Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gradient XC 5 26

Gradient Avax XC 5 26
The last tested Gradient glider was an Aspen 5 26 in the EN-C category.
Here’s the Avax XC 5 26 EN-D with an aspect ratio of 7.0 flown at 93 all up with an X-Rated 6 harness.
Launching the XC5 is simple and quick.The light cloth helps with a rapid inflation and the glider comes up perfectly.
My flights were made sometimes in turbulent air, with quite punchy lifts. Despite all that i felt that the XC 5 is comfortable enough for a D and could be similar to the M6, which is more comfortable than a Trango XC 3.
The brake travel is short, light and the authority on the brakes is really good! The Avax XC 5 doesn’t have the yaw movements seen on the Aspen 5.
I also felt that the overall handling on this 7 aspect ratio glider is much better than the Aspen 5 !
It can core thermals with ease and pleasure !
Entering strong lift the XC 5 pitch back a bit and brakes are needed to stop the surge afterward.
The roll movements are dampened enough on this glider.
The strongest point of the XC5 26 is the authority on the brakes and the overall turning capability inside the thermals. If i considered the Peak 4 to have a very nice brake response, i think the XC5 has a little step over, just because every centimeter results in a change of the trajectory. And there’s no yaw movements as felt on the Aspen 5.
Saying that i believe that the XC5 is also one of the best handling D gliders “in homogenous conditions”.
I flew the XC5 in some turbulent conditions with my X-rated 6 harness, and the glider was still very dampened in roll movements . However when entering strong thermals the back pitch ability of the XC5 increased and it was sometimes bumping the airmass.
The XC5 climbs quickly in well built thermals, however i found it a bit difficult to climb in very weak conditions, where the Aspen 5 could catch those tiny bits of lift…
The Avax XC5 is best flown slightly above mid weight in weak thermals.
As for the glide angle efficiency, I did lots of different glides comparisons with different gliders, and i could place the Avax XC5 26 in the first part of the D category.
The top speed at 800 ASL and 92 all up on the size 26 was around 55km/h which is quite close to the Aspen 5.
Big ears are very easy, stable and efficient.

Friday, November 27, 2015

NIviuk Ikuma 25

 Notes before the test : This test reflects ‘ONLY’ my personal opinion and feel about the glider in question.
If you are a pilot looking forward to find some frequent positive tests and the usual nice comments, please be aware that my blog or page, doesn’t have this option…
My tests reveals the real side of the gliders in my own eyes and flying background, in describing how i see and feel them without the useless chit-chat and make up…
In order to be polite, clear, fair, and true to myself and to others, i cannot smile after every test, and write you stories of joy, peace and sing songs…Wings are so different and test flying them is very difficult but also a very beautiful task !
Sometimes, things do happen, and i confront them with my original nature.

Niviuk IKUMA 25

History: I have flown nearly all Niviuk gliders in the past and ‘in my personal opinion’ there were some that marked the paragliding world at the time like the impressive climb of the Peak 1, and the overall efficiency of the Artik 2.
Some gliders were a bit disappointing, like the Peak 3.
Then came along many other gliders, and some which were also successful, like the Hook 2 and 3, and Artik 3 and 4.
The Peak 4 was the latest one tested last week from my part, and i was really impressed by the amount of performance and comfort ratio. The climb in the very weak was a bit less than expected, but overall, the Peak 4 is a very nice and beautiful glider to fly for my personal taste.

In late 2015, the Ikuma from Niviuk was created in this new B plus category to compete with the current B plus gliders like the Iota from Advance ,the Mentor 4 from Nova and the Rook 2 from 777 etc…
So it’s only fair to compare the Ikuma to those gliders in the high B category.
The Ikuma has a slightly moderate aspect ratio of 5.7 flat.
I received this brand new Ikuma 25 from a special friend who sent it over, only for my tests and which i’m very grateful ! It was still new and factory packed. I unboxed it. It doesn’t have any flaws with very nice construction details, and flies perfectly straight and balanced.

The IKUMA has unsheathed lines from top to bottom, with only 2 lines on the A’s, 2 on the B’s and 3 on the C’s …

Launching the IKUMA 25 at 94.7 kg on my scale is straight forward and easy.
Once in the air, the brake pressure is moderate with some 15 cm to 35 cm of travel to get the glider into a nice turning radius. The first centimetres are also precise, linear and the IKUMA could be described as fairly agile.

Flying it in turbulent thermals felt very easy. The pitch is very dampened and upon entering thermals, the IKUMA doesn’t pitch forward at all, neither stays neutral, but slightly stop with a slight pitch back upon entering.
In strong thermals it needs time to enter at that load and the climb is a bit delayed.
Thermals biting is more efficient on the M4 S, Rook 2, or even the Iota 26 side at the same load where the Ikuma bounce a bit before entering.

This slightly pitch back behaviour of the Ikuma 25 at my load feels insensible in very weak conditions, without biting through, whether i let the brakes or with little brake or even with the rear risers, i was finding a bit difficult to have a competitive climb with the B wings around. The Rush 4, Iota, Mentor 4, were floating slightly better.
The airmass information didn’t also pass clearly from the risers either, but i had a nice turning ability inside a homogeneous core with the Ikuma confirming that it’s a fairly agile glider!

In turbulence the Ikuma ,Iota, Mentor 4, Rook 2 needs the same level of control to keep them overhead with a touch of comfort toward the Iota and Ikuma.

Doing some long glides wing tip to wing tip with a Mentor 4 S with similar load of 94.7 kg showed a slightly faster trim speed for the Mentor 4 S and slightly better glide angle and float-ability for the Mentor 4 S.
At full bar the Mentor 4 S has + 2km/h more speed and showed after consecutive times a more competitive glide angle also for the M4. Of course this couldn’t be the most important feature for a glider, but good to know.

The speed bar has relatively a moderate pressure and at full bar the leading edge is still solid and the top speed of 53 km/h at 800 ASL is usable. (load 94.7 on the 25 )

Big ears are stable, usable, with fairly good descent rate, and they reopen smoothly without a fuss.

The B plus segment holds some very impressive wings as seen on my previous tests and videos.
The Ikuma will take many of you into far places no doubt, but i need to place it for you accurately inside this category.
 After exchanging gliders with my friends with same results, and sharing their thoughts, I concluded that the Ikuma is a relatively comfortable B glider, with moderate performance in this segment and a nice authority on the brakes.

For me the overall efficiency in climb and glide, of the Ikuma 25 with 5.7 aspect ratio glider, that was intended to compete in this segment, didn’t impress me or fulfilled my needs into this fierce battle for the 2015, B category, performance toys.

Please consider that the amount of criticism for a certain product is balanced by the same amount of respect, admiration and expectations especially for a brand among the leaders in gliders industry.

Finally, and most importantly, it’s you, the pilot who will decide what’s best for your needs !
I’m just here typing my own letters…

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NIviuk Peak 4 23

Niviuk Peak 4 23

The replacement of the less fortunate peak 3 for the easy D segment is finally available.
My friend got himself a peak 4 23 and we flew together on good days and i have flown this wing at 98 all up for the 85-105 Peak 4 23.
Here’s my impressions versus the Mantra MS, The Avax XC 5 26, the Icepeak 6 23, the Peak 3, The Triton 2 S, UP tango XC3…Etc…

I’ll try to be as clear as possible concerning this wing in describing what a pilot will expect flying it among regular D gliders or high aspect ratio C’s.

Launching the P4 23 is easier than the IP6, a little more difficult than the M6, XC5, Trango XC3. But all in all its easy for the regular D pilots. It doesn’t have the pitch forward behavior of the IP 6 , but surely a D pilot would find it quite manageable, even in light or in strong breeze.

Turning ability:
I guess that’s one the most important glider character for my personal taste.
Immediately after take off, first turn and first smile…The P4 has light to moderate brake pressure, and reacts after the first 15cm of slack with a super wonderful agility ! This high aspect ratio glider can be turned very tight at a very small radius without the dive !! Only 15 cm after the slack are needed to steer the glider gracefully !The feeling and authority on the brakes ,even in turbulent cores are impressive! I never flew a glider with 7 aspect ratio that can be turned like a 5.5 aspect ratio one !
The P4 is more agile in turns than the M6, Triton 2, Trango XC3, and relatively similar to the XC5.

Climb rate:
We flew this glider in some very weak to strong windy conditions and sometimes we flew in moderate to slightly turbulent lee side conditions enabling us to get a more global idea about the P4.
In very weak conditions (less than 0.5 m/s) where lots of pilots would not give a chance to stay in the air, the IP 6 23 at 98 all up would float nicely and communicates those tiny lifts to the pilot showing him the way to turn. In those weak conditions the P4 23 at 98 all up doesn’t give those informations to the pilot and after many attempts where the IP 6 could exploit those light lifts and gain some altitude, the P4 hovers at the same altitude.
Once the lift gets above 0.7 m/s the P4 will gracefully climb and could easily match the IP 6 23 climb rate. In strong thermals i think the P4 will have a slight advantage over the IP 6, due to it’s superb brake authority to place it precisely into the core !

This is surely very picky from my part, I cannot say that the P4 is a floater, but in order to be precise I’ll give you an idea, of similar wings like the P4 with same efficiency in those conditions .Ex: The Gin Gto 2 S at 93 or the Avax XC 5 26 at 92 .
The M6 MS at 95 all up is slightly more efficient in the very weak, as the Artik 4 25 at 90 al up.
The P4 23 at 98 will out climb the M6 MS and the surely A4, in windier and more difficult conditions showing the P4 ability to surf the air efficiently without back pitching, and climbing away.

Glide and speed.
After several glides at trim ,half bar, and full speed, the P4 23 at 98 all up, showed me exactly a similar glide ratio as a freshly line checked IP6 23 at 98 all up. It is slightly possible that the IP 6 23 has some insignificant points in full speed glide…But this is may be that in turbulent air the IP6 23 felt more stiff and solid on bar .On the P4 23 at full bar the leading edge is solid , but not as the iP 6 one. The B risers are slightly harder and more pressure are needed to feel the glider in the air. But i really liked those black rubber grips !

Comparing the P4 23 at 98 all up and the M6 MS at 95 all up, the trim speed is the same but the full speed is slightly on the P4 side, and the overall gliding performance is also slightly on the P4 side.

I have tried to induce big ears by the split risers, however i pulled my arms very far to pull in the lines .At first it looks like i’m pulling the stabs…Because the ears has lots of pressure.They fold in finally after pulling approx ±1m of lines, and pushing on the bar, but i don’t think they are very effective. I’ll try later the B’s…and report back..Releasing the ears opens very fast and quick and no line was stuck in the tips like the M6 use to do.

Comfort and usability:
I’ll be more specific in comparing gliders with similar aspect ratio..It’s better than talking only about the certification label.
I found that the Peak 4 23 is relatively a comfortable glider for an aspect ratio of 7, and it’s similar to the M6 comfortable behavior.
I felt a neutral pitch behavior in the same conditions where the M6 would pitch back in entering thermals. It has also the same comfort found on the Avax XC 5 and may be less work under it than the Trango XC 3 SM where the Peak 4 felt more block solid and coherent in it’s structure.

360’s and wing overs are a delight. It’s really an agile glider !
I will try also the Peak 21 in a week and will post my comments. And of course any updates about both will also be written.

Beautiful handling, and brake authority, Top gliding performance in the D category, with comfort and accessibility.
Missed that IP6 weak thermal ability, but i’m sure that the Peak 4 will surely win many hearts as it’s impossible to be indifferent having this agility ;-) 

Monday, November 9, 2015


The Forza is OZONE new XC harness.
Some of this harness features is an anti-G front pocket, one pocket for talkie walkie, a nice double and large cockpit, one place for a rescue, openings in the pod for urinating tubes, a certified 17 cm back protection, an adjustable speed bar, a small red ball to tie on the shoe laces for a pod recovery after take off, no seat board, etc…
There are lots of adjustments for a comfortable sitting position.Flying the the Forza showed me a very comfortable sitting position that is similar or quite close to the Impress 3.
The legs rests naturally like sitting on a sofa and there’s no need to put any effort to keep them straight inside the pod.
However the strong point of the Forza is the precise transmission that is received from the glider above.
The Forza doesn’t have the unnecessary roll movements found earlier on the Impress 3 but does inform the pilot in a soft and precise manner.
After some hours flying under C and D gliders, i can confirm the overall comfort, stability and usability to be really interesting !
The M size with the M pod suits my height of 1.81 and 74 kg very well. In fact i think that even 1.83 pilots would fit nicely.

Despite not having a seat board, the weight shift is still fine with this harness. Of course seat board harnesses will always have this lock feel in a turn, but with the Forza it’s getting a bit closer.

The construction on the Forza looks very good ! It’s a step forward from the light Ozium, and resembles the Exoceat harness in it’s robust construction weighting around 5 kg for the M !

Conclusion: The Forza is a complete harness with great comfort, accessibility, and a certified protection with lots of features.
If the price suits you, then it’s a must to try that one !