Until the wheels fall off: Saigon and its zombie motorbikes

Thanh Nien News

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The decades-old bikes are mostly used for goods transportation and can be spotted around the city

 In Ho Chi Minh City, home to 6.4 million motorbikes, these ramshackle motorbikes can be spotted on the streets as commonly as their classy peers. Photos by Dinh Quang Tuan, VietNamNet
 They are often called "xe ca tang" which means old and bad motorbikes. But, sometimes they are called "xe mu" or "blind bikes," as they have no lights, no honks, and no license plates.
 Some people even call them "xe xac uop" or "mummy bikes" to refer to the fact that what is left of them is their frame, while other parts such as meters, lights and electric wires are kept intact with layers of tapes.
 The motorbikes were produced by Honda decades ago and reached their prime time in Vietnam in the 1980s.
 They are particularly popular at wholesale markets in District 5, where people use them to transport goods in bulk.
 A transporter told news website VietNamNet that he loves "xe ca tang" for its high mobility. However, he said, he does not bother to fix his bike properly, because he sees no points doing it, as its parts will fall apart or break again.
 Local transporters favor the old motorbikes, also because they consume very little fuel -- a liter of gasoline for 50-60 kilometers.
 They said they can leave their petty vehicles, worth less than VND2 million (88 US cents), anywhere they like without fearing that they will be stolen.
 However, local media in recent years have sounded alarms about the motorbikes, saying that they are unsafe, even when they are not carrying big loads of goods. They also said the riders of these bikes are usually more reckless than others.

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