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Cardboard Bicycle Answered

At the moment, it's just a design student's prototype, but I think this ridable cardboard bike has real legs, er, wheels.

Built from a single sheet of industrial-strength hexacomb card, the frame should cost as little as 3GBP ($6), and the tiny proportion of metal parts means the bike has a projected selling price of 15GBP (about $30). For that, you get a bike that will survive about 6 months of daily commuting, or a lifetime of the kind of riding most people do.

The designer, 21 year-old Phil Bridge, predicts the design will cut bike crime by simply being too cheap to be worth pinching (currently, a bike is stolen and abandoned every 71 seconds in the UK). It also provides an opportunity for sponsorship:

"The idea was that it would be a sponsorship from a company who would produce these and get some advertising it. And once you've used it, you'd return it they'd give you another one, they'd take all the metal components out and put them into a new frame and the old frame would go back to the manufacturer."

BBC Manchester article
BBC South Yorkshire article

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forgesmith (author)2008-06-20

Try the CNN article. The cardboard itself is treated with a waterproofing agent, rain shouldn't be a problem but don't leave it in a lake. The theoretical weight limit is about 12 stone, 168 pounds.

And, it's a showpiece. No real plans for further development, he's looking for a job then might work on it in his spare time. Still hasn't made a fully working prototype. It's not made for speed, and lacking that durability I doubt it'll take tiny potholes and curbs well. An interesting project well on its way to becoming something that he keeps in the shed out back.

Of course, part of that is thinking it's a "sponsorship" thing. Replace the cardboard parts free of charge? On what planet does that make financial sense? Clearly, this should be a DIY kit, lots of people would love to build their own bike, without much thought of how practical it is. Buy it at Wal-Mart, kids and parents will have fun. I can even see a charitable aspect, bikes for third-world countries, people will donate, shipping costs of the kits will be low, and as a very important matter (you better believe it) the blackmarket value will be so low it won't be worth hijacking the shipments, they'll actually get to people.

That should work.

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-06-21

With the sponsorship, I assume he means companies pay to have stuff printed on your bicycle. I like the kit idea (sypher mentioned Ikea), and if it's manufactured with a white surface, every bike would be utterly unique after 5 minutes with marker pens or a spray-can.

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-06-21

Pay $30 to be someone's advertising space? Get advertisers when the message will only change every six months with no guarantee the owners won't just cover it right up?

Clearly this will not work. They'll have to charge $130+ and have an exclusive deal to stick a Nike "swoosh" on it. Then people will buy them.

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bob23 (author)forgesmith2008-12-24

no guarantee the owners won't cover the averts up, but a guarantee that a certain percentage of people won't bother, and after the first six months, that percentage would be known.

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Kiteman (author)forgesmith2008-06-21

I know!

Some places have bike-borrowing schemes (I think Cambridge (UK) does?) to provide cheap transport for students and cut congestion. They tend to suffer from a certain amount of theft. Using these things would solve that, and local companies would pay to have their adverts on bikes that were constantly in the public view.

It would also be a cheap way of starting up a bike-hire scheme in a tourist area.

(I wonder how easy it is to disassemble? You could fit a hundred flat-packed bikes in a van and rent them out / sell them at a festival or carnival event. Base yourself at a car-park just outside the London or Manchester congestion-charge zones and rent or sell them to commuters who don't want to pay that extra $10 to drive the last mile or two of their journey)

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forgesmith (author)Kiteman2008-06-21

But could you (re)assemble them as fast as you were selling them?

It would be interesting to get ahold of one, then use the cardboard as a template. That would look cool redone in Plexiglas. And you could mount LED assemblies on the edges and have the bike frame or even the whole bike glowing in different colors...

Ooh, ahh... so pretty....

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sennomo (author)forgesmith2008-08-02

I support the idea of selling kits. There are paper clock kits and all kinds of balsa kits. Even if people won't ride them, they'll build them, paint them, and use them as lawn decorations. So, this definitely has market potential one way or the other.

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Gjdj3 (author)2008-07-11

That's preety cool. I'm sure you'd get a lot of odd looks riding that thing.

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jongscx (author)2008-06-23

So this is yet another itteration of the hobo-cycle?

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led_scorched (author)2008-06-22

My thought was to do the same thing using Coroflute or some similar corrugated plastic. Recycling old political signs maybe? :)

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Kiteman (author)led_scorched2008-06-22

Or old "For Sale" signs. You'd need more layers, though, because coroflute isn't so strong.

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led_scorched (author)Kiteman2008-06-22

I was thinking make the entire frame by gluing the Coroflute about 2 inches thick, and maybe bolt it in a few spots. I think if you staggered the direction of the corrugation, so that it ran in the direction of all the struts, it would be pretty darn strong. I'm gonna try finding some old signs and see what comes of it. :D

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KentsOkay (author)2008-06-22

Pretty cool, I one built a Viking Longhsip out of cardboard for a race, I'll post a slide show sometime....

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the_burrito_master (author)2008-06-22

nifty but I like my bike better.

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I_am_Canadian (author)2008-06-21

What if it rains while you'r cycling?

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forgesmith (author)I_am_Canadian2008-06-21

Well, while it is treated with a waterproofing agent, long soaking would not be recommended. And as corrugated cardboard has air spaces there would be places that water could accumulate, unless they do a really good job of sealing the edges.

Hey look at this!Anothercardboard bicycle!

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Doctor What (author)2008-06-21

Heck, I don't like bikes, and I'd buy one, just for the convenience and shock factor.

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Shadowmang (author)2008-06-21

also avoid puddles lol.... soggy bike :p

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Keith-Kid (author)2008-06-20

Interesting.......Better not get caught in the rain while riding this.....

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Keith-Kid (author)Keith-Kid2008-06-20

PS, you got those symbols that appear when you copy and paste info, fix that.

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Kiteman (author)Keith-Kid2008-06-21

Oops, thanks - they didn't show up on the first preview.

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sypher (author)2008-06-21

dude, market this to ikea, seriously

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NachoMahma (author)2008-06-20

. Great idea, but here in the US it would be a lawsuit waiting to happen. Somebody will push it beyond the limits of paper. "It broke when I tried a 5' jump and I skinned my knee. Sue!"

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forgesmith (author)NachoMahma2008-06-20

Eh, just print on the side pieces "Manufacturer assumes no liability." Big letters. I'm waiting for that to happen so often in such big lettering that people will begin thinking that's a name of a product or company.

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skunkbait (author)forgesmith2008-06-20

You'd have to print "Not intended for actual use, DISPLAY ONLY" not to mention "flammable, not for human consumption, always wear helmet and backbrace while transporting or looking at this sculpture." We live in such a stupid, sue-happy society!!

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forgesmith (author)skunkbait2008-06-20

More good reasons for it to be a DIY kit. Very hard to sue a manufacturer over those as they have no control over how you obviously screwed up the assembly.

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