Alain Brideson Design 2 Manta5 SL3
Ringatoi Matua / Design DirectorAlain Brideson
The judges praised how the design seamlessly fused automotive detailing with a maritime language, and yet somehow it’s still a bike, a complex fusion of languages that comes off together as a whole. The flowing hydrodynamic forms that house complex workings are finely balanced against technical requirements for buoyancy, ergonomics and an intuitive user experience lead to the judges awarding the Manta5 SL3 a Gold.
Manta5’s SL3 is a second generation hydrofoiler with a vision to further enhance the cycling experience by enabling users to ride on water, in a more accessible and easier to learn manner.
The first generation XE-1 pioneered the hydrofoiling cycle-craft, and as with every world-first innovation, came many learnings. The team at Manta5 identified a multitude of dramatic technical improvements which were to be embedded into the SL3 to make it more efficient and user friendly. Our brief was to design and craft the 3D surfacing of the SL3 body. We had to consider every unique technical and ergonomic requirement of a hydrofoiling cycle-craft and synthesise them into a beautifully uncompromised hydrodynamic form.
Shaping the body was a careful balancing act. We needed to maintain a slender profile not only for comfortable unobstructed pedalling but to also minimise drag. On the other hand, we needed a certain amount of volume to accommodate a larger battery, drivetrain and the strategically placed buoyancy. As a result, the SL3 is a highly optimised, tightly packaged craft, with every millimeter of width accounted for.
Deep water mounting was one of the biggest user challenges with the XE-1, as it would fall on its side when resting. To tackle this, chassis buoyancy volumes in the SL3 needed to be raised above the centre of mass so the craft would naturally rest upright and level so to rider could climb on easier. To achieve this, the design of the monocoque chassis had to precisely hit volumetric targets for balancing forward and aft buoyancy, accommodate the centrally positioned rectangular battery cavity without compromising the narrow space requirements for cycling.
Branching down from the chassis, is the drive mast. This had to be designed to accommodate the newly positioned motor and drive control unit, while integrating the jetty launch notch. The form was designed to seamlessly flow into the chassis, while maintaining an optimum hydrodynamic profile below.
For ease of transport, the SL3 features a modular design. This is most significantly visible in the introduced division between the chassis and drive mast, which had to be carefully positioned to provide the best possible aesthetic division of the craft.
Lastly, the handlebar-mounted ride controller was designed with intuitiveness and simplicity in mind. This unit couples the ergonomically positioned throttle lever with the crucial addition of the ride controller display. Here the rider is informed of throttle, pedal assist and battery levels to further enhance the connection with the craft.
To sum up, the SL3 needed to be inspiring to behold and become the essence of the Manta5 vision. It was so important that the technical innovations became integrated, invisible and wrapped, in one slender hydrodynamic form. Not only did it need to have perfect balance in weight and volume for an enjoyable riding experience, but also to strike a balance in visual proportions to be a high performance and attractive piece of sporting equipment.