Friday, January 21, 2022 | Opferman Motors

Maico Brothers Archive

A Maico by any other name is still a Maico.

In 1983, Maico faced bankruptcy for the first time since Otto and Wilhelm Maisch started building bicycles in the late 20's / early 30's. Maico's MX program crash landed after Rear Shock warranties and hand grenade transmissions shook the US market, causing a lack of confidence in the hand made racer. Some insiders still won't talk about the reasons and rumors that abound after the fall. In the end, the son's of Wilhelm Maisch, Peter and Hans, gained control on October 20, 1983 and kick started their 1984 line under the name of M Star.

M Star was the name eventually decided on for the American market only. Europe saw the new company building Maico's with cosmetic changes and some new ideas such as water cooling on the 250 models only. Upon opening the doors as M Star, the Wilhelm Maisch sons faced stiff competition from the Japanese. It was like the new company slipped and was no longer "A Step Ahead". This competition kept the new version of Maico from taking off, despite the later modifications and innovations that moved Maico into the future.

In 1984, the Swabian view of engineering was still on the march as they introduced water-cooling to the 250 MX line while keeping the 500 and E Models air-cooled. The 490 became known as a 500 without getting any bigger and while still being stopped by Drums, front and rear, the Spider looking M Star got new plastic but kept the Spider Frame and Swingarm. More changes were to come as the years went on but the first M Star came with Factory Manuals with all mention of Maico blotted out by a Black Magic Marker.

The 1985 lineup was the models they should have made to kick off the new management campaign in 1984. The new units were really changed with major defects removed. The 500 was changed to a Five Speed Transmission, more water-cooled models were introduced into the US market but all models were water-cooled in Europe. A completely new frame with larger tubing, new Forks and the introduction of front only disk brakes marked the M Star as "The New Breed". In the 85 Sale Brochures, they even included a special water-cooled bike for Sided Car racing.

By 1986, only the Scrambler (an Enduro 500 with rear drum brakes) remained Air-Cooled but new names were now linked to the last Maisch Maico's; Nikasil, exhaust Power Valves (SEES) and rear disk brakes. Even with a new clutch and a list of other changes, this Maico was to be the last dressed in Red. On November 3, 1986, the Grim Reaper of bankruptcy overcame the fledgling company. This time, overcoming the bad press left over from the activity leading up to the take over in 84', plus the increased pressure from the Japanese, solvency could not be maintained.

In the fall of 1986, the Maico name returned to the American Market. Now Blue and with new owners, they moved closer to the German border. Now under the control of Merkle in Bavaria / Bayern, the Maico continued its evolution and eventuality became the modern marvel they are today. Although Bayern is a part of Germany (although the people there sometimes think it's not) the Maico would no longer bear the well known "made in Germany" mark while still in the Merkle hands.

The M Star was the last true Maico from the Maisch family. Regardless of the changes and how they came about, the M Star's remain excellent machines that unfortunately were misunderstood and rarely seen in the U.S. market. Today, all the parts for the M Star's are still available through several Maico suppliers.

M-Star produced manuals for the '85 and '86 models. For the first M Star's, the only known manual provided with the 84's was the 1983 Spider manual. Since all reference to the name Maico had to be removed, a blacked out version of the '83 manual was used. Even the official vinyl side and front Yellow number decals had the name covered.This is the best evidence that illerstrates the legal difficulties that the new company faced.

Foot note

A quick way to tell the year of your M-Star is by the Brakes.

1984 250 & 500's have Drum Front & Drum Rear Brake.

1985 250 & 500's Have Front Disc Brake and Drum Rear Brake.

1986 250 & 500 have Disc Brakes Front and Rear.

MStar Serial Numbers

Year Model Frame Engine
1984 250 M Star E Air Cooled HME 361 0000 E 361 0000
1984 250 M Star Water Cooled HMX 363 0000 363 0000
1984 500 M Star Air Cooled HMX 364 0000 364 0000
1985 250 GM Star Water Cooled HMX 365 0000 H 365 0000
1985 500 GM Star Water Cooled HMX 366 0000 H 366 0000
1985 250 GM Star Air Cooled HMX 365 0000 265 0000
1985 500 GM Star Air Cooled HMX 366 0000 266 0000
1986 250 GM Star Water Cooled HMX 367 0000 367 0000
1986 500 GM Star Water cooled HMX 368 0000 368 0000
1986 250 GM Star Enduro HME 267 0000 267 0000
1986 500 GM Star Enduro HME 268 0000 268 0000
1986 500 GM Star Air Cooled Scrambler HMXL 468 0000 HE 468 0000


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