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  1. #1
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    short grocery getter

    I love my grocery getter, and it really kind of sucks at the job *g*. So this year is devoted to finding and test riding as many replacements as possible. I would prefer a bike/frame with an internal gear hub, a hub generator, and a full chaincase. 26" wheels are a plus since I have short legs and this is a cargo bike. I like playing with mechanical toys, but I also hate damaging a mechanical toy when the damage is preventable.

    Bad stuff with my poor grocery getter include:

    - I've got some malformed bones in my feet. This means I've got damaged ankles, knees and hips so some days are an arthritic pain in my ass. My right hip is rotated 17 degrees. More damage! The bike is a diamond frame and on a bad day it's hard to mount, dismount and stop safely. And if I have trouble on hills, odds are I'm going to fall. Not good. My body being busted isn't the bike's fault, but the frame and I are a bad match. A step through frame would be better for me since I could ride on more bad days.

    - suspension fork means no load up front, poor hill performance and no real improvement on potholes. My dream replacement would take a front basket *and* still have use of the headlight. Between library trips, grocery shopping and all the other errands, I can easily hit 50lbs of cargo. Really, I could probably hit more, but the current bike gets scary at 45lbs, and 50lbs is brutal when I'm walking.

    - long reach (22.2" effective top tube on a 17" mountain frame) I'm long torso for a woman, but that's Too Damn Long even for me

    - I can't get a good position for my rear end in relation to the pedals and this ticks my knees off. I do not need my knees ticked off more as joint replacements are expensive.

    - flat handlebar ticks my wrists off on rides longer than 10 mi. I don't have any diagnosed RSI and I would like to keep it that way. See previous commentary on joints and repair work.

    So, I am seeking suggestions from the floor for a regular length bike. A long bike is well... long. Since I have indoor storage in my building's basement, I need the bike to be manageable in tight spaces. Breezer is on my list and is available locally. So are the REI commuter/utility bikes (no chaincase sucks, but the budget would appreciate the cheap). And of course Trek/Gary Fisher are easy (not that they have anything really *useful* in the US, but a girl can dream right?). What else should I seek out to test ride?

  2. #2
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    Look for something with a good seat to pedal setup for you. Handle bars and stems are easily changed to give the upper body position you prefer, but the seat/pedal setup have very limited adjustment so the frame has to be right. I do think you are on the right path thinking about a step-through frame.

    I applaud your determination.
    Graywolf--
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    Longing for a stately old roadster

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    My first thought is the Breezer, then the new Redline R530, possibly the Jamis Commuter 3.0. If you can find a Biria Dealer check out their EZ Boarding series...I like the Super Light 8 Their Touring City Series has some nice bikes in it too. I realize that some of them come with suspension forks, but those can be swapped out.

    I have been looking for a Breezer Uptown in the XL size and haven't had much luck. I will probably end up building up my own.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  4. #4
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    Have you considered one of the Electra Townies and/or cruisers? Some models have everything you're looking for except for the full chaincase.

    http://www.electrabike.com/

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    Dahon Glide is a low-step 24" wheels, nexus8/dynohub utility bike with chainguard and front basket that also folds.

  6. #6
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    Ohh, I hadn't thought of a folder. Well, ok, I have, but more as a travel bike... I don't travel enough that I could justify a special travel bike, but if the Dahon will handle my usual sorts of loads it could be very fun. And upon investigation, my favorite of the LBSes is a Dahon dealer.

    I have looked at Electra, and I probably should put them on the test ride list since the local Breezer dealer carries them. I'm not a fan of the bottle generators they use, since not all the bike racks here are all that great. Sometimes I think my regular routes are a greatest hits tour of the weirdest racks in Madison *g*. The city has been very bike friendly for a long time, and it *shows*.

    I hadn't thought of Redline either. Biria isn't available around here, and same goes for most other good Dutch/Danish/English style bikes. Bianchi I can get, but Bianchi doesn't want to sell *me* a bike. Jamis maybe does want to sell me a bike, but the nearest dealers are a long way away... No car, so if the dealer is 20 miles away, that's too far.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. One of the great things about biking is it can *help* on a bad day, and the more I bike the fewer bad days I have.

  7. #7
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    It might really be worth talking with a fit specialist to figure out what best accommodates your lower body issues -- you may discover that something like much shorter cranks, or even asymmetrical cranks make riding more comfortable. At the very least, they can put you on a fit bike with a lot of different options, so you know what effective top tube length you'd be looking for, etc. Good luck!

  8. #8
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    - suspension fork means no load up front, poor hill performance and no real improvement on potholes. My dream replacement would take a front basket *and* still have use of the headlight. Between library trips, grocery shopping and all the other errands, I can easily hit 50lbs of cargo. Really, I could probably hit more, but the current bike gets scary at 45lbs, and 50lbs is brutal when I'm walking.
    I find any weight in a front basket rather annoying. Makes the steering ever so weird. Instead I use panniers on a rear rack. I can load up to about 50 pounds in them, but I prefer keeping the weight to about 25 if possible and simply making more trips.

    I think if I needed to move something up front, I would try front panniers in a low-riding rack.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    - flat handlebar ticks my wrists off on rides longer than 10 mi. I don't have any diagnosed RSI and I would like to keep it that way. See previous commentary on joints and repair work.
    My utility bike is a hybrid. Didn't cost too much and I'm not afraid to leave it parked in the grocery store bike rack. Of course, the hybrid came with flat handlebars and I had the same reaction you describe. I just hate riding with my wrists twisted that much. So I bought a set of Nitto albratross bars. They are pretty much like the English 3-speeds you might have seen 30-40 years ago. Total costs for the transformation was about $40.

    Personally, I would avoid a fancy $1000 bike for my grocery getter. You just can't be sure when someone will steal it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    gerv,
    Good recommendation on the North Roads bars, I missed that, but have converted a couple of my flat bar bikes to those.

    Torilin,
    Biria isn't the only one that makes that style of bike. I would talk to the most friendly of my LBS's (perhaps the one that sells Breezers?) and ask if they can order one. Quite often different brands of bikes will be carried by the same distributor, but the shop only carries certain brands because of space limitations. I have done this several times with the shop I frequent.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    OP -- the only Electra bike that comes with generator is the Amsterdam; you can buy a generator for any of the others. I have a Townie where I swapped out the handlebars for a set of chopper bars (for similar wrist reasons), and I adore it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Decent, affordable generator sets just became available from Chris at Velo-Orange I prefer the hub generators, but adding them to an existing bike gets pricey very quickly.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  12. #12
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    I visited one of the local shops today. I figured early Tuesday they wouldn't be busy. I was right, and while I was there it started pouring rain. So much for test riding today. They stock Kettler and Dahon. Both are enough of a step through that I can manage them easily. Huge relief after I managed to fall twice getting off my bike in the last couple days. (Note: banging your leg on a Jannd Expedition rack is *not* recommended. I've got a bruise that's the size of my palm now.)

    The bad news is they're the most established Dahon dealer in town, and they've been having a horrible time getting the Glide and Ciao in. They have Speed and Mu models, but it sounds like anything with an internal hub is a serious problem.

    The Kettler meets almost all of my requirements. Chain guard rather than a full chaincase, and they'd need to swap out the fork (which they offered to do almost instantly when they heard about my cargo requirements). Wheels felt a little large, so they may be 700C, but that's not a dealbreaker if the bike is comfortable.

  13. #13
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Like you I , too, have special needs so my fav bike company
    is an old American company that will work with you to get
    you a bike/trike that is really useful while making it possible
    for you to ride in comfort. For what they are Worksman
    cycles are one , if not the only, best buy on the planet.

    That company is Worksman.........

    http://www.worksman.com/Special%20Cy...al%20Needs.htm

    I have a Worksman PAV 3 speed and ride the wheels offa it instead of driving. IT'S GREAT!!
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  14. #14
    Velocommuter Commando Sirrus Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    I love my grocery getter, and it really kind of sucks at the job *g*. So this year is devoted to finding and test riding as many replacements as possible. I would prefer a bike/frame with an internal gear hub, a hub generator, and a full chaincase. 26" wheels are a plus since I have short legs and this is a cargo bike. I like playing with mechanical toys, but I also hate damaging a mechanical toy when the damage is preventable.

    Bad stuff with my poor grocery getter include:

    - I've got some malformed bones in my feet. This means I've got damaged ankles, knees and hips so some days are an arthritic pain in my ass. My right hip is rotated 17 degrees. More damage! The bike is a diamond frame and on a bad day it's hard to mount, dismount and stop safely. And if I have trouble on hills, odds are I'm going to fall. Not good. My body being busted isn't the bike's fault, but the frame and I are a bad match. A step through frame would be better for me since I could ride on more bad days.

    - suspension fork means no load up front, poor hill performance and no real improvement on potholes. My dream replacement would take a front basket *and* still have use of the headlight. Between library trips, grocery shopping and all the other errands, I can easily hit 50lbs of cargo. Really, I could probably hit more, but the current bike gets scary at 45lbs, and 50lbs is brutal when I'm walking.

    - long reach (22.2" effective top tube on a 17" mountain frame) I'm long torso for a woman, but that's Too Damn Long even for me

    - I can't get a good position for my rear end in relation to the pedals and this ticks my knees off. I do not need my knees ticked off more as joint replacements are expensive.

    - flat handlebar ticks my wrists off on rides longer than 10 mi. I don't have any diagnosed RSI and I would like to keep it that way. See previous commentary on joints and repair work.

    So, I am seeking suggestions from the floor for a regular length bike. A long bike is well... long. Since I have indoor storage in my building's basement, I need the bike to be manageable in tight spaces. Breezer is on my list and is available locally. So are the REI commuter/utility bikes (no chaincase sucks, but the budget would appreciate the cheap). And of course Trek/Gary Fisher are easy (not that they have anything really *useful* in the US, but a girl can dream right?). What else should I seek out to test ride?


    One word.. TRIKE

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true


    This is what I use as my grocery getter.

  15. #15
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    I test rode the Kettler and a Dahon (a Hon Solo since the shop can't get either the Glide or the Ciao til June at the earliest) today. Short version: the Kettler needs more fitting for me to really tell much about it (seat was too low, bars were wrong). It felt *big*. The Dahon felt like it was just the right size. Both the Kettler and Dahon handled potholes better than my bike, with the Dahon doing a bit better. Both had better butt and knee relationships too. Both were easier to manage for stops and starts, so I didn't feel terrified of toppling over.

    And no, a trike is not the answer. I wouldn't be able to carry it downstairs and hold it up while I open the basement door! Same kind of problem with Worksman... I need a normalish size and weight single bike so I can carry it. Falling down stairs because I'm back from a 20 mile loaded ride and I'm exhausted is *not* an option. (Yes, I know, I'm very picky *g*)

    They're predicting rain and snow for the rest of the week, so I don't know if I'll get to the Breezer and Electra dealer right away. Oddly enough, most bike shops don't want you test riding in the rain...

  16. #16
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Torrilin,
    Glad to see you are getting some test rides in. My only caveat on the Dahon is the repair parts if something breaks. Some of the stuff on them is proprietary and parts are sometimes hard to get. I would ask about that aspect of it. Also, mainly a pet peeve of mine, is that it seems that Dahon is constantly "churning" models, something that is available this year won't be next year, not necessarily a bad thing, but it comes back to availability of repair parts.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  17. #17
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    Yeah, model churn is a definite concern. The shop owner wasn't real thrilled with the churn either... a lot of the "U.S. models" that Dahon advertises are very hard to get in the US, if you can get them at all. He was very clear that the standard Dahon racks are not something he's thrilled with given my normal loads. A bike that feels just right is a big deal, but so are busted racks. And I'm pretty sure Dahon isn't the Only Company that makes me sized bikes.

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I am suffering from a nerve impingement that makes standing, walking, and sitting in a chair very difficult but do get a lot relief from riding as it puts me in a position that relieves the pressure on the areas that are being affected and the handlebars make a good support to take some load off my back.

    I still have trouble getting a leg over a regular bike, even my mountain bike isn't low enough at times.

    I have taken to riding my Twenty Folder which has a low step over, a comfortable ride and riding position, and an anatomically correct saddle that takes pressure off of my perineal area.

    It even has shopping baskets.

    It does exceed the weight I am allowed to carry but that is not an issue as it lives in the garage or gets walked into the entry where I can fold it up.

    I volunteer as a bike mechanic and also love to tinker and modify things... the Twenty never came with alloy wheels or a dual drive and they sometimes be found for very little money.


  19. #19
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    Next set of test rides: Batavus, Breezer and Electra

    I can't pick up a Batavus. I *certainly* can't pick it up and carry it down stairs. That sucks, because the front rack is very cool looking. Electras I can pick up. They also win a new award: first bike I've ever ridden with handlebars set high enough to make my arms sore (and that's *after* we knocked them down a bunch). It also felt a bit twitchy.

    Breezer comes in a me sized model. It also wins points since it was doable to ride it hands free for a bit. Corners nicely, and is geared about the same as the Kettler. Right now, this is the front runner. I can't get the Kettler in a smaller size, since they no longer make city bikes. The two bikes are priced almost identically, and are about the same on features (coaster brake, skirt guard and mini pump vs wheel lock and water bottle braze ons).

    SixtyFiver, the Twenty looks very cool . I think it'd try to turn into a project bike on me, so it would not be ok as an Only Bike.

  20. #20
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Torrilin,
    Let us know how you make out with the Breezer and make sure to post pictures

    I just put down my deposit for a Redline R530 today. No one had my size in stock, but I did get to look and touch a smaller one. Base price is around $560 and by the time I get done with upgrades I will be at about $750. Closest Breezer to me was over 12 hours away.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  21. #21
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    Short version: I am a happy woman. The new bike and I are a much better match. Baskets are underrated.

    Long version:
    I had a choice between Topeak, Basil and Wald baskets, depending on which shop I went with. The Topeak one has a fine gauge mesh but can still handle a cargo net, unlike the Wald and Basil fine mesh baskets. The Topeak is removable but uses a custom mount. Wald baskets are fixed. Basil ones that I'd pay money for use a Klickfix mount, so they're interchangeable with a lot of other bar bags. The plastic mount is suitable for up to about 10 lbs (for both Basil and Topeak). This made the Topeak fine for what I wanted, and since it was the basket at the shop where I bought my bike, Topeak it is. I think if the Topeak mount fails, it would be relatively easy to convert a mesh basket to work with a decaleur/rack system for a more weight capable basket.

    In use, the basket makes the bike feel a hair heavy up front. My lock does not lay flat on the bottom of the basket, so my wheel likes to flop if the lock is the only thing in the basket (this is *only* when the bike is stationary - at even a walking pace, the balance improves). A smaller lock would probably solve the problem. For light and bulky loads, the basket is ideal. Since I wanted it for things like keeping swiss chard and rain jackets out of my panniers, it's a win. It makes an impulsive decision to wander off for fun easier too. It holds a rain jacket, sweater, purse, lock, book and snack easily. The basket should work well for trips to the pool too.

    I ended up with a Breezer Villager. The budget would tolerate a plain Uptown with no upgrades, or a Villager with a Brooks and a basket. I'm sad about the lack of red, generator hub and full chaincase, but happy that my rear end doesn't hurt. On a day to day basis, I'll probably care more about my rear end not hurting anyway. I emailed Breezer, and they say that the Uptown chaincase is not compatible with the Villager frame. Sad. Replacement chainguards and chaincases are available which should reduce Murphy's Law problems.

    The bike is very manageable on stairs, even with my helmet and lock in the basket. The flat bar at the base of the U frame makes a convenient carry handle, and it didn't take much practice to get the hang of keeping the front wheel stable.

    I went with a B-17S for the saddle. I thought about a Flyer or Flyer S, but suspension saddles to me seem to go with unsuspended seatposts. The rails are the same length as the Breezer stock saddle, so I'm not losing any adjustment options. The stock saddle and seatpost worked ok, but wouldn't have worked for a 20 mile trip. The Brooks and stock seatpost are fine for 20 miles, even tho the Brooks is brand new. The shorter nose hasn't been a problem on the bike, and off the bike, it means I don't have the nose poking me at long traffic lights. If it ever warms up enough that I can wear a skirt, I'll report back with how it works. (since I bought a skirt capable bike *and* have skirts that fit, I'm not holding my breath for this year)

    The semi-bad news is twofold. My Axiom Seymour panniers are starting to tear. It's a fabric issue, not a stitching issue. They're still usable, but this means they're likely to fail soon (I'm eyeballing it at 1 year or less, instead of the 3-5 I'd been hoping for). Also, they're not very compatible with the Breezer rack design. On my JANDD rack, I'd loop the bungee cord around the bottom rack strut and hook it to one of the D rings on the bag. This was very secure, and I never had trouble with the panniers coming loose. I can't do the same trick with the Breezer rack, and I've had the panniers try to come lose as a result. A higher quality pannier would not give me these problems, but a rack design with a bottom rack strut would improve things too.

    I haven't done any real social riding with it, so my partner and our friends haven't had a chance to misplace me yet *g*. For errands, the gear range is fine.

    Cellphone camera photos to come, if I can figure out how to get them off the phone *g*.

  22. #22
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    And three months later... I still haven't figured out how to get photos off the cell phone. But I can tell y'all more about a Breezer in daily use.

    I had a huge grocery list this morning. It started with 10 lbs flour (only 10 more lbs to go and I'll be back to full winter stockpile), 10 lbs sugar, and it went downhill from there. I eyeballed it at 50 lbs. I was wrong. I skipped about 10-15 lbs worth of stuff, and came home with a 54 lb load. Canvas bag playing trunk rack, stuffed panniers, stuffed basket. I *might* have been able to squeeze in another 5 or 6 lbs, but that's it.

    Handling was best described as wiggly. It felt like the tail of the bike flexed if I was pedaling with a lot of force. *Much* less scary than the riding on ice effect with my old bike, since all I had to do to prevent it was gear down. So 50-60 lbs is probably the max I should haul with this bike, even if it's technically capable of more. And an 84 lb loaded bike is about the maximum I can manhandle into the building's lobby. Any more and I should unload outside before tackling the front stoop.

    This thing is *incredibly* capable for hauling cargo. It's also done a drum throne, a stint of trailer duty, and a whole lot of ordinary loads. And now that I'm used to the gearing, it's a zippy little thing. If I go full tilt, I misplace my partner and get glared at, so I'm assigned to always tail him (again).

    The bottle generator will give up in heavy rain, but it takes 10-20 minutes for the tires to get wet enough for that to happen (and since the odds of me riding in heavy rain at night are pretty low, it's not a huge problem). The pedals *suck* in rain... they're much too slippery. And as I rather feared, the handlebar/hand grip combination is not great. It's fine for 20-30 miles, but beyond that my wrists would like Ergon grips or a mustache/North Roads bar. Either one would do fine. All of these problems are fixable, and none of them interfere with normal daily use.

    I could be happier with it, but it would be *very* tough for a stock bike to suit me better.

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