Bike made from cardboard is too cheap to steal

If you’ve ever had to replace a bicycle, [Izhar Gafni] is your man. He created a bicycle made completely out of cardboard that is strong enough to support the largest riders and costs about the same as combo meal at McDonald’s.

[Izhar]‘s bikes are made from varying thicknesses of cardboard, the thickest sheet being about an inch wide. After cutting and gluing these pieces of cardboard together, [Izhar] submerges them in resin and brushes on a little paint creating an incredibly strong, very light, and unbelievably inexpensive bike.

[Izhar] says the cost of production is about $10 per bike and estimates it could be sold for $60 to $90, cheaper than even the most inexpensive metal bike. If you’ve ever had a bike stolen, you know the sting of having to replace your main means of transportation. [Izhar] says his bike is so cheap thieves wouldn’t even bother taking it off your hands.

You can check out the awesome video of [Izhar] making a cardboard bike after the break.


  1. Max says:

    I think the cost is not so much the frame as the hubs, gears, brakes, bearings, etc… which could be salvaged from an old steel bike but could still be a high percentage of the value.

    • Aaron says:

      It amazes me that I so frequently see people qwho are this intelligent and capable but who nonetheless value their time, which unlike money is utterly irreplaceable, at $0/hour.

      • Hackerspacer says:

        I agree. I see “cheap” builds that save $100 that took 300+ hours to actually build rather than buy a few parts to save dozens of hours.

      • nukky says:

        People sometimes do completely unnecessary tasks in the name of this strange emotional state called “fun.”
        There are often side benefits, including acquiring knowledge, and occasionally unexpected innovations and serendipitous events; the benefits of which can extend beyond the individual.
        What dollar value do you place on doing something enjoyable?

      • Aaron says:

        Way to miss the point, nukky! (And if you’re going to be that smug, you should probably learn how correctly to use a semicolon. Tossing one in without knowing where it’s supposed to go, as you have done, just makes you look pretentious.)

        Of course fun has value outside of money; no one has suggested otherwise. But I’m not the one who originally tried to put a dollar value on the cost of building this thing — I’m just the one pointing out that the value so assigned appears to be severely lowballed, because the time that goes into it is valued at $0/hour.

        I dunno, maybe you need some experience of working for a living in order to make sense of what I’m saying here?

      • Alex Rossie says:

        It’s called a hobby, we all have them (or should) I spend my time learning to play guitar.

        Will I ever play for money? No, will I ever spend outrageous amounts on that bargain flying v on ebay? Yes.
        Will I blow money on amps? Yes.

        The cost of my hobby is <$0/hour. At least this guy has achieved something I can just about play the god father theme tune.

      • spike says:

        It is a common convention to among humans to indicate material cost simply as cost; only if one addresses time cost does one usually specify!

      • jonah says:

        To Aaron. Many people spend significant time on hacking and inventing for the fun of it, for the possibility of some real breakthrough or for the benefit of others who will down the line make use of the invention without investing the same time and efford in R&D. Izhar seem to enjoy working on the project a lot and he seems to mention a cost of production estimate as part of getting a discussion going on the possibility of cardboard bikes. Doing so he supplies relevant information to others.

        Nothing in the video, post or other comments call for the hostility you’ve expressed.

      • Aaron says:

        Hostility? Oh, honey. When I get hostile, believe me, you’ll know.

      • Jonah says:

        Aaron: I’m sure I would. You truly are the hardest and toughest! No one is as manly as you. Or at least no one takes cost of production irresponsibility more seriously than you. You are the no 1 internet vigilante of diligent cost of production corrections. You roam the interwebs calling out cost of production wrongtalkers far and wide. Wherever you go all people, young and old, whisper and buzz: Look, there goes the cost of production straighttalkin’ man!

    • Woody says:

      Infinitely better than watching just tv

    • Whatnot says:

      Yeah it’s a bit of a ‘fool the simplistic mind of the youtube crowd’ more than anything serious, you can’t make the drive system from anything but hardened steel or something of that strength, or it will work for a few seconds only.

      Still, with a carboard frame you can at least make a campfire :)

  2. GameboyRMH says:

    Sweet! If this holds up over time it could be great for poor countries.

    • JB says:

      I came from a poor country. I bet they will steal the bike where I came from.

      • Jaybee says:

        Hell, they’ll steal it in my part of the US.

        NOTHING is too cheap to steal.
        It may hurt a lot less when someone yanks your stuff, but they WILL yank it.

    • steven-x says:

      Most theives have no idea what the value would be, just that it’s a bike.

      And in the spirit of then earlier thread, the labor that went into this is worth something.

      But heck, if they get $10 at a Pawn shop, it will go toward some crack.

  3. Aaron says:

    $10 to make? Only if your time has no value!

    • irevieweverything says:

      Yeah – in the same what that the racing/road bike I am building ‘costs’ me £281 – and that’s just for the parts I need to buy (new frame, a few specialist tools, couple of parts). Could you build it for that much? No, as I’m cannibalising a dead bike I was given.
      But when someone asks me what is cost me the answer will be: Less than £300

      Sure, to buy the bike new and pre-built with all the parts I’m using would be nearly £1400, but the cost to me is £281.

      But a lot of people that come here do things for fun or for passion. And I bet I could follow his lead and build one for £10 – so in that sense he is right.

  4. Giles says:

    This is awesome. I’d buy one just for the novelty value. Wonder if there’ll be a kickstarter…

  5. Flo says:

    Perfect vacation-bike

  6. blerrik says:

    That’s $10 worth of material for somebody that doesn’t buy it in bulk. So, translating to asian mass production, that is still $10.

    As in:
    * $1 for materials
    * $2 for wages in India or something
    * $7 for transport and distribution

  7. Grazz256 says:

    Cool concept… but I have some issues with the current prototype.
    1. He’s using carboard and resin as a bearing surface, I can’t see this being durable. One grain of sand in your hub and you just lost a wheel..
    2. There aren’t many details about the type of resin he used (that I saw..) but generally speaking plastics are not very UV stable.
    3. What is the impact resistance/resilience of the frame? Is it fail soft (will it bend)? This can be an issue with composites as they tend to fail catastrophically rather then bending like metal.
    4. This isn’t a new idea.. I believe some helicopters are essentially made of cardboard impregnated with resin. (Apache?)

  8. Mathorne says:

    But what will happen when it rains…?

  9. Pilotgeek says:

    “$60 to $90, cheaper than even the most inexpensive metal bike. ”

    Apparently you have never been to Target during one of their sales. Picked up two 26″ huffy bicycles for $40 each. They held up quite well, too.

  10. Rick says:

    DIY projects rarely save you any money if you include the cost/value of your time. Some people are just driven to ‘do it’ or ‘make it’ and it’s typically those type people who will change the world.

  11. Kevin N. Haw says:

    As a guy who once had $300 damage caused by someone stealing a $50 stereo (that may have netted $5 from a fence), I can assure you that nothing is too cheap to steal.

  12. Mark says:

    Everything is a learning experience. The first Apple computer was wired in a garage. They didn’t worry about the hours to build it, and history shows it was just the first step. Every great movement needs a first step.

    • Dax says:

      Well, they did pay Jobs’ little sister a dollar per board to populate them with components to make the following ones that they actually sold.

    • Aaron says:

      When you’re costing out production, you are going reasonably far beyond “first step”. When you’re costing out production with a $0/hour labor rate, you are showing that you don’t really know how to cost out production…

  13. Chris Lee says:

    Made “completely out of cardboard”. And also dipped in resin. So made completely out of cardboard and resin. And brakes and brake cables. And chain and sprockets. And other hardware. But completely cardboard.

    • my2c says:

      - Exactly. I’m not usually on the troll side, but this is a joke. Still uses many traditional components, and with a sale price you could by a ‘real’ bike for.

    • suncoinc says:

      From the video, the brakes and brake cables are commercial products along with the drive belt, but the pedals and gears are cardboard as well (which might pose an issue climbing a hill).

    • p00n says:

      If you look at marker 4:15…transmission parts…also made out of cardboard. It looks like the only thing not made out of cardboard are the breaks, the tires, and the cynicism.

    • Willy says:

      I was thinking the same thing.

      Would using Resin and flour to make a bike be considered a bike made of flour? No. It’s made of resin. (I highly doubt you could make a bike with flour and resin, but you get my point.)

  14. brad says:

    I’ve had a bike stolen from me, but it wasn’t my main means of transportation. Yes, it did sting, but I went and bought another. Problem solved. No cardboard needed.

  15. Entropia says:

    Stealing a bike isn’t about getting an expensive piece of equipment for free — but instead getting a means of transportation. I.e. at 4am after bar, you realize you have no money for a taxi and the walk home is 5 miles. That’s when most of the bikes get stolen.

    Atleast this is my empirical thinking.

    • Grazz256 says:

      I understand and apreciate your logic but I have a simple solution; return the bike in the morning. See now your borrowing, bring a coffee and your renting. If it were my bike I would be happy for the coffee.. but then I’m kinda fat and lazy and don’t use my bike…

    • Kim says:

      So you walk out of a bar at 4 AM and realize you have no money to take a cab. But hey, you just remembered you have a bolt cutter in your back pocket! So you can destroy someone’s lock and steal their bike.

      But of course it’s not stealing, because you’ll just casually figure where the person lives and bring their bike back a few days later.


  16. Martin says:

    I get it, not so cool for a bike if you ask me, but I would totally try this for a trike for my children, doesn’t need all the additional parts either, and they weight a lot less (and move slower, and are much closer to the ground, all safety factors :D )
    Kids can brake the strongest trike in a couple of weeks, or simply get tired of it very quickly, if I get to build a safe one for say 20 bucks, with the additional perk that a child can paint it himself any way he likes, then that’s a product I’d like to mass produce…
    I’ll give it a shot.

  17. Robot says:

    If word about this gets out in Portland, OR half of the town will be launched into an existential crisis.

    Back to the bicycle; what is remarkable here is not the product but the process, which was lengthy and admirable. The bike isn’t the point. It isn’t a product. I aspire to be that kind of engineer, with curiosity and drive to the point that I can trust my gut even when my calculations and estimations are discouraging.

    – Robot

    • o4tuna says:

      Wow, Thanks for being the only one here that gets it. I have seen some amazing things here on HAD, but I think this is one of the most beautiful. Not the product, the process of creating it. This man is a genius. A HACKER!

      To you all you people whining about time not being free, why are you reading HAD? HACK-a-day. Hacking is sitting & thinking, then doing, then sitting & thinking some more, then doing some more, then sitting & thinking a whole lot more. It’s not about the time, it’s about creation, thought, skill, exploration & personal amusement.

      Have a great day, & keep hacking!

      • rusl says:

        Because we have all hacked bicycles before. That is one of the most wonderful and amazing things about bicycles – how accessible they are.

        And so we are speaking from experience and are somewhat annoyed by the all to common under-estimation (downright ignoring “all cardboard”) of the most important and critical parts between an idea and something that is reliable to get you around.

        I personally make cargo bikes and am constantly frustrated by the way people think bikes are basically free. So many people’s experience of a bike is just a toy, not something that has to last. That is why those wal-mart bikes out sell decent bike by factors.

        Hacking is great and if you want to take it further, beyond hobby, into the realm of subsistence, then real (not hype) descriptions of things starts to be important.

        Also notice this revolutionary same idea from 2008: Sure it’s not as functional or pretty but that is mostly due to the video editing presentation.

  18. RR says:

    Cardboard and resin… So it’s a composite material bike, not a cardboard bike. Still cool, though work clearly dominates materials when it comes to cost. Should be reasonably light-weight too, which is not a bad thing for a bike.

  19. echodelta says:

    There are some cool wooden bikes on the net. From 3rd world basics to show grade wonders.
    I would hate to break the brake on this bike. Note spell-use.

  20. moser says:

    What popped into my mind (along with othe commenters): Maybe it is a 10$ bike, but how much labor went into the build?

  21. Trollics says:

    I found that taking the seat off and throwing it in my backpack, along with a good lock stopped my bike theft problem. After having a few stolen from bike racks I started removing the seat. This made the other bikes on the rack a better prospect and a few times mine was the only one not stolen. I thought about making a fake seat with some sort of spring loaded spike, but in this day an age I might get sued by some bike thief with a punctured sphincter.

  22. Hirudinea says:

    Wow I’m impressed, and I can see this being a great boon to Africa (cheap bikes made from cardboard!) Also you could make a similar bike from injection molded plastic on an industrial scale even cheaper, if you wanted a plastic bike. Just don’t take your cardboard chariot out in the rain. :) (Yea, yea I know, its resin impregnated so its waterproof but the idea of a cardboard bike melting in the rain is still funny!)

  23. andreaeldridge says:

    Try the new 3-D printer and call it an upgrade

  24. andreaeldridge says:

    3-D PRINTER: Finally, in the category of super-cool, the Replicator 3-D printer from MakerBot takes the prize. Imagine a printer that can actually generate things, like Legos, models of the earth, the Empire State building… You can see the possibilities are endless. It can generate creations as big as a loaf of bread and is about the size of a microwave. The $2000 price tag for the full-color version is certainly cost-prohibitive, but there’s no denying that being able to “print” your own full size chess board with all the associated pieces is ridiculously cool.

    Computer Repair Portland

  25. Cricri says:

    It blows my mind that some people here will call “awesome” some stupid useless crap like binary clocks “because they can” which people say “cost them nothing” yet involve laser cutters/3D printers/Arduinos/expensive digital scopes/5 axis CNC machines/JCBs/mass spectrometer/LHC.
    But when someone comes up with something genuinely useful such as this method of transportation made of genuinely free stuff you can pick up from a skip at the back of a store and you call it cheap, the same people instantly whine “hey, time is not free”.
    I think these people should shut the heck up, while I give 2 big thumbs up to Izhar for his skills and dedication.

  26. Bloodlock says:

    hmmm… maybe, this method can work with rc planes… paper and resin…

    • markey1979 says:

      you know, I also was thinking that…. I guess genius’ all think alike.

      I was thinking presentation foam board. Print out stencil on printer. Glue to presentation board. cut out parts. Assemble plane. Shrink wrap.

      Boom done…..

      What do we use for the hinges and controls?

      … and can we skip the servos, and just install muscle wires? Then we could just use the little balse guilliows planes……

  27. Jeremy says:

    I’m surprised people are complaining about the cost of the time he spent to build this. People, this was a prototype, of course he spent hundreds of hours making it. Do you really think that all the work he put into it couldn’t then by broken down into a simple set of instructions that might take an afternoon to complete?

    I’m guessing, if you had plans, and materials lined up, the only thing you’re waiting on is resin cure time, paint drying time, etc.. I’d guess this could be patterned into a shippable kit that wouldn’t take an average person more than a long weekend to finish.

    • Willy says:

      I think most people are up in arms over the following:
      “[Izhar] says the cost of production is about $10 per bike”

      If he were to put a price tag on his bike, with paying himself (U.S.) minimum wage his bike would cost $750 ($7.40 * 100 hours + 10 materials). Now obviously if this was to go into production you would cut that cost dramatically, but even still figure 1 hour of wages + Materials + shipping = >$20
      And that’s figuring with a one person job, with no overhead and non to very little profit.

      I don’t think anyone is trying to be rude, probably being more realistic than anything.

    • notmyfault2000 says:

      Plus, I’d bet plenty of time not spent on resin curing was spent designing and cutting out the parts. Now that the design is done, that’s probably a significant amount of time done, and if mass-produced the cutting would probably be done on dies that cut dozens of sheets of cardboard at a time, leaving only assembly (which could be partially automated as well probably).

  28. mindbleach says:

    Surely plywood would be cheaper and less labor-intensive.

  29. Kelvin says:

    This is a revolution starter! The hard part is done. So you have to send to a company to produce the bikes, and the cost goes from (the acclaimed) $10 to $60-100 and then a retail of $150 maybe and youve got a green, practical, LIGHT bike. Sure you can buy a bike for $150 but they are heavy… And heavy is a ball ache to ride. It also looks like it has a hard rubber compound wheel, which would mean very little in maintenance. I do wonder how durable it is, but if the cost on this can come sub $100 retail, it’ll shift millions!

  30. xaio says:

    Am i the only one, who thinks: coool “printed” bike.
    i mean, he could upload it on thingiverse and then you could cut it with lasercutters etc…

    • mindbleach says:

      It does speak well of wood pulp as a good base material. I wonder if you could capture the strength and lightness of corrugation in molded parts, e.g. by inserting pegs that leave gaps once the pulp dries. Anyone with an industrial shredder and a ton of scrap paper could pour all the parts in an hour and have a dried-solid bicycle in a week.

      Would that still be cardboard, though? It’s not quite pressboard because you’d only add resin as a watertight skin. “Paper bicycle” sounds even more impressive.

  31. truebassb says:


    That’s all i have to say for the smart guys mentioned on his page.

    Those who when don’t like to bother with an idea they are criticizing it as impossible by stating crazy facts,and taking away the will of those who wanna make their first steps at something,or perhaps make their dream become true by building something either without knowledge or with low budget.

    I have a lot of examples of discouraged Yet sucessful projects.

    The 100mpg Scratch Made Diesel Lotus Replica,
    The Working Submarine made by a poor Chinese Guy,
    The Copenhagen Suborbital Project which is in the making…

    And bla,bla,a lot…

  32. ed says:

    moving quietly and effortlessly is rather nice, i like bikes also.

    my daughter enjoyed the experience of making her own bike with plywood, hinges, old pram wheels, and painting it.

  33. Adamji says:

    I would steal it Izhar! It’s cool!

  34. 4du8 says:

    i personally think this is an awesome build

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