For $20, Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni hopes to change the world - or at least the way it carries itself. While other engineers concentrate on solar power and streamlined budget airlines, Ganfi is getting at personal transportation from a “more green/less frills” sort of angle: a recyclable cardboard bicycle.
Speaking to several Israeli engineers about his idea, Gafni became familiar with the inevitable response: “It’s impossible.” And yet, several years later, Gafni has done it. Through an exhaustive process of trial and error, the inventor learned he could increase the weight bearing capabilities of pulp cardboard threefold by employing the principles of traditional Japanese origami.
The frame is then treated with a mix of coating materials for a fire and water proof exterior, while the tires are constructed from the recycled rubber of old car tires, making them difficult to puncture, according to the inventor. And even if the low-maintenance bike (which is built to hold up to 485 lbs) wears down, its low cost makes it easier to replace after a year or so of use. “So you buy one, use it for a year, and […] if it breaks, you can take it back to the factory and recycle it,” Gafni’s partner said. It is, after all, cardboard.
This is really fascinating, and could obviously make an enormous difference in cities with a large population unable to afford a more expensive traditional bike frame. And I would think it could be useful for university campuses as well, as a sort of super cheap bike fleet rental available for green campus transport. I’m curious to see how well the bike frame does hold up, or if there are any consequences to it’s light weight - it’s 10 pounds lighter than the typical 20 pound bike frame. Would that cause problems for a rider on a windy day?
Would you ride a cardboard bike? If it holds up, I definitely would!
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[Photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters]