Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's

Cycle News 1979 12 19

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 44 of 47

, &; First Test. . :::- . - - - II • ~ E Hendllng Is completely changed on the Mega-Form Melco. The former front-end hendler now I. neutnll with excellent tracking at both wheel•. The Mege-F.orm IIits lower de.pite Increel All-new Mega-Form By Jim Gianatsis Photos by Terry Whytel and Gianatsis Never before in the history of Maico motocross machinery has ~ new model been so radically changed. Sure, there was the new compact engine design a few years back and the ever continuous evolution of the suspension which all motocross bikes have seen. But throughout it all, the Maico remained a Maico; a roughly-hewn Tutonic warrior with than its sha~ of idiosyncrasies, torquey powerbands and a unique tendency towards front-end handling. Most of that is now past. With the new 1980 Mega-Form models, the changes a~ so radical that a Maico almost isn't a Maico any longer. The chassis and the suspension are changed so much that about the only parts left interchangeable with last year's models a~ the swingarm and the footpegs. But even that doesn't mean much since the new Maicos no longer .handle like old Maicos. Fifteen years of tradition finally have been pitched off the track. so to speak. Maicos a~ no longer front-end . handlers. The front wheel tracking its way perfectly like on rails ~cross and through the worst terram, never wanting to do anything exciting like paw the air, while the back-end of the bike skips and bounces along behind trying to keep up. The new Maicos a~ now neutral handlers. The front end still leads the way, but now the ~ar end be~ves itself to track along perfectly, behind, sharing chores with the front-end on a nearly 50/50 basis. The result is a bike that can work on the back-end when you want it to, or on the front-end. But the majority of the time on motocross terrain is spent with both ends of the bike working together to get you around the track faster than ever before. mo~ 12 / . The result is a new type of Maico which old Maico pilots can go a lot quicker on. And for riders of other brands, the change to a Maico is no longe.r a traumatic lov~ or hate relationship. I. would desc~be the ~ew Maico's handhng personahty as bemg very similar to that of a works OW Yamaha. Or for those of you who haven't ridden any works OWs lately, then somewhat similar to its much more distant cousins the 250cc/Open class production YZ Yamahas. It is still much too early to make any overall value judgements yet, but the new Maico tnight just turn out to be the best production mount a privateer can race this coming year. I tested the 440cc Maico, but the new Mega-Form chassis and suspension is shared with the 400cc and 250cc models. The frame itself is totally new, featuring a torque-box backbone structure running from the steering head to the aifbox. Chassis st~ngth goes way up over the conven.tional tube backbone of yesteryear WIthout any inc~ase in weight. The engine department cradle is much more compact as well, helping to add to overall frame rigidity and lessen the transmission of engine vibration. And since the engine moves around less in the frame, smaller head stay brackets can be used without the fear of breakage. It's the changes to the rear frame structure which account for the handling personality. The 15.1 inc.h length Corte Casso deCarbon reservOir shocks have their top mounts lowered and positioned forward on the frame. This increases the leverage ratio of the rear suspension which makes the rear end mo~ responsive. It also increases rear wheel travel from 280mm to S05S10mm (12.2 in.). Rocking couple or weight transfer between the front and rear of the bike becomes much more pronounced. The lowered upper shock mount and redesigned frame also allows the seat to be positioned lower and further forward. The rider now feels like he is sitting in the middle of the bike rather than back and on top of it. The suspension works with the rider as he pivots in the middle of it, making him feel like part of the bike which is now much easier to control. The lower seat height also le,ts you flat foot the ground on either side of the bike despite the increase in travel. Other part of the chassis abound with new and well thought out changes. The rear fender is attached to a hidden frame loop which also supports the saddle. The saddle slides backwards off the frame with the loosening of two mounting bolts. Then, with the saddle off, the new plastic gas tank. slides off the bike without having to play with any bolts at all. Under the seat is a new large airbox with water drain and a quick removal foam filter held in place by a wire clip similar to the system on Husqvarnas. The footpegs a~ positioned further back on the lower frame rails to help increase rear weight proportion for more balanced handling, as well as now allowing removal of the engine's clutch cover without having to unbolt the left footpeg. This allows easier removal of the engine from the frame as well, also aided by a quick disconnect exhaust system. Leverage is increased on the rear brake pedal to allow more stopping power, certainly something to take advantage of now that the Maico's rear wheel tracking manners are improved. To match the new rear suspension is an all-new Maico front fork assembly. Huge 42mm fork tubes, !I.5mm wall thickness, are supported by air/springs to provide S10mm (12.2 in.) of travel. With the top-out springs not compressed the~'s a lot of supporting overlap between the tubes and sliders, some 210mm (8.5 in.). Additional rigidity is gained by twin pinch bolts on each slider leg to clamp the front axle. The sliders are normal aluminum castings now containing .single oil seals with brass bushing guides. Triple clamps a~ heavy-duty aluminum forgings using one large IOmm hex cap bolt per clamp to keep things tight where other brands might use two 8mm bolts for the same amount of clamping power with a little more piece of mind. These new forks to have less rebound damping then last year to match the increase in travel, while comp~ion damping is in~ased the last 50mm of fork travel towards bottoming out. Timken tapered steering head roller bearings continued to be used and steering head angle remains 28 degrees. In the engine department, things remain much the same for the 440cc engine as well as the 400cc a~d 2~Occ versions. There are some modificanons to the transfer porting for all three models though, which Maico c1aims i~ases overall torque with a 'higher peak at lower RPMs. The 440cc engine is rated 50 hp @ 7200 rpm on the engine dynometer,_followed by the 400cc with 47 hp @ 7000 rpm and the 250cc with 40 hp @ 8000 rpm. Crankshafts are now non-nitrated, a claim for reducing vibration, though it is probably just to reduce an unnecessary expense for a hardening process not needed. The most major refinement is a new hook rachet shifting system for mo~ positive shifting which performed faultlessly during our test ride. The shift lever now has a folding tip. Maico also made claims for a more accurate push pin and spindle in the

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