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How to choose a paramotor for beginners with 10 top buying tips

Many beginners think that all paramotors are the same, and that the only difference is slightly different styling. Some will choose a paramotor based purely on its looks or its power output. But there’s actually a lot more to consider when buying a paramotor.

Choosing the right paramotor can be a tricky process, but it’s worth taking your time and doing some research. If you get it right, you’ll have a paramotor that you won’t outgrow, and one that will last you many years.

How to choose a paramotor

THINGS TO CONSIDER

When you’re ready to choose a paramotor, your final decision should be based on all of the points below. We’ll go through each one, but you should also think of your future goals as a paramotorist. Pilots can progress really fast, and the things that they look for straight after training will quickly change.

1. What type of flying appeals to you most

Thermalling

Thermalling will take a long time to master. It’s a skill that’s developed over many years, but if you think this sounds like fun, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration.

Thermalling basically means that you will search out warm rising air known as thermals, and you will use this air instead of relying on your engine to stay airborne. You’ll switch off your engine and depend solely on warm rising air to travel great distances, and to climb to high altitudes.

Thermalling is something all paragliding pilots need to master, but few paramotorists actually ever get good at it, simply because most flights are taken while thermal activity is low. This means you’ll need to fly while the air is much more active, meaning this really isn’t for beginners, hence thermalling taking many years to master.

If you decide to take this route, you’ll need a non clutched engine. Non clutched engines prevent the propeller spinning while the engine is switched off. The propeller of a clutched engine can continue to rotate, which will cause extra drag and ruin your thermalling efforts.

When you find a good thermal, you’ll want to stay in it for as long as possible by spiralling upwards directly over top of the rising air. This is why good weight shift abilities are needed, so that you can lean into the thermals as you find them.

Cross country (XC) flying

There’s not a single paramotor pilot that doesn’t love a long challenging cross country flight. Getting together with a group of paramotor pilots and flying off to new places, testing your navigation skills, and landing in secluded spots is the ultimate flying adventure.

But XC pilots will need certain paramotor qualities that many other pilots wouldn’t even consider. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy parking your brakes and weight shifting on those longer flights. So you’ll want a paramotor with good weight shift abilities, more on weight shift later.

You’ll need a fast but reasonably stable wing so you can fly further, and get there quicker. You’ll also be using full trim and speedbar a lot, so you’ll want an engine that can keep you level without having to rev the balls off it, and risk overheating and seizing it.

You’ll also need a nice big fuel tank, so you’ll have plenty of fuel for long flights, and a little extra just in case the wind picks up while you’re on your return journey.

Low level

Low level flying is what attracted me to paramotoring. Skimming the ground, foot dragging across fields, and hedge hopping into the next one is super fun. It carries more risk than cruising along at 2000 feet, so learn how to do it safely, and progress slowly.

While flying low you’ll undoubtedly come across obstacles like power lines, hedges and trees, so you’ll need a powerful engine so that you can climb quickly to avoid them.

Engines can suddenly quit, and if this happens while flying low, you won’t have time to find the pull cord, and to pull it, so think about getting an electric start paramotor. Just a push of a button on the hand throttle will quickly get your engine restarted before you have to make an emergency landing.

Acro

Throughout 2023 I’ve had a massive amount of pilots asking me about acro, and how to start. This is something that will take new pilots many years to master, and this is usually a disappointing thing for beginners to hear. Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as it looks on Youtube!!

But buying the correct paramotor from the beginning will save you some money, and will also help you to progress faster than if you were to buy the wrong machine.

Weight shift abilities are important, as you’ll need to move your body and use your weight while executing manoeuvres. You’ll also want something you can easily throw around, so a lighter paramotor frame is always preferred.

Engine choice may come down to personal preference. Some pilots like a lighter engine to keep the all-up weight lower. But many pilots would rather climb quickly back to higher altitudes for their next manoeuvre, so a powerful engine is preferred. But remember, to add power you’ll be adding size and weight.

Pylon racing

We’ve all seen the amazing Red Bull air racers flying around a course of air inflated pylons. Paramotor pylon racing is exactly the same, and a selection of pilots will race one another around a course while manoeuvring around the pylons in the quickest time possible.

Pylon racers, and most other competition pilots will always choose the most powerful engine to enable them to turn sharply, basically pushing them around the pylons, whilst maintaining their altitude in a tight turn. Pilots will make the wing fly as slowly as possible, and let the engine push their body around the pylon while the wing is banked over.

To help with the tight turns, pylon racers will also need to lean their body, so weight shifting abilities are really important.

Fun flying

This is all about having fun on your paramotor and not taking any of the above categories too seriously. You’ll basically enjoy a bit of everything listed above.

You’ll probably like to do a little low level flying, skimming the hedges, and foot dragging the long grass. You’ll like to test your climb rate, climbing to 10,000 feet, and doing a little acro all the way back down. You’ll soar the ridges, and fly off on the odd cross country with your wing man, while always trying new things and having loads of fun on your journey!

If this sounds like your type of flying, you’ll want a good allrounder, a powerful but reliable engine, a comfy harness with good weight shift abilities, and a large fuel tank for those longer XC adventures. You’re an adventurous pilot, so you may also want to think about storage, because in the near future you’ll probably think about something that’s become very popular with a lot of pilots – paramotor camping.

2. How much thrust will my paramotor need

how to choose a paramotor thrust power

Think about your body-weight, and how much engine power and thrust you will need to lift you off the ground. You need to get this right, or you simply won’t be able to launch.

I made this mistake with my first paramotor, and ended up having to sell it for a larger motor. Unfortunately, there were no helpful articles like this one when I learned to fly 😉

You also need to consider the climb rate you will be able to achieve. If you are too heavy for your chosen engine, you won’t have time to climb to avoid obstacles.

Lastly, you’ll also need enough power to be able to maintain level flight while the wing is trimmed out. If you don’t have enough power to maintain level flight at full trim, then you’ll need to pull the trimmers in, thus impacting your top speed.

Lighter pilots will normally choose a smaller and lighter engine, like the TOP 80, or the EOS 100. Heavy pilots will require a bigger engine like the Moster 185, or the Thor 200. But remember, the bigger the engine, the more weight you will have to carry on your back during launching and landing.

Take a look at the top 5 paramotor engine choices HERE.

Find out whether a 4-stroke engine may be a better choice for you HERE.

The size of the propeller will also make a difference to how much thrust the engine supplies. You’ll be surprised at how much difference a 130 cm prop makes compared to a 125 cm prop.

The propeller can also make a difference to your fuel economy, a bigger prop will usually give slightly better results. Because of the extra thrust produced, you will use slightly less throttle, meaning less fuel is used. Slightly less throttle also means slightly less torque effect is produced on your paramotor, which is good.

So overall, the bigger propeller is better. Do your engine research, and think about reliability, and the availability of spare parts before buying. Take your time, and choose right to avoid buying twice like I had to!

3. Electric VS Manual start engines

This choice may depend entirely on the style of flying you chose earlier.

For example, we mentioned that thermalling will require the engine to be switched off for long periods. When an engine cools down, it become much harder to start and may require choke. The choke is normally pulled before starting the engine, or some engines will also have a priming bulb that you squeeze. This cannot be done whilst strapped into the harness, or mid flight, so electric start will be preferred.

But remember, if you choose a paramotor with electric start, this will also add some extra weight. Not much, maybe one to two kilos, but this can make a big difference on a fuel laden paramotor.

4. The overall weight of the paramotor

When choosing a paramotor, think about the weight of the whole paramotor, including your chosen engine. You will have to run with this weight on your back during takeoff, and hold the weight up during landings. If your legs can’t manage the weight, you could cause some serious damage to the paramotor, and to yourself!

Think about your strength, and how much weight you can carry. Do you have back or knee problems? And don’t forget that the weight of the paramotor increases as you add fuel to it. Can you lift a fully fuelled paramotor from the sitting position on the ground after strapping in?

You’ll be surprised at what a difference a few extra litres of fuel will make. 1 litre of fuel weighs around 770 grams, this means that a fully fuelled paramotor with a 14 litre tank will weigh nearly 11 KG more than it did dry! If you already have a heavy paramotor, this will make a huge difference, so you will need some strong legs too!

Remember to include all of your extras when working out the all-up weight. So include your reserve chute, your helmet, and a full tank of fuel in your calculation.

5. Frame strength, repairability, and replacement parts

Frame strength is really important, especially for beginner paramotor pilots who may have a few bum landings to begin with. You don’t want to choose a paramotor that will buckle on your first small fall. Even after ten years of flying, I still have the odd bad landing on damp mornings in slippery fields. This is bound to happen to everybody eventually, so choose wisely.

Thin tubular frames are often used to save on weight, but they may also be a bad idea, because of the stress that they have to endure during takeoff. As you pull the wing into the air for a forward launch, the lines pull hard against the cage. This will very often buckle thin tubing used on cheaply built paramotors.

Also consider repairs that you may have to do. If you do happen to break a frame section, can you easily repair it? Is the manufacturer still in business, and do they offer replacement parts? Things like nylon inserts that connect frame sections together, and special unique clips may eventually break, or you could lose them at the field. Find out if the manufacturer can send out replacements, as getting these specially made could cost you a lot.

THINGS OFTEN OVERLOOKED CHOOSING A PARAMOTOR

6. Aerodynamic paramotors

how to choose a paramotor aerodynamic frame

Many manufacturers are now making aerodynamic frames, these frames are shaped like an aerofoil for less drag. The picture above is the frame of my Parajet, Scout are also using this design. You may also find streamline fuel tanks, and thinner netting to further reduce drag.

When I’m flying under power, I generally find myself flying slightly in front of my wing. The wing will not fly any faster, so the aerodynamics of the paramotor makes little to no difference.

But when gliding with the engine switched off, you may find that it makes some difference. But to get the most out of it you’ll have to tuck your legs and elbows like cyclists do. This may appeal to cross country pilots, and those searching out thermals. It may even make a difference for acro pilots and pylon racers, so bare this in mind when you choose a paramotor.

Something else that’s getting popular in paramotor aerodynamics is anti torque lamells. These are placed on the netting, and are designed to counteract the torque effect. They basically use aerodynamic surfaces, to produce forces similar to the torque of the motor, but in the opposite direction. These can be added after purchase and fit most paramotor netting.

7. Choosing your hook-in system

how to choose a paramotor hook in system 2

Next, you will need to choose your preferred hook-in system. You can choose between high, low, and medium hang points.

My current Parajet volution 3, and my old Parajet Zenith pictured above, both use medium height hang points, and gooseneck bars. This puts the carabiners level with the thrust line, which prevents power induced pitch movements.

Another option is high hang points, these are favoured for their comfort, but they have some disadvantages. They allow little or no weight shift, meaning you’ll have to use your brakes or tip steering for corrections. And, if you watch pilots with high hang points, you’ll very often see the paramotor flying sideways below the wing. This is because high hang points can also accentuate torque twist.

Most modern paramotors will have moving bars or spreaders, but you may still find paramotors with fixed bars. These will also prevent, or lessen weight shift abilities.

Low hang point paramotors can increase power-induced pitch behaviour. When pilots go to full power, the thrust can push the pilot over the hang point. The pilot and paramotor will pitch forwards, this decreases thrust efficiency, and quickly gets very uncomfortable.

Cross country pilots may prefer high hang points for comfort, but they’ll loose weight shift abilities. For everything else I recommend that you choose a paramotor with medium hang points with moving gooseneck bars. These are certainly the most popular choice amongst paramotorists, and are offered by many manufacturers.

CHOOSE A CLUTCHED OR NON-CLUTCHED PARAMOTOR?

8. Clutched or non clutched engine

Non clutched paramotor engine overview

A non clutched propeller will start to spin as soon as the engine is started; the more you rev it, the faster it spins. The only way to stop it, is to turn off the engine. When the engine is switched off, the propeller will not turn without being forced around by hand.

When the engine is not running, turning the propeller by hand will turn the engine over. To do this, you should remove the spark plug cap, and turn the switch to the off position to prevent the engine firing up.

As we mentioned earlier, pilots that enjoy thermalling should consider an engine without a clutch. This is because of the drag that a spinning propeller creates.

Non-clutched engines can also be safer during landing, as the propeller stops instantly when you cut the engine before touchdown. If your wing falls down on top of the cage, there’s no chance of the propeller shredding your wing or its lines.

But you’ll need to be careful during take-off, because the constantly rotating propeller can catch the wing’s lines as you clip-in. You’d normally warm the engine up away from the wing, and only start the engine after clipping in.

A failed launch where the wing falls onto the cage could also shred your wing if the engine isn’t stopped in time. If you feel a launch going wrong you’ll have to be quick with the stop button.

Clutched paramotor engine overview

A clutched propeller will not spin when the engine is idling. As you add power the clutch will bite, and the propeller will begin to rotate. The power delivery will be slightly slower, but also less aggressive.

You can start your engine before you clip in, but if you rev the engine the propeller will take a few seconds to stop spinning. So if you do this whilst clipping in you still risk catching the lines, and if you rev the engine before running on launch you will still risk shredding the wing.

You’ll also have to stop the engine in good time before touchdown, to give the propeller time to stop spinning. If the propeller is still spinning after you land, you will risk the wing falling onto it and being destroyed.

A clutched engine could be a good idea if you trip over a lot, as it could save your cage and propeller. When the cage flexes as you hit the ground, a constantly spinning propeller could easily touch it and cause damage to both parts. This is another good reason to choose a paramotor with a strong frame and cage.

Find out more about clutched and non clutched engines, and how a paramotor’s clutch works here.

FINAL THINGS TO CONSIDER

9. Choose a paramotor that’s transportable

You’ll need a paramotor that you can easily transport to and from the launch site. If you need to fit it into a small car or average sized van, you’ll need removable cage sections. So look for a paramotor with cage sections that clip together fast and easily.

I previously owned the Parajet Zenith that we saw pictured earlier. My reason for selling was that it simply took too long to assemble at the field. I moved on to a Parajet Volution 3 that clips together in less than a minute. This means I don’t waste valuable flying time clipping my motor together, and then landing sooner to take it apart again. You can see my review of the Volution 3 HERE

If you don’t want to put an oily paramotor into your nice clean car, you could use a carry rack. This is something I use when I travel with my paramotor, and need the extra boot space for other things.

To see which carry rack I use CLICK HERE. These carry racks are also great for paramotors that don’t have removable cages, or ones that take a long time to assemble at the field.

10. Choose a good manufacturer

There are some really good paramotor manufacturers out there, but also some really bad ones. I won’t mention names, but I know of manufacturers that are quick to sell and dispatch paramotors, but if you need spare parts or service they aren’t interested in helping.

It can be quite hard to find decent unbiased paramotor reviews online, but social media can help a lot. Join groups and forums, and ask questions before you choose a paramotor manufacturer. Ask questions about customer service and warranty. Are they easy to contact via phone or email? Can they get spare parts to you quickly? Etc.

This might seem like a hassle, but you’re about to give a lot of money to them, the least they can do is offer good after sales service.

Here’s a great series of videos I found that will help you choose a paramotor

You’re ready to choose a paramotor!

You now know exactly how to get the best paramotor for your money. Do everything mentioned in this article, and you will get an excellent machine perfectly suited to you that will last you many years.

Take your time on each step, and don’t rush into it and make mistakes like I did as a beginner. If you’re on a tight budget you can check out my guide to flying on a budget HERE.

Good luck with your choice!

Now you’ve found out how to choose a paramotor you’ll want to check these out:

A paramotor carry rack that’s super strong, and fits on the tow bar of your vehicle > HERE.

Find out whether paramotoring is really safe, and some tips to help you out > HERE.

Other ways to transport your paramotoring equipment > HERE.

And how to enter the wonderful world of paramotoring > HERE.

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Comments

  1. Darrell – do you have a list of top frames and top wings? I really like your discussion on top engines.

    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Anthony, I’ve got > THIS POST you can check out. These are my personal favourites, and the most popular choices amongst pilots.

  2. Hi Darrell, Thanks for spending the time to create this site. I’m only in the discovery stages of paramotoring, trying to do as much research as possible and I find all this information your providing awesome!

  3. Thanks very nice blog!

  4. I enjoyed reading your site as I consider which motor to purchase and what I need in way of power and dependability. It has helped me narrow down my choices and even saved me from buying a trike and wing which would have been to under powered for me. As a newby in the sport I try and read as much as I can before I make a large investment in equipment . A well written and well put together site….THanks very much for the effort.

  5. Just casually interested in pg so google brought me to your volition 3 review. That was an interesting read and a link there brought me here. I found lots of good info and plenty of food for thought, in a very well presented format. I would say that it’s a great article that is well thought out and a good resource for novice fliers.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the nice feedback Paul. I’m glad I was able to help you!

  6. Although I’m not going to be able to start paramotor training for another 2 years the information on this website has been so invaluable, as a complete novice I feel so much more confident looking for a paramotor that will suit me, all I can say is a massive thank you Darrell for taking time to put into print all this information, thank god for people like you who put time aside to help others.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the kind words Sean, I’m really glad the posts are helping you. Good luck with your journey into paramotoring, see you in the air in 2 years!

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