kind of a low sound - not a 125 and not that close. So I give it some more gas...but it's getting closer. So down this straightaway I give it all the 250's got. And out of the corner of my right eye I see a wheel, in the AIR ! Not only was this thing close, but I could hear the engine every time it fired practically. Why rev it when the rear wheel hooks up better with lower revs ? Something the 4-stroke guys are teaching us (some of us) all over again. So Drew on the '81 490 just goes right by me - wow I thought to myself...what was that thing ?

So we stopped and talked and stuff and have been friends since. A month later, some buddy's and I go to Kessler's practice track in NH (still 1982) and Drew is there. We ride/practice some then Drew asks me if I want to ride it - OF COURSE I DO LET ME ON THAT THING! So I putt around a little like I always do on a different bike, then little by little, I realize, it doesn't matter if I'm going up a hill or down, left or right, traction or not, the front wheel likes to be in the air ! They had to come get me off the track... I later bought that same bike...and still have it. Just last week I bought an '83 490. Too bad they don't know how to make an Open bike any more. Just about all the Open bikes these days are at least 10lbs heavier than my 490.

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Early Maicos in the U.S.

Maico motorcycles were first distributed in the US on a wide spread basis to the best knowledge of the author by, Whizzer International (yes the Whizzer Motorbike Company) starting in 1955. Kinder Cycle of Ft. Indiana got in a number of new Maico's including a new 56 250cc. scrambler. That was the first Maico scrambler purchased by the author and was titled as a 56 although the original cylinder was produced in late 1955 per its date stamp. (They were fairly popular in 1956 with the author sometimes lining up with as many as 4 other Maicos in a 8 bike heat in 56/57 in Ohio scrambles events.) The first machines (scramblers) were 4 speed close ratio 250cc Earls fork equipped units with large high chrome pipes and effective mufflers. A cast iron loop scavenged cvlinder was employed with modified porting compared to either the road or enduro version. Maico rated these at 18 19hp. which was probably a bit high but in 56 nothing motored a 250 Maico.( though the 250 Adler Scramblers of 56/57 would for you younger chaps these were 250 cc. 2 stroke twins produced by Adler of Germany and later were copied by Yamaha for their twins). These Maico Scramblers were fitted with a 3.25 x 19 front and a 3.50 x 19 rear tire on WM1 and WM2 rims respectively. Rims were steel on the scramblers with 2 red pinstripes and the spokes were heavier than the road or enduro versions. I should mention that the 56 Enduro's at least utilized the same rear wheel and cushion drive as the scramblers while the later Enduros went to a lighter rear wheel which made tire changes faster with the smaller brake inside the sprocket/cushion drive carrier. The front portion of the frame was made of oval section tubing for greater strength compared to the round tubing of the road and enduro versions. Ignition was by a Bosch dc generator with a battery and the generator would drive conventional lights as it was the same as the road machine except for having 2 condensers which could be selected by changing a screw attached connecting wire. The generator had an automatic spark advance but a single plug. was all that was fitted. The scramblers had a 9 to 1 head initially with a plug that screwed in from the front while the Enduro and the road machine used a lower comp. head with the plug screwing in from the left hand side. This was probably due as much to the high exhaust on the scrambler though the Enduro shared the same high exhaust which ran on the right side next to the 3.3 gallon steel tank. (all chrome with no rubber knee pads.) The bike was the sarne as the one used to win the European 250 championship in 1957( which was the world title at that point in time).

The author was extremely successful with the original, despite having little 2 stroke experience. At 18, how much experience would one have gained from a 125cc Harley owned previously. Oh yes, carburation was by 26mm Bing with a gravel strainer air cleaner, and a choke that worked by closing the openings on the back of the aircleaner. Performance was astounding compared to the 200cc. James units, 125cc CZ road bikes and the 200cc Triumph Cubs. In fact, the first night after bringing it home, with no miles on it was ran against my brothers 750cc Harley K model. There was no comparison up to 70 75 mph. The little 250 would come off the line and run out in front until it peaked out and then the K model could pass it. Road Machines: I'm going to inject a little data here that has been brought to my attention as result of some calls I've received. I've mentioned the 250 cast iron engine with the Blizzard road machine basically using the same engine as an Enduro. The Enduro version had in many cases dual condensers same as the scramblers did in 56. But there were variations. For instance there was a odd ball 250 cast iron which used a special cylinder that contained the transfer ports entirely within the barrel itself with the flow being thru the piston out thru port openings above the wrist pit of the piston thru the port cast in the cylinder and back out above the piston top into the cylinder. To allow this the pistons are an inch taller roughly between the wrist pin and the bottom of the ring area (normal 3 ring configuration). This same porting configuration is found on the fan cooled Maicoletta Scooter engines. These were fan cooled electric start units in 250 and 280cc. versions which propelled a relatively large impressive motorscooter at speeds of 70 to 80 mph. rather effortlessly. Oh yes, the starter was different as it did not spin the engine over but rather rocked it back and forth until it fired and began running. Strange but it worked and not to badly either. Oh yes this scooter had a very sophisticated set of forks the aluminum sliders of which were fitted to the 66 67 Maico x 3 oval barrels and according to the factory literature some of the square barrels as well. About 5 & 3/4" travel with better dampening than earlier forks and leading axle. ( I converted a set of the 62 65 forks to leading axle without a real advange on those single loop frames which are point and shooters rather than sliders my term). Maico offered a cheap 200 with painted rims, black exhaust etc. as well as the 175cc. super sport with chrome, aluminum cylinder, etc. I have encountered 2 different variants of the 200cc. cast iron cylinder as well so it may be that a 175 CI was offered prior to 56 in Europe. The early 57 literatutre shows a 175 scrambler with a smaller cylinder outline than the alloy cylinder has. As mentioned, they used up parts left and an example was some of the odd ported 250 Blizzards sold as new bikes in 65 or 66 which were in reality 17S Supersport chassis with the obsolete 250 cylinders and high bars. The 250 Blizzards came with Earles pattern front forks right on thru from 55 to after 62 at least. We purchased and sold a new 280cc. Earles fork Blizzard in 1962 with a 280cc cylinder but as I mentioned I got along well with the importer. This was actually a 250 with a cylinder that allowed a 71mm. piston rather than a 67mm thus giving 277cc. The chap who won at Catalina Island in the 57 58 era was running one ofthose, I was told by the importer, although few knew they existed. With one of those cylinders and a 27MM Bing the 62 250's would run over 90 mph. even breathing thru a stock aircleaner and muffler but I had problems with piston seizure due to cylinder distortion.

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Berry bags British 500cc two stroke title

While the world's media descended on the U.K. capital spending the week concentrating on the build up to the Marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the traditional bank holiday weekend witnessed another perfect partnership as Maico Internationals, Dunlop, Maxima, No Fear rider, Neil Berry clinched the O.R.P.A. 500cc British two stroke Championship title on Monday the 2nd May.

Displaying all the qualities of a "never say die" Brit, Berry who had suffered a shoulder injury after crashing three weeks ago relentlessly fought through the pain barrier on his factory 320 M.M.X. to take the overall victory over the two days.

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Distributors wanted as Maico Brand name is UK bound

In a statement set to shock Maico enthusiasts around the world, British manufacturers Maico International are pleased to announce the brand name will be heading to the U.K. very soon.

Ownership of the name has proved to be an elusive mystery and an urban myth for many years with much speculation as to the possibility that a document was ever in existence due to so many companies now publicly trading in the manufacture of Maico branded parts and bikes. Maico International can now reveal they have been aware of the full circumstances surrounding ownership of the name for some time.

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"No Fear" for Berry, as Maico International announce class leader

While a staple diet of regular editorials and press releases kept the worlds Maico fans and industry media right up to the minute with progress throughout last year Maico International have been flattered by the concerned and enthusiastic response to their comparative silence since the last release on the 11th of December 2010. Grateful thanks go to two people in particular for their support, Toby Opferman and John Nicholas.

Back with a double whammy Maico International are pleased to welcome what is arguably one of the worlds leading M.X. clothing brands, "No fear" as a new sponsor for 2011. Dunlop Maxima rider Neil Berry will be covered from head to toe in their products for the 2011 campaign on an M.M.X. in a variety of engine sizes competing in European and U.K. events as well as a visit stateside later this year. In a deal brokered by Andy Sutton, director of the areas leading "No Fear" distributor, Poole Motorcycles, Neil Berry told us "We are very pleased to be working directly with No Fear they have a high quality product and have provided us with a comprehensive package in terms of support, we are looking forward to building a good relationship with them".

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N.A.S.A. developed technology now included

With its origins based firmly in N.A.S.A. development the W.S.2 coating is the latest addition to Maico Internationals armoury for the M.M.X. and is likely to be a permanent Feature on the option?s list across the complete range of bikes.

Appearing as a rather bland grey in colour, the coating has a far less glamorous finish than the titanium nitride option and has already been tested on a motorcycle in the U.K. providing some very encouraging results with a friction reduction in excess of sixty percent.

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Direct-line and Online

As enquires pour in from around the globe, the demand for the 2011 M.M.X. has left potential customers voicing concerns over the reassurance of parts availability to various countries where there is currently no distributor.

Attempting to launch a niche product in a market which stretches through the boundaries of global economies and succumbs to exchange rates which could ultimately dictate the success or failure of the bike in any given country, Maico International will be providing logistical support for customers who have no direct access to a dealer.

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Back in the seventies the ill-fated 125 Maico failed to reach the lofty heights of success achieved by its big bore motocross stable-mates yet gained quite a reputation in its short lifespan on the road racing circuit for its out and out speed.

With information on the 125 sketchy at best, the general consensus of opinion seems to base reliability issues as the reason the motor disappeared from the otherwise formidable line up, yet no-one appears to have been able to pin point what those issues were and why they were apparently not addressed.

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New Billet Pistons not boring!

In the modern day world of high tech products, dominated by the latest digital electronics and must have gadgets, one may be forgiven for overlooking the human experience, skill and craftsmanship so clearly responsible for the wealth of British heritage in the manufacturing and automotive industry.

As many oriental countries stamp their footprint on the global manufacturing industry, the internet makes it incredibly easy to deal with companies around the globe in a matter of minutes.

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1979 Maico 125 Fetches $10k on Evilbay

Yes you heard that right! A 1979 Maico 125 recently just fetched a whooping $10k on Evilbay. The Maico 125s are one of the rarest of the rare Maicos though and the 1979 was the last year Maico ever produced a 125. Maico was more popular with the big bores and perhaps this is one of the reasons that 125's are quite rare, most likely did not sell as many as they did with their big brothers.

This isn't the only Maico 125 to sell recently as last week a Maico 125 AW (that's Adolf Weil works replica to you Maico illiterates) sold for around $7800. Now Maico 125's are comming out of the woodwork! There are several Maico 125's I have now seen put up for sale on various forums. "Are Maico 125s the new 501s?" asks one online messageboard user.

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