Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni started with a question. 'Can you make an affordable and practical bicycle out of cardboard?'
He'd recently heard of a man who had built a canoe out of the lightweight material. "I went home and it sort of disturbed me. This canoe made out of cardboard was sitting in the back of my head... and it suddenly struck my mind; 'Why not make a bicycle out of cardboard?'" Gafni said in a short documentary made by filmmaker Giora Kariv . He spoke to three different Israeli engineers and they all reached the same conclusion: "It is impossible."
However, Gafni didn't give up on the idea.
"While I was eating with my wife one day, she noticed that I am a little bit disturbed and she asked me, 'What's bugging you?'" Gafni told his wife about the cardboard canoe, the engineers, and his idea. She looked at him and told him to go for it as only a wife can. "I know you. If you are not going to try it then you are going to drive yourself crazy... So just go ahead and try it!" she said, according to Good.is.
But building a cardboard bike wasn't easy. As the inventor soon discovered, there isn't a lot of research about using cardboard to make anything besides boxes. Undeterred, Gafni eventually found that by using the principals of Japanese origami, he could increase the weight-bearing capabilities of the cardboard by almost three times.
After several prototypes, his efforts resulted in a waterproof frame capable of carrying riders weighing up to 485 pounds, according to Good.is. "It's going to be a game-changer in the bike world," Kariv predicts. "Like Henry Ford who made the car available to anybody, this bike is going to be cheap and available to any child in the world, including children in Africa who walk dozens of miles to school everyday."
The bike is constructed from $9 worth of cardboard and will likely sell for $60 to $90 according to Gafni's projections. Not bad for a bicycle that Inhabitat is already calling "the coolest eco-vehicle to hit the streets in quite a while."
Gafni is already working with investors to ensure that the cardboard bicycle is ready for worldwide distribution some time in late 2013. The inventor is adamant; "It's strong, it's durable, it's cheap." And it's made from recycled materials. What's not to like?