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The recycled cycle
The $2 million crowdfunding campaign for a $20 cardboard bike
Inventor Izhar Gafni takes his cardboard bike out for a spin.
Inventor Izhar Gafni takes his cardboard bike out for a spin. Cardboard Technologies/vimeo
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n yet another example of the "all-powerful" bike lobby trying to take over the world, a bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard could soon become a commercial reality, offering people around the world a low-cost, alternative mode of transportation.

On Tuesday, Cardboard Technologies launched a campaign seeking donors to help jumpstart the mass production of an innovative bike made out of corrugated cardboard, plastic bottles, and rubber recycled from old car tires. The campaign is aiming to raise $2 million to secure a production line and get the bikes rolling across the globe within a year.

"Imagine a world where we can literally take garbage off the streets and turn it into something useful," the campaign, hosted on Indiegogo, says. "A bicycle that can not only be used for urban transport, but that can help kids in under-developed countries get to school, and help their parents get to work."

To entice donations, the company is offering investors first dibs on the bikes, along with other perks. A $15,000 donation gets you a couple of the bikes plus a tour of the future factory, which the company plans to house in Israel, home to the bike's inventor, Izhar Gafni.

Last year, Gafni made headlines with a fully functional bike he'd constructed mostly out of cardboard. He got the idea, he said, after hearing about a man who'd built a canoe entirely out of the packaging material. He wanted to see if he could replicate the feat with a hobby of his own: bicycles

Despite the seemingly flimsy material, the bikes are actually quite durable. They can hold over 400 pounds — more than the weight limit on New York City's controversial bike share rides — and are fire and water resistant thanks to a coating of secret organic materials.

The key to that strength, Gafni says, is a lot of folding.

"Basically the idea is like Japanese origami," he says. "If you fold it once, then it doesn't become twice the strength. It's almost three times the strength."

Gafni's business partner, Nimrod Elmish, said last year they hoped to sell the bikes for around $20. They haven't said anything since about a possible price tag, but the materials needed to build each bike cost about $9.

You can watch Ganfi discuss, build, and ride his nifty contraption in the video below:

Jon Terbush is a staff writer for TheWeek.com covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.

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