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.
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.
Well controlled. I was able to weight shift turn against the torque.
Thrust (-): Estimate about 105 to 110 lbs.
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.
Smoother than average -- about the same as a Miniplane or possibly
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.
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
The Top 80 is air cooled with a squirrel cage
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.