It is extremely easy to get ripped off or swindled when purchasing a paramotor; especially if you don’t know anything about paramotors.
When buying a used paramotor, here are some helpful tips:
- Don’t buy blind from online groups like Facebook or eBay
- Don’t go into the purchase without having a good understanding of what the original paramotor should look and even feel like.
- Don’t buy old models (most recent tech is best)
- No matter how many hours a paramotor has, check the equipment
Don’t let people take advantage of your ignorance! The same goes for buying paramotor wings as well. Motors and wings are expensive and buying used is great, as long as you know what you’re looking for.
Buying Used Paramotors: What to be Wary of
You’ve seen it before, you go to purchase something and you’re really excited. You walk in with confidence, a certainty you’ll win- “They won’t beat me this time!” you say, “I’ve got a mind of steel.” (just so you know, I’m laughing at you right now)
Who was it that said you had to rely on the seller to teach you about a product? Nobody! The only way to win the swindle battle is knowledge and preparation. The more knowledgeable and prepared you are when you purchase something, the less likely you’ll be swindled or taken advantage of.
Don’t be that person everyone laughs at because they trusted the seller instead of real, solid truth and facts you sought out on your own. It will always be embarrassing to be that person, so don’t be him.
Go do your research and prepare yourself to make a purchase; especially a purchase as big as a paramotor. They aren’t cheap. Old or new, paramotors are a big purchase.
Don’t buy blind from online groups like Facebook or eBay
Just because somebody has written a great review or assures you their paramotor is in “great shape”, that it doesn’t have “many hours”, or “it’s a great ride!”, don’t just take their word for it.
Buying blind from anywhere is one of the dumbest things you can do. It’s true there’s a possibility to get lucky and purchase the best paramotor suited to your needs, but that’s not likely if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Online purchasing is dangerous no matter what. You never have an assurance that what you’ve paid for is coming to your house. You might think I’m being silly or overstating the issue. You might think, “They could take a picture.” Yeah, they could do that, but who says that picture is actually of your purchased item?
You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about that moment you realize, “There is no way this is the same thing.” as you examine the picture and your item side by side as squint your eyes and then widen them to clarify your mistake; you know.
“Well, how do I solve that problem then?” you might ask. I’ll tell you, get off your tush and go look at it! You want to be a paramotor pilot right? Well, it’s a sport; sports require calculation and action, so get started by proving to yourself you want it. Go try it out, test the motor, examine the wings, etc. (I’ll go more in depth a bit later about how to do that.)
Bottom line, don’t be an ignorant purchaser…yup, that’s my best advice.
Don’t go into the purchase without having a good understanding of what the original paramotor should look like.
When I say get a good understanding of the original, I don’t mean find a picture. Go to a dealer and see what they’re offering. Compare. Don’t just purchase. After you see what it’s supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to function, then go see the used motor.
It’s likely you’ll even be able to talk the seller down because of your knowledge. It doesn’t matter which paramotor is being sold, the more you know, the easier it will be to resist persuasion and lies; that’s just common sense.
Don’t buy old models (most recent tech is best)
I say what I mean. Don’t buy the older models even if they are reliable models. More than likely, they’ve got more hours on them than others. There are also some older models which have been taken off the market because they were found to be too dangerous.
There’s a reason newer tech is better. You can’t trust it. However, don’t be silly about it and go for the newest of the new. The idea is that you’re looking for the most commonly used, most modern equipment, in the best condition, for the most reasonable price.
Stay away from models you are unfamiliar with unless you’ve looked it up and done your research.
No matter how many hours it has, check the whole paramotor
I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’ll say it again- don’t take the seller’s word for it. It’s not that they are an untrustworthy person, but you have the right to be informed about your purchase.
If they are unwilling to let you check out the paramotor, that’s a red flag they are not trustworthy and you should probably look elsewhere. There shouldn’t be any reason a seller would be reluctant to let you see the paramotor. I’d go so far as to say they should let you ride it if you can.
I would worry whether the paramotor was safe if they didn’t let me try it.
No one wants to take home merchandise that doesn’t even turn on. I have made a list of several things you can check and questions to ask as you examine a used paramotor.
What to check on the engine:
- Engine mounts
- Engine plate (portion attached to the frame)
- Compression (for pull starts- take plug cap off and pull on the chord)
- base and head of cylinder for traces of oil (small amounts of oil around the intake, air-box is normal)
- Check throttle (don’t start if the function is abnormal)
- Observe power delivery. (rev engine)
- Test how well it performs warm
Ask yourself these questions as you check the different parts of the engine:
- Does anything sound wrong while it’s running?
- Does anything need to be replaced?
- Does it overheat?
- Does it have electrical problems?
- How many flight hours does it have?
The harness is an essential part of your safety in a paramotor. Inspect the wear and tear to be sure it’s in good condition.
Dings in a propeller can throw it off balance and cause the motor to vibrate in flight. Your flight should be smooth. Don’t sacrifice quality if you don’t have to. There are plenty of paramotors out there which are a lot better than that.
Here are the points which need to be checked:
- Swing arms
- Carabiners (check for cracks)
- Nylon webbing (for wear)
- The point between swing arm and webbing
This is your protection from slipping and falling to your death…so….it’s got to work right. This portion of your paramotor should be strong, able to withstand heavy impact.
This is what you need to check:
- Welds and stress points
- Eyeball for cracks, bends, or kinks
- if possible, detach cage and reattach to check balance and to see if cage or frame is bent.
- Netting (Make sure there are no large gaps)
After checking all of these things, keep in mind, you can easily fix some of these things. However, just know if you are willing to fix some of these issues, remember that it will add on to the price.
You could easily use the issues with the paramotor to pull the price down. (obviously, do it honestly) It’s a reasonable assumption to knock down the price if there’s just too much to fix.
Buying Used Wings
I’m all for buying used wings, especially if that means you’ll save a couple of thousand dollars. I believe people are genuinely good, but I also believe they want (and need) money. Sellers sometimes use other people’s ignorance to slip a little extra dough into their own pocket.
Don’t be that person…you know, that person who comes home and says they got a great deal and then their friend walks in with the same item…and they got it for half amount you did. Don’t be that person.
Educate yourself before you buy! All you beginners out there are particularly susceptible to this because of your wonderful enthusiasm for the sport, and the fact that you don’t know anything about it.
I’m guilty of doing the same thing. Who wants to spend forever searching and comparing when there’s someone who already knows what they’re talking about?
It’s so tempting to trust when you’re a good-hearted and enthusiastic person, but it’s better to be cautious. People should earn trust, you don’t just give it away freely. (I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but that idea only goes so far.)
If you don’t know where to start, I’ve narrowed down a few tips that will make easier for you to shop around and compare your many options.
If you’re going to buy used wings, consider this:
- Number of flight hours
- Test report- the general condition of the wing, the results of porosity tests, line strength check, and any repairs made or needed
Wings have around 300-600 hours of potential flight time. Even so, it’s necessary to not only account for wing flight hours but also points of strain which can be inflicted on your flight mechanism.
If someone is trying to sell you a wing and tries to tell you that the wing only has “such and such” amount of flight time-something which sounds absolutely ridiculous, don’t trust them. You know how much flight time a wing can handle so trust you first, not them.
You don’t want to get up in the air with that wing, enjoy it for a month, and then have to get a new one because it’s on its last leg. (or, you know, it would suck to have to sue if you were to be seriously injured.)
Buying a used wing isn’t a walk in the park. A bad wing could literally take your life, so take the time to look into its history, it’ll be worth it.
Even if the wing isn’t very old, flight hours are still going to affect it. Some pilots fly more than others. If you talk to the seller and they say something like, “Oh, I’ve had this for maybe a couple years, it’s basically new.” that doesn’t mean anything to you.
Yeah, maybe it’s new, but he could have a ton of flight hours on it, so that’s no good for you. Be aware and smart when purchasing used wings.
Over time a wing will be affected by several things:
- UV light: the sun will degrade your wing; the more your wing is exposed, the more degradation will be incurred.
- Salt: Believe it or not, falling in salt water or even being near salt water will increase wing porosity. It attracts water and also creates salt crystals which wear down on the overall material of your wing.
- Mechanical stress: Inflation, deflation, and flying wears out the material over time. (more mechanical stress is placed on wings used for more extreme methods of paramotor flying – such as acro or pylon racing, etc.)
Knowing how old a wing is, helps to determine the value of purchasing it.
Find out what kind of flying has been done and where. How much was it used? Where was it stored? How is it folded? Knowing how it’s folded sounds silly, but if they crumpled it up and stuffed it away, it’s going to ruin the wing.
Plus, it’s annoying when people don’t properly care for such expensive equipment. I mean, you paid so much for it, why the heck are you treating it so poorly? Am I right? Yes, I am right.
Knowing where the wing has been and even who was using it is important information. If the previous owner was a heavier pilot, that would have worn out the wing faster. If the paramotor being carried was extremely heavy that also wears out the wing faster.
If you are worried about being swindled, you need to know your wings, and you need to know how they were treated in their past.
If the seller says they want to sell you a Roadster 3 for instance, look up what a Roadster 3 looks like when it’s new so you have a good idea how far it has degraded.
When you do that you’re bringing yourself peace of mind. Not only will you walk away without that horrible buyer’s remorse feeling, but you will even feel confident in your decision.
The wing test report ensures the wing is being sold honestly. A wing has to be checked periodically because it wears over time. The test report should contain this information:
- Porosity test
- Line Check
- Full Visual Check
- Riser Check
Over time, wing “porosity” increases in an older wing. “Hang time” in older wings is going to be shorter than in a newer wing because of porosity. (It can stay up in the air longer)
Technology: What is it made of?
I mentioned earlier about getting the most recent tech, which is true. Along with the most recent tech, you should get the most durable material.
Part of what makes paramotoring a very expensive sport is the high-quality material which is used for its parts. Wings today are made with ripstop fabric.
The fabric is layered and knit tightly to increase it’s rip-resistance. Not only is it layered, but the fabric is also lightweight nylon. They call this fabric “ripstop fabric” because of its durability.
You can know if your wing is high quality just by feeling it. There are two wing types which are of the highest quality. If you see that your wing is made of these, it’s an assurance that it will have longevity.
Here are the two high-quality fibers:
Kevlar: a super strong plastic called synthetic aromatic polyamides (or aramids for short). It is a proprietary material made only by the DuPont chemical company. Kevlar is best known for being used as body armor.
If a wing is made out of Kevlar, it’s going to last a really long time. Kevlar has very high pulling strength (or tensile strength), that means it can handle long durations of wing inflation (and the initial inflation).
Dyneema: Unlike Kevlar, Dyneema is not as well known by those who are familiar with sports equipment. I didn’t even know it existed until I started learning more about paramotor wing fabric and materials.
Dyneema is a really impressive material, and it’s smart to familiarize yourself with both Kevlar and Dyneema.
- Up to 15 times stronger than steel (weight for weight basis)
- Up to 40% stronger than aramids (See Kevlar description above)
- Floats on water and resistant to moisture, UV, chemicals
It isn’t crucial that your wing is made from these materials, but it’s good to know that you don’t have to settle for something less than the best. We want you to know what’s out there so you aren’t swindled into thinking you’ve got the best option when you really don’t.
If you can, search for the highest quality and most recent technology. The world of paramotoring is constantly being upgraded, and advancements are being made to improve flight experience and safety.