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About the Minsk

The two stroke, single cylinder Byelorussian Minsk is a 125cc dirt bike capable of getting you anywhere in Vietnam. In its manual it says: "These motorcycles are especially suitable for service in the country-side with bad or no roads."

If you tinker with it, keep it clean and make regular inspections then the Minsk will become a true friend. You will not see many of these bikes in the Hanoi as the locals consider themselves above such an ungainly, oil billowing reminder of past Russian dominance. In the mountains and hills, however, the Minsk rules supreme. Every mechanic knows how to fix a Minsk, and there are places everywhere selling spare parts.

It’s got a top speed of around 85 kilometers an hour, its tank’s about 11 liters which will get you around 200 – 250 kilometers – the reserve will get you around 15 kilometers. The bike has a simple design and has no battery. The tyre’s traction is excellent and capable of covering clay, rock or wet and its suspension is great. The bike is ideal for any trip into the mountains of the north of Vietnam. Its drawbacks are its lack of speed on the strait and its Russian heritage which doesn’t like the heat. In hot weather you really need to keep the engine from overheating. Like other former Soviet classics like the Voxhod, Isch, Ural or Jawa, all you need to do is get a spark, a puff of air and a splash of petrol all together in the same place and you have an engine up and running.

What you should bear in mind when driving a minsk?

  • Using mixed fuels (5% oil with petrol)
  • In the morning or after stopping for along time you have to pump the choke till fuel is leaking out
  • While driving up-hill try to use a low gear and use the clutch as little as possible (save extra wear on clutch)

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