Urals and Minsks on the Silver Screen


French soldiers march against the Viet Minh
The Battle of Route Coloniale 4 was one of the most important of the First Indochina War. Here's what happened.


All Good Things

Back when we first got to Vietnam, the only motorcycles on the roads here were remnants of the Warsaw Pact—Javas, MZs, Simpsons and Minsks. All our initial adventures up into the mountains and down the Ho Chi Minh Trail were done on these bikes, and when we formed Explore and started offering tours we settled on our two favourites: the 650cc Russian Ural and the 125cc Belarusian Minsk.

The Ural and the Minsk still have a special place in our hearts. We had so many adventures on them, and actually feel like we contributed to their history in some small way by supplying them to Gordon Ramsay, Charley Boorman, the BBC and the Top Gear team on their tours of Vietnam. So, here are a few examples of appearances these awesome motorcycles have made on television and film over the years!

On Television

the Top Gear crew in Vietnam

Top Gear Vietnam Special

Richard Hammond rode the famous pink Minsk (which is still in our garage) from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long Bay, where our team made it amphibious so that he could spend a day cruising the bay.

Gordon Ramsay on one of our Ural motorcycles

Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape

Gordon Ramsay rode a Ural solo in Mai Chau and cooked with some of our local friends.

Charley Boorman riding with his camera equipment

By Any Means

Charley Boorman chose a Minsk to ride from the Chinese border down to Hanoi.

Charley Boorman in the Explore garage

Freedom Riders Asia

Charlie Boorman rides a Ural around the streets of Hanoi and joins our annual Rally Indochina charity rally.

the Minsk in Duel Survivor

Duel Survivor

Parts stripped off a Minsk motorbike are used to survive in the wild. The sparkplug is used to start a fire, a signal fire is made from burning the bike’s tires and magnesium filings from the engine case are ignited by sunlight concentrated from the headlamp mirror.

Explore Indochina's Russian friends filming a segment about the Minsk Club

Russian TV Special on the Minsk Club

Way back in 2005 our Russian comrades filmed a segment about the Minsk Club at the best mechanic in town who could fix them.

shot from a documentary about motorbikes from Vietnamese TV channel, VTV4

Minsk – A Motorbike and a Passion

In this VTV report, we meet Viet Cuong, a young mechanic in Hanoi with a big love for Minsks and find out what these motorbikes mean to him.

Dieter Nur riding with Explore Indochina

Dieter Nur

Germany’s top late night TV show host chose to cruise Hanoi on one of our Urals.

the cast of BBC's Without Limits in Hanoi

Without Limits

We modified two Minsks and one Ural so that they could be ridden by a guy missing his right leg, a guy missing his left arm, and a gal who was partially deaf.

In Film

Indiana Jones and his Father on a Ural

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indy and Sean Connery take out a platoon of machine gun wielding Nazis with nothing but a jousting spear and a Ural.

Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan, leaning against a Ural sidecar

Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks fires off his last bullets while leaning against a Ural sidecar.

one of the motorcycle scenes in Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

Urals are used in two dramatic fight and car chase scenes.

screenshot from the movie Dien Bien Phu of the Sky

Dien Bien Phu of the Sky

An old friend of ours played the part of a downed US B52 pilot who was transferred to Hanoi’s Hoa Lo Prison (nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton) in a Ural sidecar.

the Minsk blowing up in The Clash

The Clash

The bad guy gets his Minsk blown up from under him by an AK47 wielding kung fu queen.

one of the motorcycle scenes in SS Doomtrooper

S.S. Doomtrooper

Zombie Nazis chase the good guys in a Ural.

Picture of Digby Greenhalgh

By Digby Greenhalgh

Digby Greenhalgh is the founder of Explore Indochina, and a recognized expert on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. All motorcycle tours are designed and guided by Digby.