Rick Hunts, creator of the Renegade, is better known for creating (and still manufactures) Flowbee hair cutters. But after becoming a paramotor pilot he applied his intimate knowledge of plastics and production to create an inexpensive, yet quality paramotor.
I was a bit skeptical at first because of my impression of plastics in heat and sunlight. But when asked about these things he had obviously worked to offset them by using the appropriate plastics. There are many plastics properties available to manufacturers including those resistant to heat and UV. Of course only time will tell but, given the materials he’s used and their known properties, this machine seems like a viable, low cost option that will last as long as other machines.
My flight was done at sea level in an 80°F light, but reversible, breeze. I weighed 135 pounds and flew an Ozone Viper 18 wing.
Weight: The weight as flown was probably about 70 pounds with a gallon of gas. Empty weight, according to its maker, is 62 pounds with a Moster engine and the frame, sans motor, is 28 pounds. This is probably 2 to 4 pounds heavier than average for this type of frame, but it was well balanced and not noticable.
Harness & Suspension: The universal Apco harness has some modifications to work with this frame, mostly where it slides on to the pivoting arms. It is a high hook-in but with pivoting bars. I still have a machine that uses this system and it works quite well. Your butt does sit on the ground, though, since the arms don’t offer support.
Starting (-): The Moster’s over-shoulder pull start worked easily and had good recoil. I was able to start it on my back which means in-flight restart is possible, probably as long as the motor hasn’t cooled too much.
Starter access would be easy by removing the upper part of the harness.
Ground Handling & Kiting (-): This felt quite comfortable while ground handling, better than average for other similar high hook-in systems with fixed bars (although the bars do vertically pivot).
Launch (-): Standard. I did a reverse but the netting is attached in a way that allows lines to come up the cage rim smoothly for forward launches. It should be typical even in no wind.
Climbout (-): Excellent, probably 400 fpm.
Flight (-): Flying the machine was remarkably unremarkable. That is, it was comfortable, had great throttle response and good freedom of movement. In short, the fact that it’s a plastic paramotor is irrelevant. It’s a nice flying machine.
Weight Shift (-) I got 2 to 3 inches of weight shift that took average effort. I found that instead of leaning your hips (which does work some), you push up against the opposite shoulder harness. Want to weight shift right? Push up against your left shoulder to push the right side down. It was reasonably effective.
Torque (-): Torque was certainly noticable but about average for high powered machines, especially given my 135 pound weight. You body twists left, pushing you left and the wing to the right. It was managed well enough not to be objectionable.
One thing I did, just to experiment, was pushing outward on the right riser while at full power. That almost eliminated the torque turn. So clearly more offset of the risers would indeed further reduce torque yaw effects. This is true on most machines that I fly. Very few manufacturers put in sufficient riser offset to counter torque effects.
Thrust (-): Very good thrust which is available quickly, probably in the 150 pound range. Great throttle response through the range, too, among the best I’ve ever flown. You could call it “peaky” which, in my book, is far better than sluggish. You can feather a responsive engine; you can’t perk up a poky one.
Endurance (-): It’s got a huge 4 gallon tank that makes up the bottom of the machine. Even with the somewhat thirsty Moster engine you’ll have a good three hours under an averagely efficient wing. Of course you’ll have to be happy with hefting all that gas to do so.
Vibration (-): Mostly vibration is average but, at certain RPM it was slightly above average although I did not note ever seeing my vision blur, a sure sign of higher vibration.
Sound (-): Average for its output. It’s moderately loud like other Moster powered machines I’ve flown.
Safety (-): The netting goes all the around the cage, which is good, but without an inner ring, it would not likely protect a hand if that hand (arm or shoulder) was pressing between spokes near the prop radius. This could be easily cured by adding the inner safety ring.
The fuel tank has decent clearance making it more resistant to prop strike than average. Since this is the first machine I’ve seen with gas tank below the prop, I don’t know if that increase susceptibility to rupture. In my experience it does not seem to because, in a crash, the engine flexes downward around an axis near the top motor mount. So the prop flexes more forward than down.
Construction (-): It’s ingenious. There are three sizes of radial arms (spokes) but they are made such that you can buy the big size and cut it to fit. The molded plastic parts all seem stout enough. It’s largely held together with double locking Velcro just like Agama floatation devices are held on.
The netting is all one piece connected to the outer hoop. If you damage the netting, you will need to replace the outer hoop is well since they are one piece.
Reparability (-): Parts are relatively cheap so have an extra netting and some radial arms on hand because you won’t be able to replace much at the hardware store. That’s cheaper yet since there’s only one spoke size needed (they can be cut to length).
Transport (-): Shipping should be quite easy since the frame comes apart into very small pieces. The gas tank is the bottom of the frame. Obviously you’ll need to make sure it is completely clean if trying to get it on an airliner. Transport in a Minivan or SUV should be easy enough by removing the top of the cage.
This may require the smallest box of any currently produced paramotor.
Cost: It’s around $5000US as of this review which puts it in the least expensive machines out there.
Overall: I was impressed. Possibly because plastic implies cheap but that’s not what I found. As always, only time will tell what really holds up well but it seems like this ought to do as good as its metal counterparts. We’ll see. It’s a comfy machine that was just as much fun to fly as others but with a lower price point.
Paramotor Review:Flown 05/15/2012, Reviewed 07-10-2012