Geeky Goodness: The Alfa
For no more than $30, this cardboard bike is yours. I know what you're thinking, I thought it too: no kidding it's $30, it's made out of advanced paper. You'd be crazy to spend a penny more. In FACT, $30 is outrageous! I already want my money back and I haven't even spent it!!
This is more than some kid's science fair project. Izhar Gafni's 100% cardboard framed bike does have the legitimate shrink-your-carbon-footprint factor, and yes, it actually functions. Despite its body of cardboard, the Alfa can support up to twenty times its own weight of 18 pounds--360 pounds, according to PopSci and 500 pounds according to KnoLife. Not only that, but the bike is also water AND fire proof thanks to a varnish that acts as a protective skin. According to Tech Vehi, Gafni developed techniques of folding, gluing and coating to give the structure rigidity and waterproofing.
The only non-cardboard parts of the bike are the breaking mechanism, gear chain, and wheel/pedal bearings. The goal by full production day is to use only recycled materials for all of these parts. With 100% use of recycled substances, the bikes can be donated or sold for cheap to third world countries without reliable modes of transportation.
The Alfa bike made the list in Popsci's May 2013 Invention Awards for good reason.
Gafni, an Israeli industrial engineer, created Alfa after he saw someone else create a functioning canoe out of cardboard. He consulted the opinions of several engineers whose work he admired, and they told "it was impossible." Later, while he was eating with his wife, she noticed something was bugging him. After he told her about the disheartening response he got from the engineers, she told him to do it anyway. "I know you," she said, "If you're not gonna try it, You're going to drive yourself crazy, then you're going to drive me crazy, then you're going to drive the entire family crazy, so just go ahead try it," she said. And he did.
Izhar Gafni and his creation, the Alfa. Via KnoLife
Last year, TechVehi reported that commercialization was not on the agenda, but according to NPR, it appears the Alfa is headed in that direction. Gafni started an IndieGogo Campaign that offers "limited and exclusive access" to those interested in getting one of the bikes. According to Bike Biz, the retail cost of the bike will exceed the projected $20, but Gafni's business partner, Israeli entrepreneur Nimrod Elmish, claims that with advertising, the cost could be brought down.
Check out TechnologicVehicle's video of Gafni and the Alfa to learn more: