Cardboard Bike Hopes to See Commercial Production

About a year ago, Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni caught the attention of the cycling community as well as the world, when he debuted his new bike. That was made from cardboard. The original video illustrated that it was possible to make a completely functional bicycle out of essentially recyclables, though it required a tremendous amount of work. Even so, Gafni and his business partner believe the cardboard bicycle has serious market potential. According to Gafni, “[cardboard] it’s strong. It’s durable. It’s cheap.” This has led to the duo getting ready to launch a Kickstarter funding campaign to produce the bicycles – the Kickstarter is not live yet, though you can sign up for advanced information here.

Gearing up for production, Cardboard Technologies has a few new videos by Giora Kariv like the one above, and the one showing the creation of their own custom hydraulic press after the break.


cardboard bike

As a bonus, anyone who is going to be in Chicago any time soon can check out the cardboard bike in person at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The display is part of the Art of the Bicycle exhibit which will be on display until 2018. For the most up to date news on the Cardboard Bike, follow them on Facebook.

Comments

mzungu54 - 05/31/13 - 6:56pm

Cardboard may be cheap, labor may not…Sandpaper is a different story. :-D

Jake - 05/31/13 - 10:31pm

OK, you can build a bike out of cardboard, bamboo, hemp, or cow dung if you coat with enough plastic or polymers. It will probably use more non environmentally friendly materials and cost more than if you used plain old steel tubing.

Oscar - 05/31/13 - 10:44pm

Specialized makes cardboard bike displays….he’ll probably get sued.

Marc - 06/01/13 - 12:16am

Why, why, why?

Andy - 06/01/13 - 6:21am

I think it’s a very interesting project and better for the nature than carbon fiber.

Chainwhipped - 06/01/13 - 2:13pm

After seeing the original video of Gafni’s bike, the concept was pretty fascinating (apart from the solid tires, which really can’t offer sufficient traction a typical rider – but I guess he could be the first to make that happen).

The truly amazing thing about this project is that everyone reporting on it seems to think that it will actually be available to purchase for $20 or less. I have no doubt that $20 would cover the basic elements of this bike, but here’s the thing about manufactured goods: They take time, employees, and workspace to produce.

Materials may be cheap (as raw materials usually are – very, very cheap), but time is expensive. You’re paying for the skilled labor and operating costs involved in turning raw materials into a useable product.

The team of workers in the first video aren’t going to build these things for free. Skilled employees like these cost upward of $150 per day in the U.S. – per person, mind you. Even at minimum wage, a safely rideable bicycle like this would end up costing at least a few hundred dollars. Before these guys even get started, there has to be a sufficient place to actually work. Such facilities are not free to anybody.

I suppose the design specs could be made available to do-it-yourself in the garage at home. How much is your time worth, though? If you take a day or two off work and add $20 in materials, how much did this functionally sub-standard contraption actually cost you? If you have the tooling necessary, and you’re making a menial $150 per day at your regular job and you somehow manage to single handedly produce a functional cardboard bike in one day, you’ve spent $20 and lost $150. So the cost is $170 at a bare minimum, and that number ramps up pretty quickly when you start adding monthly rent, shop maintenance, and basic utilities.

If a shop in your neighborhood is making and selling these things, they’ll likely cost more than you want to pay for a flammable single-speed bike with solid tires.

xcgeek - 06/01/13 - 8:20pm

alright ladies… i know it is hard to read, but do: http://www.independent.ie/world-news/cardboard-bicycle-will-change-the-world-says-inventor-28819250.html

“Elmish said the cardboard bikes would be made on largely automated production lines and would be supplemented by a workforce comprising pensioners and the disabled.”

“Elmish said the business model they had created meant that rebates for using “green” materials would entirely cancel out production costs and this could allow for bicycles to be given away for free in poor countries.”

BOOOM goes the dynamite! chainwhipped could have read the article three times before he finished his rant.

Let’s see if their model works!

Burnt-Orange - 06/01/13 - 11:13pm

The only thing I want to know is if it is compatible with a campy seat post ?

Red - 06/02/13 - 11:03am

On a breezy day, it would be great for doing horizontal track stands.

BBB - 06/02/13 - 1:52pm

“Elmish said the cardboard bikes would be made on largely automated production lines and would be supplemented by a workforce comprising pensioners and the disabled.”

“Elmish said the business model they had created meant that rebates for using “green” materials would entirely cancel out production costs and this could allow for bicycles to be given away for free in poor countries.”

Poor countries don’t need some fancy designs and utopian ideas but simple, effective and economical solutions.
Simple strong steel bikes last ages and are easy to repair/weld in a field or a basic workshop but also use fairly standard components.
Cardboard structure no matter how strong will be relatively easy to pierce/puncture and its lifespan will be very limited in a daily use/abuse.
Even if cardboard bikes end up somehow cheaper than standard bikes they are not going to represent a long term value to any user.

More maths, less ideology.

Chainwhipped - 06/02/13 - 3:10pm

Well, xcgeek, thanks for the outside link. That answers quite a few questions that bikerumor chose not to present in the above article. I’m not sure how rebates are going to pay for full-scale production, but if it works for Elmish, good on ‘im.

Mostly, I was trying to make the point that the media reporting on these bikes makes it sound as if “finally, someone is going to stick it to the greedy bike industry!”. The perception seems to be that the pin-board on wheels will be available at every Circle K in the west.

Elmish also says “It could be sold for around $20, because (retailers) have to make a profit … and we think they should not cost any more than that.”

A bike is not the kind of thing that sells as quickly and easily as a twelve-pack of microbrew and it will take up a hell of a lot more space. I don’t know of a business model that can make it on inventory that makes less than $3 per square foot and will sell rather slowly.

Beyond that, “A workforce comprising pensioners and the disabled” sounds a lot like the staff of every Wal Mart. If the outcome is free bikes for poor people, fantastic.

Like I said before, the idea is pretty fascinating. Something about the execution just doesn’t smell right (to me). Just one of those “When it sounds too good to be true” kind of things.

Maybe Bikerumor needs a prototype for a review!

Chainwhipped - 06/02/13 - 3:28pm

I’ll also add that I have mistakenly assumed that the tires are solid, but looking at photos of Elmish’s bike, I see what can only be an air valve extending from each rim, meaning that the tires must hold air. This begs a few questions:

Can a card board rim hold the pressure of a clincher tire?

If not, how does a bike mounted with $60 in cheap tubular tires cost just $20?

Chris - 06/02/13 - 5:06pm

Pipe dream or scam?

Max - 06/03/13 - 1:54am

@Chainwhipped:

If you add a lot of resin (not the cheap stuff, the real industrial thing!) paper can withstand such forces. But with this resin, a bike like this is anything but “green”. And I won’t gift such a bike to anyone in the 3rd world, where nearly no infrastructure exists to dispose such a material, so it will be burned (and even in the 1st world recycling such a construction which uses resin is nearly impossible and will costs the tenth of the building process…)

Earth first? - 06/03/13 - 9:26am

“But with this resin, a bike like this is anything but “green”. And I won’t gift such a bike to anyone in the 3rd world”…Max

Spoken like a true environmentalist. Yep, I have 2-10 bikes, car(s), heated swimming pool, a/c home & yearly vacations…but I won’t help a 3rd world peasant get water because the disposal of the bike after 10+ years doesn’t comport with MY sense of ecology.

Selfish hypocracy at its purist.

il Bruce - 06/03/13 - 10:34am

@Chainwhipped. Menial $150.00/day wage? You hiring?

Chris - 06/03/13 - 1:11pm

LOL This reminds me of the hype of the Segway before it was intoduced.

Einat - 06/25/13 - 2:37am

The Cardboard Bike indiegogo project is now LIVE!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-cardboard-bike

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