The Cardboard Bike, A Cheap Alternative For Your Rides
Nowadays people are more and more aware about all the issues related with our environment, so they are choosing alternative methods of transportation over the traditional cars or buses. Bicycle, however, has always been a preferred vehicle, since it is non-polluting and, at the same time, good for our health.
In the recent years, several alternative designs for bicycles arose. One of them is to use cardboard as the main structure, providing a cheap and light construction material. In 2012, Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni developed such a bicycle: single speeded, its spokes, rims and frames were made of recycled cardboard. Those parts were varnished, in order to avoid moisture, and the puncture-proff wheels were made using old car tires. It weighed 20 pounds (9.1 kg), and it supports riders up to 220 kilograms (490 lb).
Gafni's idea was to build a factory so that he could have a "large scale" production of the bike, so he decided to go for a crowdfunding in order to help raise the $5.5 million he needed to do so. However, this turned out to be not such a good idea, as the crowdfunding raised only 2% of its goal. Also, the bike had an announced cost of $20 but, as it seemed from the crowdfunding campaign, the total cost would be around $290, with $40 included for shipment.
Truth be told, Gafni was not exactly a pioneer. Back in 2008, English design student Phil Bridge presented a less developed prototype of a cardboard bike, thought to possibly be produced and sold for a total cost around $15. It is more fragile than the bike from the Israeli engineer, only holding riders up to 169 pounds (77 kg). Its drivetrain and brakes are metallic, and it uses conventional pneumatic tires. It has a durability estimated in about 6 months under constant use.
Even though these bikes are still not widely available, their simple existence is an important landmark. They can lower bicycle's prices, which will make them available even for the poorest places on Earth.
Diogo Costa • International Innovations