Thinking outside the box: Izhar Gafni’s $9 cardboard bicycle

by Raymond Parker on October 4, 2012

in Cycling, Technical, Video

Cruising on Cardboard

Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni has a dream: to flood the world with cheap bicycles, made from cardboard.

Undeterred—inspired you might say—by doubters, Gafni has taken his idea through prototypes that, he admits, looked and performed more like “a package on wheels,” to something that resembles a concept bike built with lightweight polymers.

The latest iteration is strong and light, constructed origami-like from $9 worth of (mostly) recycled cardboard, with an expected retail price of $60 to $90 … that is, if Gafni and his financial backers can also realize their ambition of cutting out the usual distribution network and sell more-or-less directly.

Cities, for instance, might distribute them free, as an antidote to expensive transportation problems. Is Bixi listening?

The bicycle project is, in fact, the first step in a more ambitious scheme to “bring the factories back from China (starting with the green ones).” They must have been reading Jeff Rubin’s Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller.

But what about weather? One might imagine a rather soggy, saggy ride in climates like the west coast of British Columbia. Not so, says Gafni. The treated cardboard sheds moisture.

I’d love to find out what the ride characteristics are like. The first prototype must have had all the subtlety of a two-by-four. Assuming Gafni has applied the expertise he gained in carbon fibre design, he may have created a viable, not to mention more eco-friendly and affordable, bicycle material.

The inventor admits to one remaining glitch: the saddle feels like, well, cardboard.

I wonder if he’s considered a 650b version?

In this mini-documentary from film-maker Giora Kariv, photographed by Uri Ackerman, Gafni explains the inspiration and process behind his invention.

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