Based in New Zealand, Manta5 was founded in 2011 by Guy Howard-Willis and brought to life by bike designer Roland Alonzo, both passionate and committed cyclists.
The distinct lack of options for a would-be water cyclist had long played on Guy’s mind, until one day he swapped wondering for action.
High Performance Secret
The original design brief presented no easy feat. Just as a high-performance bicycle, the pair envisioned a concept that was lightweight, fast, agile, easy to transport and assemble. On top of this, the rider would need to launch from the beach, jetties or from deep water, without settling for any existing bulky buoyancy or hulls.
The early human-powered prototypes revealed a vast number of subtle complexities, especially the hydrofoils and propeller profiles, and their position relative to each other. With no real precedent to draw on, the successful equation for a ‘submerged launch’ continually eluded them.
A design-thinking approach with low-res prototyping allowed for quick iterations, paramount to achieving the optimal balance between maximum lift and thrust at low speed, whilst minimising drag at top speed. The team knew they had developed something special when the submerged launch from deep water was achieved – a world first and proof-of-concept.
Manta5’s profile exploded internationally when their prototype won Gold in the Concept Category at the 2017 Best Awards. The video submission was picked up by media companies the world over. The exposure resulted in 350+ million video views on Facebook alone.
Dream to Reality
Off the back of the hype around the world the Manta5 team has grown considerably. Today the team is set to produce the first production bike – the Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 for release early 2020.
Guy Howard-Willis discusses the journey to create the Hydrofoil Bike at Tedx Ruakura, New Zealand, 2018.