About Unified Sport & MANTA

MANTA for the ride

Designed by Jonathan Catling, a typical cycle-obsessive.

Where did it come from

Jon was told he contracted myalgic encephalomyelitis while building stone footpaths. His Dr said “look at clouds. Don’t think. Only relax” – instead he decided he must redesign the saddle – “design might be something I can do, and take it more easy” – no, not, as such…..

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 again?

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 the 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 blood-flow during cycling]

Genesis of the MANTA saddle occured during the time Jon was riding around Skye, having moved there in the late 90’s, he often cycled to meet the works van, about 7 miles, but potholed and hilly. This helped him decide to tackle bike seating, after the job (building footpaths in the Cuillin) ended.

“I eventually had enforced time off…” (he was told he had M.E.) “…as it turned out the design required a huge amount of time for trials, and research.” He discovered an all-new configuration – while he was trying out another prototype – and the kinetics of an entirely different type of seat became obvious.

That hack bike (and a few others), started years of involved development, due to the complexity of forms required to perfect the type of articulation required to follow the human form in motion. 

“I was aware how saddle pain impacts on endurance. The legs are good for more miles, the backside isn’t…”

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

The priority wasn’t for a perception of comfort, but an absence of what creates discomfort – not quite the same thing. The problem needed turning round to provide maximum support with no loss of performance. That’s what we had found.

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 great cost for what you got. We decided to head into product development for manufacture, to get real-world feedback. This was done primarily in-house, with vast assistance from friends, riders and the likes of DuPont, then Velo saddle makers in Taiwan, and back to work with Protomould in Fife to make the final tooling for a 1st production run. This took about 8 years (plus two houses).

What kept me motivated, along with a ride like a sofa, was increasing evidence about damage conventional nosed saddles cause to blood vessels and soft tissues, and the sheer discomfort – they’re unsuitable for supporting the human anatomy – we changed all that.” – Jonathan Catling, designer.

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!

Every MANTA saddle 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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