Cardboard Bicycle
by Izhar Gafni


Israeli engineer and systems developer Izhar Gafni has invented a cardboard bicycle that's strong, waterproof and costs less than £10 to manufacture (+ movie).

Cardboard Bike by Izhar Gafni

Izhar Gafni started developing the Cardboard Bicycle three years ago. "Since there was no know-how with regards to the cardboard material, the first two years were devoted to learning the properties and behaviour of the material," explains Gafni.

Above: movie by Giora Kariv

"The idea is like Japanese origami," he says in the movie. "You fold it once and then it doesn't become twice the strength, it's almost three times the strength. So I took it from there and did the same thing with cardboard."

After the shape has been cut out, the cardboard is treated with a waterproof and fireproof coating specially created by Gafni, before lacquer paint is applied over the top.

Cardboard Bike by Izhar Gafni

The "urban bike" for adults costs around £6 per unit and weighs 9kg, while the kids' bike costs £3 per unit and weighs 3.5kg.

Both are made almost entirely from recycled materials and cyclists will also have the option to add an electric motor, according to the designer.

Cardboard Bike by Izhar Gafni

Gafni's business partner, Israeli investment group ERB, is currently fundraising and developing the bicycle for production.

We've featured lots of unusual bicycles recently, including one with a frame made from steam-bent wood and another that can carry heavy loads front and back despite its compact frame.

Cardboard Bike by Izhar Gafni

Other cardboard projects we've featured on Dezeen include a pop-up cardboard chapel in New York's Central Park and a Japanese boutique with an interior made from cardboard tubes.

See all our stories about bicycles »
See all our stories about transport »
See all our stories about cardboard »

Here's some more information from Gafni's business partner, ERB:

The Cardboard Bicycle Project is a new, revolutionary and green concept to produce bicycles made of durable recycled cardboard. ERB is an active partner which manages all the business and financial aspects of this project. ERB leads the worldwide business activity of the cardboard bicycle in Israel and abroad.

The first commercial model of the bicycle is designed for large companies as a vehicle for their employees and for large cities as a cheap, light-weight vehicle. Parallel to those, the electric model is being developed.

The Cardboard Bicycle can withstand water and humidity. Part of our unique technology enables us to create a product that looks like it is made out of hard lightweight polymer. The bike is stronger than carbon fibre and can carry riders weighing up to 220 kilograms. The cost to make the bicycle is around $9-$12.

  • Samuel

    Cardboard wheel and pedal bearings? Cardboard bottom bracket? Cardboard headset? Cardboard brakes and levers? Cardboard cables? Cardboard tyres and inner tubes? No, didn't think so.

    • frank

      That’s a petty response. Of course it’s not 100% pure cardboard, down to every last bolt, but the majority of the bike body is and that is what makes the difference in terms of manufacturing, waste and cost.

    • Steve

      Looks great; a neat concept. Of course we don’t the expect bearings, chain and sprocket are cardboard. Just like a fibreglass boat uses steel and aluminium for the engine, steering etc. The concept achieved its purpose. It got you looking, thinking, wondering and criticising.

    • “almost entirely from recycled materials” – I guess you missed that. ALMOST.

  • malik

    Cost production less than 10 pounds. You really think we’re that stupid to believe that. Brake system + steering system + pedals on mine cost 2 or 3 times that, then add the employee’s salaries that make the bicycle (probably 2 or 3 hours), the painting or plastering, etc… in the end it’ll cost twice more to produce than a conventional bicycle made in China.

  • Paul

    First thing, it does not look very comfortable and in my opinion, doesn’t look so nice.

    BUT! This is a marvelous piece of engineering. The future opportunities for such an object are huge, as well as a massive possibility regarding recycling of materials, etc. Added to some of the really cheap computers available, this adds another viable opportunity for less developed countries to provide all its citizens with modern basic necessities.

  • cmon

    £10? Maybe for cardboard frame, cut and paint job. What about brakes, pedals, chain, tyres and all other real parts? C’mon, for £50 you can recycle an old bike in much less time, without special tools and it will look better.

    • More info

      They made the pedals out of recycled water bottles and the tyres from an old car tyre.

  • Thomas

    I'm betting that a basic aluminium frame produced in Taiwan costs less than £10 to produce and can be recycled and made of recycled aluminium. I'm sure it would last a lot longer too.

    I'm wondering what kind of chemicals and resins are used to strengthen and protect the material. It might be worth considering that when promoting this as a 'green product'.

    Following cmon's comment: I would be far more interested in an initiative to cheaply gather and recondition durable steel frames.

  • Nino

    Some shameful replies here. Is this how we communicate at a place for designers? People who want to be inspired by other designers trying something new?

    Of course the end product does not have the right properties to directly compete with 10,000s of man hours of work put into the evolution of steel bikes. Of course tyres, brakes and cables cannot be made from cardboard.

    Does that make it a bad design? No. Do I believe the entire bike could be mass produced for about £10? No. Am I impressed how the obsession of one guy has shown me that more could be done with this common material than I ever knew? Yes.

    Maybe you should watch the movie and be inspired instead. Oh, and I happen to like the design. I look forward to getting one and painting it myself.

    • Thank you Nino.

    • Kate

      Well said.

    • I wonder if all these criticising naysayers have ever taken the time to invent something themselves. Very easy to sit at your computer and pass negative comment – if you must criticise then at least make positive suggestions for improvement.

  • Finally a post that challenges and re-evaluates the world we live in and how to move it forward. It is rather sad that on a platform dedicated to exposing the progressive ideas of the global community so many of you have such regressive mind-sets. Izhar, thank you for showing those who have eyes to see how we can begin to move forward intelligently, way to go!

    • omnomnicromcrom

      Not regressive so much as realistic/skeptical. We need both the dreamers and the skeptics in this world, and some of the points made or questions posed above are good.

      • I definitely agree that there needs to be logical and sometimes aggressive questioning in design, but what bothers me is the speed and ease with which insults and accusations slide off people’s tongues (especially on this site). This is how good ideas die, they are too often taken as absolute and stagnant and not as living organic things that can be coaxed into more effective versions of themselves. Perhaps I am a romantic, but I firmly believe that we’d be a better global society if we encouraged more than we degraded.

  • Ari

    This guy is awesome.

  • Damian

    Very nice use of the structural strength of folding honeycomb cardboard!

  • I love it and even the colour of the paint job is spot-on for the fashionistas!

  • The wheels look like cardboard to me, with just a slim tyre around them. This is innovative and a great design. Hats off!

  • Donkey

    Impossible is nothing.

  • obflyer

    A single-speed bike? Quite useless to me. It looks like just another candidate for the landfill a few years into its life. I’ve had the same steel-framed bicycle for almost 40 years and with proper maintenance it could easily last another 40+. I doubt if this “invention” could claim the same MTBF. If you build a bike with good traditional materials and good craftsmanship there is no need to recycle anything, just cycle.

    • blah

      Well, you’ve completely missed the point.

  • Noggi

    Great idea and engineering but people are right to question its application and sustainability. Out of interest, how much energy does it take to make this in cardboard rather than in aluminium?

  • Nobody2

    The criticism isn’t due to the use of materials or the quality of innovation, rather it’s the blatant lying about cost and efficiency. Being progressive doesn’t mean outright lying about the advantages of the design, which is downright insulting to all the other engineers who innovate in the same area and honestly asses the cost of production.

  • Greg

    Pah! Check out the cardboard ice cream van man!

  • Dal

    Awsome! Cities could buy these by the thousands and park them with flashy logos at courtesy locations downtown for minimal cost. Imagine the branded versions available for less than £10!

  • Nick

    Gosh, this guy has had an idea. He hasn’t stopped there but has believed in it and is trying to do something about it instead of sitting in front of a computer writing petty comments on a website.

    You don’t like it? Don’t buy it. Go to the closest Decathlon (if you live in Europe) and buy one of their bicycles. Do whatever you want, but DO something instead of b*tching about EVERY SINGLE project on this website.

  • This bike is a good exercise in design and an example of how to use common materials like cardboard. Unfortunately the real cost will be much higher than £10, as mentioned.

  • MC@86hero

    I want one

  • c.n.nader

    Not tested in my Ghanaian climate where humidity is high, but no sweat: I can try one for you if you just send one pronto. All jokes aside, the bike must come in even cheaper with large scale production. Let’s stop and think in this direction – we might save Mother Earth.

  • Loulwa Elali

    I think design needs to be more than “pretty” or “novel”… It needs to be actually usable which is what makes it a successful design. This may (and I say “may” because I question this) be cost effective. But it gets failing marks in the usability department. Can you imagine the shocks on this thing? Not so kind on the tush… oh dear! How well can it hold up in the rain?

    Not knocking the effort. But I think this serves more as a novel idea than anything that can actually extend its lifespan more than the 30 seconds it took to read this article.

  • What a wonderful idea. Genius!

  • Brilliant! When and where can I order?

  • balgoum Kim

    It’s awesome! How can I buy or get it, and can I get a few more?

  • lily

    I want one. Where can I buy one?! Wow, and to think I paid 3000 for my Bianchi. Beats that price. How many gears?

  • wlexxx

    Where is it?