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If Jesus gifted bikes to his mates this just might be it

Image source: Manta5
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Love cycling and watersports? We look at the Manta5 SL3 hydro bike, which claims to give newbies to the sport of hydro cycling the best chance of looking like a pro rather than, um, a plonker

E-foils and hydrofoil bikes already have a cult following among watersport junkies. If available in the time of Jesus, his disciples Matthew, Mark and John would have had the opportunity to fly above water right alongside him. But what chances do mere mortals and tourists have in successfully manning one of these machines without looking like Del Boy (see reference below) on a faulty jet ski?

Manta5, the creator of the world’s first hydrofoil bike, launched its latest model, the Hydrofoiler SL3 last June. However, since the launch, the design is poised to become a must-try experience, offering an unparalleled way to explore the water. Well, that’s what the marketing team says.

The company claims to be one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing companies and is on a mission to establish a global brand while creating a new sport: hydro biking or hydro cycling depending on where you hail from. Since its prototype went viral in 2018, the success of the XE-1 model has validated the demand for cycling on water.

“Imagine the different types of bicycles available on land,” says Manta5 CEO Mark Robotham. “Our vision is to recreate these categories on water at various price points. We want to make foil biking accessible to everyone and establish it as a new sport.”

Recreating the cycling experience on water

The SL3 boasts an enhanced throttle-only ride mode, making it a potential jet ski alternative. Unlike previous hydrofoil products, beginners can reportedly progress quickly, going from novice to competent in just minutes (realistically an hour).

Manta5 has designed its latest model, the SL3, to replicate the familiar feeling of cycling on land. The “sleek engineering” allows for agility, carving, and drifting, surpassing the limitations of traditional pedalo water bikes.

“The learning curve is part of the fun,” says Robotham. “It’s similar to improving your skills on a regular bike. Typically, it takes less than an hour to become confident on the SL3. From there, you can enjoy riding on freshwater lakes or explore the vastness of the ocean.”

Imagine cycling on water, free from traffic and trails, says the company. The SL3 allows you to experience the thrill of skimming over the water’s surface, witnessing marine life below, or riding on glassy lakes reflecting the sky. It’s an unforgettable experience that needs to be tried firsthand.

From novice to confident in minutes

However, if you want to dismantle it and transport it in the back of your car, then you will need to learn how to assemble it for use. We found a useful video on how to assemble the Manta 5 SL3 (see below).

It’s made of carbon fibre and aircraft-grade aluminium, so it is buoyant and light enough to be carried to the water without a trailer. Additionally, a hardwearing monocoque chassis, robust drivetrain, and sealed gearboxes ensure it can withstand the harsh marine environment. Its “dual-layer IPX67 battery housings and safety tilt sensors” will cut the motor power in case of a fall. Falling supposedly is part of the “fun”, so it is to be expected.

How much does the Manta SL3 hydro bike cost?

Now, these bikes run into thousands of pounds, so it may be best to find a reseller in your market that also has a watersport business so you can get a hydro bike lesson and rent for a day. Much like you might with a jet ski. The SL3 starts at £9,245 including VAT and free delivery.

If you are nervous about damaging one of these things the good news is they were built to be robust. “The SL3 was designed with commercial operators in mind, and we’ve incorporated that durability into the recreational models,” says Hayden Reeves, the company’s Head of Product. “For a product used in rental and tourism applications, it needs to be extremely reliable.”

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How do you stay afloat on a hydrobike?

The SL3 requires continuous power (around 400+ watts) to stay afloat. The combination of human power and a variable electric assist motor makes foil biking accessible to a wider audience. Riders can adjust the motor assistance for extended rides, resulting in an unmatched riding time of up to 4.5 hours – the longest of any electric foiling product on the market.

If you stop pedaling or cut the throttle you can still stay afloat and submerged while sitting in the seat.

Now, after watching the video below I had to realistically envision myself unsuccessfully not only trying to mount the hydro bike but not falling off it. It reminded me of when I dreamed of kite surfing and then had a reality check and decided to go to the beach bar for mojitos instead. But like anything worth doing you have to give it a go and keep up with it to get better. I just might give this hydro cycling a try.

Where to try out a Manta 5 hydro bike

To find resellers, you can go to the Manta website or consider the Loch Ness Expedition which combines three days of on-water cycling and two days of sightseeing.

Just for laughs

For those readers not familiar with Only Fools and Horses, here’s the Del Boy reference I made earlier.

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