A unique design

Cycling’s natural platform and ergonomics
Cool, ventilated and not a big cushion

Made in Scotland

Designer Jonathan (Jon) Catling is cycle-obsessive, he decided to take on the bicycle saddle so he could be comfortable at last, riding in the place he loves most.

Avoiding car ownership in Cambridge, where he was born, Jon loved the freedom of cycling, and just for being sublime machines for living in a city. Fun, and supremely efficient, perfect for the city, and beyond.

As primary transport, cycles provide cleaner, safer cities, arguably increasing a city’s financial health. This was part of the motivation to find a far better seating platform. MANTA saddles revolutionise the riding experience and feel.

To achieve this, it had to be unique.

Enter the MANTA

In contrast to bicycle efficiency and the development of modern bicycles, cycle seating has been much the same since its inception.

Not supportive enough, and not supportive in the right places.  Whereas wide comfort saddles are too restrictive, and they still compress nerves and arteries (too wide, inflexible).

The pain felt is a body’s way of saying something isn’t right. It also affects endurance, and enjoyment especially over distance – you think you get used to it, as you go numb. This isn’t good, and eventually, parts that should be soft, become calloused. Ouch.

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 bloodflow* (research remains to be published).

Time for a new sensation from your seat!

*the MANTA is unique in increasing arterial bloodflow during cycling.

The MANTA saddle was visualised, prototyped, and tested on the Isle of Skye, northwest Highlands of Scotland.

In the late ’90’s Jon cycled the amazing, potholed, hilly, and twisty Skye roads. His new mindscape gave impetus to take on bicycle seating, he knew it needed to be far better.

Developed on a combination of sea and hill paths.

“Cycling was always a passion. I was aware of how pain impacts endurance; the legs are good for more miles, the backside just isn’t.”

“On this beautiful island, in a stone fisherman’s cottage, I found myself with time, so I set about it…”

“…as it turned out, having plenty of time to visualise, experiment, then revisualise based on findings, was just as well, the design required a huge amount of development in the cottage’s workshop. The design, and I, left to seek industry, more importantly, cycling expertise.”

A new configuration appeared from a pile of configurations that almost did the job, but not quite.

This was a completely different set of kinetics. A potential way ahead. Along the way, it became ever more apparent it was pretty much the only way.

“The processes following creation involved long development due to the complexity of forms, such as are required to perfect precise articulation, to follow a seated human form, perfectly, while in motion.

 A little more history

Existing ‘comfort’ saddles are compromised, they lack the necessary form and function to support the human body appropriately, so movement is restricted by adding width, adding chaffing, and nerve compression. The supported area of conventional ‘comfort’ seats is little better than with a conventional sports seat.

“The design priority wasn’t for a perception of comfort – ‘softness’ – instead, to provide an absence of what causes discomfort, lower peak pressure, evenly distributed over a far larger area, and none in the pudendal, soft-zone.

The problem needed turning round, to provide maximum support, with no loss of motion. 

I contacted BBC Tomorrow’s World, who then had an open innovations programme, I was advised not to go public with a design wich, they thought, had commercial potential, until a patent was at least applied for. This I would have done differently.

Several years were spent on patents and talking to innovation investors, NESTA, about prototype market trials, this seemed a great cost for rough prototypes – just for a day’s feedback at a shiny venue – for what you may learn, from a few events.

My brother, Paul (actually a businessman), and I were obliged to form a limited company as part of NESTA negotiations.

We decided to go ahead with product development, for manufacture and open, public trials – based on a real product – and trust to real-world feedback.

This was achieved with assistance from many friends, riders and manufacturing experts, likes DuPont, and Velo, Taiwan. Due to relative cost, and location, we were recommended Protomould by Edinburgh Business Gateway, and met Bill Scott in Fife. It was clear he was perfect to work closely with, and make final tooling, for an initial production run.

This whole process took about eight years.”

During this time our homes paid for patents, and parents bravely stepped in to keep the family business indepenendant during proof-of-concept. Scary, really, but all involved were confident of the design after many, often expert, trials.

“What fed our motivation, was the contrast in experiences – and increasing evidence of damage caused by conventional nosed saddles – the feedback from early takers was quite something.

Conventional saddle design has barely changed from the very beginnings of the bicycle, the ability to support the human anatomy has become less, in real terms. I think we just changed that.” – Jonathan (Jon) Catling, designer

By far MANTA's most significant investors.
Relaxing in the Stein Inn. Jon & Paul's Mother (1923-2013)
Jon & Paul's Father hiding in the Stein Inn (1925-2020)
The MANTA design, and independant manufacture, is their legacy. They are missed.

We love cycling. Quite as perfect, as machines can be. Quote from Steve Jobs: “I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species… the Condor used the least energy to move a kilometre. 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” – reasonably fit cyclists can ride about twice as far as a horse’s average 50miles/80km, in a day.

They all go over here, bye!

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

Manta Design Ltd Reg. 04399997
Manta Design Scotland Ltd Reg. SC0355993
3 Duncan MacPherson Court
Main Street
Kyle, Ross-Shire
IV40 8AY

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