$20 Bicycle Brings Mobility to the Urban Masses

Izhar cardboard bike project from Cardboard Technologies on Vimeo.

Bikes require an expensive initial investment for the urban poor

For an urban dweller making only a few dollars a day, better forms of transportation such as the automobile are hopelessly out of reach. Public transit may be available, but it can quickly eat into savings. A bicycle can be an ideal solution to this problem, providing mobility with almost no ongoing maintenance expenses and no fuel costs, but bicycles require a significant upfront cost.

Solution: Make a cheaper bicycle

An Israeli inventor set out to create a bicycle anyone could afford. He finally succeeded using an unlikely material: cardboard.

When bicycle enthusiast Izhar Gafni heard the story of the inventor who created a sturdy, working canoe out of cardboard, he came up with an idea everyone thought was impossible: a cardboard bicycle.

Four years and many prototypes later, Izhar found a way to solve the problem of cardboard’s weak structural points, and created a ruggedized, waterproof bicycle frame made completely of cardboard, with a chain made from a car timing belt and tires of reconstituted rubber. The finished product is durable, fireproof, and requires no maintenance. The most extraordinary thing about the bike is its cost: around $9 to manufacture.

Izhar wants to bring transportation to the masses, to give mobility to the urban poor and relieve traffic congestion. After an IndieGogo campaign received more attention than expected, Izhar attracted an equity investment to build his first bicycle factory. The bicycles are estimated to retail for $20 and production is underway.

Limitations: After an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign, status of the project is unclear.

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Category: Transportation


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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