After an Israeli inventor heard about someone who'd built a canoe out of cardboard, he immediately started thinking of other uses for the cheap, eco-friendly and surprisingly durable material. Specifically, he wanted to build a bicycle.
Izhar Gafni spoke to engineers. Impossible, they said. But Gafni's wife knew that her husband wouldn't be able to let the idea go so easily. "I know you," she told him. "If you are not going to try it then you are going to drive yourself crazy… So just go ahead and try it!"
He did, as this 6-minute documentary (or watch it below) shows, and the results are a simple, eye-catching, waterproof — and completely rideable — bicycle.
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“I really love bicycles, and when I worked in the United States, I inquired in California to see if anyone has already thought of the concept of a cardboard bicycle," Gafni tells the Israeli invention blog No Camels.
"To my delight, I only discovered similar concepts based on bamboo. But when I started asking engineers about the possibility of producing a cardboard bicycle, I was sent away and told that the realization of my idea is impossible. One day I was watching a documentary about the production of the first jumbo jet — and an engineer on the team 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. That saying motivated me to experiment with different materials on cardboard, to find what produces the desired strength and durability.”
Origami techniques helped Gafni make the bike capable of handling riders up to 485 pounds. The bikes take about $9 worth of cardboard to build, and Gafni hopes they hit the market in 2013 for around $60. An added benefit? They just may be too cheap to steal.