Israel-based Izhar Gafni has invented a working bicycle which is constructed almost entirely from recycled cardboard, and only costs around US$12 to manufacture. The cardboard bike is being touted as an ideal solution for city-dwellers who require an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly way to commute, in addition to a potential mode of transportation for people living in emerging countries.
Gafni, a mechanical engineer and a cycling enthusiast, was inspired to make the cardboard bicycle after overhearing a conversation about somebody who had made a canoe constructed from cardboard. Thus began a project of three years, during which the inventor busied himself in his workshop, producing several prototypes, before settling upon a design which is cheap to make, robust, and suitable for daily use.
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The cardboard bike is constructed in stages. First, the cardboard is cut into the desired shapes to be used as parts, then they are folded and pressed several times, the strength of the structure increasing markedly as a result. The cardboard is then made even stronger by being treated with a secret coating of the inventor’s own design, before finally being painted and assembled.
Weighing around nine kilograms (20 pounds), the cardboard bike is on the light side for an adult-sized bike, which generally weigh somewhere in the region of 14 kg (30 lbs), and it can withstand exposure to water and humidity, while supporting a rider who weighs up to 220 kg (485 lbs). It requires no servicing or adjustment, and the solid tires are made from reused car tires, with a car timing belt serving as a chain.
While the manufacturing process is still being refined, Gafni believes his design could eventually be sold in stores for just $20, making it an attractive solution for commuters who do not wish to worry about an expensive bike being stolen. Additionally, the cardboard bike could be a useful method of transportation in emerging countries, where a standard metal bike is often too expensive to produce and maintain.
In the future, the cardboard bike will be produced in both children's and adult's sizes, with the latter model also featuring an optional electric motor.
The film below details the cardboard bike's inception and construction.