Riding on water – 2 new electric ‘watercycles’

It’s a jetski, no it’s an e-bike, no it’s a mini catamaran, no it’s a hydrofoil!  These new electric watercraft are two different and totally intriguing takes on the idea of sitting up while you fly above the water. For lack of a better term, we’re calling them ‘watercycles’.

The Manta 5, from New Zealand, lets you get your exercise and cycle your away over the bounding main with a hydrofoil version of an electric assisted bicycle.

L’Overboat, from the Neocean company in France, is driven 100% by the electric motor and lets you sit and steer a small single-person catamaran that lifts it and maintains your flight in hydrofoiling mode.

two electric watercraft out of water - both have hydrofoils, one has bicyce pedals, the other does not


Both electric watercraft look like a ton of fun

Theese two electric watercraft are desiegned fomr the start to be entirely different experiences than the electric jetskis introduced by SeaDoo and Taiga earlier this year. Enjoyment of nature and getting some exercise take priority over speed.

The Overboat is the dream of oceanographer Vincent Dufour who led a team of experts over the past 3 years after first envisioning the watercraft in 2012 when hydrofoiling sailboats  took hold.

The University of Montpellier has been an important partner, allowing the use of its test tank facilities, and the L’Overboat team includes four professors of electromechanics, fluid mechanics, embedded electronics and underwater robotics.

Numerous French government agencies and the business accelerator AXLR Satt were also on board and the final product was put together by foil and composite specialists SCC ship yard in Balaruc.

Manta 5 more like a bicycle on water

The Manta 5 came out of the minds of passionate cyclists rather than boaters – Guy Howard-Willis and bike designer Roland Alonzo who wanted to literally be able to cycle on water.

When thinking of a bike for the water, the pair envisioned something fast, lightweight, easy to transport and assemble. They also needed to figure out how the rider would launch it  – from a dock, a beach, deep water…or most likely any and all of them.

The first prototypes were totally human propelled, which gave them invaluable information on how the hydrofoils would perform with different profiles and positions relative to each other.

A final design and prototype was settled on and built and the big breakthrough came in 2017 when they won Gold in the Concept Category at the Designers Institute of New Zealand ‘Best’ Awards. Their submission video was picked up by media companies around the world and received 350 million views on facebook alone.

Power and range

an electric watercraft with a charging pillar telescoping out of the deckPower for the Overboat is provided by a 3 kW motor that reaches a maximum speed of 28 kmh (17 mph / 15 kts). The 70 Ah battery (voltage is not disclosed) enables trips of 36 kilometres (20 miles) over 2 hours at 18 kmh. There is no mention of recharging time on the website, but there is a photograph of a recharging pillar and plug that telescopes out of the main deck.

The Manta5 of course, is powered by both the rider and the motor. In this case there is 460 watts of pedal assisted power available, at 36V / 22A with a 70 cell lithium ion pack. It provides up to an hour of run time on maximum assist level. Presumably the more you provide the power, the further you can go. There is a battery and monitor to let you know how you’re doing.

The Manta5 has extensive videos on its website with instructions on how to launch from a variety of situations while the Overboat is more a hop on and go proposition.

The Manta5 can be ordered now from their website – US$ 7,490 with a 10% deposit. L’Overboat does not appear to be in full production mode yet.


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