EN C 2-line paraglider comparison 2023: Bonanza, Mint, Artik R and Photon in flight
The spring of 2023 will have seen a number of remarkable innovations in paraglider design, with many of the world's leading manufacturers designing 2-line EN C approved gliders. It's quite an evolution for this category!
To find out more about the origins of these new sails, read the very interesting article written by Olivier about the EN-C 2 liners which explains, among other things, how these sails came to be designed.
To help you find your way around, or to give you an idea of the differences you can expect between these newcomers, here's a short article based on the experiences and feelings of Robin, a Grands Espaces instructor for 8 years, and a cross-country and competition driver for 14 years.
I've had the opportunity to flight test a large number of the latest arrivals on the 2-line C paraglider market: Ozone, Niviuk, Skywalk and Gin. This gave me the opportunity to write this article comparing the EN C 2 lines 2023 paraglider.
Among other things, I had the opportunity to accompany a group of pilots in cross-country course for a week, during which we were able to fly for around twenty hours in a variety of conditions. What was really interesting was being able to vary the gliders I was able to fly, whereas the pilots I was accompanying kept the same gliders all week.
In the same week, we flew at different sites in different conditions: Annecy, Chamoux, Grand Bornand.
I flew the Mint in size S at the start of the week (Monday and Tuesday), loaded to 86kg (for 85 max). It's not that I deliberately flew a bit over the maximum GVW, it's just that I didn't have the opportunity to change harness to optimise the GVW. The harness I used was a Impress 4 from Advance. A very comfortable harness, slightly more unstable than a competition harness such as the Exoceat (Ozone) or XR7 (Woody Valley).
For those who are interested, the flight tracks in Mint are here:
I then flew for two days with the Photon in size S, loaded to 86kg (for 85 max).
Photon flight tracks are here:
And I finished the week with the Artik R in size 21 (thanks to Les Passagers du Vent for the loan!), also loaded to 86kg for 85 max.
The flight track in the Artik R is here:
I haven't tested the Bonanza that week, but I've already had the chance to try it out many times this season.
Quite used to flying 2-line sails (Enzo 2, XCracer 2, Zeno 1 and 2), Zeolite GT...): what a pleasure it is to rediscover the pleasure of flying this type of wing: the feeling of glide associated with the extremely efficient use of the tails, the speed even in unaccelerated flight, the speed range, the gliding turns, ...
I enjoyed each of these gliders, which are all a little different from each other and not all aimed at exactly the same type of pilot. This diversity will satisfy as many people as possible, depending on their expectations and tastes.
I mainly liked the incredible performance of the Photon, the 'easy' turn of the Bonanza and the Mint, and the speed of the Artik R.
In terms of performance, I think the Photon is a notch above the other wings, but we pay for this performance by being more demanding in terms of the level of piloting required. We have categorised this glider in C++. Suitable for pilots who are very comfortable with C 3 lines like the Alpina or Bonanza 2, or pilots who are used to EN D 3 lines like the Mantra from Ozone or the King 2 from 777 and who want the same performance (if not a little better) for a similar level of piloting requirements. Of course, it will also be perfect for pilots of higher-performance 2-line gliders, who want to lower their piloting requirements, while still maintaining very good or even similar performance.
My impression is based on the fact that on many occasions during my cross-country course, in transition flight alongside my student pilots, the glide was visibly different from one glider to another. Including at the start of the accelerator run. Quite clearly, the Photon regularly outperforms its competitors.
To compare the performance of the Photon with the Bonanza, I'd already flown at the same time as a colleague on a fairly technical, windy flight from Annecy to the Aravis mountains. I had the Photon and he had the Bonanza, and we're about the same level of piloting and cross-country flying in general. I was surprised that I was regularly a little ahead, a little higher out of the thermal, and that I generally stayed higher in transition, even coming back to his height at times to be able to compare.
In terms of pure speed, the Artik R seems to be able to go faster than its rivals. But I wasn't able to compare the performance at full speed, because to do that you'd have to be flying at the same time with different gliders and similar harnesses...
When it comes to cornering, the Bonanza and Mint seem easier than their rivals. In the sense that the turn is very intuitive and is triggered as soon as the travel begins. It's very easy to adjust the turn without needing to use the outside brake too much, and without needing to restart the turn (raise the inside hand quickly to give speed back to the slowed half-wing, and then put the control back on very quickly to restart the turn without really getting out of it).
The Photon, for example, needs to be flown more actively in the turn to get a smooth turn, and it also needs to be loaded almost at the top of the trim range to get the best possible turn. The other gliders seem less sensitive to this, especially the Bonanza, which I also flew at the very bottom of the range and the turn remained very pleasant, simple and efficient.
The Artik R is a little less easy to corner, in the sense that the control is immediately quite physical, right from the start of the travel. That's my impression anyway. After 8 hours flying this wing I was quite happy to land, my arms a bit tired from the marked tension in the controls. I found a bit of that on the Mint too.
As far as accessibility, behaviour and reactions in flight are concerned, the Photon is a little more lively than the others, behind the Artik, then the Mint and the Bonanza.
Note that the Mint sometimes slides quite sharply on the roll axis. I was busy talking to my pilots and looking at them below me, and the wing ended up on its side in a fairly pronounced pure roll movement. It didn't close up, but I'd rarely experienced such a sudden, sweeping movement on this axis.
The rear steering seems fairly similar on all these machines, perhaps a little softer on the Photon. Very effective in any case!
The take-off with all of these wings is fairly similar: a fairly pronounced shark nose, elongation, etc. make them wings that need to be well prepared on the ground (corolla/banana) before moving off. The first steps without wind must be dynamic enough to initiate the scooping. I haven't noticed any particular difficulties with inflations if the wings are well prepared.
In terms of finish, appearance of the profiles, materials, .... I wouldn't go so far as to make comparisons. We're talking about top-of-the-range equipment, the latest generation of design, selected materials...
Intuitive steering, easy to adjust/vary
Easy" behaviour, accessible C
Intuitive steering, easy to adjust/vary
Glides easily over the roll axis
Slightly demanding turn
We hope you enjoy reading this article "Comparative EN C 2-line paraglider 2023" and that it helps you make the right choice! We are available to advise you if necessary, on site in our shop at Talloires (Annecy), or by e-mail phone.
If you would like to try out one of these sails, please contact contact us. We have most of these models available for trial in various sizes. Including available for sale (new or demo).
PS: Alain and I were able to test the new Zeolite GT 2, the new version of the Ozone Hike&Fly competition glider, which competed in the XAlps 2023 with Max Pinot among others! A very nice improvement in the turn, which was in fact the only minor complaint we had with the first version of this glider. The turn is now smoother and easier to adjust to centre a thermal. In terms of performance, it seems to be nothing but good, as is usual with Ozone, for whom this is the number 1 argument!
Perhaps an article to follow on this subject: comparing Omega ULS and Zeolite GT 2? Who knows...