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Save the world with a cardboard bike!

Updated on February 9, 2017
Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner
Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner

Can a Cardboard Bicycle save the world?

News is buzzing about the amazing cardboard bike that could save you money and even change the world! What, you say? A cardboard bike? Is it for real? Does it really work? Is it strong enough? Can it go through water? And what if it rains? Will it get soggy? What if you light a match? Will it burn to the ground? Why, that's impossible let alone save the world!

Izhar Gafni with his invention

My friends, I'm going to answer here all your questions and show you this amazing invention that really works! And maybe just maybe, by the time you're finished reading, you too will be convinced that you CAN save the world with this economical, "green" and fully functional bike!

Fully functional you say? Yes, my friends! And once made available to the world, this innovation may finally be able to provide affordable transportation to those countries where transit is an absolute necessity that can't always be afforded.

Could you see yourself with one of these money-saving cardboard bikes? Of course! They look snazzy and sleek and they certainly won't break the bank! Are you a skeptic? Well then, scroll down, read on and learn more! I hope to make you a believer. Just let me know what you think at the bottom of the page! :D

From Incredible Cardboard to DIY Paper Art Projects! - Astonish family and friends! All you need for the DIY person to stay creatively alive!

The Art of Creative Cardboard from slotted sculptures to building sets for fun and family, there are enough projects here to keep you busy for days on end!

The beginning of the Cardboard idea.

Cardboard - An idea comes to life. - Phillip Bridge and his cardboard bike.

Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield
Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield

Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield

The first cardboard bike was built in 2008 by Phillip Bridge, a 21 yr. old design student at the University of Sheffield Hallam in England. As part of his University design degree Phil came up with this idea of building an economical alternative to the ordinary bike.

Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield
Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield
Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield
Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield

What first inspired this creative design student to build a cardboard bike? Phil was thinking about the number of bike thefts that occurred frequently everyday. It's a common occurrence we're all familiar with. Did you know that on average a bike is stolen every 71 seconds? Well that's what made Phil think about a way to solve this problem. Using the power of design Phil came up with a cardboard bicycle so cheap there would be no practical incentive to steal it! And he did it with his cardboard bike!

Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield
Photo Credit: BBC Radio Sheffield

Of course, when Phil built his bike it was for most part just a project for his university degree. Phil wasn't thinking at the time of the immense connotations it would eventually have 4 years later with Izhar Gafni's invention. Or was he? At any rate, Phil Bridge was the first to make the cardboard bike!

The difference between Phil's prototype and Izhar Gafni's bike is that not all of Phil's bike is made out of cardboard. The tires, chain and brakes are of metal and rubber as any normal bike. According to the young inventor, the actual cardboard bike can be built for about $8 but including the non-cardboard components will bring the total to around $30.

A bicycle made from cardboard.

Do you like the idea of a cardboard bike?

Would you build a cardboard anything?

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Make Your Own Working Paper Clock! - Love cardboard and paper projects? Make your own working paper clock is an easy step-by-step booklet containing all you nee

The book itself can be cut up for assembly. All you need is a lot of time and patience, some glue and a whole lot of precision exacto knives. If you think you might make a mistake do yourself a favor and buy yourself 2 of these. They don't cost much and if you ruin a section you can still fall back on the second copy.

A Cardboard Bike from 100% recycled material.

Photo Credit: AVI KATZ

When Izhar Gafni made his first cardboard bike it was the realization of a long-time dream. An Israeli engineer working in industrial design Izhar is no newcomer to manufacturing and automated mass-production lines. But this uncanny inventor also happens to be an avid bicycle enthusiast.

Bicycles are his passion, his hobby. As Izhar himself relates, one day, while buying some parts in a bicycle shop, he overheard talk of something new, something never heard of before, a cardboard boat!

Izhar could not get what he had just heard out of his head. Going back to his shop the idea of the cardboard boat kept haunting him. Then the idea hit him! Why not make a cardboard bicycle!

A bicycle made completely from cardboard?

Izhar Gafni making his cardboard bike Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner
Izhar Gafni making his cardboard bike Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner

When Izhar first voiced his plans about building a cardboard bicycle, he was told it was impossible. But this intrepid engineer was not daunted.

One day, while watching a documentary about the first jumbo jet, one of the engineers 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. This gave Izhar the inspiration and encouragement he needed to fulfill his dream. His told himself just try it!

So Izhar began with some simple cardboard creations. At first they looked something like a cross between a packaging box and a bicycle, in Izhar's own words, like a package on wheels!

But Izhar did not give up. He soon came to realize that his cardboard bicycle should really be a bicycle and not just look like one. He then mustered up all his vast background experience in engineering to develop his prototype. The bicycle he dreamed of would be called The Alfa!

The Cardboard Bike that couldn't be done!

Introducing The Alfa Cardboard Bike!

[Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner]
[Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner]

Izhar Gafni's new cardboard bicycle is actually based on the principles of Japanese paper art Origami. Origami comes from the Japanese word ori meaning "folding", and kami meaning "paper". It is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century.

The Japanese folded paper until it sculpted or formed tiny creations. The amount of folding can be combined to make intricate designs or works of art! Gafni applied the principle of folding behind the art of Origami by reasoning, "[if] you fold it once, it's not just twice the strength, it's three times the strength."

To quote Gafni: "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,...".

What are the benefits of the cardboard bike? - Light, cheap and durable!

[Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner]
[Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner]

The Alfa took Izhar Gafni three years to build. Two years just to figure out the qualities of cardboard and how to make it durable and one year to actually build his bike. The finished product is here displayed in all it's simple glory! Keep in mind that Izhar's cardboard bike is made completely from cardboard and recyclable material!

  1. Lightweight, at only 20lbs, the cardboard bicycle can support up to 24 times its weight!
  2. The tires, made from reconstructed car tires can never puncture and do not need inflating.
  3. The brakes, wheel and pedal bearings are all from recycled material and won't need changing for years.
  4. The Alfa is completely waterproof AND fireproof! Coated with a special resin made by Gafni, the Alfa can safely glide through water without risk of becoming a soggy mess.
  5. Gafni's cardboard bicycles are super economical. At only 9 dollars cost production per unit these bicycles can sell for less than 20 dollars a piece. Remember, Izhar Gafni's ultimate goal is to be able to provide third world and poorer countries with his amazing bicycles for free.
  6. The cardboard bike is so cheap it won't matter how long it lasts.
  7. The cardboard bike is so cheap, theoretically, it will never get stolen.

How can a cardboard bicycle save the world?

Izhar Gafni with his cardboard bike [Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner]
Izhar Gafni with his cardboard bike [Image credit: Reuters / Baz Ratner]

Izhar Gafni's ultimate dream is that his cardboard bike will change the world! Change it, yes, and save it too! Imagine the help his bicycles could provide to the world's most traffic-congested cities, helping people in remote parts of the Third World get from place to place.

Imagine the ability to set up low cost production facilities all across the world creating jobs and providing an essential means of transportation as well.

Yes, Izhar Gafni believes his bicycle can change the world not only because of the social benefits it would provide for all concerned but because it will eventually change the way people think. Izhar plans that the money saved from low-cost production will enable them to give away the bicycles for free to poor countries.

In Gafni's own words: "In six months we will have completed planning the first production lines for an urban bike which will be assisted by an electric motor, a youth bike which will be a 2/3 size model for children in Africa, a balance bike for youngsters learning to ride, and a wheelchair that a non-profit organisation wants to build with our technology for Africa,..."

If Gafni's idea spreads and catches on, imagine a world where benefits can be shared by everyone and not just a chosen few!

365 Things to Do with Paper and Cardboard! - A project a day to keep you busy all year long!

365 things to do with paper and cardboard is a wonderful compendium of do-it-yourself projects for everyday of the year. One of the most fascinating and enjoyable books I've found and a welcome addition to your do-it-yourself library.

The Cardboard Inspiration That Started it All. - The cardboard boat.

Incredible Cardboard! Full step-by-step instructions! - 20 amazing ways to turn old cardboard into beautiful, functional items.

If you're hooked on cardboard you'll love Incredible Cardboard by Instructables authors. Illustrations and step-by-step instructions make each project easy to follow and by the end of the book you'll have accomplished 20 incredible cardboard projects all by yourself!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      A few days after I was here, I was watching the Today Show and the cardboard bike was featured for winning an invention award....loved Al Roker's comment that he would be visiting his proctologist after a ride....I think they said they were selling for around $30. Meant to get back and just didn't to let you know if you'd missed it. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I lived through the heart break when my son's new bike was stolen when he brought it to the pool on his birthday...he locked it but they cut it while he swam, I'll never forget the tears as he came in the door. Cardboard bikes are novel and some may be stolen just because of that. I find it amazing that they work, are affordable and pretty cool but that they can be water and fireproof is another marvel....making them marvelous I guess! :)

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @Teapixie LM: "program" ;)

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      Awesome. Biking is becoming the best way to get around where I live and I would love to see these bikes created for a bike lending progtm here! Great article, nice research and presentation.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      This is a wonderful idea!

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this lens "Save the world with a cardboard bike!"

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      I remember seeing cardboard patio furniture many years ago - they worked great until it rained!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 4 years ago

      I read about this Israeli inventor before. It's a very interesting concept. I'd love to try it

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      So cool!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 4 years ago from Ohio

      Our next challenge should be to make politicians from cardboard. What an improvement that would be! SquidAngel Blessings.

    • profile image

      PhotographyPassion 4 years ago

      Truly inspiring. What a fabulous invention and great information to learn about it.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      Pretty amazing and incredibly innovative!

    • profile image

      Deadpool 4 years ago

      light bike great!

    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 4 years ago

      This material would make great boxes. :)

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      Cardboard bikes sound like a very interesting idea! Thank you for sharing.

    • bsalas lm profile image

      bsalas lm 4 years ago

      I've never heard of this before. Great lens!

    • Resident-Nerd profile image

      Resident-Nerd 4 years ago

      This is great, i love building stuff my self rather than purchasing whenever possible. Great lens and topic.

    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 4 years ago

      Waterproof and fireproof? That just answered my two concerns about cardboard bikes! Cool!

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 4 years ago

      My son and I just had this conversation yesterday. We were talking about what brilliant things can be accomplished by people who did not know that they were "doing it all wrong" or that they were attempting the "impossible." Excellent lens!

    • profile image

      drunkensailor 4 years ago

      Awesome!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      super info for this lens

    • audrey07 profile image

      audrey07 4 years ago

      I like the idea a lot. A cardboard bike - there is a nice ring to it too!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      Very interesting DIY project!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      That someone could build a cardboard bike and make it work is flat out amazing. I am seriously impressed.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 4 years ago from Michigan

      Pretty amazing! Now for the $100 cardboard car!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      That is so cool... and so inspiring!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Oh, man! Awesome lens! I've heard about this but didn't know the story. Thanks!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      This is such an awesome idea.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      This is such an awesome idea.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      Very impressive!

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Wow. Awesome and inspiring!

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 4 years ago

      This is fantastic! I need to return to this lens again to learn how to do this!

    • PassionatelyCur profile image

      PassionatelyCur 4 years ago

      This is great! Talk about inspiring!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      What a cool idea!

    • shawnhi77 lm profile image

      shawnhi77 lm 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens. Very well done.

    • shawnhi77 lm profile image

      shawnhi77 lm 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens. Very well done.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      Wow, a Cardboard Bicycle!? This is a great idea for a lens,and itâs very informative! Thank you for sharing, I learned something new here.

    • profile image

      christineallen 4 years ago

      Brilliant, and green. What could be better?

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Thanks for such good green information.

    • profile image

      Thamisgith 4 years ago

      Amazing concept.

    • profile image

      sherioz 4 years ago

      Where can I find Izhar and get one of his bikes? Maybe he lives in my hometown, Haifa? His is a brillint invention and your presentation of it is no less wonderful.

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 4 years ago

      This is a great lens, I think its creative and innovative this cardboard bike. And if it can help those who can't afford to get about do so in that alone it can change the world.

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

      Nice idea

    • Projectlazy profile image

      Projectlazy 4 years ago

      Interesting lense. I used to love carboard planes as a kid

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very practical and creative both the cardboard bike and this lens.

    • profile image

      crstnblue 4 years ago

      Excellent job! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a wonderful Idea, I had not even heard of it. And yes it would save people so much money in poorer countries and in fact anywhere. Everyone should get their kids one of these for xmas. Great lens and layout too. love how you insert pics in the text. I can never get mine lined up.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I'd heard of this but not seen a picture until now. Fascinating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What an interesting idea. I can't imagine what would inspire someone to build a bike out of cardboard. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What an interesting idea. I can't imagine what would inspire someone to build a bike out of cardboard. Great lens.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very interesting lens. I am curious to see if cardboard bikes catch on.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very interesting lens. I am curious to see if cardboard bikes catch on.

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 4 years ago

      What a creative idea! Hopefully the cardboard bike takes off, but even if it doesn't I still look forward to seeing what other innovative ideas this young man comes up with.

    • profile image

      inspirationz 4 years ago

      I've heard about this bike before reading your article - now i know even more about it after reading yours too :) - very interesting idea!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a great lens and a wonderful eco-friendly transportation idea. Love it!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I'm amazed this is possible as it's an ingenious idea.

    • estellaeffects lm profile image

      estellaeffects lm 4 years ago

      Wow! This is totally amazing! Very innovative and totally cool.

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 4 years ago

      This is such an awesome idea!