In 2012, the concept caused a stir, and for good reason - it was the first bike in the world made entirely of recycled cardboard. A joke? No, a technical feat.
"Imagine a time when any plastic or cardboard thrown in the trash will be used to make a bike, a wheelchair or a toy."
With its thick black rimmed white wheels, shiny red saddle and minimalist lines, it looks like a huge toy or a trompe l'oeil stage prop. Yet this bike, designed by the Israeli Izhar Gafni, could well become a normal part of our urban landscapes – and everyone will benefit.
Roll, garbage, roll!
The origin of this crazy invention was a cardboard canoe. Quite capable of floating, it compared favorably with its conventional counterparts. The proof in pictures (French):
Having once seen it, the engineer in Izhar Gafni couldn’t forget it. For days, the unique little canoe floated in his memory - and then came the light bulb moment! What if he applied the same principle to his particular passion of cycling? Cardboard for the frame, plastic for the saddle and handlebars, rubber for wheel rims, a bit of metal for the pedals and brakes, all from recycled materials, and there you have it - a fully functional bike, which weighs no more than 9 pounds, and can carry up to 135 kilos. A genius? No, rather time (three years of work), patience (six prototypes), a good dose of ingenuity (being daring), and some origami skills. In the end, the strength is equivalent to that of carbon fiber, reinforced by its resistance to water and fire, Gafni’s formula for which is staying a secret.
A trump card
Beyond the technical prowess involved, the project has another aim for Gafni and his partner Nimrod Elmish - emerging countries. In addition to reducing the C02 emissions released when manufacturing conventional bikes, it would help to unclog congested and highly polluted megacities, offer a sponsored means of transportation for the neediest populations, update the culture of recycling and environmental protection where needed, and also help improve the local economy by creating manufacturing jobs.
Named "best invention" by Science Magazine in 2013, the Gafni bike is expected on the market in March 2015, and could ultimately lead to other amazing follies. In the next decade it is perfectly possible that people will be moving around in recycled cardboard wheelchairs, cars and perhaps even planes...