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A Bike Made Almost Entirely Out Of Cardboard - For Just $20, Could It Change The World?
October 18, 2012
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Well, who knows if this will actually go anywhere, but this is a bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard.

It was invented by an Israeli man named Izhar Gafni, and he believes this bike could change the world - particularly in busy cities and developing countries.

Gafni says the bike is so cheap to make - about $9 in all - that retailers would only need to charge about $20 for one.

"Like Henry Ford who made the car available to anybody, this bike is going to be cheap and available to any child in the world, including children in Africa who walk dozens of miles to school every day," he says.

And this isn't just some germ of an idea. Gafni has been at this for several years. He says his prototype has proven itself and he plans to start mass producing the bikes in a few months.

He told Reuters "Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right," he said.

Once he gets the shape cut, Gafni says he treats the cardboard with a secret blend of organic materials so that it's waterproof and fireproof. Then, he coats it with lacquer paint so it looks nice.

As part of his testing, Gafni says he left a cross-section in a water tank for several months and it stayed strong and sturdy.

He says the finished bike won't have any metal parts. Even the brakes, wheels and pedals will be made from recycled materials.

"I'm repeatedly surprised at just how strong this material is, it is amazing" Gafni said.

"When we started, a year and a half or two years ago, people laughed at us, but now we are getting at least a dozen e-mails every day asking where they can buy such a bicycle, so this really makes me hopeful that we will succeed," he said.

Here's a video that explains more about how the bike is made.

Gafni's business partner, Nimrod Elmish, says the bikes will be made on mostly automated production lines. And because they plan to use recycled materials, that opens the door to government grants and rebates.

Rebates would effectively cancel out the cost of making the bikes, so Elmish says they could essentially be given away for free in developing countries.

He says manufacturers could make money from advertising, by allowing big companies to put their logos on the bike (like race cars do).

"This is a real game-changer. It changes... the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to be built everywhere instead of moving production to cheaper labor markets, everything that we have known in the production world can change," Elmish said.

A Reuters correspondent - who took the bike for a spin - found it kind of stiff but really no different than any other bike.

Elmish says the average cardboard bike will weigh about 9kg (20 pounds), while a typical metal bike weighs about 14kg.

He also says it won't need to be adjusted or repaired, as they use a car timing belt instead of a chain. And the tires are made from old car tires, so they don't need inflating and will last ten years.

There will also be a place to mount a personal electric motor, which people can use and then recharge when they get home.

And Elmish says, because the bike would be so cheap to buy, you wouldn't really have to worry if it breaks; you could just take it back, recycle it and get a new one.

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