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October 18, 2012

The $9 Cardboard bike could enable billions of bikes to fight poverty and improve the environment

FastCo Design - Izhar Gafni has designed award winning industrial machines for peeling pomegranates and sewing shoes. He’s also a bike enthusiast who’s designed a lot of carbon fiber rigs. But one day, he’d heard about someone who’d built a cardboard canoe.

Izhar created the Alfa cardboard bike. The Alfa weighs 20lbs, yet supports riders up to 24 times its weight. It’s mostly cardboard and 100% recycled materials, yet uses a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free. And, maybe best of all, it’s project designed to be manufactured at about $9 to $12 per unit (and just $5 for a kids version)


LA Times - Izhar hopes to put the bike into mass production in the next three months.
Water proof and strong as wood

Gafni says the bike is strong, durable, fireproof and waterproof. And because it is made of cardboard, it will also be cheap. Gafni's business partner Nimrod Elmis told Reuters that he expects the bike to sell at retail stores for $20.

The trick to make it strong was bending and gluing the cardboard in such a way that it becomes strong like a piece of wood. In a video about Gafni and his cardboard bike, Gafni describes the process as a type of origami, and demonstrates how his cardboard is strong enough to support a car.

If you fold cardboard once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.



Bicycles still the most popular transportation in the world

Fortune - The bicycle is the world's most popular form of transit. There were an estimated 133 million bikes produced and sold to retailers last year, says industry analyst Jay Townley. That's more than double the number of cars manufactured worldwide in 2011, and a 500% increase from 50 years ago.



Disposable and recyclable bikes will transform bike sharing in developed countries

In addition to substantial startup expenses, average maintenance and operating costs for a bike share bike run about $1,600 per year, though New York City says its will be lower, at $1,200 per unit. There are a few established ways of covering that cost: One is public funding. D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare, for example, uses a mix of member fees and government aid. (It's government-owned and privately operated.) Another model is advertiser funding. Paris's Velib program is run by the advertising agency JCDecaux, which in turn receives a concession for advertising in the city and a share of revenue. Some cities—such as Berlin—bring in for-profit companies' to operate the system. Others, like Boston's New Balance Hubway, are wholly owned and operated by the government, and still others function like non-profits. A recent report found that 58% of large modern systems in the U.S. (including Denver, Minneapolis and Madison) use the non-profit model.

Bicycles can fight poverty

The bicycles serve as a tool for income generating activities, community cooperation, and access to social services –such as healthcare, water, and education. Bicycles allow individuals to transport goods between their farms, homes, and larger markets with more profitable sales.

Bikes are amongst the most efficient transportation systems in the planet, converting up to 99% of a person’s power into mobility that’s up to five times faster than walking. Imagine the impact for developing nations, assuming the Alfa (or a derivative) could handle itself on unpaved roads--especially when fitted with an optional small motor upgrade to enhance range--or what you could do in a small school district where every child could be given a bike in place of a few days of school-bus gas.







Waterproofing Cardboard for Boats

Coats of special waterproof sealant can be painted on the inside of the boat as well as the outside hull. Plastic liners can also be glued or taped on the outside and inside of the boat to reduce water damage.

Alibaba has traditional metal Utility Bikes from China for $18-50

Pheonix bikes are $20-40


I think Chinese bike builders could produce the cardboard bike in volume for $12-15. The cardboard bike is lighter and could be easier and cheaper to ship.

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