If you’re just getting into paramotoring, you may be overwhelmed by the high cost of the equipment. If you buy new, a paramotor and wing can cost upwards of $10k, and spending this much simply isn’t an option for many people. Thankfully there are good used paramotor options out there, but there are also many neglected and abused machines that need to be avoided.
In this post we’ll lay out a used paramotor buyers guide, and look at all the things you need to consider when buying a used paramotor and wing.
Where to buy a used paramotor
There’s quite a few places you can buy used paramotors, and there’s always plenty of options, so you don’t need to rush and buy the first one that looks good before someone else beats you to it. Consider all of your options, and find the one that ticks off all of your boxes before you decide to contact the seller.
WHERE TO LOOK
EBAY: you’ll always find a good selection of used paramotors on eBay, but stay away from auctions unless you have viewed the paramotor before bidding. Pictures can be deceiving, and sellers will often tell a few porkies in their description, so never buy blind. Always check for negative feedback, and watch out for clever salesmen.
FACEBOOK SELLING PAGES: there’s lots of used paramotor selling pages on Facebook, you can also check Facebook marketplace, and ask in paramotor groups if there are any paramotors for sale that match your requirements. As with eBay, never commit to buy until you have viewed the paramotor, and are entirely happy with it. Watch out for overpricing, and think about making lower offers if the seller has had it listed for a long time.
PARAMOTOR/PARAGLIDING ONLINE SHOPS: you’ll find that many websites will have a used gear section, like you can see HERE on Flybubble for example. But don’t be fooled by their good reputation or experience, always view and fully test the equipment before you commit to buy.
CRAIGSLIST USA: not as popular as eBay for used paramotor gear, but you do often see second hand paramotors on Craigslist for sale. Check how long the paramotor has been listed for, if it’s been on there a while you may be able to make a lower offer after viewing and checking it over. Beware of scams and dodgy salesmen.
GUMTREE UK: Craigslist isn’t very popular in the UK, so you’re more likely to find used paramotors on Gumtree. Similarly to Craigslist, look at when it was listed, as sellers who’ve been trying to sell for a few weeks may drop their prices, but be sure to view it first. Watch out for scams, if the ad seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What used paramotors to consider
When searching for a used paramotor you’ll find everything from 20 year old Adventure F1’s with hundreds of hours flight time, to nearly new machines that the owner has never flown. You can consider anything that suits your budget, but you should ask a few questions:
Can you still get spares?
All paramotors break eventually, and you will without a doubt need spare parts at some point. Many paramotor manufacturers have come and gone over the years, so you need to be sure you’re buying a brand that is still in business.
Bare in mind that it may have a different brand of engine, so check you can get spares for both before buying.
If you find that the company is still in business, it’s worth checking with them to make sure they can still supply parts for your chosen machine. Many manufacturers will stop producing spares for their older models after a certain number of years, so don’t just rely on them still being in business as a green light.
Does it suit your needs?
Many beginners fail to realise just how much different paramotor brands can vary, and there’s a few things to consider that vary from person to person.
- Engine power and thrust: look at the engine and propeller size, and find out how much thrust the paramotor is producing. Heavier pilots tend to need bigger engines, and visa versa, but a quick guide to decide how much thrust you’ll need is the 70% rule. You basically choose engines that produce no less than 70% of your own bodyweight in KG’s of thrust. So an 80KG pilot will need at least 56KG of thrust.
- Harness size: harnesses come in different sizes, usually small, medium and large. When you view the paramotor, be sure you can sit comfortably in the harness, and bare in mind that you’ll need to be able to easily slide in and out of it after take-off and before landing, a tight harness can make this extremely difficult.
Is it strong, durable and reliable?
- Frame and cage strength: as a beginner you’re sure to have the odd bad landing or trip during take-off, and certain materials will be more capable of handling the odd knock than others. Aluminium for example is very light and with the correct design and thickness, can be extremely durable. You’ll see an example of this on paramotors like Parajet’s sturdy V3. Paramotors using thin aluminium tubing aren’t so desirable due to the fact that a simple trip during take-off can bend the cage allowing the propeller to make contact.
- Engine: look up reviews of the paramotor’s engine, and find out if pilots are having any common problems with them. You don’t want to be making regular emergency landings just because you skipped a little simple research.
Is it easily transportable?
- Cage: Think about how you’re going to transport the paramotor to your launch field. Most modern paramotors have cages that you can disassemble for ease of transport and storage, but not all older paramotors have this feature. If you plan on transporting the paramotor with a van this may be ok, but if you’ll be transporting it with a car you’ll need one with a segmented cage.
- Frame: if you’re transporting it with a car, measure the frame to make sure it will fit in your boot, and bare in mind that if you need to lay it down each time you put it in the car, you’ll need to drain the tank of fuel to prevent it leaking into your car. If you don’t want to do this, look for a paramotor with an easy to remove fuel tank.
What’s the run time and overall condition?
- Run time: Most pilots fit an hour meter to their paramotor from day one, so the seller should be able to tell you how many hours it’s got on it, if they can’t then it’s probably best left well alone. Everything has a maximum service life, and if you don’t know how many hours the paramotor’s done, then it may have long passed its safe flying limit. If the paramotor is only a year or so old then this may not matter as much, as clocking up enough hours to wear a paramotor out in a year would be very difficult.
- Hour meter: when the seller tells you the run time, they should be able to prove it by showing you an hour meter. If they have no way of proving the figure they told you is correct, how do you know they’re telling the truth, and not just making up a lower figure for the sale?
- Frame condition: Inspect the frame and look out for cracks in welds, kinks, and any obvious signs of damage. A bent frame could completely change the way the paramotor flies, so walk away if you see any signs of damage.
- Cage condition: A slightly off shape cage isn’t a deal breaker, but it could be a sign that the paramotor has been crashed, or that the cage is weak and may buckle during forward launches as the lines pull against it. Bare this in mind and make sure the cage is sturdy enough to protect the propeller if you trip, and that it won’t buckle under pressure from your lines.
- Netting: netting is an important safety feature, so check the netting is strong and in good shape. If it has any rips or missing pieces, you can repair this yourself fairly easily as we found out here, or you can take it to any manufacturer for a more professional job. But bare the costs of this repair in mind before handing over any cash.
- Harness condition: harnesses can be replaced, but they aren’t cheap. So if you don’t want to spend another $600 for a new harness, you’ll need to make sure the paramotor’s harness is in good condition with no fraying, tares, holes or burns. Check that the buckles on the chest and leg straps lock as they should, and that the straps are in good condition. You should also check the connection points where the harness is bolted to the frame to make sure the webbing is in good condition.
- Low/mid hang points: check the arms/swingarms and make sure they’re in good condition with no bends or damage, and check that the bushes are in good order with no play. Check the webbing that attaches the swingarms to the harness and to the carabiners for tares and fraying, and inspect any other connection points.
- Stop button: the hand throttle will have a stop button that needs checking. A non-functioning stop button should be considered dangerous, and will need fixing before stating the engine.
- Throttle: the throttle lever should snap back to its stop position after being pulled, and you’ll need to listen to hear if the throttle slide is closing in the carburettor. If it doesn’t snap shut you’re at risk of the engine revving high upon starting, which is a big cause of prop strikes, so it needs fixing before starting. Check the cable is in good condition, has no kinks, is well oiled and runs freely through the outer.
- Engine condition: check the engine for oil or sooty marks around the cylinder head and base gasket, these will indicate leaks that need fixing. If the engine has more than 200 hours, ask the seller if the engine has been rebuilt. We want to keep our engines in tiptop condition, so at 200 hours a piston change at the very least would be advisable.
- Exhaust and silencer: make sure there is no deep rust or holes in the expansion chamber. This is a tuned exhaust and even small holes will rob the engine of power, lowering thrust and ruining your climb rate. Make sure the fixing brackets are in good condition, and that the rubber joints aren’t split.
- Propeller condition: small dings and chips in the propeller can put it out off balance, so make sure the propeller is in good clean condition. If it’s not, be ready to spend $400 on a new one. Another cheaper option is to get it repaired and balanced, this may cost up to $150.
- Clutch or belt condition: if the paramotor is clutched, you’ll want to fire it up to make sure it’s engaging as it should and that it’s not slipping under power. If it slips then there’s no getting around it, you’ll need to replace it before flight. If it’s direct drive (non clutched) check the belt, and ask when it was changed. A new belt is cheap enough, but if the paramotor has other issues that need fixing, the costs can soon add up.
- Wiring: there’s not much wiring on a paramotor, but sometimes after many hours of flight, vibrations can take their toll on badly routed wires. You’ll often see wires that have worn away their plastic insulation right through to bare copper, so check all along the loom for this. Check that the wiring hasn’t been butchered by the previous owner. When buying a used paramotor you often see loose wires or taped up joints that could cause problems in the future. People try to add things to paramotors like batteries, strobe lights and fuel gauges, or maybe they’ve tried to solve an issue in the past and bodged the wiring. Any taped up wiring, aftermarket plugs, shrink tubing in odd places, or loose dangling empty plugs should be a warning sign.
- Electric start: if the paramotor is electric start, check that the starter motor works as it should when you press the start button. Make sure the starter works immediately upon pressing the button, and that it engages as it should. If it hasn’t engaged you’ll hear a whirl of sometimes a metallic ding sound. Listen for any grinding, or basically any odd sounds, as new electric starters can be pricey.
- Battery: if the paramotor is electric start it will have a battery located somewhere on the frame, and probably an in-flight charging system. It’s important to make sure it is NOT a Li-Po battery. These batteries have caught fire during flight due to the in-flight charging system. If the battery is a Li-Po, it will need replacing before flight.
JOBS TO DO, AND THINGS YOU SHOULD EXPECT TO REPLACE ON A USED PARAMOTOR
The carabiners should be replaced immediately after buying a used paramotor. All carabiners have a limited service life, and even if you trust the seller has told you the truth about the run time, you never know if the carabiners have passed their safe limit. The carabiners are the only hang point that has no backup, they’re cheap enough, so change them!
Another cheap item that’s important to change before flight is the spark plug. 2-strokes can be fussy engines, and spark plugs will suddenly quit with no warning, especially as they get old. It’s not really worth skipping this simple two minute job and risking an emergency landing for the sake of saving $3.
Any part that could potentially fall off in flight should have safety wire attached to it, to prevent it falling off or hitting the propeller if a bolt comes loose. So look for safety wire on things like the air box and exhaust, and if it isn’t there you’ll need to add it. If it is there, check its condition, if it looks a bit worse for wear, replace it.
Check every single bolt on the frame, harness and engine for tightness. Engine vibrations can and do easily loosen bolts, so this is super important. Once checked, and tightened to the correct torque as specified by the manufacturer, use something called Dykem Crosscheck, as seen and described below.
DYKEM Cross-Check to keep your engine bolts safe
This stuff is essential for paramotors. A small blob on each bolt will speed up your preflight check times and you’ll know immediately if a nut or bolt is vibrating loose. Before I started using this I lost a bleed nipple which demolished my propeller, and on another paramotor I lost the whole propeller, pulley, and eccentric because of one loose bolt. Both of these proved very expensive so now I always use Dykem CrossCheck after tightening my bolts.
Buying a used paramotor wing
You can find used paramotor wings in all of the same places as we listed earlier, but as with paramotors, never ever buy blind. You can find out how to select a wing for your skill level, weight, and personal requirements in my paramotor wing guide HERE.
When you’ve read my wing guide and you know exactly what you need, you can start searching the for sale sites. Bare in mind that all wings are different, and just because you need a 24 meter Dudek wing for your weight range, the same size Ozone wing may be too big or small.
Before you go to view a wing, be sure that the seller has sent it off for inspection, and that they can provide you with the inspection report to say that the wing is safe to fly for another year. Without this report you are taking a risk, as you don’t know if the wing is too porous for example, or if the lines have stretched over time, both of which could make it dangerous to fly.
How many hours?
Before you travel to view a wing, ask the seller how many hours the wing has been flown for. The life of a wing is limited, and with very good care you should expect to get 300-600 hours out of it. If the wing has passed this then it’s only good for ground handling and should not be flown, even if it has an inspection certificate.
Wing manufacturers are constantly updating their range, and adding small things that may improve things like ease of inflation, efficiency, handling, collapse recovery, strength and durability. Older used paramotor wings will lack some of the modern technology, so consider this when you look at used paramotor wings, and try to find the newest technology available for your budget.
When you’re ready to view a wing there’s a few things you’ll need to look out for. You have a very recent inspection report, but unless that report is dated within the last couple of days, you still don’t know if the wing has been flown since the report. All of the following will be checked during inspection, but for the reasons I just mentioned it’s worth checking again.
Check the risers
Check for any signs of damage or fraying of the materials, and check the maillons which are the triangular shaped rings used for attaching the main lines to the risers. Make sure the trimmer webbing is in good condition, and check that the buckles grip well so that the trimmers don’t slip during launch or in flight.
Check the lines
Visually check the lines for any damage or fraying, and check the loops where they join to the wing and ensure they’re in good condition. After visually checking the lines, run your finger along each one to check for any breaks in the inner core of the line that aren’t visible from the outside. The lines should have been through a strength test during the inspection, so check the report for this.
Check the brake lines, brake toggles, tip steering lines and tip steering handles. Check the knots are tied as they should be and that they’re tight. Make sure all of the magnets are present and that they’re strong. You need these magnets so that you can safely park the toggles in flight without the worry of them being sucked through your cage into the propeller.
Check the wing
Look for small holes that could have been caused by prickly plants like brambles in a launch field, and check for tares on the upper and lower layer, and along the leading edge. Look out for blown stitching along the whole of the wing, but especially along the leading edge which could have been caused by the wing overshooting the pilot and hitting the ground too hard.
Broken cell stiffeners can also happen due to overshooting, so check each cell and its stitching. At the same time you can look up inside the wing to check the ribs are all attached and aren’t torn.
Ground handle it
Take a harness along with you and ask the seller if you can take the wing out and ground handle it at a local park. Ground handling before purchase may not always be possible, but it’s definitely worth doing if the option is there. You’ll be able to get a better look along the wing, and you can make sure the wing launches and flies as it should.
If you’ve never owned a wing before you may not realise they come with a couple of bags, usually a compression bag and a stuff sack. Make sure the seller gives you these to keep your wing safely stored, and to prevent damage during transport. You’ll also need a bag to take along with you when you fly. Stuff it into a harness pocket before launch just in case you have to make an emergency landing, then you’ll have a bag to carry your wing in as you walk home!
You’ll also want the riser bag. This is a small bag that holds the risers to keep them neat and tidy, to prevent tangles, and to stop them damaging the wing’s fabric during storage and transport.
Check out my budget paramotoring post for a few more tips HERE.
It is possible to buy some very good used paramotors and wings, but as a beginner who is not familiar with this equipment, you need to be very careful not to buy a complete pile of rubbish. Just because a paramotor looks good, doesn’t mean that it is.
I recommend that you take your training course, and get familiar with the sport before buying your first paramotor and wing. You’ll be surprised just how much you can learn about the equipment in a few days. When you’re ready to buy your paramotor and wing, follow all of the points in this post and you should be able to find a good machine and wing that will last you many years.