Are you buying new gear? Why not just find the cheapest price online, or go for kit that a friend recommended or that caught your eye in the latest ad? Because you'd be missing out on our years of free flight equipment experience, when you could be using it to guide and inform your choices, so you buy the best gear for you and get the best support going.
To put it another way: so you don't make a costly mistake and end up with the wrong gear for you. Flying is not an activity to make false economies with!
You might already have lots of airtime, but what matters when choosing new equipment is experience with that equipment itself. Advice based on the Flybubble crew's wealth of knowledge is part of the deal with us; it's what changes Flybubble from just another online retailer into a dedicated equipment buying service. The value of this service is perhaps best illustrated by what we put into it, and a case study to see what customers get out of it.
Flybubble gear knowledge & testing
So we can give the best buying advice to our customers, as part of our Flybubble MATCH service, we work hard to stay current on all the latest and greatest free flight gear.
As well as our general knowledge, built up over years — at the time of writing, nearly three decades of active flying, instruction and supplying gear — we get out as often as possible to test as much kit as we can in the field... and up in the air, of course!
We test new wings, harnesses, instruments, bags and accessories, and we fly the gear in as varied conditions as possible.
To allow for different states of body and mind, which can cloud your perception, we also try to fly it on different days, especially if we weren't feeling quite on it that day, or the conditions were too stable or very rough.
For wings, we test as many sizes of each model as we can, adjusting our all-up weight as necessary by varying the other gear we fly with and how much other stuff we carry.
We also test as many wing and harness combinations as possible, to see what effect this has on the characteristics.
We play with everything that comes through Flybubble, so we really get to know the gear inside out.
We sometimes manage to find the time to publish full gear reviews — usually of kit that we particularly like — but we don't always have time. We have to put looking after our customers, testing all the latest gear, and keeping the business running first — and leave time for some kind of a personal life!
However, we do more often manage to write short summary reviews which we publish on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest) and product pages so if you want to hear about the latest gear it's worth following us and checking those out regularly.
Our Flybubble MATCH service customers get full access to our knowledge and expertise as part of choosing to buy all their gear through us. As just one example, here's a customer case study.
Customer story: John
John has been flying a good while, but recently not as much as he'd like. He wanted to get back into it, and needed a full upgrade of his old equipment. He emailed us to explain what he was looking for.
We replied telling John about our unique free buying service designed to help pilots get all the correct equipment, our Flybubble MATCH service. John was happy to commit to this, by paying a deposit, which went towards his gear purchase from us. In return he received our personalised advice to help him find the gear that matched his individual requirements. We arranged a phone call appointment with John for this.
First, we asked John what type of harness he wanted.
"A standard open harness, not a pod. My local site has the one of roughest takeoffs I've ever seen; someone being dumped or dragged along the dirt road is a daily sight, so durable build and good back protection are a must."
It was clear to us that he wanted the best protection, and something to restore his confidence.
From the many top harness options we have available, we narrowed it down to three standard harnesses with robust build, excellent protection and high safety. We shared our deep knowledge of these harnesses with John, and answered all his questions. Based on this, John confirmed which ones he liked the sound and look of best.
To ensure he ordered a harness that would fit him perfectly, we asked John to confirm his height, weight and build, plus some key measurements. Based on all of this, we narrowed the choices down to the harness which best fitted all of John's requirements. We also pre-adjusted the harness to ensure John would be as comfortable as possible on his first flight, after which he could fine tune it as required.
John wanted us to fit his reserve into his harness and complete compatibility checks, which we did for a small fee to cover our time.
Having decided on the harness and reserve, we then discussed John's wing requirements to get a flavour of what was important to him.
"I'd like a wing that's responsive and handles well, but gives a great feeling of security in turbulence; confidence is absolutely key. Easy launch in strong winds would be a bonus too."
Based on the weight of the chosen harness we calculated John's all up weight and looked at our wide range of Progression Paragliders for him, narrowing this down to the ones where he'd be ideally placed in the weight range.
To help John narrow his choices down further, we drew on our experience of test flying these wings, plus the pilot and customer feedback we've amassed over the years.
Based on this, we advised on the key aspects of each candidate wing: safety, pilot's demands, handling, feedback, build quality, durability, etc, and how each compared to the others.
We then further discussed the wing choice over the phone and decided on a winner based on everything John wanted, giving highest priority to the most important factors (and being careful not to get sidetracked by lower priorities).
We ordered the wing right away so John would receive it as soon as possible. We received the wing then, as soon as time and the weather allowed, completed the important final product checks and first test flight — AOK!
John was good to go! 😎
"Hi Nancy and Carlo. Thanks for all your good advice in selecting the right equipment. I had my first flight with the new wing and harness yesterday. A huge improvement in launching, handling and performance from my old wing! Very happy."
After flying with his new gear for some time, John gave all his new gear and our service five-star reviews.
"The harness fits like a glove. It's very well made and very comfortable."
"A superb wing, very easy to fly and a huge confidence booster! All in all a beautifully designed machine that combines a great feeling of safety with good performance. I can hardly wait to take it to the mountains!"
That's why we do what we do. 😁