From the Annals of Improbable Design: The Cardboard Bike Project


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There are probably very few cycling ideas that seem more suited for the scrapheap than a cardboard bike. Naysayers told designer Izhar Gafni of Israel to forget about such a dream. He took their incredulous responses and used them as motivation to craft a bike that is strong and durable enough to carry him over city streets and through puddles.

“I really love bicycles, and when I worked in the United States I inquired in California to see if anyone had already thought of the concept of a cardboard bicycle,” he tells the blog No Camels. “To my delight, I only discovered similar concepts based on bamboo. But when I started asking engineers about the possibility of producing a cardboard bicycle, I was sent away and told that the realization of my idea is impossible. One day I was watching a documentary about the production of the first jumbo jet—and an engineer on the team had said that when everyone tells him that what he is doing is impossible—it makes it even clearer to him that he is progressing in the right direction. That saying motivated me to experiment with different materials on cardboard, to find what produces the desired strength and durability.”

Gafni saw a cardboard boat that held up in water and experimented with folding cardboard over itself until he had figured out how to make a strong enough base for a bike frame. Then he spent three years tweaking the design. The company ERB signed on and is looking to raise $750,000 in order to begin manufacturing. They expect the units might cost $9 to $12 to build, and $60 to $90 for a consumer—depending on desired parts. They are planning to market an adult bike (which they expect will be able to work for any man or women weighing up to 300 pounds), a children's bike, and a motorized bike, which will undoubtedly undo many of the green benefits the bike has been hailed for, but hey.

For more, read this article on No Camels.

Note to writers: Your pitches to Outside editors on recycled bamboo bikes will require something extra-amazing in order to be considered from now on. The bar has just been raised.

—Joe Spring

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