Inventor Izhar Gafni has made a bike out of folded cardboard.

He says that the folds (“like origami”) make the cardboard into a material as strong as carbon fiber.

The bike is now available on Indiegogo.

The price, however, is a more-than-tenfold leap from the oft-quoted $20: $290, including $40 for shipping and handling.

Gafni had said that the bike could be priced at $20 at a profit, thanks to cheap raw material of old cardboard, plastic bottles and car tires estimated at only $9 to $12.

The low prices helped justify a pitch for the developing world.

If they reach their eye-popping goal of $2,000,000 they will set an Indiegogo record.

2013-06-25

The Cardboard Bike Becomes Real, But It's No Longer Cheap

This magical bike made from nothing but folded boxes is now available for you to buy. But the idea of a world of cheap cardboard bikes might be on hold. Cardboard, it seems, is more expensive than you thought.

The bicycle made from recycled cardboard is a real thing: Inventor Izhar Gafni grabbed headlines last year for riding the prototype, and describing how he made folded cardboard “like origami” into a material as strong as carbon fiber.

But another important component of those news stories was the product’s price. Gafni’s business partner Nimrod Elmish told Reuters last October that they would be available within a year, and could be priced at $20 at a profit, thanks to cheap raw material of old cardboard, plastic bottles and car tires estimated at only $9 to $12. The low prices helped justify a pitch for the developing world: “the potential to change transportation habits from the world’s most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa.”

Yet from their just-launched crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, it appears a world of cheap cardboard bikes will take much more time and much more money than previously suggested. The estimated delivery date for the bikes is March 2015, and only in the U.S. and Europe. The price is a more-than-tenfold leap from that oft-quoted $20: $290, including $40 for shipping and handling.

In response to Facebook fans stung by sticker shock, Cardboard Technologies posted:

it’s crucial that we get this production plant up and running ASAP. We need to begin mass production that will not only get the bike to all the places it needs to go in the world, but it will allow us to bring the production costs down dramatically. The prices we have listed in the campaign are intended to help us reach that goal, so everyone who buys one will be a part of the community that helped establish it

If they reach their eye-popping goal of $2,000,000 they will set an Indiegogo record, and will presumably be able to fund some of their more farfetched cardboard dreams. As Elmish told an audience at Microsoft Next: “We believe that within 10 years, parts made out of recycled material like this will be flying to the moon and outer space.”

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13 Comments

  • Wlexxx

    ha ha
    i said it would cost $400
    i wasn;t far off

    now tell us the weight, that it;s 35 lbs instead of 20

    wle
     

  • TwoSpain

    I don't see where anything Stan said isn't true. 

    In fact, we don't know what the price will be if this $2mm production facility is made.  We can assume it's going to be cheaper than $290 shipped...but they haven't claimed anything recently.

    Personally, I find it odd that the whole description of the project on Indiegogo lacks any sort of specifics at all.  If they would make a simple statement of "If we raise $2mm we will be able to put cardboard bikes on the market for $X each", everything would be cleared up. But, instead, the pitch seems purposely and overly vague which is seeming to be making many of the early fans of the concept bitter.

    Also, I don't think Cardboard Technologies project is reflective of how most of the projects on crowdfunding sites raise money.  Usually, the backers of a crowdfunded project get a discount (from the retail price) of the product. Asking backers to pay 10X for the product is not normal to the "concept of crowdfunding sites".  On this project, I think most early adopters of this product would have been willing to pay a premium to get this project off the ground...but i think the project creators waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overshot the amount of premium to charge.  Hopefully, they will rethink what kind of margins they are willing to accept to get this project going the next time they launch this project.

  • Homunculus

    The can't make a definitive price-point because they know that prices on materials, shipping, etc. will fluctuate. Even minor upticks in cost can and will affect the final pricing. Small price changes on the production level often wind up increasing the final cost more significantly. This is why a %20 rise in the cost of chicken breasts will cause you to have to pay $1.50 more for your chicken salad sandwich.

  • Chris Plunkett

    This article should simply be removed. Stan, do you understand the concept of crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo? I don't mean that sarcastically; honest, do you? The bike is not "available for purchase." They are raising funds to build a production line. Attached to those donation levels are perks. One of those perks is actually the bike. Completely separate concept from a retail price for the bike. There's no reason for a sticker shock--there's no sticker yet. The whole angle of the article is from a false, ignorant assumption.

    Stan, say you wanted to start a t-shirt company. They're going to be super-soft, indestructible, color-changing, amazeballs shirts! And for only ten bones! But you didn't have the production facility to make them. So you went on Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to build the production line to make those amazeballs shirts. "Hey, guys, support my cause to be able to make these life-changing shirts! Donate at $100 and I'll throw in a free shirt to say thank you!" And then someone wrote a sh****y, click-baiting article about how your promised shirts are now "available for $100," insinuating you're a liar? You might be upset, right?

  • Homunculus

    Roger That: "But there is. They set a "sticker" when they began the media blitz of anywhere from $9-20 depending on the article you read.  But now, that sticker is nowhere mentioned...leading some people to believe that it is no longer a price point they can/are willing to reach."

    You seem to still miss the point. THERE IS NO STICKER. The bikes are, essentially, a gift for donating to fund their company. It's like when you donate to NPR and you get a tote bag. You aren't paying for the tote bag. It's a gift. Which, honestly, is how they should have phrased this announcement.

    The bikes aren't even available anywhere else other than the US and Europe, so the basic business model isn't even in place. They are looking to sell these bikes, at inflated prices in First-World countries because the FW countries can afford the luxury to fund this kind of business. But, of course, the privileged FW idiots cry and moan that they can't get their poverty bike for under $20, putting at risk a business that would help improve the quality of life for billions of people and would also help to grow domestic business opportunities for those that would repair these bikes.Whiny idiots. That's why we can't have nice things. Because people are complete morons. Just like Reagan removing Carter's solar panels. Why? Because screw solar hippy power, that's why. Over 30 years later, we're suffering through steady inflation being consistently driven by rising gas prices as the rest of the world slowly modernizes. Can you imagine how far solar technology would be if we had been heavily invested in production and research of solar technology during the past 30 years?

    "A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.” - Pres. Jimmy CarterWhat did we choose? The easy way. We chose to sit back, live high on the hog, and to not take risks, to not explore, to not do the difficult but right thing. Now, we reap the rewards of those decisions.

    We do it to ourselves, and then we whine and find someone, something, anything else to blame, consoled in our own ignorance and delusion that we use to assuage ourselves of any culpability.

  • Roger That

     "There's no reason for a sticker shock--there's no sticker yet."

    But there is. They set a "sticker" when they began the media blitz of anywhere from $9-20 depending on the article you read.  But now, that sticker is nowhere mentioned...leading some people to believe that it is no longer a price point they can/are willing to reach.

    Chris, say you heard about a new widget company with a whole new take on this widget.  All other widgets like these on the market are being sold for hundreds of dollars. This new widget's production process/idea is to be able to produce them profitably with a retail price of $20. This will allow the new widget to get in the hands of all sorts of people who have never been able to get them before, making all sorts of things possible for them and literally change the World. All of this hinges on the fact that the widget will be sold to the public at $20 each.

    The new widget company rides the publicity wave as long and as far as it can to build up support for it...as it should, it will change the World. Truly. They finally release a Kickstarter project to raise the funds necessary to build
    the production line to make those new widgets. "Hey, guys, support
    my cause so we can raise enough money to start a production facility to make all sorts of products with my new widget philosophy! Donate at $290
    and I'll throw in a free widget to say thank you!" So you donate $290, they get funded, they produce a facility to make all sorts of new widgets only to finally come out and say "Unfortunately, we aren't going to be able to change the World like we initially thought we could.  We will not be able to sell our new widget for anything close to the price we once claimed, therefore it won't be able to 'change the World' like we envisioned. But, these new widgets are still cool, unique, environmental and ground breaking and it will make you feel good to 'be a part of the movement'! You might be upset,
    right? Or, if you didn't donate because when they launched their project you had a 'hunch' that this might be coming, you might find yourself extremely let down and misled. Right?

  • Roger That

    I have a skepticism about the cardboard bike, myself.  All of the claims that were made in the original video that made me an excited evangelist about this project are no longer being made.  Three points specifically: 1. the cardboard bike will be $20 and therefore will 2. find it's way into markets and under-developed parts of the World where bicycles can't currently be afforded 3. Change the transportation industry significantly by the seemingly non-profit-centric production/design philosophy of Cardboard Technologies.

    Now, there are no mentions of being able to produce a $20 bike.  Only that the production facility will allow them to "bring the costs down" on the production of the bike.  Bring them down to what? $20? $30? Make a claim!  Bring them down FROM what?  $290 shipped?!  Yeah...it better do that. Give us some specifics on what the production facility will do.  The lack of specifics and the omission of the original claims, it feels a little...misleading...at best.

    I am hopeful CT will clarify their plans with specifics.  Otherwise, it looks to me as if the Cardboard Bike will be nothing more than an expensive hipster accessory with the constant carrot of a $20 bike being around the next corner...without ever claiming it!

    - Watching with interest

  • $54124160

    Fly to the moon in a cardboard spaceship. Hull also doubles as storage container for green cheese on the return trip home. Also available: cardboard diving bell, cardboard tunneling vessel (in case it is necessary to restart the rotation of the earth's core), a cardboard stent to prop open clogged arteries, cardboard bullets for hunting big game, cardboard drones for patrolling the border, and cardboard cardboard for cardboarding the cardboard. Cardboard: the ideal material for extreme environments. 

  • Trancepharmstrong

    I have to agree with 'The Racket' below. A truly shabby piece of journalism. Many people too busy to read the whole article will now have a totally distorted impression of this project. Did you not read that it is a donation that gets you a prestigious early edition? For 390 you can have a signed one, it's nothing to do with what the production model will cost

  • The Racket

    I have an idea. Let's write a half-truth headline in an attempt to bring in some readers!

    Your article is is covering a fundraising campaign meant to build a production system so they can achieve their target price point – yet you cheaply and inaccurately (or ignorantly) imply that the founders of this company and concept intentionally misled the public. In other words, it looks to me like they're asking for $290 in funding, and in return the funder will receive a bicycle. You however are implying that this $290 is the retail price, and that they completely over-shot their cost estimates.

    Somehow, you twisted this up into something other than what it clearly is – applying a fundraising value to the bike ($290) which will help them achieve their funding goal.

    Blogger-grade editorial integrity at it's finest, I must say. 

    Your next article should be an apology to Gafni and Elmish—two gentleman that clearly have higher integrity than you—for taking a completely positive and honest outreach for funding and idiotically spinning it into something that it is not.

    Do your homework. It appears you didn't read the fundraising page.

  • Onlycontent

     How is the headline a 'half-truth'?

    The bike is now "real" and it is not "cheap".

    If there is any argument about what part of that is a "half-truth" its whether or not it's "real".  Technically, they aren't real until they are produced.  It's only "real" in the sense that the crowd-funding project has launched. So, at best, it's half-truth real.

    It is definitely not cheap.  Yet (if ever?).