"xe tho" - - “steel horses”.
Bicycles of War Vietnam.
"Horses" but again on two-wheels.
The Viet Minh during the First Indo-China War also making extensive use of the bicycle. A conveyance not ridden, two-wheelers structurally modified and used as part and parcel of the logistical mission. Porters able to move tremendous loads but not on their backs.
"With their large carrying capacity, bicycles were particularly effective on Vietnam’s narrow roads and tracks in the dry season, and easily modified for service . . . the seat was removed and a rack fashioned of metal, wood or bamboo lashed in place over the back wheel. This provided an extended line from which bags or boxes were hung and other goods tied on by ropes or strips of inner tubes. The bicycle frame was often strengthened by adding metal, wood, or bamboo struts, reinforcing the front forks and increasing the suspension."
"The carrying capacity for these modified two-wheelers ranged up to 600 pounds, with the average load being around 440 pounds, versus the 80- to 100-pound load that could be carried by a single porter."
"Once loaded, it was not possible to walk close enough alongside the bike to use the normal handlebars for steering. Hence, a wooden stick or bamboo pole was lashed to the handlebars that extended far enough to allow the tender to hold and steer the bicycle. Typically, another stick was inserted into the vertical seat tube that was used to push the bike along or hold it back on downward slopes."
"A record was set at Dien Bien Phu with a single bicycle carrying a load of 724 pounds."
General Giap given high marks as a logistician, able to marshal resources for the effort, especially during the climactic battle at Dien Bien Phu. In great measure success due to the bicycle contingents of porters.