Soviet-made Minsk motorcycles make a comeback in Hanoi and new generation of Vietnamese adore them, CNN reports.
Difficult to start, but once it’s running, it will go anywhere!
Wild hype for the retro-looking Minsk bikes among young people started in 2010, since then its degree only rising with loads of themed events and races.
Steve Christensen, the tour guide and member of the Minsk Club, believes that local youth turn their backs on consumerism and embrace the vintage and DIY motorbike spirit instead.
“People describe them as ‘iron buffaloes’ sometimes difficult to start, but once it’s running, it will go anywhere.
While driving, they vibrate like crazy – bits fall off along the way,” Steve who criss-crossed Vietnam on the back of various vintage motorbikes says.
Why do Vietnamese love Minsk bikes?
Despite abundance of shortcomings a new generation of Vietnamese love them. Why?
They’re generally affordable, an average price of a a second-hand bike is about $300-400.
Besides, they relatively easy to kit out with custom parts and can be fixed in almost any village.
“Over the past few years, more and more young Vietnamese have taken up the Minsk out of a sense of adventure.
They are turning away from the status symbol of a flashy city scooter and, instead, exploring their country and roughing it in the old Soviet-era style,” says Christensen.
The trend is booming across the northern Vietnam countryside, where youth organize Minsk clubs and events in smaller towns.
“These kids really love their bikes and the sense of freedom that it brings,” he adds.
Nguyen of Hanoi Backstreet Tours, tells CNN the bikes’ resurgence also reflect the rejection of modern consumerist values.
“Minsk are strong and manly. They’re rude in the maze of back streets of Hanoi.
It is a trip down to our memory lane, when Vietnamese people to think about the era of collectivism.”
Minsk-made bikes were officially imported to Vietnam from the 1970s to the 1980s, where M1A or M1NSK was the most popular bike for the next 20-25 years.
In the 1990s after the dissolution of the USSR, Vietnam started importing American, Chinese and Japanese scooters.
Meanwhile, Minskers were in great demand in rural areas where they were used like mules to carry almost anything from cattle to furniture.
Besides, they were valued for their robustness and ability to ply the steep mountainsides and drive around the impassable roads.
In 1998, the first Minsk Club was established and the group of enthusiastic expats started to take regular rides together to expore the country and connect with locals and hill tribe people.