Cardboard bicycle 'could change world'

 

A bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard has the potential to change transportation habits from the world's most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa, its Israeli inventor says.

Izhar Gafni (50), is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard.

He said during a recent demonstration that after much trial and error, his latest prototype had proven itself and mass production will begin in a few months. The bike is expected to retail at about $20 (€15.43).

"I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions. But this was the culmination of a few things that came together. I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard's weak structural points," Mr Gafni said.

"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.

Cardboard has rarely been considered as raw material for products usually made of much stronger materials, such as metal.

Once the shape has been formed and cut, the cardboard is treated with a secret concoction of organic materials to give it its waterproof and fireproof qualities. In the final stage, it is coated with lacquer paint for appearance.

In testing the durability of the treated cardboard, Mr Gafni said he immersed a cross-section in a water tank for several months and it retained all its hardened characteristics.

Once ready for production, the bicycle will include no metal parts - even the brake mechanism and the wheel and pedal bearings will be made of recycled substances, although Mr Gafni said he could not yet reveal those details due to pending patent issues.

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