Hydrofoil bike? What?! Yep, hydrofoil bikes are the next evolutionary step within the world of battery powered fly above water craft. In fact, hydrofoil bikes are at the cutting edge of foiling full stop. And recently we got the chance to try a Manta5 SL3 courtesy of Hydrofoil Bike UK.
Words: Foilshop UK. Pics: Mike Pringuer & Adrian Taylor.
Manta5 first looks.
On the beach, the Manta5 looks absolutely amazing. It’s a superior piece of design and engineering with a refined aesthetic. Every component has been well thought out and created to great effect. But functionality and ease of use are also right there. It has to be as the Manta5’s accessibility needs to be an all comers product otherwise there’s no point.
So, hats off to the Manta5 R&D crew who’ve produced a truly mouthwatering product that certainly makes you want one. Whether foil frother, open to new concepts, or a keen biker looking for new challenges the SL3 is for you.
Foilshop’s demo crew consisted of a broad range of foiling abilities. From extensive foiling experience to complete novice fliers, we wanted to get a handle (no pun intended) on how the SL3 will fair for anyone wanting to cycle on water, regardless of their previous experience.
As with all foiling disciplines, it’s the start that’s trickiest. Sinking the SL3 riders then perch on the saddle. Peddle twice underwater to arm the powered assist before rising up on foil. Forward pitch needs to be controlled with a lot of handlebar downforce to avoid rocketing vertically.
Not overcompensating, left or right, needs to be given attention. Otherwise, you’ll be in the drink. After a short period of time, you start to figure it out – each try seeing more and more progression than before. And then, suddenly, you’re up and peddling across the water! With instruction, it takes around half an hour to get those first hydrofoil bike flights.
The hydrofoil bike foiling experience.
Manta5’s foiling feel is pretty unique. Unlike eFoiling or general foiling, it’s much easier to keep the SL3 level and tracking. When winging for instance riders need to control pitch and yaw otherwise, we breach and crash. This isn’t an issue with the SL3. Once on foil, it’s all about the ride and enjoying the experience rather than correctly positioning the foil wings.
We should add the day in question was idyllic. There couldn’t have been better conditions. The water was so flat, glassy and windless it was almost oily. This is pretty rare at Foilshop HQ – our local patch often being choppy, tidal and rippy. It’ll be interesting to see how the Manta5 copes with cruddier conditions – watch this space…
Anything else to add?
Unlike most other foiling disciplines, the hydrofoiling bike concept has steering. With foil boards, it’s a shift in body weight and stance that dictates direction of travel. Getting to grips with turning (literally) was therefore unusual. The SL3 doesn’t steer like a bike would do on land. But as with the whole affair, it’s a technique riders quickly become aux fait with.
There’s also a question mark about getting back to your launch in the event of running out of battery juice. Swimming and dragging the SL3 through the water would be laborious. We didn’t have this happen but it’s worth considering. Any pilot will need to make sure their battery is fully charged and maintenance are checks carried out prior to launching. Keeping an eye on battery usage whilst on the water should then be in mind. As with all powered assist products the more you use the boost the more battery power will be lost.
Foilshop UK’s team absolutely loved the Manta5 SL3 hydrofoiling bike experience. There will always be haters but for our money, it was super fun and adds another dimension to what foiling can be. We can also see the concept’s potential with different riding styles and skills pushing the hydrofoil bike discipline forward as it catches on. We’re interested to see where it goes.
Big thanks to Paul, Lance and Kate for making the trip to FS HW and introducing us to the Manta5 brand. Lance also did a sterling job of water patrol and on water coach. Stay tuned for more Manta5 hydrofoiling bike shenanigans moving forward. For more info check out this link.