Izhar Gafni built a bike, called The Alfa, that weighs roughly 20 pounds, is sturdy enough to support a nearly 500 pound human, is made out of cardboard and other recycled materials, runs on a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free, and incredibly costs between $9-12 to build.
Engineers told Gafni that his idea was impossible. Yet he realized that paper could be strong if treated properly. As in crafting origami and tearing telephone books, he explains, “[if] you fold it once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.”
The development to what you see today took three years. Two were spent just figuring out the cardboard complications–leading to several patents–and the last was spent converting a cardboard box on wheels to a relatively normal looking bike.
Gafni is currently looking to raise funds to finalize manufacturing processes to put this bike into mass production. Well, not mass production per se, but into a production model that is more efficient that one-at-a-time.
As Fastco Design notes, “bikes are amongst the most efficient transportation systems in the planet, converting up to 99% of a person’s power into mobility that’s up to five times faster than walking. Imagine the impact for developing nations.” Indeed. Especially if these bicycles really did only cost $12.
I’m almost shocked Gafni hasn’t turned to Kickstarter, but then again, I think he is from Israel, so it’s entirely possible he hasn’t heard of Kickstarter. But, he should team up with some young kid in Brooklyn to get these bikes to catch on with the urban sophisticates.