by Josh Gross
Reuters is reporting that Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni has ironed out the flaws in a crazy scheme to bring bikes to the masses by making them out of cheap, recyclable, lightweight cardboard.
"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 told Reuters.
Gafni reportedly worked for years on the design, as well as on a special treatment to harden the cardboard to the point of utility, and to make it both water- and fireproof. But he says the bikes are now fully functional and slated to go into production shortly. They have no metal parts and last for nearly two years.
And the best part? At only $9 in production costs, the bikes are so 'effin cheap, he wants to give them away, especially to the developing world, and hopes to make money by advertising on the bikes instead of selling them.
From the article:
"Because you get a lot of government grants, it brings down the production costs to zero, so the bicycles can be given away for free. We are copying a business model from the high-tech world where software is distributed free because it includes embedded advertising," Nimrod Elmish, Gafni's business partner, explained.
"It could be sold for around $20, because (retailers) have to make a profit ... and we think they should not cost any more than that. We will make our money from advertising," he added.
Elmish said initial production was set to begin in Israel in months on three bicycle models and a wheelchair, and they will be available to purchase within a year.
Gafni also said that the design prevents the bike from getting flat tires. If that's true, we here at Boise Weekly are all about this cardboard bike and its ability to thwart the dreaded goathead.
Read the full article here or watch this super-snazzy video about his project below.