Reviews

2010 Fresh Breeze Thorix

Flown 05/06/2010 by Jeff Goin

Industry Stalwart Fresh Breeze has introduced a new technology, the Thorix, mounted on a Sportix frame. It's aimed at pilots wanting active weight shift with low attachment points but withOUT the fore/aft swinging common in such machines.

I tested the Thorix with about a half-gallon of fuel at Beach Blast 2010 in Panama City. It had about a 48 inch carbon fiber prop. Paul Anthem, Cynthia Adkison and Bruce Brown helped put it together, a 30 minute process that went off easily even though we had to figure a few things out.

My weight was 142 pounds. I flew a 21 meter Axis Pluto wing. Winds were about 10 mph, temperature 78F.

This machine was brand new and in its break-in period so I only went briefly to full power a couple times. It responded well and held full RPM fine.

Weight: I didn't have a scale at Beach Blast 2010 but the weight was quite manageable and well balanced with the straps cinched up appropriately. I'm guessing it was around 65 pounds with fuel.

Harness & Suspension: The harness has a leg-strap safety so that, if the chest strap is fastened, it's impossible to fall out of the harness on liftoff even if you forget to buckle your leg straps. It was quite comfortable with thigh adjustments that were easily moved in flight.

A critical adjustment is where the carabiner support goes. Lightweight pilots like myself (and Bruce Brown who also flew it) must put it in the aftmost hole. That makes the motor hang more erect. We tried it in the middle hole but I was leaned way too far back. There's another adjustment on the leg support that we did not change but it would have less effect.

Fresh Breeze seems is following the trend to offer various harness styles to suit pilot desires. This same frame comes with other, more typical Fresh Breeze harness systems and I applaud them for offering a choice. Some pilots, like myself, prefer having good weight shift. Others don't like it. Some prefer high hook-ins, some low. One is not "better" than the other just like dirt bikes aren't "better" than minivans, they just serve a different purpose.

Starting (-): The Pollini engine pull start has a very long draw. It's geared so that it takes a lot of pull to get just a few revolutions, probably because of high compression and having a long pull is nice. Unfortunately, there was little return force on the cord. You pull it out and it feels like it doesn't want to come back in. It does, but barely. It's something that could be an issue and only time will tell.

The pull handle is comfy and well-positioned for the pilot to start while bracing the motor. There was no e-Start option. The motor was stable on the ground and could be grasped easily enough. A nice touch is the primer bulb. I'd rather squeeze a primer bulb than hold the carb and blow into a tube. I know primers are a potential source of air bubbles but, in 10 years of having a primer bulb on my original Fly 70, it's never been a problem.

Ground Handling & Kiting (-): It was comfortable on the ground and kiting was typical of a low hook-in machine. It's nice that the risers are lower so they can be readily reached without an arm stretch.

Launch (-): The smooth cage will handle no-wind forwards although I didn't get to do one. Reverse launching was typical although it has a pronounced torque twist at liftoff. I took off at partial power to minimize torque effects.

The kick-in strap was perfectly implemented. I may have used a hand to get in the seat but it wasn't necessary since the kick-in was right where I expected when I tried it out.

Climbout (-): The Pollini is a powerful motor for being 110 cc's. I've been pleased with it's power, response and idle. Climbout was good and felt like the power was in the 110-120 Lbs range.

Flight (-): Flying is quite comfortable and straightforward. I had sufficient freedom of movement and the harness adjustments were easily made while airborne.

A wonderful aspect of the weight shift is that there is little or no fore/aft motion during power changes. Pilots who are transitioning to weight shift machines will appreciate that. This seems to me to be the brilliance of their articulating arms. Miniplane does it via geometry, Fresh breeze does it with these special arms but the result is the same.

I don't mind the left/right looseness of weight shift systems because it's useful information about what the wing is doing. But I've never been a big fan of the fore/aft looseness. It's not useful information. Yes, I get used to it but there's just no reason for it. And I realize that, once you get used to it you don't notice it anymore but, if the designer can eliminate fore/aft swing while maintaining good left/right weight shift, I'm all for that. Fresh Breeze has done that. Good on em'.

Weight Shift (-) 6 Inches of riser movement per riser and natural feeling..

Torque (-): There is a pronounced torque twist, probably 25 degrees. I do the test by putting my feet out, going to idle and establishing a glide. Then I come smoothly into full power and note how far my feet swing. It's within a normal range for the amount of power and my lightweight self. Some thrust-line offset would definitely be beneficial here.

Thrust (-): Thrust was quite good for 110 cc's. I'd say it was in the 120-130 lb category.

Endurance (-): I was unable to test fuel burn vs thrust which would be the most accurate measure here. One interesting note, this machine is required to run on Mogas rather than Avgas (Fresh Breeze normally recommends Avgas in all their other paramotors). It has a large tank, though, and I suspect you'll get well over two hours under a reasonably efficient paraglider.

Vibration (-): Pretty smooth. I'd call the Intensity average to somewhat better than average and it felt mostly like it was from the prop. It had sufficient padding to be comfy even at full power.

Sound (-): Fresh Breeze Quiet. One of the brand's trademarks is low noise levels and this machine keeps their reputation intact. These are consistently the quietest machines out there to real human ears. DB Meters don't tell a good story because they measure total energy without regard to frequency or wave form.  Whatever Fresh Breeze is doing on this front is working.

Safety (-): Cage protection is decent with some concerns. It's very good that the double ring keeps the prop essentially fully enclosed AND farther away from the netting. The open areas, although large, are positioned close to the frame where it's unlikely anybody could get a hand to the prop. My concern is about the large openings of the strings.

Another good feature is that the gas tank appears to have enough clearance from the prop can't get to it. Plus it's elevated from the very bottom which helps with safety and loading (keeping the CG up high is better for balance).

Construction (-): Fit and finish were of very high caliber and it went together well with minimal grunting. The plastic guide piece on the articulating arm could be a weak spot, though, as it has some very fragile-looking sections. It has no significant load on it, though, so it would take some non-flying type of abuse to break.

Reparability (-): Being made of aluminum it has normal reparability. If you break or bend some cage part badly, yes, you'll have to buy replacements from Fresh Breeze. The top cage pieces are the same and the bottom cage pieces are the same so that will reduce cost somewhat. I'd have a spare pivot-arm guide piece on hand.

Everything is nicely accessible as far as I could tell. The motor's clutch is internal which could be a concern since I don't know how hard it would be to work on. The motor, overall, is very new, so reliability has yet to be well established although it's made by a longtime cart maker.

Transport (-): Take the two top cage pieces off and it will fit nicely into a minivan or possibly even an SUV although I didn't see that. It breaks down quickly to just the vertical frame and can then fit nicely in any car. Shipping will require a pretty tall box to fit the main frame piece.

Cost:: Visit www.SouthernSkies.net for cost information.

Overall: A very nice machine for anyone looking to have low attachment weight shift machine of moderate power.

 

1. Bruce Brown launches.

2. Initial Climbout.

3. The throttle is simple but very comfortable with an effective cruise control.


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