By Tom White via : www.motocrossactionmag.com
German Wilhelm Maisch started making motorcycles in 1935 under the name Maico. Unfortunately, the company was soon swept into World War II and began building aircraft parts for Hitler's Luftwaffe. After the war, under terms of the surrender, Nazi party members were barred from majority ownership of German companies. To get past this law, Wilhelm, a party member, enlisted his brother Otto, who hadn't become a Nazi, to take over majority ownership of Maico.
By 1973, the Maico 400 and 440 models were the top choice of Open class riders in America. As showcased by Trans-AMA Champion Adolf Weil, the big Maicos had razor-sharp handling, linear powerbands, plentiful power, torquey response and excellent forks. This combination made them especially hard to beat at hard-packed tracks like Saddleback Park.
Unfortunately, Maico also earned a reputation for poor reliability. The chants of “Maico Breako” were often used to describe the German motorcycles. Fortunately, performance shops like Wheelsmith Engineering (Greg Smith and Sam Wheeler) in Santa Ana, California, were able to make modifications to improve the big Maico's reliability. Interestingly, the Maico 125 and 250 were never popular, though both were good-handling motorcycles. The price was probably the biggest problem, though not as much for the Open class riders, who were generally older.
In 1982, Maico followed the industry trend and introduced a new single-shock design. Unfortunately, the questionable Corte Cossa shocks broke, often within the first couple of laps. The resulting financial bind (and Maisch family feuding) resulted in Maico going into receivership and a series of failed revival plans. It is still in business in England today.