About Unified Sport & MANTA

MANTA for a smooth ride

Designed by Jonathan Catling, a cycle-obsessive.
“The craziest places lead to the best ideas”.

Where did it come from

The designer, Jon, found he had developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) while building hill footpaths. Specialists said “only relax” – instead of doing nothing, he decided to focus on his obsession, the bicycle, particularly the saddle.

Rarely bothering with a car if at all possible, cyclist, sculptor, small project construction manager-builder, and others, Jon says that bicycles are THE sublime, fun, and supremely efficient machine for human transport. The perfect tool to provide viable, clean, and safer cities. This was motivation enough to seek a genuine seating solution. The MANTA saddle was designed to revolutionize the riding experience.

So, why choose a MANTA did you ask?

In stark contrast to bicycle efficiency, bike seating has been much the same since its inception. Not supportive enough, not supporting in the right places.  Large traditional saddles are too restrictive, and too soft.

Pain is a body’s way of saying something isn’t right. It affects endurance and enjoyment, especially over distance, you think you get used to it, as you go numb. Eventually soft parts become hardened.

The MANTA is designed to suit all riders from 10 years-on (and from two or so, soon), it is found to be therapeutic, via increased blood-flow* (research remains to be published).

Time for a totally a new sensation.

*[the MANTA is unique in increasing arterial blood-flow during cycling]

Genesis of the MANTA saddles occured when Jon was first cycling on Skye, in the mid-90’s, he would cycle to meet the works van – only 8 miles, but potholed and hilly miles – eventually this made him decide to tackle bicycle seating, he’d always felt could be far better.

“I found myself with plenty of time…” “…as it turned out, the design required huge amounts of time for trials…” “…an all-new configuration was discovered – while trying an existing alternative model which had just removed the nose area – this difference, the kinetics quickly became obvious as the way ahead. 

That ‘engineering hack’ (and many others), involved years of development due to the complexity of forms required to perfect the precise articulation required to follow a human form in motion. 

“I was always aware how pain impacts endurance – the legs are good for more miles, the backside wasn’t.”

“Existing “comfort saddles” are compromised. They lack a neccesary form and function. Movement is restricted by width, adding chaffing, and the supported area is little better than with most sports seats.

The priority wasn’t for the perception of comfort, instead an absence of what creates discomfort. The problem needed turning round to provide maximum support with no loss of performance. 

I contacted BBC Tomorrows World, who had an innovations competition programme coming up, but I was advised not to go public, with a design with commercial potential, until a patent was applied for.

Several years were spent organising patents and talking to NESTA about prototype market trials, at a great cost, for what you learned from it. We decided to head into product development for manufacture – to get real-world feedback. This was acheived with vast assistance from friends, riders and the likes of DuPont, Velo, in Taiwan, and back to Protomould, in Fife to make the final tooling for the initial production run. This took about 8 years.

What kept the motivation, was the contrast, with increasing evidence of damage caused by conventional nosed saddles – and their sheer discomfort – they’re unsuitable for the job of supporting the human anatomy – we changed that.” – Jonathan Catling (designer)

Cute cycle quote: “I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species… the Condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather less impressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. But then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency for a man on a bicycle – a man on a bicycle blew the Condor away” – Steve Jobs

They all go over here, bye!

Each MANTA begins its travels crossing over to the mainland ¡Buen viaje!

Unified Sport
Manta Design Ltd Reg. 04399997
Manta Design Scotland Ltd Reg. SC0355993
5-6 Herebost
Isle of Skye
Western Isles, IV55 8GZ

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