Reviews: Engines

The 2-stroke motor is still king  Electrics are making slow inroads but, even as of 2019, they’re years away from taking over.

There are significant variables in motors. Even two identical motors, spinning the same prop, with the same model carb, sitting next to each other may differ in thrust by 10%. So it’s not appropriate to pin a thrust on a motor without having broad experience with it. Plus, some makers will sacrifice power for quiet.

Thrust numbers are likely to be estimated but that will be clear in the reviews. I try to correct for extra large props. A machine with 120 pounds of thrust using a 51″ prop, for example, will probably be about 105 pounds with a 48″ prop.

Motors will not be reviewed separately from the frame they come with because each manufacturer has a different implementation — different props, carbs, air intake, priming, exhausts, and sometimes even redrives. Since I’m not one to mount stock engines on a frame, it’s not practical. I’m waaay too lazy for that! The best bet for those looking to buy just a motor is to look for a paramotor maker that uses the engine stock.

One last thing regarding thrust: nothing is free. Extra push probably means more vibration, more torque twist, and/or more noise. Not always, of course, but that’s the general trend. Many times three blade propellers help with vibration but do not necessarily increase thrust. I remember an airplane model by Piper, the Seminole, whose manual clearly showed thrust was less with the 3 blade prop than it was with the 2 blade prop as evidenced by longer takeoff runs and slower climbs. So why pay extra for a 3-blade prop? Ramp appeal. Yup, it just looked cooler sitting there.


2007 Cors-Air Black Devil 172

In 2008 this was one of the most popular powerplants in the 25 hp class. It has earned a reputation for reliability, plentiful thrust and good support. It can be be a bit challenging to start without doing things just right. Fortunately there is enormous expertise...

2007 Compact Radial Engines MZ 100

This motor was based on the RDM 100 and so shares most of the same characteristics. My experience is that it has slightly less thrust although that was from some time ago (2003) and the motor has enjoyed numerous improvements over time. Specs: by Compact Radial...

2005 Cisco Motors Snap 100

This elegant clutched motor has only slightly more thrust than the Top 80 but is easier to work on in most regards. The tradeoff is that it’s heavier, by maybe 3 pounds. Instructors seem to have slightly better results with maintenance issues. It behaves much...

2007 Top 80

This tiny, lightweight motor first became popular in Europe, especially with competition pilots. It’s light weight and low fuel burn for the power produced made it perfect for competition pilots and everyone else. It can get over 100 lbs of thrust with a...

Vitorazzi Moster 185

This motor’s claim to fame is lightweight power. It is of average loudness and vibration but is remarkably lightweight. Early on it was tainted by its connection to Dell Schanze but it is now also available from Rick Hunts and a wide variety other machines. In...

2005 Solo 210

Even when this review was done the Solo was a dated powerplant. It started life as an agricultural pump engine and by 2005 was used on more paramotors than any other. It’s older technology does not give huge thrust but it was enough for our application and...