The durable, $9 cardboard bike
By Peter Suciu in Detroit, Michigan | Wednesday, October 17, 2012 5.49pm
The inventor and his machine Vimeo
Most serious cyclists treat their bikes as well as they treat their cars, and often times even better. However, those who commute on two wheels might not show the bicycles the same kind of respect but it is still something that needs care and attention, and when a bicycle used for transportation is stolen or damaged it can be frustrating and unnerving.
Inventor Izhar Gafni could take a lot of stress out of commuter’s lives as he looks to create a bike that might just cost $9 to make and could sell for just $20. The Alfa, as he’s dubbed the prototype, would be fully recyclable as it is made from cardboard.
The Israeli inventor, who has designed award-winning industrial machines for peeling pomegranates and sewing shoes, is also a cycling enthusiast who has designed many carbon fiber bicycles. But after hearing about a cardboard canoe, he set off to create a cardboard bicycle.
Cardboard is made of wood pulp and was invented in the 19th century as sturdy packaging, but it has rarely been considered as a material for things such as bicycles. However as any child knows a cardboard box and a little imagination can transform it in just about anything.
Gafni clearly has that imagination.
“I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions,” Gafni told Reuters. “But this was the culmination of a few things that came together. I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard’s weak structural points.”
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Gafni spent three years developing the bicycle, and this included tackling some issues overcoming those limitations of cardboard. In the process Gafni reportedly patented a few new processes along the way, and finally created from cardboard something that resembles the traditional standard bicycle.
The Alfa reportedly weighs about 20 pounds, yet can support a rider up to 24 times its weight – or about 485 pounds. The bike is mostly cardboard, along with recycled materials for the parts that include the cranks, brakes and pedals. The Alfa utilizes a belt-driven pedal system to ensure that it is in essence maintenance free.
And yes, it is waterproof. The DailyMail.co.uk noted that the cardboard is coated with a waterproof resin, but the bicycle could also be painted with a lacquer to further ensure that it can endure a ride in the rain.
The idea behind the Alfa isn’t just to create a new material for bicycles but rather to make it possible for affordable, reliable and durable bicycles to be reach those who have little in the way of transportation options. Gafni, who estimated that the cost of materials is just $9 a bike, believes that those costs should preclude outsourcing the manufacturing process.
The result is that the bicycles could be produced locally, and this in turn could help revolutionize travel in the developing world and in emerging markets, but also in large cities where it could provide an affordable alternative for the daily commuters.
Imagine having a bicycle that costs about the same as commuting by subway in a city such a New York City or London for a week? And if the bicycle is stolen or damaged it could be easily replaced.
Sounds like cardboard could be part of the future of bicycles.
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