“But there wasn’t much else by way of difference,” resumed Gareth. “The wheel spindles were hollow, for lightness. They had a special set-up with a short torque arm and quick-release brake rod which would help when it came to tyre changes. The yokes were magnesium and the steering stem was aluminium, as against the steel of the production bike. I never felt there was anything on the bike that the average rider couldn’t make a sketch of and fabricate for himself.”
Not that the average punter, having bought a production 490 Maico in 1982, was necessarily looking for more performance. Weighing a claimed 103kg and producing around 56bhp this bike wasn’t just a powerhouse in its day, it remains so to this.
“It is incredibly light, like you can’t believe,” smiled Geraint. “You jump on it and you can’t keep the front wheel down, it’s so powerful, so torquey. The front wheel was in the air all the time. I think a lot of people would have a shock if they rode a good one of these today.
“If you could apply the knowledge we have now with suspension, and if they had disc brakes, you’d be surprised just how competitive they’d be. Especially if we were on something like the old-fashioned tracks, with fewer jumps.
“And we’d be having more fun!”
Part of its brilliance is in its simplicity. It’s an air-cooled motor, so there’s no radiator and plumbing issues. The Bing 40mm carburettor is controlled by a single throttle cable. If it gets drowned you can have the float bowl off in literally a second as it’s retained by a single spring clip. Gareth: “It makes me mad today when you see the complexity of modern carbs; the number of screws, let alone the amount of bodywork you need to remove to do the same job that took one second on the Maico.”