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Cardboard bike

Several readers pointed me to this BBC interview with design student Phil Bridge who designed the $30 recyclable cardboard bike seen here. As Phil points out, “If you make a bicycle from cardboard, no-one will want to steal it!” I guess that is one way to solve the issue of bike theft. You can read more about Phil’s cardboard bike at this quickrelease.tv post.

I noticed that one of the readers who emailed me about the cardboard bike story has an interesting blog about folding bikes. Reed’s Folding Cyclist site might interest some of you, so take a look.

While I am throwing out links, I’ll mention a designboom post about designer Eric Therner’s bike concept for Pilen-Cykel. The design is inspired by retro track bikes, but it has some newer features like integrated LED lights. I assume the fork design provides enough offset for the bike to be rideable, but it looks strange in the picture. Looking at the side view, the hub appears to be directly in line with the steering angle. Who knows though, maybe that is just an illusion due to the fork shape.

Finally, I’ll mention a Copenhagenize post from last week. Apparently, a few designers and a product manager from Trek took a research trip to Europe and met up with Zak, who writes the blog. In addition to Copenhagen, they are visiting Münster, Zürich, and Amsterdam. Sounds like a cool inspiration trip; I’ll look forward to seeing the products that are influenced by it.

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8 Responses

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  1. Erik says

    I love the concept behind the cardboard bike. It evokes some odd mental scenes (what kind of a box does a bike made from a box come in?). Cool stuff, indeed!

  2. AW says

    Sure, the same way no-one steals your pen because it’s not worth much. People with a tendency to steal things do so when the payoff is greater than the effort. If a cardboard bike is easy to steal, it will be stolen, ridden around the block, and then dumped.

  3. AW. says

    Why do people think that something is environmentally friendly because it is biodegradable or recyclable? I accept that it is probably the news crew who thought that replacing all the steel bicycles in China with cardboard ones would be a good idea for a news story, rather than the design concept.

    A normal bicycle is a durable investment. I’ve seen bicycles in Shanghai – some of those things are forty or fifty years old and still going strong. They only needed to be built once, and then they last for an age. A cardboard bicycle, even at $30, will last a couple of months, then need to be replaced, again for $30. A brand new Flying Pigeon is 1000 yuan, or $130. That’s three months salary for many Chinese, and they expect the investment to last. A $30 cardboard bicycle? That’s still three weeks’ salary. And would you pay three weeks of your salary for a disposable bicycle?

  4. Dan Mc says

    In the BBC article is says that it is treated to make it ‘inherently waterproof’. I was hoping for an Instant Full Suspension Bike: just ad water concept.

    Cool design.

  5. Marcel Zwiers says

    Wauw, this is very nice Phil! Congradutalions! And (aw) even when this is (just) a concept, it’s briljant.
    Being dutch and a designer myself one would hope that bike-innovations would happen here. Unfortunatly, we probebly have one of the most concervative bike industries. So experiments like this rock!

    Being a service designer now, I’m not into bike-design anymore. But I also did a gaduation project on the design of a (partly) cardboard folding bike. Not sponsord by the bike industrie, but with help from the late Fokker Aircraft Company. I posted a photo here.

  6. Tejvan Pettinger says

    It certainly will turn a few heads. You’d be surprised though at how even supposedly ‘useless’ bikes are atrractive to thieves

  7. Fritz says

    You write about cardboard bikes and point to a folding bikes blog in the same post and I think “Origami Bikes!” :-)

    Trek *already* has Euro-only models that are your basic Dutch city bikes, so their junket was a little confusing to me at first, but now I’m thinking that maybe they want to meld American design concepts with European influences.

  8. Anonymous says

    You write that Eric Therner’s bike looks like the front hub is in line with the steering angle. Using the highly technical method of holding a straight edge up to my computer screen I’d say it’s actually behind the line the steerer, making it like the old motorpacing bikes on the track. Normally that’s associated with hair trigger steering but i think if done right it can steer much like a normal bike.



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