Paraglider Review: 2009
Dudek Nucleon 27
Reviews, 08-05-2009 | Ratings: 1 is bad, 10 is good | Para200
| About the Testing
The Nucleon 27 (flat size) is an intermediate level reflex glider that
is good for tooling around and maneuvering. It's certainly less perky in
handling than the smaller racing wings (plasma, viper or fusion) but
will have better endurance owing to the larger area.
Most flights were done Aug 6 on a Miniplane Top 80 (55 lbs
with fuel) at an inflight weight of about 225 lbs. (including wing's 16
pounds) from 1500
feet to 1700 feet MSL and temperature was about 75°F. That really makes
this glider too large for me so it's handling will suffer.
When trimmed slow, handling is good for a reflex wing of
this size and my light weight. A fair amount of brake pull results in a
medium bank. Pressures are pretty light but the pull is quite long. Certainly you
can turn it quickly, it will just take more brake travel, but then it
responds nicely. Like all reflex wings, when trimmed fast, and
especially with speedbar pushed, you should use tip steering since brakes are less effective
and possibly destabilizing. The tip steering balls worked quite well.
In Florida, Michel Carnet was using the steering balls in conjunction
with the brakes for even more effective steering. I'd forgotten to try
this so I went out and flew it again just to see how that worked (and
to film it). It did indeed increase the responsiveness and the
ball/brake combo was easy to hold in my hands. It still requires a much
longer pull than their Plasma model (which was also only a 22) but was improved. It's probably how
you would fly precision tasks.
The glider had a slight left-right oscillation under cruise or higher
power. This behavior happens with some motor-wing combinations and was
not enough to be bothersome. I've had much worse, especially on smaller
I practiced doing cloverleaf turns and it definitely required more
brake pull than the smaller wings, as you would expect, but was easily able to do what was
necessary. I flew with trims set slightly faster than neutral, using speedbar
and brakes. One thing that helped was needing less power than the Plasma.
One interesting feature is a short piece of line on the right riser
that goes up to the tip steering line and can be set to continually
apply some turn input. It worked as advertised. You put slide the line
into a slit in a short nylon tube and it hold the prescribed amount of
tip steering. I never actually used it for that purpose because torque
steer is so minimal on my motor setup. There's only one line but two
setups, one per riser, so if your motor torque steers right (motor
twists you left, causing a right turn) you would unhook the line and put
it on the left.
Inflation (4): Like all reflex gliders I've tried, they just
don't come up quite as easily as most non-reflex models (Pluto, Eden). That
shortcoming is easily overcome, though, by simply holding the A's for
longer and a bit more aggressively. Once you have that technique down
you'll be as successful with a reflex glider as any other. Set the trims
to between 0 and 3 fast, start your runs with hands mostly back, holding
only the center A's, get the
glider to billow, then pull the A's. Gather speed
while keeping up some "A" pressure and lift off. Its important
to use only the inner A's. Stay on them until you've accelerated.
I did reverse inflations in winds of about 4 mph. A forward would
have been the preferred method but I wanted to see how hard it was to do
a light-wind reverse.
As with all full reflex gliders, it shines in a stronger wind since there's less tendency to
overshoot and, even if it does, the leading edge is less inclined to
Kiting (6): Kiting was easy and typical for a reflex glider
meaning that slightly more A's pull is required to keep it overhead in
The reflex effect is best seen while kiting. Let the trimmers out and
inflate vigorously so that it overflies
you some. Instead of front tucking, the trailing edge goes
up and the wing descends fully open. Of course you can cause a
frontal with enough provocation but it's more likely to just drift down
and come forward rather than curl over. "Semi Reflex" wings don't exhibit this trimmed-fast
front-tuck resistance nearly as strongly.
You can also see that it
doesn't like the brakes when trimmed fast. They're not as effective and
can actually destabilize the wing slightly. The tip steering lines can
be used to kite with the trims full fast, a practice I highly recommend
you experiment with.
Efficiency (7): The idea is that, when trimmed slowly, it's
essentially a regular paraglider as far as efficiency is concerned. And
that is largely true since you're going faster than most wings so the
power required vs speed is the same as any other high-aspect ratio wing.
You'll burn more fuel per hour but probably less fuel per mile. The same
ratio is true on small vs large wings.
Sink rate power-off 30 second altitude losses.
Trim full slow (-3 trim setting) = 1200-1050 (150 ft), 2nd run =
1100-960 (140 ft); that's 290 fpm 3.30 mph.
Trim full fast (0 trim setting) = 1100-900 (200 ft); that's 400 fpm or
Trim full fast + Spdbar (11 trim setting) = 900-560 (340 ft), 2nd run =
1100-740 (360 ft); that's 720 fpm or 8.18 mph).
If you're willing to do these same tests, I
would welcome the data. Include your all-up weight
(motor, fuel, accessories, you). Although these numbers seem high, I
did two tests twice just to see and I also re-flew the Plasma test
and got the same numbers so I believe the testing is consistent.
Speed (9): It's fast for a 27 m² wing and has a highly
effective speed system. I'm lightly loaded so the speeds will be
Here are the GPS speed readings. The initial upwind/downwind test to
establishes wind speed so as to convert the remaining gps readings to
airspeed. MSL altitude was 1200 feet (smooth) through the test. An
initial wind determining run found that a 310 hdg kept me pointed upwind
and yielded a speed of 9 mph upwind and 36 mph downwind trimmed full
slow. That's an airspeed of 22.5 mph and wind speed of 13.5 mph.
Raw into-wind data (add 13.5 mph windspeed) copied from review sheet:
1. Into wind run one. Trim full slow (-3)=9.3 mph, trim neutral (0):
2. Into wind run two. Trim full slow (-3)=9.5 mph, fast (11)=14.5 mph, full speedbar=22.5 mph.
Trim full slow (-3 setting) = 23 mph.
Trim neutral (0) - 25 mph.
Trim neutral (0) and full speedbar = did not test in this configuration.
Trim full fast (11 setting) = 28 mph.
Trim full fast (11 setting) and full speedbar = 36 mph.
Construction (8): It's built well with strength in all the right
places and handles where you need them. When I got it the brakes were
routed through both pulleys and were too long but I was able to leave
Trimmers are nicely done with numbers printed along their length.
Magnetic brake holders are effective and, being fabric covered, won't get clogged with debris. A minor downside was having loose tip toggles
foul up the works when they came off their keepers—it takes a moment to
Certification & Safety (7):
2010-Feb-27 It is certified as EN "C" which means that it is
considered appropriate for intermediate or higher pilots.
When trimmed fast and hands off, there is good passive safety in
terms of collapse resistance. But to get that you have to leave your
hands off the brakes and use wingtip steering which is quite effective.
Since I'm a fan of active flying, when the bumps bite, I prefer to trim
slow and keep my hands on the brakes.
Avoid being trimmed slow and using speedbar, a potentially nasty
combination. The practice is common on regular paragliders but not
recommended for reflex gliders. A few reflex wings do allow speedbar
while trimmed slow but include a recommendation to only do so in calm
air. That suggests it would best be avoided since there's never a
guarantee that calm air will remain so.
Warrantee: No information here.
Overall: If you want to balance good speed with reasonable fuel
consumption then this will be a good choice. Landing speeds are more
forgiving than the small Plasma but top speeds are understandably less.
There are a lot of handles and little lines on the risers so it's
definitely not for beginners but once you get it in flight and figure
out what everything does and how to use it, you'll like having the
options. It's made for long cross country flying and will excel at that