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Jim Merz, Shimano listened, Campy didn't

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Jim Merz, Shimano listened, Campy didn't

Old 09-30-20, 07:32 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Just knowing the other business practices Specialized engaged in I wonder if this story has been embellished a bit to make it appear less reverse engineering and more Shimano trying to work with requests from a big-time purchaser. I mean we all know how the Stumpjumper came to be...
I would love to hear more about the Stumpy. From what I remember, it was copied for another bike (not a Ritchey) but that is all I remember.
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Old 09-30-20, 07:47 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
That said, I have very little Campy...
It’s interesting how things evolve. When I was riding roads more, I had several Campy components on my Witcomb: NR FD, C-Record RD, headset and seat post. And I think Superbe brakes are essentially in the Campy style.

These days I’m riding more a mix of roads and trails, pretty much SS and so not a lotta stuff on the bikes. The Schwinn has the DA cranks and Superbe brakes at the moment, which is a bit of a culture shock, but the frame has low BB drop and great pedal clearance, so it’s better for this type of riding. The RockHopper has SR road cranks to minimize Q-factor.

If I set the freshly repainted Witcomb back up as a road bike, it will probably be mostly Suntour, though I will for sure be using that 2-bolt Campy post.

Otto
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Old 09-30-20, 08:04 AM
  #28  
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I haven't been bothered dealing with electronic but I built and test road Ultegra bikes this summer, that front der is over complicated and I just wasn't impressed by it. A 10 speed Record group back in 01 at the recommendation of my then boss put a soft spot in my heart for Campy. Shimano and Sram's price fixing and denying euro sales to the US gave me a real negative view of them in the last year. End result was my newest bike being Campy which dialed in quick and I'm really enjoying as does my wife. End result is that at the lower end of future builds will be microshift which imho is ever bit as good as Shimano through the Tiagra level and anything after that will be Campy. In both cases I'll save money over buying the two big S's and be happy to move on.

As for Specialized, I've built and sold them through the shops I've worked in but never understood why people liked them so much but they definitely have a fan base that's quick to sell their 1-2 year old stuff just so they can hop on the newest thing. I'm on a facebook group for bikes and Specialized is the most numerous thing being sold. I find the company sketchy and the bikes just whatever and have never been inspired to want one.

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Old 09-30-20, 08:10 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
I haven't been bothered dealing with electronic but I built and test road Ultegra bikes this summer, that front der is over complicated and I just wasn't impressed by it. .
I spent most of the spring on a 105 or Ultegra system and honestly, the one area is has it above Campagnolo is the front derailleur. Not even close in my mind. Most of my time was on a mechanical set up and some on a Di2 system (which was even better). Both my current bikes run some form of Campag system - H11 and Chorus or 11 speed Centaur and I love them but Shimano front derailleur shifting is fantastic. Heck, I have a 20 year old Ultegra system and that FD is still amazing. The campagnolo stuff shift fine but the Shimano stuff is on another level.
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Old 09-30-20, 08:23 AM
  #30  
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On course I am getting to be an old guy now so performance & competition isn't my reason for riding. I ride just for some level of fitness. However, I find myself enjoying 6 & 7 speed friction shifting more and more. Modern equipment doe's not make my cycling experience any more enjoyable and it certainly does not motivate me to get out and ride.
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Old 09-30-20, 09:45 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post

Yes I see this is an old thread gugie bumped.
Yeah, work at the atelier must have slowed.

Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
The same thing happened with the ATB groups. When Shimano was developing Deore XT, they went to ATB pioneers like Gary Fisher.

One of the forgotten names in Shimano product development is Wayne Stetina, one of dominant cyclists in USA road cycling during the late 1970s. He was hired by Shimano USA, though I forget the exact year and his job title. Regardless, he did a lot personal testing, arranged testing with top USA cyclists and was liaison with the Japanese engineers. I know he had lots of input on the development of New Dura-Ace (i.e. 74xx series). I believe he eventually worked his way up to Vice-President.


Wayne's nephew, Peter Stetina, is winding down a solid career as a pro road racer. I think the development of cycling tech in the late 70's , through the 80's, into early 90's is fascinating. I had the good fortune to be present at that get together with Merz at 2019 Eroica and it was a highlight of an even otherwise very memorable long weekend.Are there any books on this era? If not, should there be one? Should I write it?
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Old 09-30-20, 10:19 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
The same thing happened with the ATB groups. When Shimano was developing Deore XT, they went to ATB pioneers like Gary Fisher.

One of the forgotten names in Shimano product development is Wayne Stetina, one of dominant cyclists in USA road cycling during the late 1970s. He was hired by Shimano USA, though I forget the exact year and his job title. Regardless, he did a lot personal testing, arranged testing with top USA cyclists and was liaison with the Japanese engineers. I know he had lots of input on the development of New Dura-Ace (i.e. 74xx series). I believe he eventually worked his way up to Vice-President.

It will be interesting to see what surprises Shimano has in store for their Centennial, next year.
Like most Japanese Corporations, refinement of their next 100 year plan.
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Old 09-30-20, 10:34 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
On course I am getting to be an old guy now so performance & competition isn't my reason for riding. I ride just for some level of fitness. However, I find myself enjoying 6 & 7 speed friction shifting more and more. Modern equipment doe's not make my cycling experience any more enjoyable and it certainly does not motivate me to get out and ride.
Coincidentally, I just read this as I prepare to head out for a morning foothills ride while deciding whether to ride a 6-speed friction (Pro-Tour) or 7-speed friction (Nine-Twelve).
Of course, each of these bikes has gained a sprocket in back over the years!
These old bikes get the job done.
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Old 09-30-20, 12:12 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
@JaccoW
....Merz showed them a Campy 50th group, told them what they needed improved upon and within a year they delivered, made a quantum leap.....
What specifically did Merz ask Shimano to improve upon?
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Old 09-30-20, 12:32 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
What specifically did Merz ask Shimano to improve upon?
Not sure now, can't remember. I may be able to find the BQ it was in, #62 .

Not sure of your knowledge of Merz but he had/has few equals when it comes to most things bicycle IMO.

Somebody mused in an earlier post about embellishing, Merz was/is very matter of fact, straight to the point and could see and execute things many couldn't.

Embellishing is not something he would need to bother with.
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Old 09-30-20, 12:33 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
What specifically did Merz ask Shimano to improve upon?
I assume shifters on the handlebars?
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Old 09-30-20, 01:07 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Coincidentally, I just read this as I prepare to head out for a morning foothills ride while deciding whether to ride a 6-speed friction (Pro-Tour) or 7-speed friction (Nine-Twelve).
Of course, each of these bikes has gained a sprocket in back over the years!
These old bikes get the job done.
Yes they do!
l am rotating between 3 bikes at the moment. One with Dura Ace 7700, another with 6400 and another with 6 speed Victory. The sprockets are getting bigger as time moves on.
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Old 09-30-20, 01:33 PM
  #38  
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It's funny to read this because for a while in MTB, at least since SRAM introduced XO1 in 2013, Shimano has been seen as in the passenger seat. They kept pushing 2x10 and 3x10 systems for years after anyone wanted them. M9000 was only the start of their catch-up. The new freehub only matches what SRAM has done for seven years. Shifting on the 12 speed stuff is said to be great and redeeming. They trickled it down to Deore level fast, only two years, instead of one level a year. Even now there's a bizarre 2x12 version with a 10-45 cassette that probably no one is going to spec or buy.
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Old 09-30-20, 01:45 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
What specifically did Merz ask Shimano to improve upon?
Just about everything, fit, finish, setup, install, the aesthetic, he got them to understand that it had to look good as Campy did regardless of how well it actually worked.

Shimano took it all to heart and did it in record time, looked great and functioned even better.

They had 20-30 engineers working on all aspects, Campy had 2 working mainly only on production.

I found my BQ 62 but have no scanner or good copying ability. I may try to take pics but not going to post here. We'll see.

Might be able to ping Jan for help with it from the source.
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Old 09-30-20, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Not sure now, can't remember. I may be able to find the BQ it was in, #62.
Is this the article?
Attached Files
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merz-shimano.pdf (1.05 MB, 44 views)
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Old 09-30-20, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Is this the article?
Bingo!

Tx John
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Old 09-30-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Is this the article?
So my recall of the 2019 Eroica hangout is a bit fuzzy - there was a fair amount of wine and beer involved - but I remember some of the same ground covered in the above mentioned article, namely Jim going to Tullio’s funeral (I remember the eyebrow lifts at name-dropping Tullio!) and also discussing working with Shimano on indexing. The Campy 50th was friction with their indexing Syncro 1 not coming out until I believe 86 or 87. Maybe Gugie or others who were there can confirm.
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Old 09-30-20, 04:04 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs View Post
So my recall of the 2019 Eroica hangout is a bit fuzzy - there was a fair amount of wine and beer involved - but I remember some of the same ground covered in the above mentioned article, namely Jim going to Tullio’s funeral (I remember the eyebrow lifts at name-dropping Tullio!) and also discussing working with Shimano on indexing. The Campy 50th was friction with their indexing Syncro 1 not coming out until I believe 86 or 87. Maybe Gugie or others who were there can confirm.
You can also raise an eyebrow to the story/fact that Sinyard slept on Merz's couch when he came to PDX peddling (literally) his wares long before Specialized became a thing.

Orders from shops paid up front, parts from Campy, fronted on credit (see where this was going), Volkswagon bus, couch surfing his way to infamy.

And that Merz also played a huge part in the bigtime launch/liftoff of Big S by field testing the tires in real time from drop shipments on the road.

Jim's legendary, brutal, loaded megatouring setting the stage for one of two things, continued abject failure OR success.

When they finally struck paydirt with one that would last more than a few days to a couple of weeks, Big S was off to the races (also literally) and the rest is history, good, bad AND ugly.

IMO, Sinyard was very lucky to have encountered Jim when he did.

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Old 09-30-20, 04:58 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post

One of the forgotten names in Shimano product development is Wayne Stetina, one of dominant cyclists in USA road cycling during the late 1970s. He was hired by Shimano USA, though I forget the exact year and his job title. Regardless, he did a lot personal testing, arranged testing with top USA cyclists and was liaison with the Japanese engineers. I know he had lots of input on the development of New Dura-Ace (i.e. 74xx series). I believe he eventually worked his way up to Vice-President.
Interesting, I knew Wayne Stetina worked for Shimano, but I never made the connection that he might have had something to do with Dura Ace 7400.

When 7400 came out, it was obvious that Shimano had consulted bike racers. Gone were all novelties of debatable utility. Fit and finish went up at least two levels; the parts looked like jewels. Most importantly of all, they had clearly placed ruggedness and reliability very high on the priority list. In a way 74000 had taken a big step towards Suntour Superbe, and in many ways surpassed it.


WRT Campy, Tullio had just died around that time. The company was left in the hands of a young and inexperienced Valentino. IMO they were flailiing for a while. It doesn't really surprise me that they were less receptive to requests and ideas from Merz and Specialized. I could also see how they might have wanted to be a bit cautious with that.

I still consider NR/SR and before to be the real campy, and they lost me with syncro, pretty much permanently. I know that they make nice stuff now again.
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Old 09-30-20, 05:43 PM
  #45  
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Salamandrine

It probably went from cautious to wary, by then Valentino may have figured out Sinyard was playing both ends against the middle for a long time.

And now he was big enough to squeeze harder than ever with whatever leverage he was using.
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Old 09-30-20, 05:56 PM
  #46  
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Campagnolo didn't seriously recover engineering wise until the first carbon Record, imo. Those were nice head-turning gears.
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Old 09-30-20, 08:12 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs View Post
So my recall of the 2019 Eroica hangout is a bit fuzzy - there was a fair amount of wine and beer involved - but I remember some of the same ground covered in the above mentioned article, namely Jim going to Tullio’s funeral (I remember the eyebrow lifts at name-dropping Tullio!) and also discussing working with Shimano on indexing. The Campy 50th was friction with their indexing Syncro 1 not coming out until I believe 86 or 87. Maybe Gugie or others who were there can confirm.
I have no idea why I commented on a zombie thread. Adult beverages may have been involved...as they were that evening. All I remember is @Choke defending Campagnolo's honor against the heathen hoards of Jim Merz's Shimano technocrats.

Oh, and another Mark man-wagging between us on the way to the oddly placed bathroom...but that's an annual tradition at Eroica, no? A whole different type of eyebrow lifting.

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Old 09-30-20, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Well, unless you want to call Jim Merz a liar, several of us at the 2019 Eroica California heard the story from the horse's mouth. Jim said that Campy had something like 1 or 2 engineers, Shimano had a couple dozen. Campy didn't listen, Shimano did.

Compare a Campy gruppo against Shimano Dura Ace from that exact time, I'm not sure what they reverse engineered.
This sounds like Lee Oskar, Tombo in Japan and the old and famous Hohner in Germany. Harmonicas. Lee Oskar, a young, brash Dane living in the US and setting the music world on fire with his harmonica playing and vision, (War.) He came up with an idea for a better harmonica that could be taken apart, the reeds modified or entire reed plates swapped out so he could re-tune his harmonica to do wild things. Went to Hohner with his idea. Nada. Likewise for all the other major players. Went to Tombo, an established Japanese outfit that had been making harmonicas for the Japanese market forever but was known in the US for toy kid's harmonicas. They listened. And created the Lee Oskar line that set a new standard, for both the quality and concept.

I learned about the Lee Oskar harmonicas at a New Year's eve party my first winter in Seatlle, 1986. My boss in a past life was a rock musician. Party included his bandmate, now owner of Seattle's biggest music store. He brought along the newest Hohner, inspired by the Lee Oskars and told me about the Oskars. Went to the store and bought one of each. Hohner - good, far better than the ones it replaced. The Lee Oskar? A serious musical instrument. Everything could be replaced easily. There was a toolkit that allowed tuning, adjusting the reeds... Coming from a family into classical music, mom a very good flute player, sis who played Mendelssohn's Concerto in E-minor in high school, this was something. I bought all 12 keys. Some of the minor keys. Built a box to organize them. Eventually I had 30 I used and had retired maybe a half dozen. (I used to retire the wooden combed Hohners in single digits of hours. I replaced my favorite, a low F after I played the blues for my deceased dad in front of 100 people and knew I had to retire that wonderful baritone "Mississippi saxophone: before I broke a reed from fatigue. It had been my favorite harp - slang for harmonica - since I first played it, 20 years before!)

This winter I watched Lee Oskar play at the Harmonica Blowout then went to +their workshop the next day. It is an annual event/'troupe that travels the west coast in January with 3 different harmonica players. Listened to Lee Oskar play tunings I"d never heard before. The workshop was at a local music store. There I saw 4 harmonicas in duplicate tunings but an octave lower and bought them. Low baritones! Got inspired, made racks that fit inside the opened box lid and can now hold all of the harmonicas Lee Oskar makes and ordered all the rest. COVID slowed deliveries down but I just learned all but two are now at the store and they can get the reed plates for the two (rather uncommon) tunings that are no longer being made. (And a Lee Oskar made from parts is just as a good and costs barely more than the new, boxed product. What a concept! I do have to paint on the harp key, but with a dremel and oil based enamel primer - really good work bench paint! - that lettering is better than original!)

So long ramble. You guys get to see my other love. My love that competes with the bike. The blues, the best music happens when bike riders should be in bed. And back to the Shimano-Campy thing. The Japanese industries were taught by a top US manufacturing professor right after WW2 - establish what is wanted. Make a better unit. (Cheaper is nice but better is important.) Then market it. The Lee Oskar - most expensive 10 hole diatonic harmonica by a lot when it came out.. $18 as a preferred customer, 1987. $48 now. Most of the competition now costs more. Quality across the board is a lot higher.. But Lee Oskar harmonicas have barely changed in the 40 years I've been playing them. I still have several of the harps with the old lettering on them and they are still fully playable and fully reparable.

Tombo and Lee Oscar don't fully fit the bike scene. Tombo, like Shimano, listened. But they never got huge. Lee Oskars never took over the market. Never got the Shimano - let's introduce a new standard! (And obsolete what we were making 5 years ago.) They did change the entire harmonica world big time for the good but most of the big name players stuck with the now better made harps they were using before. Some of this is tuning and sound. I have always like the Oskars since I played the first note.. Others don't. Just like bikes.

Ben
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Old 10-01-20, 09:08 AM
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Dipping in my toes late into this reanimated zombie thread...

I didn't see a reference to the Shimano/Suntour patent wars in this article, but I was in Japan while it was ongoing and helped the Suntour engineering team deal with correspondence and document requests.

The crux of the Shimano's claim was the specific internal mechanism used in Suntour's high-end IPC (Index Power Control) downtube rear shift lever to disengage the indexing mechanism and switch to friction mode. Had nothing to do with STI or brifters. Suntour did violate that patent, and was never able to find prior art to invalidate Shimano's claim.

So Suntour did two things, probably kinda simultaneously.

They redesigned the offending lever so that the index disc wasn't completely locked out in friction mode, and marketing spun it as a "soft click" feature. Hey guys, it's a New Feature! I thereafter started referring to all Suntour efforts to work around Shimano patents as Suntour PAT (Patent Avoidance Technology).

They also did what, evidently, all good patent lawyers advise, which is a deep dive into the claimant's products to find a violation of _your_ patent. Which they found in some Shimano front derailleurs. I don't think I ever heard the specific violation, just "some front derailleur thing." Suntour then counter-sued Shimano for front derailleur patent violations.

Shimano sold many more offending front derailleurs than Suntour had sold IPC levers, so Shimano had a lot more to lose. But Shimano had far deeper pockets. As noted in the article, Suntour's engineering staff was tiny compared to Shimano's, and the drivetrain guys lost a lot of productive engineering time to finding and xeroxing documents related to the lawsuits.

Without getting too political, let's just say that the only folks this worked out well for was the lawyers. Lotsa good billing on that action. I was told that one of the Suntour lawyers had been involved in a Toyota/Nissan patent battle, this in the days before scanners and .pdf files, and said they were literally sending 40' containers full of documents back and forth.

I ain't no patent lawyer, but it does seem to me like you'd have an easier time defending a patent covering something very narrow and specific, like the precise mechanism by which a ball bearing is disengaged from an index plate, than something much more general, like a combined brake/shift lever.

Coming at a time when Suntour was on the ropes, rapidly losing market share, unable to ship on time what little spec they had, losing heaps of money on air shipments of late product and WTB/etc payments, it was just another coffin nail.

Originally Posted by merziac View Post
You may not be wrong, much of it was certainly a slippery slope although Specialized by no means cornered the market on this sort of thing, they did however elevate it to an artform. The article notes that while suntour caved on STI shifters, Campy dug up drawings from the 50's of TA prototypes to invalidate Shimano's patent, which I would say was very fortunate for them.
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Old 10-01-20, 09:56 AM
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Patent wars make me sad, especially because I and many cow-orkers lost our jobs as a result of one, and it was one that I feel was meritless. These wars are usually based on how deep one's pockets are, not on protecting and engendering innovation.
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