One man's passion for Maico motorcycles

Published: 02 March 2012

Maico may not be the most famous name in motorcycling, but to cognoscenti or those with a motocross bent, it’s one of the most revered – which Graham Roberts collection of the West German machines all the more impressive.

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s the firm’s fearsome 490cc two-stroke open class ‘crosser was the only credible alternative to offerings from Japan and, in fact, in 1981, outsold all of them.

Acclaimed for its combination of awesome power and sure-footed handling the 490cc Maico was not only the mount of world class riders like Adolf Weil, Ake Johnsson and Willy Bauer it was also a machine ideally suited to the enthusiastic clubman.

In the early ‘80s, Roberts was such as racer, winning the Cornish junior championships aboard such a machine and later, after retiring, began acquiring examples of the German bike Today he has one of the largest collections of Maicos in Europe.

“In the late ‘80s I started my own business supplying boots, clothing and accessories to the trade and on my visits to dealers regularly picked up bikes and boxes of spares for next to nothing,” he told MCN.

“In those days there was no interest in old, uncompetitive twin shock machines and were some real bargains to be had. At one time I had over 100 different motocrossers. But when twin shock racing took off in the early ‘90s I decided to specialise in my love of Maicos so many went in part exchange.”

Even so, today Roberts’ collection totals just under 100 with, all bar one – a beautiful replica of Graham Noyce’s 1979 world championship winning Honda – being the rugged German two strokes.

Most have been fully restored and share space with masses of Maico memorabilia covering four glorious decades of production from the Pfaffingen factory (the original concern closed in 1983). Motocrossers, enduros, road bikes and a scooter all rub handlebars along with an early sixties ‘flat tracker’, an extremely rare machine which had just arrived from the USA.

Roberts now spends much of his spare time sourcing and restoring his next restoration project; among them several Maico-engined ‘specials’. After 20 years of collecting Roberts has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the West German two strokes; some of which have a rich provenance.