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Bikes are usually shipped in cardboard boxes but could they be made out of the material also? As part of Sheffield Hallam University’s Creative Sparks exhibition of student work, product design student Phil Bridge from Stockport is demonstrating just such a theory. His cardboard bike is likely to garner a lot of interest from cyclists, and would-be cyclists.
Bridge reckons his bike could be mass-produced for £15 a piece, with the Hexacomb cardboard frame recycled and the metal components re-used on the next bike on the production line.
A cardboard bike - even one made with exterior-quality Hexacomb - may not pass CEN testing standards. These new EU standards are designed to test bicycles made with standard frame-building materials.
Bridge said: “The lightweight quality of the cardboard, combined with its low cost, means it is possible to create a bargain-bike that is also less susceptible to thieves.” (Er, might they not set fire to it instead?)
Bike theft is a major disincentive to cycling. According to a French study, only 25 per cent of cyclists re-buy a new bike after a theft, and of these 10 per cent buy a cheaper bike than they had before (20 per cent cheaper on average). A further 23 per cent won’t return to cycling at all.
Bridge was interviewed on Radio Sheffield:
Will it go soggy in the rain?
“No it’s inherently waterproof at the point of manufacture and it’s been used in outdoors. In some instances it’s been used in housing and for advertising hoardings.”
Does it go fast?
“Not particularly, no. It was never designed to be a performance bike. It was designed for everyday use, so people riding it slowly to get from place to place - not the Tour de France!”
How long would one last?It depends on how much you use it. If you use it the way most people in England use bikes, it’ll probably last forever because it’ll be sat in your shed! Seriously, it’s designed to last for about six months of constant use.”
How do you see a cardboard bike being used?
“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.”
For what it’s worth I love the idea of a cardboard bike. I don’t think it would detract from sales of ‘real’ bikes. Mind you, talking about flimsy bikes, they are already exist. Wally-Mart bikes already ship with cardboard cranks, and cardboard rear stays, and paper-maché derailleurs. I know this because I have to try and fix them every week on the Go Ride cycle training course I deliver at a local primary school.
Kids turn up complaining they have difficulty braking and changing gear. This is no real wonder given the tat their parents have unwittingly bought them. Genuine cardboard bikes would likely be an improvement on the dross I try - and generally fail - to make rideable.
Even when bikes are reasonably OK, parents fail to maintain them. Last week I had a girl on my course with a defective front brake. The v-brake had failed so one of the girl’s parents decided it could be made road-worthy with a dash of Duct tape.