THE ALFA is a name that will hopefully be making itself known in the next five years or so, if the all the goliath bike manufacturers support a little healthy competition from what is essentially an rather eco-friendly, sustainable and ludicrously cheap mode of transport.
Made of mostly recycled materials and weighing just 20lbs, the Alfa is a belt-driven, maintenance-free bike which supports 4 times its weight in floppy, pedaling human mass. The cost of manufacture is £5-£8 per unit (or £3 for the kid’s bike) making it the cheapest new bike in the world – depending on how much mark-up will be.
The genius behind the creation is Izhar Gafni. He’s an industrial products designer who’s previously been responsible for award-winning winning machines that peel pomegranates and sew shoes.
Given his new creation, it’s no surprise that he’s also a bike enthusiast. The idea for the cardboard bike first got itself planted when someone told him about the cardboard canoe.
The mini-doc above represents how the design process was particularly challenging. Like all the greats, he had been told by several world-leading thinkers in his field that creating the cardboard bike would be impossible. He persevered thanks to an interest in origami: paper can be incredibly strong if treated properly.
“If you fold it once,” he says, “and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.”
From inception to prototype, the bike you see in the picture and video above took three years. Discovering how best to mould the cardboard itself took two of those years – leading to patents for each frame created. The final year was spent converting what was still a cardboard box on wheels to something the better resembled a bike. If Alfa is everything is supposed to be, it may well form the beginning of a manufacturing concept that revolutionises the transport industry.
Gafni is now working with another company in a bid to raise funds to actually manufacture his bikes on a grander scale.