No one wants to spend $4000+ on something that will break after they’ve used it three times. That would suck! That’s why you don’t buy things that suck, you buy things that will last.
Well-maintained, a paramotor engine could last 10+ years. That’s not even being optimistic. How long an engine lasts depends more on flight hours than years, because pilots don’t use them every day. Around 600+ hours is considered an old paramotor while under 300 is considered new.
It’s a lot like anything that needs care in life. If you maintain it and be sure to give it the proper attention, it will last. If you don’t maintain or check up on your engine parts, you’ll find it won’t last very long.
How Many Flight Hours Ya Got on that Engine?
Paramotor pilots measure age and usage similar to the way we measure how old a car is. Cars have mileage, paramotors have flight hours. It’s that simple.
Don’t be fooled. Even though I said a paramotor engine is similar to a car engine, it’s not really that similar. Paramotors are a lot more fun and cost ten times less! It’s the closest analogy I could think of at the moment, so bear with me.
Paramotor engines should go through a maintenance check every 100 hours if you want to keep it (some would say every 25 hours depending on what part of the motor you are trying to maintain). The hope is that your paramotor will last as long as you own it. But, sometimes, our precious dreams of longevity must be crushed. It’s true, I’m sorry to tell you.
Paramotors shouldn’t break at all, however, human beings made paramotor engines, and human beings are flawed…so… The longevity of your motor/engine all depends not only on maintenance, but also usage; how often you’re up in the air and how long.
Engines will start needing more attention at about 25 hours. When I say attention, I mean the first “maintenance” check. It’s not about to break because you’re checking it, it’s just that as it’s been used, it’s started to accumulate oil build up, screws have begun to slowly loosen, and the wear and tear has started to show.
Everything in life begins to wear down over time. Like how we humans over time begin to sag and wrinkle, there’s not really much we can do about it. (I mean there’s plastic surgery or acceptance, but that’s besides the point.) Paramotors, at least, can be salvaged better than the human body, thank goodness!
The more hours you have on your paramotor engine, the more it depreciates. It’s just like a car that way. So, make sure you maintain it and pay attention to those flight hours on your hour meter.
The Difference Between a 2-Stroke Engine and a 4-Stroke Engine and Which Will Last Longer
First, you’re probably wondering why knowing the difference between the two even matters. Well…it matters because you want your paramotor to last, right? Pft! I know I’m right.
It’s not an overly controversial debate, which engine is better, but because the technology for both engines is advancing, people have wondered which one would outlast the other.
To help you join the debate (because I’m sure you’re just dying to get in on the argue action like every other person nowadays) and to get you thinking a little about these different engines, here is some information about the engines and how they work.
To start, some visualization of the basic and obvious differences between the two- one is bigger than the other; One is high maintenance, but with cheaper parts; The other is lower maintenance with really expensive parts, just saying.
These are just visual differences. Even these small differences contribute to the longevity of the paramotor. Why? Because people are sometimes fickle and unwilling to do the work necessary to care for these engines.
The only way of knowing these differences is going to do anything for you is if you choose to care for whatever motor you choose to use.
People want a certain level of performance out of their engines. If it doesn’t perform the way they want it to, they don’t want it. That’s just the way it goes. The consumer is always right, right?
In my opinion, that’s sometimes right, you’ll see why once I explain each motor and their amiable and non-amiable traits.
Like I’ve said before, most paramotors are 2-stroke, so it’s likely that’s what you have or what you’ll get, even though there are 4-stroke paramotor engines out there.
The 2-stroke has more torque at a higher RPM which is what makes it desirable. Its parts are also less expensive.
- 2 stroke engine does not have valves
- The two-stroke engine fires (produces power) once every revolution of the crankshaft.
Every time the piston rises in the combustion chamber, it fills with a carefully balanced combination of air, petrol, and oil. This is compressed and then ignited by the spark plug, causing an explosion which forces the piston back down. This process repeats. Two strokes of the piston for every one ignition. A compression stroke, and a combustion stroke.
The 4-stroke creates higher torque at a lower RPM. There are more parts to it therefore when the times comes for repair it gets expensive.
The nice thing about the 4-stroke is that you don’t have to mix oil and fuel together like the 2-stroke.
- fires once every other revolution.
- the thumper engine only gets one ignition, or explosion for every four strokes of the piston.
The four strokes: intake stroke, compression stroke, the combustion stroke, and exhaust stroke.
- As the piston moves from the top of the cylinder block to the bottom, the intake valve/s open to allow a mixture of fuel and air to be drawn into the cylinder.
- All valves are closed as the piston rises, causing the fuel mix to be compressed.
- As the piston reaches the top of its stroke, the compressed fuel mix is ignited by the spark plug, causing an explosion which forces the piston back down
- Now the piston begins to rise again. The exhaust valve opens up and releases the emissions from within the cylinder, out through the exhaust pipe.
Which One will Last Longer?
Out of the two engines, the 4-stroke will last longer than the 2-stroke. This is likely due to the fact that more money and time has been spent perfecting the 4-stroke engine. It has quite a bit more constructive history than the 2-stroke. The 2 stroke is just a beeb (baby).
However, it’s important to note that even though 4-stroke engines last longer, you will probably want to use the 2 stroke for a paramotor. Though they are younger in production, they’ve been designed to work to suit the specific activities of the paramotor.
Because paramotors are small, a 2-stroke is perfectly suited for this extreme sport. Longevity is not as much of an issue for the engine because paramotor pilots don’t usually go long distances for big spans of time like you’d do in a car. Maintenance is the most important component of engine endurance for paramotors.
It doesn’t matter what type of engine you have, if you don’t take care of your engine, it won’t last. I know I’ve said this before, but I’m repeating it cause my Grandpa is an engineer and he’s ingrained meticulous habits into my head. I can’t keep writing without hearing his voice telling me to do it right or say goodbye to it.
The key to making your paramotor last for a long time is maintenance and care. If you care for your motor, it can promise you many more years of happy, carefree, flying.
Maintenance to Make that Engine Last Longer
Why maintain paramotor engines? Have you ever pulled out a couch after 30+ years of living somewhere and realized how much was back there? Yeah, that’s why paramotor’s need to be maintained.
I will say though, I always wonder how that all got back there because the couch is on top of the area and it’s not accessible…makes little sense. Unless, of course, you have kids, then I don’t wonder how that all made it under there.
It’s really pointless to wonder. Once you wonder, you start asking your kids questions like, “what were you doing?”, and “I didn’t buy this for you.” etc.
You end up hearing stories you never wanted to hear in the first place, and all your parenting fails come back to haunt you. Which is the last thing you want. You can’t monitor everything they do. So, best not worry about it overmuch. (I promise there’s a connection.)
As for paramotors, best do worry, because your engine will last a lot longer if you do. Here are a few technical reasons as to why:
- Build-up on the head or cylinder can lead to overheating
- Build-up on the muffler can lead to hot spots and can lead to cracking.
- Excess build-up or debris near the airbox can lead to a clogged air filter that can cause tuning issues
- Excess build-up or debris near the airbox can lead to that mess getting into your carburetor and cause tuning issues or lean your engine out and burn a hole in the piston.
*Tips found at FlyHalo.com
Most paramotor engines are 2-stroke engines with the exception of a few 4-stroke engines. A 2 stroke engine is higher maintenance than a 4 stroke engine. However, they both need to be maintained so that they can endure a long time.
It’s like that special relationship in your life that you can’t live without. You wouldn’t neglect that special someone would you? Certainly not, neither should you neglect your paramotor. (And for all you guys out there who’ve never made the connection- it works both ways)
The first piece of equipment you should buy is an hour meter. No! it’s not to count down how long your relationship will last, please! I’m not going to make an analogy out of everything. I’m not that cliche. The hour meter is to count your flight hours.
You can find one on Amazon which is not too expensive. An hour meter is a lot easier to use than trying to mark all the hours down by hand. That’s way too tedious, which is why humans invented an easier way.
Them helpful homo-sapiens! What would we do without them?…*awkward silence*
Every 20-25 hours
The first maintenance for your engine should be done at the 20-25 hour mark of flying. And then, after that, it should happen every 20-25 hours.
- Check Spark Plug:
- Belt: check the tension. Be sure it is consistent with what is found in the user manual. You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose.
- Oil the Throttle Cable: this is just to be sure it doesn’t dry out. A dry throttle cable will get stuck and/or wear out quicker.
“With the engine switched off, a few spots of regular motor oil on either side of the cable as you operate the throttle, should be enough to work the oil into the cable.”Paramotorplanet.com
- Clean the Air Filter: Paramotors don’t usually have really dirty air filters because they are flying in cleaner air. However, there will be bugs and the filter can get damaged. It’s smart to take a gander at it.
Every 100 hours
- Piston and rings: replace these.
- Engine Compression: If the test is any more than 20% less than the norm, your piston and rings need to be replaced.
“How do you know if they need replacing? When a piston and rings are worn out, you will notice a drop in power, the engine will produce much more smoke than before, and the jetting will appear to be rich (black spark plug at 25-hour check, but not always a sign of worn piston and rings).”Paramotorplanet.com
- Reeds: After a bit of time, the valves lose their tension. They need to be replaced. (50 hours– look for chips and cracks)
“Reed valves are commonly used in high-performance versions of the two-stroke engine, where they control the fuel-air mixture admitted to the cylinder. As the piston rises in the cylinder a vacuum is created in the crankcase beneath the piston.”Wikipedia.com
- Exhaust System: Don’t use cheap oil which will clog the exhaust with carbon.
Each paramotor engine comes with a guide to maintaining it. The best way to do right by your paramotor is to follow the maintenance guide (too bad people don’t come with a maintenance guide- roommates would be much easier to deal with). I may have missed some things in my explanation, so looking at the guide is a good idea.
Equipment to help with maintenance
With so much maintenance, you probably wonder- if there something that will make taking care of my engine easier? Why, yes, yes there is.
Here’s a list- um- you’re welcome!
- High Flow Magnetic Paramotor Fuel Filter
- Venzo Torque Wrench+ Allen Key Socket Set Kit
- Pit Posse 2-Stroke Gas/Oil Mixing Cup with Lid
- VP 5 Gallon Racing Utility Fuel Can
- Motul 800 2T Factory LIne Oil With Ester Technology (this is not your only oil option, but it is a popular choice)
- Dykem Cross-Check For Engine Bolts
- Compression Tester
I’m sure there are a lot more tools that could help you with maintenance, but these are a good start.
Your own eyeballs are also a good maintenance tool. Looking at newer versions of your paramotor will always give you a good indication of whether your engine is in good shape or not.
I’m not saying your paramotor should look like new, that’s not it. Have you ever owned a board game that was unsatisfactory when you played it, but you didn’t know why?
After the dissatisfaction set in, you visited your buddy who owns the same game and when you played it suddenly dawned on you you’ve been missing pieces of the game your whole life. Yeah, it’s that kind of indication.
You need something to compare your motor to, it’s just helpful.