First of all, let's just say it: this is the most bizarre-looking bicycle saddle of all time. Feel free to disagree, but c'mon, just look at the thing - it's like the bike is sporting a leaf rake, or perhaps even a rib cage. Like most funny-looking bike seats, however, the Manta promises to rectify one of the most common of cyclists' complaints... the all-too-familiar "numb bum."

Instead of a traditional rigid saddle form, the Manta features a series of elements that tilt from side to side along a central axle, allowing them to move up and down with your legs. The idea behind this design is that it will keep the pressure off the rider's perineum, in particular the pudendal arteries, prostate and associated nerves. It is also claimed to provide three to four times the support area of conventional saddles, thus distributing your weight more evenly and minimizing peak pressure points. As a nice side benefit, it offers better butt ventilation, too.

It's interesting to note that the Manta does have a slightly raised spine running down the center, which seems to be at odds with the "love channel" on many traditional saddles - a cut-out area that (supposedly) keeps the rider's crotch from pressing against the seat. One would assume this is something they've taken into account.

The Manta saddle is available in configurations that emphasize light weight (9 elements) or extra support (13 elements). The second version is currently only available on back order, but the light version can be purchased for GBP77.96 (US$112.80) through the company's website.

UPDATE: Nov. 24/11 United Sport, the company that makes what was formerly known as the Manta, has informed us that the product has now been rebranded as the new-and-improved Evolve Saddle.

View gallery - 4 images