Maisch & Co was a family-owned business founded in 1926 in Poltringen Germany. They adopted the contraction Maico as their brand. The first two-wheeled product came in 1931, and it was actually a bicycle, like so many other firms founded 30+ years earlier. Four years later, in 1935, the first motorcycle, the MP120, emerged as a natural evolution. It was a single cylinder two-stroke machine equipped with an Ilo engine. A 50cc machine followed to join the 120 in 1939. The success of these first machines allowed Maico to develop its own engine, but further progress was interrupted by the war. The M150 finally entered production in 1949.
In the 1950s, Maico introduced new lines and models. They included impressive off-road machines for motocross and multi-day trials. They also built a line of up-scale scooters which featured larger wheels and higher top speeds common to motorcycles. They were fortunately able to suffer through the decline of the late 1950s as inexpensive automobiles became a viable alternative to two-wheeled transportation. This was in part due to the Maicoletta scooter (see photo below), which sold well and rivaled Vespas and Lambrettas for style. They realized however, that new models aimed at the street and track were key to the 1960s. In 1963, the MD50 and the MD125 were introduced with all new rotary valve engines, and unit construction. This was followed in 1966 by participation in the European road racing series, and the introduction of the MD125 Sport on the street. 1969 produced the RS125 which sold well.
Into the 1970s, Maico progressed with top five placings in the world championship in the hands of Dieter Braun, and Borge Jansson. Meanwhile, they were having even greater success off-road. Top three finishes in the motocross world championship were common, along with victories in the hands of Adolfo Weil and Willy Bauer. In 1974, they influenced motocross machines into the future by mounting the rear shocks forward of the rear wheel. The competition scrambled (pun intended) to catch up. Despite its success, Maico ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1983. Ultimately it was due to a very poor street motorcycle introduced in 1982 with fragile suspension, exploding gear boxes and lack of heat hardening of rear hubs. Repairs and returns crippled expenses, killed sales, and ultimately, destroyed the finances of the company. However, there are theories, and perhaps some evidence, which suggest that the failures were “engineered” by Maisch family infighting in order to orchestrate a takeover.
The name Maico continues to be used as it has been purchased by a succession of entities. Most of that use has been in the motocross/enduro space.