Photograph of Japanese bicycle troops
U.S. Army. Via

Bicycles were an important form of transportation in urban Japan prior to the Pacific War, with an estimated million bicycles in Tokyo alone. Because of the expense of motor vehicles, the Japanese Army attempted to improve its mobility using bicycle infantry. Bicycles required no petroleum fuel, and they could also be carried across fordable streams and primitive bridges, which was an important consideration during planning of the Malaya campaign. It has been claimed that the Japanese sometimes removed their bicycle tires as a deception scheme, since the noise of the bicycles being driven on their rims was mistaken by inexperienced Allied troops for approaching tanks.

Bicycle troops were also committed to combat in the Philippines, where one battalion in each regiment of 48 Division was equipped with bicycles, and along the Kokoda Trail. The latter quickly discarded their bicycles when the trail proved unsuitable. Bicycle troops were little encountered thereafter, at least by the Western Allies.


Headrick (1994; accessed 2011-6-28)

Morton (1952; accessed 2011-6-28)

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