This $9 Cardboard Bike Can Support Riders Up To 485lbs

It’s 100% recycled and very lightweight, with a frame that’s stronger than carbon fiber.

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. The idea drilled its way into his consciousness, and ultimately, led him to create a cardboard bike called the Alfa.

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), making it not only one of the most sustainable bikes you could imagine, but amongst the cheapest, depending on the markup.

But as the above video documents, the design process was arduous. Engineers told Gafni that his idea was impossible. Yet he realized that paper could be strong if treated properly. As in crafting origami and tearing telephone books, he explains, “[if] you fold it once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.”

The development to what you see today took three years. Two were spent just figuring out the cardboard complications—leading to several patents—and the last was spent converting a cardboard box on wheels to a relatively normal looking bike.

At the moment, Gafni is working with a company to raise the funds to finalize manufacturing processes for his adult and child bikes and then actually put them into production. And if they’re able to pull this off, and the Alfa is everything it’s promised to be, it could be an absolutely paradigm-shifting idea in the transportation industry.

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.

Then again, the best way to score yourself a recycled bike is just to go to a pawn shop and buy one used. No doubt, it’s a little less design-spectacular, but $10 sure can go a long way at a good old garage sale.

[Hat tip: Design Taxi]

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175 Comments

  • Ben Lewis

    I'm staring at a $30 front brake, two $10 brake levers (I'm assuming a $30 rear brake to go with it) and a nice set of $30 pedals . . . . oh and a nice $80 set of Gatorskin Conti bike tires(that will need tubes). so tell me what I get for $9?

    The beauty of bicycles is that you and nearly infinitely repair them.  This takes ALL of that beauty and drops it in the trash (because good luck recycling candy painted cardboard)If someone wants to design bicycles - they should start by becoming a bicycle mechanic.  There is a lot of room for improvement, but design students and out of work freelancers haven't currently made any improvements.

  • wlexxx

     +++++++++++++++++++this:
     "There is a lot of room for improvement, but design students and out of work freelancers haven't currently made any improvements."

    !!!!!
    wle

  • Wlexxx

    no wait, poodle, i agree with poodle, the ''hater'' :)
    not jesspants the believer
    wle
     

  • Wlexxx

    sustainable would actually be buying a used bike
    instead of anything new
    cardboard or not

    wle
    yup
     

  • wle

    it;s in the news again
    something about costing $400
    or maybe if you pledge $400 they give you one, kickstarter or facebook or something
    and they are backpedaling on the sale price
    they want to ''ensure a quality experience'' or some such BS

    wle
     

  • wle

    disk brakes!
    ha!
    yes for $9, made in the usa, too ..

    maybe they can attach a few $20 bills to it, too
    5 or 6 of them, should be doable...

    wle
     

  • enjoyPB

    I'm in Rotary International and a bicycle like this could be revolutionizing to many around the world. At this price point we could help thousands of people very quickly. Kids walking 10 miles to school, or parents travelling great distances to work every day - each way - could get there more reliably and more quickly. It would be great to also see a model with some kind of transportation mechanism (i.e. a wheeled cart) that could be used to transport water containers. I'm really excited about the prospects of this and look forward to the project's success! I also encourage you to consider launching this project in KickStarter.com. This is a no-brainer!

  • Mch_gan

    Fantastic idea and innovation!! Brillant in fact. Would very much love to bring this to Australia and SE Asia. Can I register as a distributor? I would really love to be part of this futuristic innovation. Thanks

  • Jeremy Martin

    This bike looks like more of a piece of art then something you would throw in the  back of your truck and go for a ride on. 

  • Antony

    I am from Canada. I like the cardboard idea very much. Please get in touch with me. I wish to have a short discussion (email or letter) with you how can we work together. I am looking for to replace a product in the cleaning industry (nothing to do with bicycles) which used almost as much as the bicycle on the road. I have my company related to the cleaning industry and I can make it work and put it on the market with your help and involvement. Keep up the good work. alelkes