MANTA’s cushy ride
Cycling’s first natural platform & ergonomics
Cool and ventilated; not just a big cushion seat
Where did MANTA come from?
MANTA’s designer, Jonathan Catling, is a typical cycle-obsessive
The designer developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) working outdoors with stone. He decided to take on ‘the bicycle saddle’ as it was known, instead of taking things easy . . . he can get bored.
Jon avoided car ownership in Cambridge, where he was born, he loved the freedom of cycling as a lad, and then 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.
Great, so why a 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 supported in the right places. Whereas wide comfort saddles are too restrictive, they still compress nerves and arteries (like a too-fat cushion).
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, and created on the Isle of Skye, in northwest Highland Scotland.
In the ’90s, Jon would cycle to the work on potholed, hilly miles of twisty Skye roads. This allowed him the focus to take on conventional bicycle seating as a platform for cyclists, which he’d always knew needed to be far better.
Then MANTA emerged from the sea (well almost).
“Cycling was always a passion, but 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 spare 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.
“Existing comfort saddles are compromised, they lack the necessary form and function.
Movement is restricted by width, adding chaffing, the supported area is really little better than with conventional sports seats.
The priority wasn’t the ‘perception of comfort’, instead the absence of what creates discomfort. The problem needed turning round, to provide maximum support, with no loss of performance.
I contacted BBC Tomorrow’s World, who then had an open innovations programme, I was advised not to go public with a design with, they thought, commercial potential until a patent was applied for.
Several years were spent on patents and talking to innovations investors, NESTA, about prototype market trials, this seemed a great cost, for what you learned from a few events. We decided to head into product development, for manufacture open, public trials – trust to real-world feedback. This was achieved with much assistance from friends, riders and the likes of DuPont, Velo, in Taiwan, we came back to Protomould, in Fife to make the final tooling for an initial production run. This took about eight years.
What fed the motivation was the contrast – from increasing evidence of damage caused by conventional nosed saddles – and the feedback from early takers.
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. But, I think we just changed that.” – Jonathan (Jon) Catling, our designer
MANTA's products are always BPA free and 100% recyclable
We love cycling, they are such perfect machines, Jon is a bit of an advocate, given the chance, but it is why we took this trip. Quote: “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” – Steve Jobs
Each MANTA begins its travels crossing over to the mainland ¡Buen viaje!