He built a $9 cardboard bike - and it works

Izhar Gafni, an Israeli inventor, riding the bike he made from cardboard for $9.
Izhar Gafni, an Israeli inventor, riding the bike he made from cardboard for $9.
Posted: September 14, 2012

Izhar Gafni, an Israeli inventor, was in a bike shop discussing his passion one day when the discussion turned to a man who had invented a cardboard canoe.

Gafni left the shop, but couldn't get the idea of a cardboard canoe out of his head.

"Bicycle is sort of my hobby," Gafni said in a video that's become a hit on the Internet. "It's what I do in my free time. It's in my soul."

"Suddenly, it just struck my mind," Gafni continued. "Why not make a bicycle out of cardboard?"

Gafni began a quest to fulfill that dream and spoke with three engineers, all of whom told him it would be impossible to make a working bike from cardboard.

He spoke with his wife, who urged him to pursue the idea anyway because she knew he "would drive everyone crazy" if he didn't try it.

Gafni had worked on stents, robotics and other machines in the past, he recounts in the video. He latched onto the idea of origami, which increases the tensile strength of paper through folding.

He began experimenting with folding corrugated cardboard, and succeeding in building a platform that could support a car.

So he knew he could make the cardboard strong. But his first prototype of a bicycle, "looked like a hybrid of packaging box and bike."

Gafni said he knew he had to make it look like a real bike for it to be successful.

"That's where the real challenge started," he said.

"I basically took everything I knew and focused it to work with the material to accomplish what I wanted to do: wheel structure, frame design and strength, transmission design, cardboard seats. And then things started to click together."

Gafni had created his dream. It cost him $9 to make and Gafni figures he could sell one for $50 or $60, according to one report.

"It's strong, it's durable, it's cheap," he said of the bike, which can be seen in the video. "What I like about it the most - it's made out of cardboard."

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