The $9 Cardboard Bike From Israel (PHOTOS)

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycleIt only costs Izhar Gafni 9-12 USD to produce this sleek, waterproof and roadworthy cardboard bike. At the behest of his wife (who was tired of Gafni’s talk without action), the Israeli Kibbutznik developed an earth-friendly alternative for urban cyclists that is “so cheap it’s not worth stealing.” Like most innovators, Gafni defied the naysayers who said it’s impossible to make a bicycle out of cardboard in order to realize this creation, though the journey was not without its pitfalls. Check out images taken from Giora Kariv’s six-minute film that demonstrate what a cardboard bike is made of.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycleGafni experimented with several prototypes before coming up with the winning design.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

Made out of corrugated cardboard sheets, the bicycle can withstand up to 140kg.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

In some cases, the cardboard is rolled up to give it strength.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

Engineers told Gafni it would be impossible to build a bicycle out of cardboard, but he persevered (at his wife’s behest.)

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

In Israel, bicycles are regularly stolen. Gafni’s design is so cheap that it’s not worth stealing, he told local media.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

Early prototypes looked like delivery boxes on wheels, he said. But the final design, for cardboard, is pretty darn sleek. At least we think so.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

This is definitely not a winner!

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

But this one is.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

Although it costs only 9-12 USD in materials, Gafni sells his cardboard bike for USD 60; still, that’s a steal for a simple whip around.

cardboard, design, Israel, urban, cycling, bicycle

Izhar Gafni: the man who defied the naysayers and followed his dream.

Photography: Uri Ackerman

About Tafline Laylin

As a tour leader who led “eco-friendly” camping trips throughout North America, Tafline soon realized that she was instead leaving behind a trail of gas fumes, plastic bottles and Pringles. In fact, wherever she traveled – whether it was Viet Nam or South Africa or England – it became clear how inefficiently the mandate to re-think our consumer culture is reaching the general public.Born in Iran, raised in South Africa and the United States, she currently splits her time between Africa and the Middle East.Tafline can be reached at tafline (at) greenprophet (dot) com, @teakettle22,

18 thoughts on “The $9 Cardboard Bike From Israel (PHOTOS)

  1. J. Frank Mortimer

    Has a single journalist ridden this prototype bike? No. Wonder why? Because this is a lousy bluff. Just look at that rear brake lever that has no corresponding cable or mechanism. The front brake wont work either. Typical brakes squeeze a wheel rim with a 500N force and over 2MPa pressure. That would crush or tear any cardboard wheel. Look at those conventional pedals that are meant to screw into cardboard: They would just fall off! So the cranks cannot be cardboard. Nor can the wheel dropouts, nor the bottom bracket. Look at that valve that “inflates” one of the the solid tires. Look at the flimsy belt drive! Why don’t other bikes use thin belt drives? Because they aren’t strong enough for any real riding. So when an independent reporter tests this thing, we can look again. For now it’s a cute art project, not an industrial design. Besides, just the front brake costs more than $9. And is cardboard coated with a strong polymer really so easy to recycle?

  2. Don Wilson

    Would really like to Contact Izhar Gafni about one day distributing his bikes in my town of Davis, Ca.

    We have lots of bike trails and bike commuters including thousands of University students who would love an inexpensive bike.

    I cannot imagine regular bike shops trying to sell these cardboard bikes next to their expensive bikes selling for hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

    About ready to retire from my thirty five year Chiropractic career.
    I would love to start something new. Exciting!

    Help me contact Izhar if you have his email address?

  3. Roy Nott

    Looking for further reinforcement, durability and mass reduction with very little marginal environmental impact, Gafni? I am sure we could help.

  4. Nigel Howcroft

    Gafni heard of the proposed cardboard Cathedral plan for Christchurch replace one destroyed in an earthquake ?
    He may be interested in supplying a bike to further demonstrate.

  5. Ronni Ishaky

    Maurice, there is something to your criticism. But in the long run, these bikes are using very little in terms of material for construction. They can’t be compared with a ‘real’ bike – not in price, environmental foot print, nor performance.

  6. Miriam Kresh

    Maurice, Gafni’s invention is definitely low-carbon as compared to bikes made of metal and plastic.

  7. Maurice

    How much glue or resins were required to make this thing? These substances are definitely not green; and cardboard isn’t either, for that matter.

  8. Miriam Kresh

    Jen, I suggest taking as close a look as possible at the video, to judge the comfort of the seat. And Eli, the same video shows Gafni rolling right through a puddle without a care in the world.


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