Reviews

Paramotor Powerplant Reviews

The Power of our Pleasure | See also Chapter 12: Setup & Maintenance

The 2-stroke motor is still king when it comes to PPG. So far only the Bailey 4-strokes have made a dent in the foot launched market but generator motors have become common on trikes.

There are significant variables in motors. For example, two identical motors, spinning the same prop, with the same model carb, sitting next to each other may easily vary by 10%. Accumulated manufacturing variability is to blame, everything from cylinder honing to propeller shape can add up to these differences. 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. While these reviews will offer my opinion on sound, it must be taken with a grain of salt given all of these variances.

Thrust numbers are my estimation of the power based either on flying or thrust testing from other than a seller. 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 has more vibration, more torque twist, and 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 marvel at 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 on the ramp.

ElectricPPG.jpg (175279 bytes)

The Csaba Lemak Electric

 

Vitorazzi Moster 185

2012-June 25 Pollini Thor with Easy Start

This motor's claim to fame is lightweight power. It is of average loudness and vibration but is remarkably lightweight. This motor has been tainted by its connection to Dell Schanze but it is now also available from Rick Hunts and a number of imported machines that come equipped with it.

In my experience it has been easy starting and has sufficiently rapid throttle response on the stock carburetor (Walbro 37). More than anything is that it has great thrust--enough for high elevations and heavy folks.

Maintenance Notes:

1. There have been some exhaust issues that are largely considered solved.

2. The pull start system has had been somewhat problematic after between 10 and 20 hours but it is not consistent. Most pilots don't seem to have the problem but a few have had it recur. Vitorazzi has gone through several iterations of solutions and feel they have it licked.

3. Over temping was initially a problem that was solved by the adoption of a special prop that increases cooling right on the head. Vitorazzi is also working on a shroud for further cooling.

 

 

 

2012 Polini Thor 200

2012-June 25 Pollini Thor with Easy Start

Power is plentiful in this super-smooth running motor--among the most poweruful units I've tried out, at least on the four-blade fresh breeze. It's second only to the 294 cc Parajet Cyclone Rotary engine and seemingly more powerful than Fresh Breeze's 313 Monster with the same prop geometry. Throttle response depends on carburetion. On several of them I've had an indistinct low end but, after about 40%, it's been accurately responsive to throttle position. To be fair, though, one of those machines was on it's very first flight and the manufacturer said that they got it ironed out soon after.

It comes with an "Easy Start" spring system. Pulling the starter handle actually winds up a spring that then cranks the motor when it gets past a certain point. It's really cool since you're not actually having to pull against a compression point which is what makes it easier. The drawback won't actually spin the crank faster so, if the motor would benefit from a bit more umph, you have no way of granting it. Not a problem if it's running good but, as we all know, there are times in the field where a harder pull can overcome some minor motor problem.

This motor represents a remarkable breakthrough in that it has tons of power while ALSO sporting a clutch. Nothing else does that to my knowledge. One downside is that the clutch and gearbox, all being part of one unit, may be slightly harder to work on if there's a problem. Not surprisingly, the tradeoff is weight. The motor is a bit on the heavy side for it's displacement but, on the other hand, it's power to weight ratio seems comparable.

This is the smoothest running engine I've yet flown that is still in production. The one that ties it was Parajet's 160 cc rotary is no longer being made (their 294 cc rotary is).

Maintenance Notes:

1. There have been some exhaust issues.

2. The Easy Start system is relatively new so reliability is not yet established although I've not yet heard of any problems.

 

 

 

Top 80

by Miniplane, 80cc, weight=26 lbs, Support & Parts, 95 lbs thrust, WG-8 carb., Clutch with geared redrive, fan forced-air cooled with shroud.

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 48" prop. Miniplane, the builder, was first to put it on their paramotor frame but soon began selling the engine others.

Many instructors complained about maintenance issues because certain aspects were difficult to troubleshoot and repair. For example the dreaded power fall-off, where it goes to full power for a few minutes then tapers down. The pull start system is a bit challenging to work on and, depending on the problem, can require removing 15 or so rivets to get to it. The cooling fan is housed in that same unit so it must be deriveted (which admittedly is surprisingly simple) to replace.

This motor, like all small displacement machines, gets its power by running at high RPM - over 9000 - so it requires more frequent rebuild if run hard.

Throttle response is quite good on a properly running motor. I've heard pilots complain about this and indeed I've flown those with a slow response but that's because there's a problem. A normally running Top 80 is quite nimble.

This is probably the most impressive motor for the amount of power delivered per pound of weight. It enjoys US support (link above) and a loyal following although it is now sold on very few production units in the U.S.

Maintenance Notes:

1. Use a resister plug like the BR9ES or a resistor cap like the NGK EM05 which denotes a 5k ohm resistance. Do NOT combine the two resistance devices lest the spark be too weak.

Top80PicFromTop80USA.jpg (21863 bytes)

Courtesy Miniplane

 

Snap 100

by Cisco, 100cc, 29 lbs, weight=?, 98 lbs thrust, WG-32 carb., Support1, Support2, Clutch with geared redrive, fan forced-air cooled with shroud,

This elegant 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 like the Top 80, with good response.

The starter is much easier to replace parts on, especially the cord. The fan is also much easier to get to. 

One issue has been the center bolt holding the prop hub on. That bolt likes to loosen and comes out easily in flight. Use Locktite and still keep an eye on that prop!

Maintenance Notes:

1. Parts can be obtained through www.SouthernSkies.net for units mounted on Fresh Breeze and from www.Paracruiser.com for all others.

 

RDM 100

by Ross Motors, 100cc, weight≈32 lbs, 110 lbs thrust, WG-32 carb., Support1, Support2, Clutch with geared redrive, fan forced-air cooled with shroud,

This motor largely replaced the Top 80 on most U.S. Machines as it offered noticeably more power albeit with a proportional increase in weight. It allowed heavier pilots to enjoy the advantages of the clutch, too. Of course the same-power fuel consumption goes up along with the increase in max hp.

Like all small displacement motors, it gets its thrust at high rpm, near 10,000.

Behind the Top 80, this had enjoyed the widest use among 100cc units up until about 2005 when the MZ 100 and Snap 100 became more prevelant.

As of May, 2007, I'm not aware of the RDM being used on any paramotors being made or imported into the U.S.

 

 

MZ 100

by Compact Radial Engines, 98cc, weight=31 lbs, 106 lbs thrust, WG-32 carb., Clutch with belt redrive, fan forced-air cooled with shroud,

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.

Like all small displacement motors, it gets its thrust at high rpm, near 10,000.

As of 2007 this motor was being used on the Paratoys Blackhawks and Paracruisers, among others. I've flown them on both frames and the motor had good power with good throttle response. They didn't seem to have quite the thrust of RDM 100's that I've flown but have consistently more than the Snap 100.

Parts are available from Paracruiser.

 

Vitorazzi 100

by Vitorazzi, 100cc, Weight=? lbs, 110 lbs thrust, ? carb. Clutched with a geared redrive.

This powerplant is relatively new to the U.S. and comes with a clutch. I've only flown it with a 51 inch prop on an Paratour SD and it was very powerful. In that configuration it was probably around 120 pounds of thrust. On a more typical prop (46-48") it would likely be about 110 pounds of thrust.

Throttle response on the one unit I tried was good but a bit on the "peaky" side. That's just one individual motor, though and every model of the other engines has some that are the same way.  Plus, it's just a matter of adaptation and that comes quickly.

The motor used fan forced air cooling with the fan driven by the crankshaft.

To my knowledge it is currently in use only on the SD line of Paramotors from Paratour as of May 2007.

ericDufourLaunchingVitorazzi100.jpg (106018 bytes)

 

Corsair Black Devil

by Aero Corsair, 172cc, 36 lbs, 132 lbs thrust, WG-37 carb. Support

This popular powerplant has earned a reputation for reliability, plentiful thrust and  good support. With the automatic decompressor it can be a bit challenging to start without doing things just right. Fortunately there is enormous expertise which makes solving problems relatively easy. Parts are widely available. 

The Black Devil appears to be the most popular motor being mounted to PPG's and enjoys the broadest support.

Compression Ratio is 11:1.

Earlier motors had fewer teeth in the belt which resulted in lost belts. That problem and some exhaust issues that have been drastically improved in the 2006 and later models. All motors now come with wider belt drives that reduce belt slipping.

It uses an automatic decompression valve that has proven problematic, from falling out to sticking. Thankfully these problems have been well documented and are easily solved. Alex Varv, the U.S. importer has earned a well-deserved reputation for making sure pilots keep their motors running well.

Apr 28, 2007 I've installed a manual decompressor that completely solves the starting problem related to the decompressor and makes starting the motor very easy. The tradeoff is that it will be more difficult to restart in flight unless you incorporate a foot starter.

It tends to vibrate slightly more than other motors, especially if the idle rpm is too low. Additional or different motor mounts can improve this to match or improve on other's vibration levels but doing so moves the motor further from the mounts.

This motor is used on many frames including the Fly Products, Blackhawk, SD, Free Spirit and others as of 2007.

Photo by Robert Kittila.

 

2008 Corsair Black Magic

by Aero Corsair, 125cc, weight=34 lbs, 115 lbs thrust, WG-? carb., clutched with a belt redrive. Support

The Black Magic was introduced to North America in 2007 to present JPX Italia's first clutch equipped motor in a lighter weight package. Being new, reliability will have to wait. 

It has good thrust and throttle response.

I've flown it on a Blackhawk and Fly Products Compress. The idle was too high on the Blackhawk so the clutch kept the prop engaged (a simple idle adjustment issue). The Compress was brand new and they were running it rich for the first few hours so I did not get to see how well it idles.

Unlike most small-displacement, high rpm motors, it has no forced air cooling but is also a bit heavier so the heat dissipation may be the same. Time will tell. It is apparently it's about 4 pounds lighter than the Black Devil and shares the same mounts.

This motor is being used on Fly Products and Blackhawk frames as of 2007.

black_magic_on_Paratoys.jpg (137317 bytes)

 

2008 Simonini Mini 2

by Simonini, 202cc, weight=42 lbs, 150 lbs thrust, WG-32, Bing carb., belt redrive.

This is the pusher of powerplants. Widely used for heavy pilots and tandem operations, it has found a ready market for other craft beyond PPG . There are some with larger displacements and more power but the Simonini has proven an excellent power to weight trade-off. 

The Simonini appears to be the 2nd most popular motor being installed in new machines behind the Black Devil.

I've flown it on a Sky Cruiser, Blackhawk, Fresh Breeze, FlatTop, Walkerjet, and Fly Products. Fresh Breeze detunes theirs slightly to reduce noise but their implementations are indeed much, much quieter than most others. 

There were problems with crankcase cracks but that appears to be only on one run of motors as best I can tell.

Several that I've flown with membrane carbs (Walbro, Tillutson) have a rough mid-range. Not all, thouhgh. Two of the Bing fed units and one Walbro unit had an excellent mid-range so it's probably in how well it's set up.

Maintenance notes:

1. For monitoring temperatures, the exhaust gas probe should be mounted 8 centimeters from the piston.

2. Normal max cylinder head temperature (CHT) is between 170 - 200C. Normal max exhaust gas temperature (EGT) is 550 - 580C.
 

Courtesy Siminini Flying

 

Solo 210

by Solo Motors, 210cc, 28 lbs, 100 lbs thrust, WG-32 carb. Support1, Support2 

This somewhat dated powerplant started life as an agricultural pump engine. It has been used on more paramotors than any other. It's older technology does not give huge thrust but it was has just the right amount for our application and heralded a lighter weight machine, becoming very popular in the late 90's. 

The stock box muffler model would yield about 95 pounds of thrust but, with a tuned pipe and 48" prop it would get up to about 110 pounds of thrust.

Some models came with an automatic decompressor that replaced the internal hole. Those with only the internal hole required cleaning the hole about every 10 to 15 hours.

This motor has been used on more frames than any other engine that I am aware of. Nearly every manufacturer has, at one point, had the Solo 210 as an option. As of April 2007 it was only being offered on a few Fresh Breeze models with their improved head.

Solo210_tuned.jpg (79521 bytes)

Solo 210 with tuned pipe.

 

 


© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!