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Hydrofoiler XE-I: Like Cycling On Water

Fitness-focused boaters can get in their cardio workout while quietly gliding inches above the water’s surface with this revolutionary hydrofoiling bicycle from Manta5.

Adult female riding a black cycle wearing a black swimsuit and tan sun hat on open waters.

Those Kiwis sure like being first. They’re first to see the new day, first to see the New Year and first in the America’s Cup (for now). Thanks to world-renowned New Zealand engineering they’re now behind the first foiling aquatic bicycle.

Using the same hydrofoiling technology that magically lifts sailboats and surfboards above the water to move at breathtaking speeds, the people of Manta5 in Waikato, New Zealand, have created a hydrofoil bike that planes across the water.

White and black water cycle placed on a beach.

Adult male wearing a black life jacket cycling on the water with a young boy on his back.

In 2010, after observing how hydrofoil technology was revolutionizing the watersports industry, outdoor entrepreneur Guy Howard-Willis began drawing up hydrofoil water bike concepts and creating secret prototypes in his garage. He then assembled a team of aeronautical, hydrodynamic, and electronic engineers who worked from these conceptual drawings and designed the Hydrofoiler XE-1 bike that would launch from a submerged position, maintain balance and effectively transfer power from the pedals to the prop. In principle it’s much like an airplane, a propeller in front of a wing.

“We’ve had so many people tell us that what we’re trying to achieve can’t be done,” says Howard-Willis. “It’s always great to see those people’s reactions when we show them video of what we’ve achieved.”

Launched from dock or beach, it’s amazing to watch, and makes me wonder why no one thought of this before: the perfect combination of biking and boating, get out on the water and get a great workout too. The Manta5 SL3 is buoyant and can be used in fresh- or saltwater, and should maintain 12 mph. The removable 600w or 1000w electric assist motor lasts up to four hours depending on the setting of a variable pedal assist that can be dialed up or down and can be recharged in any standard wall socket.

Adult male with long brown hair wearing a black wet suit cycling on the water.

The 87-pound bike can be easily carried and disassembled for in-car or roof rack transportation; its aluminum frame and carbon fiber components are designed to be maintained and serviced by the owner and many of the bike’s parts can be sourced from any bicycle shop. The latest iteration of the Manta5 is available at several North American dealers for $9,249.

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Alan Batcheller

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.