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Idealog Podcast: Manta5’s Guy Howard-Willis on riding your bike on water

Riding a bike. On the water.

Sounds cool, right? But also a bit absurd, as in it could never be a viable mode of transportation?

In the words of (an older) Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, “Amazing. Every word of what you just said… was wrong.”

Say hello to New Zealand company Manta5, and the Hydrofoiler XE-1, a hydrofoil bike designed, in fact, to be ridden across bodies of water.

The company was founded by Guy Howard-Willis, who had the dream of being able to ride across the water. He drew different hydrofoil water bike concepts, but it was only when he met Roland Alonzo – an accomplished bicycle designer with a passion for cutting-edge technology – did his dream of riding a bike on water begin to materialise. Since 2010, there have been six prototypes. The company is now ready for the New Zealand market, with pre-sales underway.They’ve already had thousands of people pre-order from all over the world (and you can do so here), including the Crown Prince of Dubai.

Oh, and after winning a Gold Pin at last year’s New Zealand Best Design awards, a short video of the prototype in action on Lake Karapiro – located between Hamilton and Rotorua – has received over 130 million views on Facebook alone. Yup. One-hundred-and-thirty. Million.

But enough from us. Have a listen to Howard-Willis discuss how he came up with the design, what the refinement process was like, why he thinks his innovation could help lead to the creation of a new Olympic sport (admit it: cycling on the water would be pretty sweet), whether you can bike across the water from Auckland to Waiheke Island (or across the English Channel!), and more.

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