Bike On Water: Electric-Assist Foil Is Strange New Water Toy

New Zealand brand Manta5 gears up to launch its electric water bike this year. The electric-assist bike vessel lets riders pedal across lakes in a whole new manner.

manta5 hyrdobike riding

Hydrofoils are an intriguing category of water toys. In the last decade, foils have cropped up that allow people to surf, sail, and even pedal efficiently over water. The foils lift the main vessel above the water to reduce drag.

Now, the Kiwi upstart Manta5 introduces a pedal-assist electric hydrofoil bike. The Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 mixes pedaling with electronic power similar to terrestrial e-bikes, augmenting the human-powerhouse with an electric motor.

Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

The Hydrofoiler XE-1 is a bizarre beast. Unlike other pedal-boats, this one doesn’t just dawdle slowly around the pond. It skims over the surface.

manta5 hydrofoil ebike

As with any bike, you pedal the Manta5 to make it go. But unlike any terrestrial bike, the Manta5’s pedals spin a propeller, not a wheel. This rear-mounted propeller moves the bike forward.

manta5 hydro foil ebike

But the real keys to the Manta5’s design are its submerged wings, called hydrofoils. These sit where wheels would be on a bicycle, helping disperse the rider’s weight and keeping them on the surface. As the rider pedals forward, they work like wings, reducing drag and pushing the bike up out of the water.

manta5 hydrofoil ebike

In order to gather speed quickly and keep the Manta5 floating upright, a 400-watt pedal-assist motor adds boost to each stroke. And a waterproof, rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides power to the system.

According to the brand, a full charge yields one hour of runtime for a 190-pound rider. But that includes enough juice to execute “the world’s first submerge-launch.”

As the brand states, riders can stand on the rear hydrofoil, push the bottom half of the bike underwater, then climb on the pedals and begin pedaling “as if you are going up a hill.”

In approximately 16 strokes, the bike has enough speed to cruise at the surface of the water. And that, according to Manta5, is based on a 240-pound person.

manta5 hydrofoil ebike top view

Plus, the crankset, gearbox, and propeller are designed to be accessible for at-home maintenance. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 has a 6061 aluminum frame, the standard alloy for many land bikes. Meanwhile, its 2-meter rear and 1.2-meter front hydrofoils are made of carbon fiber.

The Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 is available for pre-order in New Zealand right now. But the brand told us it should be ready for U.S. distribution by 2019, possibly sooner. When it hits American shores (literally), it will cost between $6,000–$8,000. So you’ll probably have to choose between it and a boat.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie – from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it’s outside, it’s worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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