Gradient Aspen 5 26
The size 26 is ready for take off at 99 all up. It looks like a big glider on the ground. The construction details are superb ! The rods on the leading edge of the Aspen 5 are not very long. The A attachment points on the glider are slightly back .
Risers are skinny and sporty, and the Aspen 5 has all unsheathed lines.
Launching the Aspen 5 in nil wind is easy just a steady pull … In stronger wind above 25 km/h be ready to control it as other C gliders…
Flying the Aspen 5 26 at 99 all up, in some turbulent cores showed a moderate roll response ,slightly more than Aspen 4 with some movements on the yaw axis. However at that load, entering some thermals the Aspen 5 pitch back a bit then stabilize above the pilots head. It is very different in behavior from the Aspen 4 .
The brake travel is similar to the 4 with light pressure , and the turning radius is flatter. It is surely more efficient in climb than the Aspen 4 ,but with less agility for the same loadings.
The Aspen 5 gives this feeling of performance efficiency where the Aspen 4 was more oriented for fun. Surely Gradient wanted to get maximum performance out of a C.
Talking about performance lets begin with the climbing ability. After many flights and comparison with my reference glider in the C category, and with the same loadings,i can see that the Aspen 5 is very competitive with the top ones.
The efficiency in the weak coupled with a flat turn is very good ! In punchier thermals the Aspen 5 will surely climb very well also, but will need just a second to settle after the back pitch.
In gliding power, at trim speed the Aspen 5 also showed similar performance as the top ones, but at top speed which is ±15 km/h over trim at 800 ASL, the Aspen 5 has a very interesting glide angle that could place it on top.
Big ears flap a bit, and it is better to sit in the middle or use the speed system symmetrically with this maneuver to avoid turning left or right.
It is clear that the Aspen 5 was built for efficient flying rather than a freestyle wing to throw around. But still flying it heavy can improve that feeling.
Conclusion: With the Aspen 5 ,Gradient has successfully built an efficient XC machine to compete with this category.
Choosing a glider comes always to a personal choice of multiple feelings and sensations that comes after a test flight .