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Minsk motorcycle Tours

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The two stroke, single cylinder Belorussian 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.




Minsk Motorcycle,


(Russian: Минск) or also known as Motovelo Corp, is a company that produces motorcycles. Minsk produces bicycles under its AIST brand. Motovelo is located in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.


The plant was founded on 6 November 1945 making bicycles. In 1951 motorcycle production started with the transfer of production lines from MMZ in Moscow.

The company produced a two stroke 125cc motorcycle based on a pre-World War II DKW RT 125 design made in Minsk in the former Soviet Union (now Belarus). This model was imported into Great Britain by Neval Motorcycles and initially tradenamed as "Neval".

Minsk motorcycles were among the Soviet motorcycles distributed by SATRA, UK, under the brand name Cossack, (Satra was originally located in Surrey, England, later moving to Carnaby) from 1973 to 1979.

Present situation

The plant manufactures on parallel assembly lines motorcycles and bicycles. 70% of bicycles are exported to Russia, while 90% of motorcycles are exported to countries outside of former USSR - Iran, Vietnam, Turkey, Mexico, UK, France, USA and Germany.

The plant was privatized in the 1990s with most of the share going to workers. The MotoVelo Corporation has been in decline, some experts attribute this to the rapid increase of steel price from Russia in 2003-2005. Also Vietnam - a major importer of Motovelo production - introduced a 40% import duty for the Belarusian company forcing it to lose to cheaper Chinese production.

On 25 November 2005 some 600 employees of MotoVelo rallied and blocked a Minsk street in protest at low salaries (average $200/month) and poor work conditions. On 16 December 2005 the majority stock (90% of stock options) was transferred to the Belarusian state to save the plant. In the Belarusian socialist economy, this means that the plant should have an influx of state money.

Christopher Hunt wrote about his experience in riding a Minsk motorcycle along the Ho Chi Minh trail after the Vietnam War in his book Sparring With Charlie: Motorbiking Down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. A Minsk was featured in Top Gear's Vietnam Special, ridden by Richard Hammond.

The motorcycle has a strong fan base in some countries. For example, in Vietnam annual 'Minsk Olympics' are held in the northern part of the country.

In 1996 two new versions of the standard Minsk were made. They look exactly the same as the 1970 model but on the inside one is better because its alternator is stronger and easier to fix. If you buy the bike new then for an extra US$10 they will put in the better version. The weaker alternator is easily recognized because it has a number of round holes drilled through its cover.

Both the 1996 models have a more economical carburetor which is fine on the flat but a little short of power in the mountains. This carburetor is easy to recognize because the top of it is circular and can be unscrewed. Again, ask the dealer to put in the older, rectangular-tube shaped one for better performance in the mountains. Also opt for the round shaped head-lamp rather than the square one – it’s easier to remove and replaced if smashed.

The Sport Minsk

In addition to the two standard models in 1996, a more expensive, sports version of the Minsk was also released. It has a larger petrol tank, higher front suspension, its seat is higher (but harder) and its more quiet due to a muffler stuffed with glass fibre.

Its fourth gear is larger than the normal Minsk so this bike will go faster on the straight and the engine block is bigger so it handles the heat with more distinction. A good option for taller riders.

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Wildcat Minsk

A new version appeared in the US (sold at US$1,350!!). It seems to be a new development of the Sports Minsk (same tank and side covers). Engine looks the same but frame and suspensions got a new look.

Unfortunately, the mud cover for the driving chain has gone. Front suspension has been changed as well.

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Older Minsk Models

The easiest way to spot an older Minsk is that the control panel – where the speedometer is – comprises of two round tubes whereas the newer ones just have one rectangular box.

The serial number stamped onto the steering column of the left hand side of the bike has a code to say how old the bike is. The eighth last character – its a letter – denotes the year of manufacture as follows. ‘L’ is 1990, ‘M’ is 1991, ‘N’ is 1992, ‘P’ is 1993, ‘R’ is 1994, ‘S’ is 1995, ‘T’ is 1996, ‘V’ is 1997, ‘W’ is 1998, ‘X’ is 1999 and ‘Y’ is 2000.

The engine is easier to date as the last two characters inscribed on it on the left hand side are numbers like ‘94’ or ‘96’.

Minsk specifications.


Year: 1970 - 1998

Category:Naked bike

Rating:43.6 out of 100.

Displacement:123.00 ccm (7.51 cubic inches)

Engine type:Single cylinder, two-stroke

Power:10.00 HP (7.3 kW))

Cooling system:Air


Transmission type,
final drive: 

Dry weight:105.0 kg (231.5 pounds)

Power/weight ratio:0.0952 HP/kg

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