Reviews

2013 Parajet Zenith Top 80

Flown May 2013, Reviewed from notes Nov 16, 2013

Parajet is a well established innovator that continues to refine its line with the Zenith series. It's made for travel with possibly the best breakdown and shipping capability I've yet seen. The smallest piece is a back plate to which everything else mounts, which is only slightly larger than the engine itself. 

The Top 80 version that I flew weighed within 2 pounds of an ABM (weight shift) Miniplane -- about 48 pounds empty. It had the larger 125 cm prop for improved thrust. My flight was flown with less than half fuel in 80 degree air with a slight breeze around 1000 feet ASL. I weighed about 137 pounds and flew it on my Ozone Viper 18.

Weight: Better than average balance and light weight. 48 pounds.

Harness & Suspension: Parajet's harness was comfy and worked well with the weight shift. Seat lip adjustment was nice in flight.

Starting (-): Same as the Miniplane with a rope going up to a pulley allowing easy starting from the front. It's a Top 80, the easiest starting motor I've used to date. If you've got to pull a rope, hope it's one of these little beasties. But don't be fooled, if the throttle is engaged and you start this machine on power, it will lunge forward like any other.

Ground Handling & Kiting (-): Comfortable on the ground and in flight. At least as good as the Miniplane which is the easiest to ground handle with in my little-bodied experience.

Launch (-): Easier than average due mostly to the light weight, just like Miniplanes. Power forwards are no problem and the lines don't snag on anything. Getting into the seat was easy and required no hands on most launches.

It has two advantages here. The lines don't rub on fabric and the cage can handle more pressure. Although I do power forwards on my flexible cage machine, you do them easier with this. Not that you would want to whack into a power forward with a big wing, but it's better than the thinner Miniplane poles.

Climbout (-): Probably about 350 fpm. Same as the Miniplane that uses the same prop.

Flight (-): Extremely nice in flight. Among the best feels of any machine I've flown. Great throttle response of about 1 second from idle to full, plentiful adjustments, with an easy-to-use cruise control on the throttle. The S-arms do impede your movement somewhat for working with things in your lap or right in front.

Weight Shift (-) Excellent and easy effort.

Torque (-): Well controlled. I was able to weight shift turn against the torque.

Thrust (-): Estimate about 105 to 110 lbs.

Endurance (-): Your butt will wear out before it runs out of gas. A combination of Top 80 fuel burn with a large tank must give 3 hours to most pilots of average weight on average wings.

Vibration (-): Smoother than average -- about the same as a Miniplane or possibly slightly better.

Sound (-): Top 80 powered machines are among the quietest out there. This is no exception.

Safety (-): The cage will not protect your hand from the prop if it surprises you. Although the prop only spins when the motor goes above idle, it will spin up almost instantly so it's no safer from that perspective. Any clutch machine does decrease the likelihood of damaging lines from not getting on the kill switch fast enough. Nearly all pilots will instinctively let off the throttle the may take a few precious seconds to mash the kill switch.

Like many, this cage would benefit hugely from an additional ring, just inside the prop diameter, to improve hand protection.

Clearance from the gas tank is good but not as good as the Miniplane. It should be enough, in most falls. to keep the prop tip from hitting the gas tank in a fall.

Construction (-): Very well built and with an eye towards travel. Fit and finish stands out and the pieces fit together nicely. The netting slides in a groove and may, over time, require some finagling.

This is the best engineered traveling paramotor I've seen. I watched the importer, John Erickson, go through a breakdown of the machine. One of its strongest plusses is how small the smallest part is. As you can see from the picture, the engine and backplate are almost the same size. If you needed to ship just the engine to avoid airline horror, it would be easier than any other machine since the motor stays on the plate.

The backplate is the only piece that is unique to the engine so you could have different engines mounted to a backplate and make a different paramotor out of it just by using the different engine/backplate.

The Top 80 is air cooled with a squirrel cage shaft-driven fan.

The machine is not as stoutly built as their Volution so it will require somewhat more gingerly handling.

Reparability (-): It's extremely easy to repair since the radial arms are all identical. As you can see from the pictures the pieces would be easy to stock/replace.

Transport (-): Best I've seen for air transport or shipping but no better than machines with normal cage pieces for putting on a car carrier or in a truck. This is one of its its strongest selling point.

Cost: Relative to the Top 80 Miniplane it's maybe 20% more expensive but about the same as a few other Top 80 powered machines.

Overall & More Info: Pilots weighing less than 200 pounds who travel will absolutely love this machine. Don't plan on throwing it around in a truck or treating it harshly (like most). Even for those who don't plan travel it is pure joy to launch and fly.

John Erickson was kind enough to show me a disassembly.
It took about 10 minutes and minimal coercive wiggling.
At the end the entire thing shoehorns into that wheeled black box.

 

The easily removable harness of Parajet's portable paramotor, the Zenith.


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