Last updated on October 31st, 2019 at 01:27 pm
It doesn't matter whether you weigh 60 KG or 160 KG, you should always find out the weight limit of a paramotor and wing before buying it. All paramotors and wings are different, and they all have their limits, but the amount you weigh shouldn't keep you from enjoying this amazing sport.
In this post we'll look at what figures you need to find out before buying your paramotoring equipment, and where to find them. We'll look at some of the best options for the bigger pilots, or for those that wish to carry more weight for things like cross country flights and paramotor camping.
I'll also answer the most common questions asked by bigger guys wanting to learn how to fly paramotors.
Paramotor weight limit
The average weight limit for a paramotor is 352 lbs (160 KG). But that doesn't mean anyone above that weight can't fly a paramotor, as there are plenty of options.
Manufacturers place a weight limit on paramotors to keep pilots safe. If you are above the weight limit then you will void the warranty, and put yourself at risk of equipment failure, and a potential crash.
A pilot was killed back in 2016 after he hit shallow water about 150 metres from the shoreline. It was discovered that the combined weight of the pilot, fuel, and all equipment was heavier than the recommended limit.
So there is a paramotoring weight limit?
Every flying machine has its limits, but I hear this question the most from heavier pilots who are worried that a paramotor will not be able to lift their weight.
When it comes to pilot weight it's unlikely that you will have a problem getting off the ground if you choose the right equipment. We'll learn more about equipment later, let's first look at some of the issues you may face.
Finding a suitable harness
Harnesses come in lots of different sizes, and most manufacturers make an XL size. I've seen pilots who weigh 125 KG using these harnesses, but if you weigh much more you may struggle to fit into them.
If you're willing to pay a little extra, some manufacturers will actually make you a harness to fit. I know PXP have done this for a 150 KG pilot in the past, and with lots of manufacturers to choose from you should be able to find one that will work with you.
If you wish to foot launch, then you may struggle to run fast enough to get airborne. I know many bigger guys that can run a lot faster than me (I'm very light), but when you have a paramotor strapped to your back it gets much harder to run.
From what I've seen over the years, bigger guys really struggle with this. As a bigger pilot you may tire quicker, and a failed launch will really take it out of you.
You should also bare in mind that more weight means you'll need a faster take-off speed. If you think that this may be a problem then a paramotor trike may be a better option.
Initial training flight
I always recommend that beginner pilots get a taster tandem flight before throwing a lot of money at a training course, and a sport they they may not enjoy.
Unfortunately when it comes to tandem flights there is usually a weight limit, and as a bigger pilot you may find it difficult to find a pilot who can take you up.
Most tandem pilots have foot launched machines, especially in countries that require licensing for wheel launching. But if you can find an instructor that has a powerful trike you may be able to get that important initial paramotor flight under your belt, before you commit to an expensive training course.
Do paramotor wings have a weight limit?
All paramotor wings have a weight limit, so you will need to find one that is rated for your weight before you go any further. Simply find a beginner wing that is A or B rated, and check the technical data to find the figures. You can do this very easily by going to the wing manufacturers website.
Be sure to check the larger wing sizes, as bigger wings will have a far higher weight range. You'll find that most wings will top out at about 150 - 170 KG, which should be more than enough for most people reading this post.
If you struggle to run, or if you aren't very fast, you may prefer a tandem wing. These wings have a much wider, and higher weight range, and will generate much more lift because of their bigger size.
The downfall of a tandem wing is that it will be much slower than a regular single pilot wing because of the extra lift and drag.
Here's a great video from Scout, showing how you can reduce the weight of a paramotor, this could mean the difference between buying a 22 meter wing rather than a 26, thus giving you more speed and agility.
Do paramotors have a weight limit?
Assuming that you can find a harness to fit as we discussed earlier, most paramotors will hold a fair bit of weight. For example, the Parajet Volution 3 that I'm currently flying has a total pilot + additional gear weight limit of 352 LBS (160 KG).
It would be crazy to just assume that a paramotor is suited to higher pilot weights though. Before buying any paramotor always contact an authorised dealer, or even call the manufacturer direct if the pilot weight limit is unclear to you.
If you can't find this information because a manufacturer has gone out of business for example, then it's best to choose a different brand.
FAILING TO FOLLOW THE SPECIFIC PARAMOTOR WEIGHT LIMIT QUOTED BY THE MANUFACTURER COULD LEAD TO MID-AIR EQUIPMENT FAILURE, SO DON'T RISK YOUR LIFE FOR THE SAKE OF A SIMPLE 30 SECOND PHONE CALL.
What about the engine?
This is something that will require a little research, and your engine choice will depend on your overall weight, not just pilot weight. So Paramotor frame and harness + Pilot + Reserve parachute + Any additional gear.
The last thing you want is an under-powered engine. This is not only annoying when you take-off, but it can be very dangerous if you don't have the power to climb clear of objects on the ground.
As a quick guide, if you weigh any more than 90 KG, you'll want to avoid engines that put out any less than 75 KG of thrust. The heavier you get, the more thrust you may require.
As a heavier pilot, what engine options do I have?
There are lots of engine options available for bigger pilots, but always check the power and thrust output before buying. It's also worth posting on forums to see what other pilots who fly your choice of engine think, and to see if other heavy pilots are using one.
It's also worth baring in mind that a bigger engine will usually weigh more, so check the weight to make sure you're able to lift and run with it on your back. If you think you'll struggle with the weight (remember to add the weight of the frame + fuel) then a wheeled machine may be better for you.
Here's a few great choices for heavier pilots flying foot launched and wheeled machines:
Simonini Mini 2 EVO
- 230.8 CC 2-stroke engine producing 33 horsepower at 7000 RPM
- Thrust: 79 KG with a 125 cm 2 blade propeller
- Weight: 20 KG
Vittorazi Moster 185
- 184.7 CC 2-stroke engine producing 25 horsepower at 7800 RPM
- Thrust: 78 KG with a 130 CM propeller
- Weight: My '19 version 14.2 KG
Air Conception Tornado 280
- 268 CC 2-stroke engine producing 33 horsepower at 7500 RPM
- Thrust: 92 KG with a 3 blade 140 cm propeller
- Weight: 12.9 KG
Cors-Air Black Bull
- 235 CC 2-stroke engine producing 33 horsepower at 8000 RPM
- Thrust: 80 KG with 125 CM propeller
- Weight: 17.8 KG pull start or 18.9 KG electric start version
Are wheeled paramotors a better choice for heavy pilots?
Wheeled paramotors do have a weight limit, and as with foot launched machines you will need to find out the weight limit for your chosen trike / quad.
Contrary to the belief of many pilots and instructors, powerful trikes aren't always a better choice for bigger pilots, and they do have their downsides. So what are the main pros and cons of wheeled paramotors for heavy pilots?
Less stress on joints
Running for takeoff and landing with a foot launched paramotor will put a lot of stress on your knees and back. Heavier pilots will already have much more stress on their joints, so a wheeled paramotor may be a better choice, especially for those who already suffer with joint or back pain.
We've already mentioned that you'll be flying faster, and although it's not great for those with limited take-off space, it can actually be a big plus. We all want to fly faster, and the extra weight of a trike will add a few extra MPH to your top speed.
One thing that limits a foot launched paramotor is the weight of the paramotor on the pilots back, and the engine makes up the majority of the weight.
This is not so much of an issue with a wheeled paramotor, as you won't have to do any lifting, unless you tip it over during takeoff of course.
This means that trikes and quads can be fitted with much bigger engines, which will make taking off much easier, and will also shorten your takeoff run.
Another pro for wheeled machines is that you'll have more space to carry additional items and equipment. This will be good news for those that want to fly long cross country flights, paramotor campers, or for more adventurous pilots.
Along with more space, you'll be able to take much more weight along with you, as you won't have to worry about being able to lift and run with it.
More weight means to very important things:
- You'll need a longer take-off and landing strip
- You'll burn more fuel
The more weight your wing is trying to lift, the longer it will take to get airborne. This means you'll need a long airstrip to build up speed for your take-off, and it will need to be clear of obstacles for a much longer distance than if you were foot launching.
You'll also need a longer landing strip because you will be travelling much faster than a foot launched paramotor. More weight means more speed, so you'll need longer to touch down, and to slow your machine down after landing.
More weight also means that you'll require more power to stay in the air, thus burning more fuel. A wheeled paramotor will obviously weigh a lot more than a foot launched paramotor, so bare this in mind when choosing your machine.
One thing I love about foot launched paramotoring is the fact that you can land into a very small space if you happen to have an engine failure.
I think this is really important when flying with an unreliable 2-stroke engine. I've landed into two very small fields during two unexpected emergency landings, so please believe that this does happen quite often.
When you fly a wheeled paramotor you will need much more runway to land, and you simply can't land in the small areas that you can with a foot launched paramotor.
This means that you will have to be much more careful of where you're flying, and you'll want to fly higher so that you have more options, and more time to decide where to safely land if your engine fails.
Is equipment more likely to fail if you're a heavier pilot?
During my training I remember talking to a beginner pilot who weighed 114 KG, and he was freaking out because of his weight. He was worried that the wing lines and carabiners would break because he weighed more than all of the other guys there.
I'm sure that many bigger pilots have this concern, so it's worth mentioning that these fears are totally irrational. Of course there will be a little extra mechanical stress on all parts of the paramotor, but just think of the high G forces that acro paramotor pilots are pulling, and quality equipment simply doesn't fail.
All you need to do is send your wing off for its yearly inspection, and be sure to use carabiners that are rated for paramotoring. If you need a little extra reassurance you can buy carabiners that are tandem rated, and buy yourself a tandem wing because they will tolerate much higher weights.
I believe that no matter what your weight is, you should be able to enjoy our awesome sport just as much as any other pilot. I've flown with many bigger pilots, some foot launching, and some trike pilots, and they've all been able to takeoff, land, and have just as much fun as any other pilot I've flown with.
I've tried to be as thorough as possible, if you have any more questions regarding paramotor weight limit then post them below. Enjoy choosing your equipment!