Cardboard bicycle

So an Israeli inventor has come up with a cardboard bicycle. It’s waterproof, durable, strong, lightweight, and cheap at maybe $20 retail. (Link has 6-minute video in addition to the story.)

I’d buy one. Hell, I’d invest in it. My only question is how does the drivetrain work, and are there gears?

How about you?

From the picture, it looks like it has a normal chain and gears; you can see metal on the back tire hub. As for me, I never learned how to ride a bike, cardboard or otherwise (I don’t live in an area exactly conducive for bikes either).

From what I’ve read, it uses a car engine belt (timing belt?) instead of a chain, and the tires are solid rubber, can’t go flat

Exceptionally cool idea, that bike, kudos to the inventor, just hope he doesn’t sell out to some corporate scumbag who’ll jack up the price and cut quality control

I’d buy one. Hell, I’d buy 10 and give them to some kids’ charity.

How do you cut quality for* cardboard*?

Two words: Recycled particleboard.

Use a water soluble finish sealant/paint
Use a water soluble glue
Cut down on the amount/quality of the cardboard
Use cheap recycled cardboard…

There are corners that can be cut, that’s what the bean counters are best at

it hard to say what value it has.

it is made from recycled material. though how long does it last? after use can it only be recycled or can parts be reused?

metal bicycles can be ridden for about a century (i know some still able to be ridden at that age). it can be recycled and made from recycled. parts can be replaced. solid tires could be done for parts of the world that needed it.


But we’ll never see it in stores.

Sounds like a load-o-crap to me. Steel is cheap and far, far tougher and harder wearing than cardboard. It’s also recyclable. It doesn’t need special treatment of the type required to make this cardboard thing work.

In one of the linked stories it says the cost of materials is $9. Guess what? The cost of enough steel to make a 10kg bike is about $8. The cost of a bike is in labour not basic materials. And if you read this story which gives more detail, the reason they say it could be sold for $20 is because of government grants and selling advertising on the frame. You could probably sell a steel bike for the same money if it were sold the same way.

This isn’t a game changer it’s some starry eyed backyard inventors solving a problem that doesn’t exist and issuing sexy sounding PR material that makes no real sense.

It looks nice, and I’d buy one at 3x his “price”, but IMHO it’ll cost way more than the estimate. He’s got actual bike pedals, actual front calliper brakes, a belt drive that he may have gotten free off a junk pile but is going to cost money IRL, and a suspiciously headset-looking headset.

Also, I doubt anyone here would accept 20$ to cut those fiddly looking curves then glue and paint a bike’s worth of cardboard. Looks like an all-day job to me. (On edit, what Princhester sez)

And I see that in India, you can buy a basic very practical very strong bike for about $75. I have no doubt that if I can find that in an online store, in a third world country catering to poorer areas there will be bikes much cheaper. And the cardboard bike will, in reality, cost much more than $20 and will last much less than four times as long as a standard steel bike.

Somehow I hear a line from a Pink Floyd song

send you back to mother on a cardboard bike …

Steel is actually an amazing material for everyday use bikes: very strong, incredibly tough (when steel fails, it dents or bends; when wood or fancy carbon fibre fails it snaps or splinters), very good durability (it can rust, but other than that doesn’t wear out), not too heavy, fairly easy to work with (bend it by hand; weld it with small-shop tools), pretty cheap, and while steel can’t be made from scratch in a shop, you don’t need a 21st century or even 20th century technology and economy to make it. Heck, the only real problem with it that I can think of is that for wheel rims it’s a bit heavier and for some reason doesn’t work as well with rim brakes as newer alloys (which I believe are mostly iron anyway).

As mentioned, it’s very hard to believe that a steel bike won’t last longer than its equivalent cost in cardboard bikes. Nothing against the accomplishment of this inventor, and I’m not saying that it’s not a solution for some problem, just that I don’t think it’s a solution for any problems that many people have right now.

Didn’t the Chinese make bamboo frame bicycles at one time?

Very interesting idea, and kudos to the guy for execution.

But that bike will pound the crap out of its rider, without air tires or shocks.

That shouldn’t be hard to fix. He could make a version with shocks made out of discarded toilet paper tubes or something.

Yes, and they are still made today.

Renovo makes nice looking hardwood bicycles, but they are not cheap.

I am not sure about the cardboard bike. As stated by Dr_Doom, the ride is not going to be smooth at all, and I wonder what roads are like in the target markets for these. Also, traditional bikes have lots of parts, which means they are serviceable with some knowledge, and can be kept operating for a very long time. This thing looks like you would just throw the whole thing away once the wheels get damaged on rough roads. That or just burn it like firewood.

Still, it could be a good idea for some markets and applications, so I do not discount it all together.