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SkyMax Star Paramotor. Review from Winged Monkeys Paramotor Team


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This spring time, our cross country team got two new SkyMax Star paramotors. 

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By now, we have done 40 hours with each paramotor. I can say that we love these machines, very impressed with the difference to other paramotors we have flown before and would love to share our experience with you.

Just to give you a bit of background. SkyMax is a Russian manufacturer, known for building light and solid machines using high quality titanium and aluminium materials. However, we had a special reason behind getting these paramotors.  SkyMax introduced quite a few innovative features when designing the Star paramotor and we were really keen to try them. 

These features are:  Soft Fuel Tank, Torque Compensation System and Cross Bar Weight Shift System. Worth saying that Cross Bar Weigh Shift System has been introduced in the paramotoring for the very first time and it is designed to compensate the tendency of the wing to turn left or right during the flight.  We trust that it is revolutionary thing and you will find it on every paramotor in a few years time. 
In terms of the engines, from the variety of options available we decided to go for Moster 185 Plus because of its power to weight ratio and availability of spares to service it.

 

The frame 

The “heart” of the frame is built from the aviation grade aluminium in a shape of the star, giving the name to the model. By the way you can see the starter bracket at the left side of the photo. It is quite unusual that this bracket is foldable just to keep the size of the frame down when you transport it.

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The frame is incredibly rigid and holds four folding and one screwed in connectors with titanium rods. In contrary to many other paramotors, it takes literally just a few seconds to get the rods up into working position. 

This rod has foldable connector. You just pull it up to the working position.
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This (upper) rod has screw in connector so you make a few turns ond its done. Takes just about 5 - 10 seconds.

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The cage is built from titanium oval shaped tubes which are much stronger compared with the same weight tubes of round shape.
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The net is manufactured from Dyneema and when it's being assembled, it is tightened up using a small pully block, halving the effort you need to apply to tighten the net. 
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What was really important for me is the time required for assembling and disassembling the paramotor. It is just because I am travelling with the paramotor in my boot and need to spend as little time as possible for assembly. 

So, on average it takes me (without the prop):

-    4 minutes to assemble the paramotor
-    1 m 30 seconds to disassemble

That’s one of the best (if not the very best) time in our sport.

 

Fuel tanks

The lower part of the frame usually contains 15l soft fuel tank but our version is bigger for long cross-country flights and has 18litres capacity.   

To be perfectly honest, when we first heard about the soft fuel tanks we were quite skeptical but the fact that soft tanks are widely used with small airplanes convinced us and we decided to try it.


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What can I say – when we tried, we loved it. 
The most important thing about it for me is that there is no smell at all from the tank even if you constantly keep the fuel in it. In contrary to hard fuel tanks, it shrinks during the flight but then it has a space to expand afterwards when the pressure and temperature changes. It means that if you need to have the motor in your cars boot for weeks there will be no smell and this is the very first paramotor, which I can keep at home with no smell of petrol from it. There is no air tap and you will never forget to open or close it. When the fuel is sucked from the tank, it simply shrinks inside the soft case and aluminium cage. That’s why you can use all the fuel from the tank up to the very last drop.
Fuel tank is very well protected by aluminium cage from all the sides and there is no chance to  damage it even if you landing is not perfect.
The only thing to be aware of with the soft fuel tank is that if you are using the mirror, it is not so easy to see the fuel level. Therefore, it would be a good idea to calculate the quantity of the fuel you will need in advance, which you are probably doing anyway. 

KNOW HOW by SkyMax
Now we are coming to the most exciting part of the review – some Know Hows by SkyMax.
Torque Compensation System
S-type titanium horns of the paramotor have quite a complex shape.  Left and right ones are different as well. 
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This was introduced to compensate the twisting moment generated by the engine. This solution generates no parasite drug in comparison to propeller-like inserts in the cages of some (we all know them ) paramotors. The principle is to move the thrust point of the motor in the opposite direction of the twisting force generated and to compensate it.

 

Cross Bar Weight Shift System
To reiterate, this system has been introduced into paramotoring for the very time. It is designed to compensate any tendency of the wing to deviate from a straight forward flight. It means that if the wing is turning right or left all the time, you can easily adjust the central cross-bar setting so to eliminate this effect.

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All that you need to do is to loosen four screws and move the cross-bar holding the horns to the left or to the right side.
This system has sort of double effect. Firstly, it is an analogue of weight shift steering used by free flight pilots but it is much more effective because the combined weight of pilot and paramotor is moved. Secondly, the thrust point of the engine is being moved in relation of hang points, which also is changing the balance of the whole system. It is so sensitive that just 5 - 10mm of the shift is usually enough to compensate the tendency of the wing to turn left or right. 
My teammate’s wing was turning right all the time with his previous paramotor (especially with the speedbar pressed out) and he was quite used to constantly holding one brake during the flights. After adjusting the Cross Bar this problem has gone completely. That’s how it works. 

 

Harness.

Most of the harnesses including the split leg ones can be used with Star Frame, but we decided to go for Sky Paragliders harness, tailored to be used with SkyMax Star frames. It is quite similar to SupAir Paramotor Evo type, having the same comfort during long cross-country flights but weights half a kilo less. Weight reduction became possible due to the removal of all the straps, not used with S-type horns and replacement of the wooden seat with a plastic one.
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The harness is supplied with the side reserve parachute container as standard, it has one more pocket on the other side, the back compartment is for the foam insert to reduce the vibrations and a large pocket underneath as well.


IN-FLIGHT Experience
First question we have asked when we were contemplating getting SkyMax Star frames – is the power start available. Cross-country flights sometimes can be quite demanding in terms of the take-off, such as limited space. The ability to do the power start is paramount. The answer is YES. When you do the power start, you can apply as much power as you are capable to handle. The frame is very solid. It can handle all the basic aerobatic elements like wingovers and deep spirals no problem at all.

Torque compensation system works great at all the stages of the flight – there is no tendency towards the twist prone position of the pilot at any time, even with full throttle applied at take off with trimmers closed and brakes applied.

Another important feature is the ability to use the body weight shift for steering. Having S-horns, you are able to control the direction of the flight with your weight shift easily. Our team is specialized with cross-country flights as just recently we flew from Porthmadog to Wirral (65 miles flight). Because of the strong thermic activity and to avoid the turbulence, most part of the flight we flew over the cloud base at the altitude around 9 000 feet. To keep the hands worm we just used the weight shift steering and it was really helpful to be able to do so.

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At this picture you can see me turning left using the weight shift.

At the same time, when you fly through the turbulent zone or thermic, S-horns are delivering just the right amount of info. It is not over informative and shaky to make you uncomfortable but it is getting you just right amount of awareness that it is better to keep your hands on the brakes to be prepared for active steering.

As a conclusion – we are delighted with the performance of Star Paramotors. All the new options introduced within these machines work really good and we are looking forward to getting more cross-country flights with Stars this year.
 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great, usable review - thank you. I had the opportunity to fly the Skymax with Moster engine and I was REALLY impressed with it.. The balance that it has in flight because of that adjustable cross bar really works. I also liked the titanium radial spars rather than the carbon ones and it makes the frame very rigid and strong. I believe that the star frame is only 700g heavier than the expedition frame with carbon spars. Initially, I was put off by the soft tank and the "flimsy" look of the cage but it really is very strong. Also, for me, the difference in weight was hardly noticeable and could have even been down to amount of fuel left in the respective tanks.

I flew an Air conception just before that as I wanted to see how they both handled. Whilst I like the AC (a lot), for me, I found the handling and balance of the Skymax more preferable. I also liked the rigidity of the Skymax frame when I did a forward launch...way more rigid than the AC frame.

 

Now just to decide upon an engine.....EOS 150 or Vittorazi Moster.....

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Regarding the Torque Compensation System, that seems to be an ordinary torque compensation used on most motors? Having one arm a bit offset.
I've also been skeptical to the tank, but no smell in car is something I didn't think about. Would be great for me.

Thanks for the review. Been looking at this motor.

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I have a skymax star, the tank is excellent & seems very tough. Re the torque compensation system, correct that most paramotors use it, but the skymax solution is unique in that you can adjust the lateral offset by sliding the rear bar from side to side (as per foto in post above). I have not seen any other frame with that feature, most are a fixed offset. skymax system allows fine tuning for each person/wing

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Exactly. Comprehensive answer on Torque Compensation System :)

As for the Soft fuel tank.... it sounds crazy but it is life changing for me. Because of no smell in the car, now it just lives in my boot now. 4 months so far. Therefore I am much more flexible with flying, do not need to come home to pick up the motor when coming back from the office. Straight to the field )) 60 hours so far this year in the air.

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I have a vw caddy and leave the paramotor in the car year around. Very practical. It's a diesel but has the nickname "The petrol bus" :)
So I can see why that would make a big difference. It's a good selling point for sure. Also I presume tilting the paramotor would still not be much of a problem when transporting it.

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Mine always lays in the boot as there are not too many options to get it into BMW 520 ^)))

Just thinking about what is the most important for me personaly with Star...

1st place with no doubt - no smell.

2nd place - presize torque compensation adjustment. I am flying with speedbar pressed out a lot and this is the very thirst time I had a chance to adjust the cross bar and now even with the speedbar pressed out and trimmers off (40mph with my wing) I do not need to hold the small brake all the time. As Simon said, it alows you to tune the frame for each wing. And this is true indeed because my Apco Lift requires different settings from Zorro from SkyParagliders, my second wing. 

3rd - 18 litres fuel tank option for a long cross country flights. 

4th - assembly/disassembly time. At some point I was fed up spending 30 - 40 min to assemble the motor (no fingerpointing) :)))

At large, all four of these things ara paramount for me. All the rest (rigidity, weight) is secondary for me. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ivan with the Moster engine fitted with Anti clockwise prop rotation, do i take it it was ordered with said engine and apart from the Arm moveable bar system are the bars offset also?, and if not is the bar offset further towards the lefty side please ?

And can you tell me Arm to arm centre dimension across please ?

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Exactly. if the rotation is in the opposite direction, the horns set will be the opposite shape as well (left one with shift).

However, the sentral part with cross-barr will be exactly the same. 

Sorry, not fully sure what do you mean by arm to arm dimension, if it is the distance between the hang points (the part of the horns where you connect the carabines to) it is approx. 44cm. Is it what you are after?

 

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Hi Ivan, i hadn't realized until i reread your 1st posting about  the S-type titanium horns being offset, So i take it the Cross Bar Weight Shift System is more for finer adjustment suited to each individual wing if needed, and the dimension on the arms i was looking for was more at the cross bar end please ?.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/07/2018 at 17:42, Ivan said:

This solution generates no parasite drug in comparison to propeller-like inserts in the cages of some (we all know them )

Hello, could you explain this part more clearly please?  

 

What do you mean "parasite drug"

 

And are you referring to scout paramotors when you say "propeller-like inserts in the cage"?

 

Thank you so much for your reply and time

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On 13/09/2018 at 16:38, Rotten said:

Hello, could you explain this part more clearly please?  What do you mean "parasite drug" And are you referring to scout paramotors when you say "propeller-like inserts in the cage"?

No probs at all.

Aircraft creates two types of the drag.

1. Induced, a by product of the lift, going down with a speed increase

2. Parasitic. It is a friction drug which varies with the square of the speed (when you fly twice faster it quadruples your parasitic drug.

"Propeller - like inserts" generate Form drug, which is a one of the Parasitic types of the drug. It is caused by every part of the aircraft, sitting in the airstream and not producing the Lift. 

These prop-like inserts generates anti-torque moment but at the same time they generate the Form type of Parasitic drug. This is a disadvantage of these types of solutions. 

Basically, manufacturers nowadays use only two ways to compansate the torque of the engine. One is the  prop - like inserts (Nirvana, Scout, some others as well). The other way is to move the thrust point of the engine from the geometrical center of tthe paramotor. That what many of the manufactureres are doing. SkyMax is one of them but cross bar makes it possible to do the fine tuning of it according to the wing and pilot weight. Thats the gist. 

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