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Which Bike?Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
Does anyone have any familiarity with these Russian/Soviet bikes? I have been in Minsk for a number of months and now I'd like to drive to Syria. Foreign bikes (German, Italian, Japanese) are much more expensive than these 'local' bikes. Looking on irr.by (small adds in Belarus) any of these bikes in fairly good shape (from the early 90s) can be had for less than $300. But I don't know which one is most suitable for such a trip.
**UPDATE:** I've put the aproximate range of prices for the different bikes for anyone intrested.
The contenders are:
Minsk: made here in Minsk. 2-stroke 125cc. Made mainly for export and used in many countries. [$150-$250] [Sometimes newer four-stroke models with chinese engines can be found for higher prices, upto $600]
Jawa: made in the Czech republic. Was the largest motorcylce plant in eastern europe during the soviet union. 350cc 2-cylinder 2-stroke. [$350-$600 ?]
Planeta: Russian 350cc single-cylinder 2-stroke. [$250-$400]
Jupiter: As above but twin cylinder [$250-$350 ?]
Dnepr: Made in Ukraine. 750cc 4-stroke based on an old model BMW. [$250-$600 ?]
Urals - some of these for sale too.
Obviously a good bike should be:
>fairly reliable and tough
>not use too much fuel (20km/l or better?)
>Can cruise at at least 55mph
>not have bad vibrations when cruising, and not to noisy (makes you tired too..)
>Have parts available easily available where I am going.
I've heard that the Jawa is the best bike. It also seems to fetch the highest prices here.
I've made a sepate thread in the 'Europe' forum about the route I'll be taking.
The contenders are:
Minsk: made here in Minsk. 2-stroke 125cc. Made mainly for export and used in many countries.
Jawa: made in the Czech republic. Was the largest motorcylce plant in eastern europe during the soviet union. 350cc 2-cylinder 2-stroke.
Planeta: Russian 350cc single-cylinder 2-stroke.
Jupiter: As above but twin cylinder
Dnepr: Made in Ukraine. 750cc 4-stroke based on an old model BMW.
David here is my 10p worth,
I had a jawa as a young lad for a while, till I had saved enough to buy jap, a good bike quite easy to work on suspension not bad, compared to modern bikes would still be going while jap bike would not take the abuse.
I would recommend the Jawa mainly cos I have had 1 & know them
On a pers note, my GF just came back from Vietnam / Aisa via train bus plane she also did a hochi ming trail on the back of a bike she saw a few European buying Minsk apparently locals find them not so reliable as Honda
My personal experience of the bikes on your list only extends to the Jawa 350 twin and tbh it's one I'm trying to forget. On the up side it was reliable enough - but - it just wasn't an enjoyable bike to ride. Even 30yrs ago it felt 30yrs out of date. Nothing you can single out, just everything felt substandard. 55mph cruising should be ok but I wouldn't want to go much quicker.
The old bikers lament -"please God, don't let me break down" was always at the back of my mind with the Jawa and whilst it didn't actually give much trouble it always felt like it was about to. It was just something about the way the engine, suspension etc felt. An MZ250 that I had before it was a much better bike.
I've seen the other two smokes on your list but never ridden any. I do have experience of a CZ175 single - again years ago, and the Russian bikes had a reputation of being even worse. If that's the case then they must have been truly awful.
It's always difficult to generalise from a single experience and others may think they're wonderful. However if that's all that's available then I'd suggest the Jawa is the best of the 2Ts for what you want to do.
I went to the Minsk factory yesterday. Spares are available *very* cheaply for the bikes. They are known to be tough, and many come kitted out with front and rear racks from the factory. I wondering if the 125cc is a little small for cruising though, I'm sure what the roads are like in Belarus and Ukraine. A new one costs 3.800.000 Belarussian rubles (£830) with front and rear racks. They also make 4-stroke model, with I think, a Chinese engine, 125cc and 200cc versions, for a little more. Fuel consumption of the original model is claimed to be 3.5l/100km (28.5 km/l) which is impressive for a 2-stroke.
The Jawa probably is the most sensible of the three, and also the most expensive. I don't know about finding spares in the Middle East though. They were (still are?) produced in India and China under licence for a long time. Some people online say consumption is 4-4.5l/100km, still acceptable. It looks a little bland IMO.
The Ural is the most powerful and mean looking. Not sure if they are reliable, certainly they are much more complicated than the other two. Don't know about spares in the ME/Europe.
Seems Jawa spares wouldn't be a problem in Turkey either:
These inexpensive JAWAs looked good, were very reliable and gave good performance. As a result they sold well and many were exported around the world and even gained a following in the United States. The motorcycle was also built under license in India where it was sold as the Yezdi. In Turkey the weather is ideal for motorcycle riding and the 353 was a perfect solution to the transportation needs of this emerging economy. The Turkish government subsidized the mass importation of JAWAs. Today Turkey has a thriving JAWA spares industry that has managed to keep these aging machines on the road. The JAWA company is still alive today but finds it much more difficult to compete on the world stage with the likes of Honda and Yamaha. As a result their sales are largely confined to Eastern Europe.
I have a Ural, but it is a 2007 and I doubt your budget would stretch that far: you'd probably have enough for one of the 650 twins. From what I gather the Ukranian Dnepr is pretty good once you iron out all the niggles, and that basically means replacing/rebuilding quite a bit!!!
If you want a more in depth answer there are two good fourms stacked with info, mostly targeted at the Ural Dnepr outfits, but other Russian, ex-Soviet brands are also popular...
I couldn't find any Minsks for sale today. The Jawas are little pricey, they sell for $400 up. I'm going to see an Izh Jupiter tomorrow, it's up for $300. I'll let you know. In general they go for $200-$300. I think it's probably not a good idea to go for a Ural or Dnepr, they are more complicated machines and an old one which I don't know the history of has more potential to go wrong than a 2-stroke. They are though, without a doubt, the coolest looking.
Still, if the Jawa is a much better bike than the Izh, and something I might hang on to after the journey, then maybe I wouldn't mind paying a little more.
Today I saw a Planeta 3 (I think.) It was pretty and in fair shape, but started to vibrate badly when revved over perhaps 4000rpm. I guess it would need a new set of crankcase bearings at the least. $300 asking price.
The second was a Jupiter 5. It was held together with bits of wire, the gearchange was really mushy, difficult to start, wiring was a mess etc. The steering seemed a little wierd on this model. Also $300 asking price.
Overall these Izh bikes are very heavily engineered. I'm a bit worried the consumption of the 2 cylinder model is high.
I might starting looking more seriously at Minsks.
I had a stroke of luck. An add came up this afternoon, a model 2007 Minsk. When to see it, nice bike in good condition, and I got it for $170. I'll go to the factory this week and see if I can get a set of racks. Would be nice to have a GPS, but that might cost more than the bike..
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