Cardboard bicycle

June 2013

There is a lot of buzz suddenly about a new design for a bicycle built out of “recycled cardboard”. For myself, I hope it’s true but unfortunately I have my doubts. It just rings of too many of the hallmarks of an announcement of a magic way to reuse trash. They are going to solve one of the (imaginary) great problems and they want lots of investment money quickly. The maker is called Cardboard Technologies, they say the bike costs $10 in materials costs and they want $290 to purchase one. For only $15,000 you can get all the extras they have dreamed up.

I learned about this from a website called Inhabitat.com at http://inhabitat.com/cardboard-technologies-looks-to-begin-production-of-10-cardboard-bicycle/cardboard-bike-1/?extend=1  The website at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-cardboard-bike could be called the prospectus.

Five years ago, a cardboard bike was announced at http://inhabitat.com/transportation-tuesday-the-cardboard-bike/

On their writeup Cardboard Technologies claims:

we don’t compress the cardboard and we don’t break its structure,” he explained in a press release. “We overcome the cardboard’s failure points, by spreading out the weight to create durability.”

In addition to the cardboard, the bike is made from recycled plastic bottles and used car tires. The cost of the materials used to make it are estimated at $9 to $12. The bike is fire and water resistant, and it’s strong enough to bear the weight of a 400-pound person.

Gafni sees the bike as a way to transform trash into something useful and valuable. “Imagine a time when every plastic or cardboard product that is thrown into the recycle bin will contribute to the creation of a bicycle, wheelchair or toy,” said Gafni.

Cardboard Technologies says it passed on several investment offers and instead opted to raise money through crowdsourcing because the company didn’t want to compromise its social values for profit margins.”

It all sounds just too familiar.

  • One, they imply that they are using ordinary cardboard; the kind that would come from reusing cardboard boxes. But another article points out that that kind is too weak and instead they require a specially made hex cardboard with a reinforced internal structure which is much stronger. Which is right?
  • Two, they use recycled bottles and car tires. Really? Isn’t that cute? And so convenient for sweeping in the always gullible public. I don’t know what it means but there are dozens of other schemes, which are transparent frauds, which are going to “solve the world’s trash problems”. It only makes me suspicious.
  • Three, cardboard that is fire and water resistant. Does this strain credibility just a bit?
  • Four, it will hold a 400 lb. person. Excellent if you want a widely usable bike. But the older article sets the limit at 168 lb.
  • Five, high social values which trump profits? Where did that come from? It sounds like a good claim when you are seeking crowdsourcing.

So I’m not holding my breath until I run down to the corner store on a cardboard bike. For now, I expect to be using my metal bike for a very long time. I do expect this carefully constructed investment plan to get funding from some enthusiastic public partners (note: I didn’t say victims) but I don’t expect to read any euphoric accounts of what they got for their money. But hey, that’s just me.

 

 

 

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