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Archive for February, 2007

Compulsory Basic Training

After 2001, the new photocard car licences include a provisional learner bike allowance that is only activated if the driver passes a Compulsory Basic Training course. Before anyone is allowed to ride any bike of any size on the road, the first step is to pass a CBT; from then on one can learn for two years on a bike <=125cc whilst displaying L plates both front and rear. A full licence is required to take pillion passengers or use motorways; either the full size bike licence or the restricted commuter licence. As I don't have any intention on riding superbikes just yet, I will be aiming to pass the CBT in order to get insurance to get plates for the bike, and then achieve the commuter licence in order to drive legally on the continent.

Bright and early at half 7 I started the CBT course at the local speedway stadium. After an hour of tuition followed by a few hours in a car park we hit the road, where we learnt the emergency stop, road positioning, understanding blind spots and the troublesome U turn. After doing both town and country roads, I can vouch that driving at speed on a motorbike is a very windy process; certainly when a lorry thunders past at the national speed limit you know about it!

By 2pm the course finished and I was recorded as having successfully completed the CBT course on my driving licence :)

Minsk goes back to VOSA

After the modifications to the bike were completed I popped down to VOSA’s Garretts Green testing station. For a £15 retest fee they re-inspected the bike, and guess what?

It passed!!
Here’s the certificate to prove it:

Now all that’s left is to learn to ride a bike, pay the customs and duty, get the bike plates, insure it, enter the Mongol rally, find sponsorship, find a pack to ride with, and ride it to Mongolia. It’s going to be a doddle(!)

Modifications to the Minsk

After the first failed attempt to get the bike Minister’s Approval, I had to make some mods to bring the vehicle in line with the required standards. After all this creativity and bodging I deserve a Blue Peter badge.

Protectionary device: after hunting on ebay I bought one of these

and with a bit of cutting…

There was even a campaign on facebook to stop me “Killing The Ball”!

Removed leading sharp bits

Insulated the wiring. 8 metres of wiring tape!

Secured the snag dangers, using only the best materials

Turned deadly edges into cuddly corners

Added clips to the new fuel line

And finally the ‘immobiliser’ aka household lightswitch which killed the spark

Now to see whether the changes will deem it safe on the roads…

Preparing the Minsk to pass the MSVA

I needed new tyres. Naturally I went to the nearest superbike dealer and garage. They mostly looked confused.

New mirrors:

New rubber:

I’m working on the fuel cap protection device, the pannier rack and the immobiliser myself. Watch this space…

VOSA inspection #1

When you import a vehicle from outside the EU it must pass a Single Vehicle Approval test before it can be entitled to a numberplate and legal status. The test is essentially an extended MOT that checks for road-worthiness: emissions, brakes, quality of construction, safety features etc. I’m sensing that the Minsk might struggle with this one.

10.30am VOSA Vehicle Inspection Centre, Garetts Green, Birmingham:

It failed. Unsurprisingly. On lots of things:

  • No safety marking on the tyres.
  • Needs two mirrors that are concave.
  • Must have an additional security device aside from the key (the steering lock doesn’t work).
  • Needs to have the pannier rack smoothened in case I hit a pedestrian.
  • Needs a protection device over the fuel cap to prevent myself hurting…. ahem myself if I go over the handlebars.
  • The fuel line needs to be secured using jubilee clips.
  • The wiring needs to be fully insulated and snag free.

But the brakes passed, and so did the smokey exhaust!! :)


After chatting with the VOSA people, it transpired that the bike will need a labeled fuel line and that the exhaust must bear some manufacturer’s logo. The fuel line cost £1 and was a doddle, but the exhaust is a bespoke modification… oh wait, looks like it had one all along:

(the spray paint making sure that the manufacturer’s logo is nice and visible. I guess whomever originally chose that design did so because the Minsk bird-in-flight would be a bugger to spray paint on using only masking tape and enamel warhammer paint. Luckily the engine block one would be much easier for them to use. I assume.)