The key to life is not accumulation. It's contribution. Hands that serve help more than the lips that pray.

Saturday, March 23, 2024


Nearbirds Airy Vibe L size

This harness is the light version of the VIBE. When flying it, it gave me a different feel from the VIBE.

The Airy VIBE has a nice construction, and also lots of adjustments! 5 adjustments for each side to give you a complete tailor-made body shape.
There are two open internal compartments on each side for anything you want to put from chocolate, apple, cellular, talkie walkie…etc…easily reachable.
The materials used are similar to any high-end light harness in the market.
There’s a ballast compartment underneath the seat, which can hold around 4 kg, but I was hoping for a velcro inside to hold the ballast ( next time hopefully)
The pod closes sideways and it would be better to install a small ball with elastic to put in your shoelaces for entering better the pod after take-off (next time…)
A three-step speed system is installed.
The AiryVIBE has an inflatable back protection attached to a tube that goes up, near the cockpit to the right, to blow in, and it is very easy to inflate while in place. Once you release the security clip on the tube, you can release the air for tight packing.

For my height of 1.81 and 75 kg, this L size fits me like a perfect glove! Once fine-tuned there was no pressure point on any part while sitting.
The AiryVIBE offers high back comfort in supporting the body despite that the sitting area is not covered with smooth foam. This direct feel to the harness delivers excellent air movements with super precise and highly appreciated feedback. And it is comfortable!
The ABS system delivers good comfort while keeping an excellent weight shift ability that when I flew that glider, my Zeolite 2 felt even more agile!
That ABS feel doesn’t give you an excess of roll movements. I think the roll is similar to the Niviuk Arrow, which is a balanced roll. Comparing it to the Genie Light 3, the roll movements are slightly less but the weight shift authority is similar!
The back fairing inflates very well, without a single flutter in the air. The aerodynamic shape is really good. Following a newly rigged Zeno 2/Forza 2, the same size as my Zeolite 2 GT /AiryVIBE, both on bar for 6 km, in very smooth air, didn’t practically show any glide differences. So harness aerodynamics are working great!
I have here the AiryVIBE with two rescue options. One in front easy to reach and another on my right side. When you pull the side rescue, the compartment opens very large like 4 times the usual area, and immediately and effortlessly the rescue goes out.
I was impressed by the speed system's ability.
Zeolite 2 GT on Forza 2 has moderate foot pressure.
Zeolite 2 GT on NK Arrow has moderate to light and smooth foot pressure.
Zeolite 2 GT on AiryVIBE, has a ‘light' and super smooth foot pressure.
When using the speed bar on the AiryVIBE, it is easy with roll stability like on the NK Arrow.


IMHO, I think that the AiryVIBE is one of the sweetest harnesses to fly. After flying it, I enjoyed my Zeolite 2 GT turns even better!
I always need three harnesses for my glider tests from very light ones to heavy ones.
The AiryVIBE with an option for two rescues, and a moderately light weight near 5 kg, will be a keeper for my flights.

Sometimes as you know, I get poetic... Smile

An instrument to dance inside the core?
Sexy look, comfortable, and sweet?
Without getting a total bore!
Get into the AiryVIBE seat! Smile

Saturday, March 9, 2024

UP Meru 2 SM

UP Meru 2. SM

I already flew the first 2 liner Meru 1. In summary, a gentle and accessible glider for the D category, with nice handling.
Here comes the new Meru 2 EN-D 2 liner, for 2023/24.
The glider is built with long rods on the upper and lower surfaces. The finish details are nice. You can see all the details and materials over here:
The Meru 2 can be launched easily without any wind, as it inflates easily and rises smoothly without any hard points. On stronger windy days, I found it easy to inflate and it shows a homogenous compact behavior even on the ground.

Flying the Meru 2 :
At 97...98 all up, for the SM size from 88-101, the Meru 2 has a short brake travel for moderate air and thermals. I could easily and with only 5 cm guide the Meru 2 in moderate thermals. The pressure in those first 10 cm is on the moderate side. In stronger air a little more brake is needed to keep the Meru 2 overhead, probably 20..25…is sufficient in most conditions. After the 10 cm gap, the first contact with the trailing edge +10 cm to steer the glider has a moderate pressure as I wrote. The next 10…15 cm are quite firm in pressure and possibly a bit hard only in turbulent and choppy air, like between inversions or sharp thermal edges that you will lower your brakes to keep it inflated.

In moderate air, at 98 I found that the Meru 2 is a comfortable glider to fly for the 2-liner D category. The overall movements reminded me of the 2 liner C category. The Tango-X moves in itself much more, the Meru 2 is a stiff glider in construction.
In strong air and edgy thermals, the Meru 2 with a 7 aspect ratio needs good pilot control as this EN-D class requires. But the overall movements are still quite slower than on the Zeno 2 for example.
I felt that in strong air, the best is to fly the Meru 2 at max weight. 100/101, as the pilot would have more response of turn inside a small core from the glider.

The Meru 2 can be considered a fairly agile glider. Not as agile as the Trango-X! Or an XC Racer 2. Different concepts of agility.
At 98, when applying brakes, the turn inside a thermal is smoothly initiated, and probably slightly slower to close a 360 inside a thermal than a Zeno 2 or Trango-X for example. The Zeno 2 is more nervous and can be steered more aggressively inside a thermal. The Meru 2 felt more calm in turns. In good generous, XC conditions flying it at 100/101, is ideal.

I didn’t feel or see any yaw movements under the Meru 2. The structure is like a monobloc with calmer movements than Zeno 2. Saying that in strong air, it requires around 35 % more active piloting than a 2 liner C-class glider like Artik/R or Trango-X for example.

I flew in the company of a Zeno 2 MS at 96 as I was on the Meru 2 at 96.5 all up. In very weak thermals less than 0.5 m/s, both seem close inside that weak climb. In stronger cores above 2 m/s also seems very efficient with a good climb.
I will hopefully update my 2 liner Comparison for details.

Gliding next to the Zeno 2 at trim speed and 55 km/h was also equal for both! The Meru 2 showed me a very nice glide and didn’t lose height compared to the Zeno 2.
Stepping on the second bar has a moderate foot pressure and I could reach a top speed of 21 km/h over trim on the Meru 2 at 98 all up taken at 1000 ASL.
Even when pulleys are overlapping, the Meru 2 structure felt solid, and there weren’t any roll movements.
Ears with outer B’s are easy to induce. Wingovers build nicely with high energy!

The Meru 2 has a different feel from the Meru 1 while having the same comfort underneath. I felt it is better to load it when conditions are strong probably to get that snappy turn and feel. In moderate conditions, flying it at 98 is ok.
The glide at the speed bar seems very good with a stiff solid feel from the glider. I could prefer softer brakes and a quicker turn radius, but as I mentioned on good days, a loaded Meru 2 is an efficient gliding machine to go far or to win comps.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Niviuk Drifter 2 size M

And finally, it was released, and I received the latest full-on competition harness from Niviuk. The Drifter 2.
The first contact with the harness showed me ‘impeccable’ construction details! I have flown and seen many harnesses in the past, and I can firmly confirm that the finishing details on Drifter 2 are excellent! matching the top-end brands out there. You know me very well from my writing when I'm excited about a product! The feeling is similar to discovering the latest 2024 F1 cars…RB20…SF-24...W15… etc…
I’m a fan of good quality products! And this Drifter 2 built quality is the top you can find. (Pls see attached a few ‘close-up pictures’) 

This era of paragliding performance has slightly shifted momentarily more toward aerodynamic harnesses. The appearance of the Ozone Submarine, and later the Gin Race 5 paved the path for that direction.
I already test-flew the Submarine, which has an inflatable outside shell and is considered to provide less drag resulting in more gliding performance.
Niviuk has adopted a different approach but in the same direction. Like the excellent Genie Race 4, which offered a sleek performance pod, but an open harness on the chest area, the Niviuk Drifter 2 is a conventional but ‘hybrid’ harness that has the best of both worlds. 
Hybrid harness explanation:
A zipper that runs from your feet directly to the cockpit, and another with the same and continuous direction toward your neck providing a straight streamlined shape like the one on the Submarine. The difference is that the pod remains a conventional neoprene pod ( not inflatable)

This released video by Niviuk shows exactly the details:

The DRIFTER 2 is equipped with two cockpits. A small one that lets your instruments/power bank appear through the plastic window. Another lower bigger compartment ( see pic)  for your ballast, instruments..etc…
This cockpit is big enough for a + 10 L of water ballast.
Installing a regular vario with an E-Ink Screen without a backlight is difficult to see. Anything with a light background like phone apps, or Oudie N, etc…is very clear, just because under the sunlight the shade produced by the outer shell, over the cockpit prevents any light in, you only see very clearly in plain sunlight, the lighted instruments inside. 
Inserting my hands makes it very easy to adjust the instruments. The neck collar of the neoprene is quite large with no pressure on the neck. 
Taking off while ready is easy in the upright position without any neck pressure point. Getting inside the pod is a non-event, and of course, pulling the zipper closes and opens the pod rapidly. 
I never encountered a problem with the zipper so far. When landing your foot can alone open the zipper with probably a slight pull of 10 cm on the zipper rope.  

Kiting while standing up with the DRIFTER 2 is surprisingly very straightforward without any pressure on your back neck. It feels like a normal harness! Taking off is smooth, and getting into the pod is very quick. 
When you are ready, pulling a bit on the right zipper line closes the pod. 
There are no outside pockets left and right, probably for lesser drag. But it would be nice to have one at least, just because everything is sealed and you have to open the pod to access the lower compartment. Probably installing a smaller outside pocket would be nice. 
In the air, inserting your hands to adjust the Vario, or phone easily. 

Now for the seating position/comfort/weightshifting.
Before adjusting your harness, please install the two rescues, drinking water, and the stuff you put in the moderate-width rear compartment when you are flying just because you need to reset your center of gravity while adjusting it to achieve a flawless and efficient line when gliding.  
The foot pad holds an extension to be removed on taste and body size, of 5 cm thickness with 4 pcs ( see pic). For my height of 1.81 cm, I removed all the foot pads and reached a perfect sitting position without any pressure from the neoprene that covered my shoulders.  
When pulling the left and right upper side straps which are easy to use even in flying, for adjusting your back inclination, and to stay streamlined with the air without

positioning the rear fairing higher to reach that ultimate position, your sitting will be slightly reclined.  On the Arrow L, the max layback position is still 3-4 cm forward than on the Drifter 2 perfectly streamlined position. 
It is very logical for a high-end competition harness to give you that reclined position if the pilot is aiming for less drag. Of course, a ‘slighter' upright position would be most welcomed. 

The reclined seating position is quite comfortable for the body. There are no pressure points whatsoever! Comfortable to sit in. It is exactly like laying down on your favorite sofa in winter time, watching ‘dustoftheuniverse channel’ ;-) but the tea holder is missing!  
The legs are surely naturally supported. The seat plate of the DRIFTER 2 M however is a bit large for my size of 75 kg.
A gap of 3 cm on each side.  
The seat plate of the Arrow Large is one centimeter less from each side than the seat plate of the Drifter 2 M size.  
I tried to install a smaller plate, or even without a seat board which Niviuk doesn’t recommend, but as the DRIFTER 2 is constructed like an F1 car, I couldn’t sink in, because there’s also the ballast pocket underneath the seat which is also reinforced to be stiff when holding the water ballast. Everything is surgically designed!  :-) 
There are two positions left and right for the anti-G which are easily reachable in the air.  

The DRIFTER 2 has little adjustment straps and it is really easy to adjust. The roll movements under the DRIFTER 2 with the main strap at 50 cm are quite comfortable. It is very close to the Arrow L roll movements. The weight shift is well coordinated and after flying the Arrow L, I didn’t quite find any big differences in roll and weight shift besides my reclined position. Overall it is quite a balanced harness to fly with high-end gliders. Stable enough to be comfortable on long flying hours. 
Pushing on the speed bar is another nice experience. The big aluminum pulleys hold a stop system, and help you maintain the pressure while holding the speed bar for a time. On the Arrow, for example, my feet always have more pressure during long glides. The pulleys on the DRIFTER 2 have a stop-back spinning system that allows less foot pressure while stepping on the speed bar. 
Asymmetric speed bar steps are installed for a smoother and more balanced pull between the left and right risers. Like I said, I felt like driving an F1 car. :-) 

Even in a reclined position, the pressure when pulling on the speed bar doesn’t put pressure on your shoulders. The pressure is homogeneously distributed on your back. It was smooth to keep the speed bar. 
The back fairing doesn't flutter at all and stays in pressure with a very narrow shape. 
The DRIFTER 2 has a new 5.5 cm origami back protection It is the first small protection after the Koroid that acts differently as Niviuk stated. 
It is indeed a small protection, and I would personally prefer having a larger one…But maybe I’m still old-fashioned and not used to this new technology… I just really hope that its efficiency surpasses the claims.  

The DRIFTER 2 is for sure a very beautiful-looking competition harness equipped to the last detail. Pilots' eyes on take-off and landing were wide open and commented frequently about that beautiful shape. Comfortable for the back and also in roll movements. The construction is excellent! felt very robust and with those materials it could last very long! 
When flying it, a ‘psychological’ feeling of performance will be on the menu.
The air over my face was less perceived than usual as my head was near the outer shell.  
Landing and getting outside the pod is quite easy and feels exactly like a normal pod.  
For XC and competition pilots, the race is on… :-)