A cardboard bicycle that sells for $20. This is the dream-coming-true for an Israeli inventor who has created such a bike and expects production on his prototype, dubbed “Alfa,” to begin in a few months.
Constructed almost wholly of cardboard, the bicycle uses recycled substances (still secret for patent reasons) where metal would seem to be indispensable – the brake mechanism and wheel and pedal bearings, Yahoo.com reports. Even the seat is made of cardboard.
Inventor Izhar Gafni, 50, says he spent most of his development time finding the right way to fold the cardboard in different directions, for greater resulting strength. Made from wood pulp, cardboard was invented in the 19th century as packaging for valuable goods. Its new use, replacing metal as the raw material for a bicycle, is highly innovative.
Gafni estimates the cost of his materials at $9 per bike and the selling price at $20, max. Those costs should preclude outsourcing the manufacture of the cardboard bicycles, thus assuring local production jobs, he says.
If all goes as planned, the cardboard bicycle would revolutionize travel around the world, turning bikes into universally accessible means of getting around. From remote villages in Third World countries to bustling cities, people of all persuasions could make use of a low cost, easily replaced bicycle that’s also water- and fire-proof.
Once coated with a waterproof resin, according to the DailyMail.co.uk, the bicycle can then be lacquer-painted: the finishing touch. Weighing in at 20 lbs itself, the Alfa can support riders up to 24 times its weight – or 480 pounds, fastcodesign.com reports.
Starting in Israel, production will begin in a few months on three bicycle models and a wheelchair. All should be available for purchase within a year.
One must wonder about a few things if/when all this comes to pass. What will happen to the fancy bicycle stores loaded with pricey bikes, accessories and clothing? Will “serious cyclists” embrace cardboard bikes -- even thought there are already cardboard helmets touted as safer than Styrofoam? Or will paper cycling shorts and tops – also wood-derived -- become the wave of the future?
How about safety in an accident or fall? Can cardboard bicycles sustain heavy blows without breaking? What about traditional cycling accessories on cardboard bikes – odometers, compasses, saddle bags, and so on?
Finally, will cardboard bicycles kill tradition and romance? It’s not likely that inventor Gafni will bother to come up with a bicycle built for two. Poor Daisy.
Cycle snobbery and safety questions aside, these green machines have one unarguable advantage: Cardboard bicycles are eminently recyclable.