Israeli entrepreneur Izhar Gafni has created a bike prototype manufactured from recycled cardboard, making inroads in green technology with a vehicle that is lightweight and low-cost. The bike sports a simple aesthetic, an outer coating that protects it from water, and a groundbreaking cost of 9-12 dollars for raw materials, which will convert to an estimated retail price of 60-90 dollars per bike, depending on the optional features added.
The vehicle was inspired by a video about a cardboard canoe, from which Mr. Gafni expanded to biking, a primary means of transportation in his native kibbutz, or communal settlement, in Israel’s Negev desert. “I heard about the guy who built a canoe out of cardboard.. [and the idea] was sitting in the back of my head and I couldn’t let go,” Gafni said in a video documenting the bike’s construction. “Suddenly it just struck my mind: why not make a bicycle out of cardboard?”
The entrepreneur says his diverse work background, including jobs in biomedics and technology, provided him with the skills to design the bike, which was a process he said many discouraged him from pursuing. “When I went to engineers to ask them about the possibility of producing a bike out of cardboard, they all sent me back home, saying very clearly that it was impossible,” Gafni confessed to Israeli tech site Newsgeek. But motivated by their doubts, he says he found a viable design by “experiment[ing] with different materials and types of cardboard in order to provide my prototype with the reliability and strength it needed.”
Even after a version was created that was strong enough to support riders and comfortably cycle, the bike went through several incarnations before satisfying its creator and potential investors. “My first prototypes looked like a Fedex box on wheels. They were ungainly and you didn’t need much imagination to see that they were made out of cardboard,” said Gafni to Newsgeek. “When I met investors… I realized I had to go back to the drawing board and put some more effort to make a more comfortable, light and durable design.” The remodeling process has currently yielded a model that successfully mirrors the look of metallic bikes, as noted by thenextweb.com, “you will have a hard time telling it’s made from cardboard.” Other features of the bike are its feather-light weight, its sturdy build (capable of carrying up to 300 pounds), its resistance to water and humidity, and the fact that it is naturally impervious to rust, unlike bikes made of medal, which have to be chemically treated for rust protection.
As yet the cycle is only a prototype, but Gafni is searching for investors to bring his venture to market, where he hopes it will succeed, based on its eco-friendly appeal and competitive pricing. The low cost of the bike also makes it easy to be replaced if stolen, a nuisance that is common in metropolitan cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa. The cardboard bike will likely be safe from theft regardless, given that it is too cheap to be financially viable for thieves to steal and sell. Nevertheless, those who purchase version of the bike with more expensive gear, such as electric motors, can detach their add-ons and store them in a safe place while leaving the bike itself in relative safety outside.
To see a video on the bike’s production, click here.