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8 speed shifters performance vs 11 speed shimano

Old 02-16-16, 08:58 AM
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8 speed shifters performance vs 11 speed shimano

I think I will sell my 5800 11 speed shifters and derailleurs new for 250 usd, and try to pick up some 8 speed bling. Reason to do so is the desire for a more robust drive train and possibly more reliable shifters. I've already ruled out bar end shifters because they're inconvenient. I've done some searches answer found microshift and shimano 2400, which I assume is lower than sora, and they cost around 160. The small price difference suddenly makes the downgrade seemingly not worthwhile. But I'd like other opinions

Adv of 8 speed
Longevity... kind of big deal because one would like the chain and cassette to last through a long tour
Lower maintenance
Cheaper to replace
Possibly more reliable

Adv of 11 speed
Better performance all around
More gears

Anyone have 1st hand encounters on comparing 8 and 11 speed setups? I don't have experience with 8 speed road brifters

Last edited by spectastic; 02-16-16 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 02-16-16, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
Adv of 8 speed
Longevity... kind of big deal because one would like the chain and cassette to last through a long tour
Lower maintenance
Cheaper to replace
Possibly more reliable
I don't think any of these things are true, except MAYBE the cassette wearing longer. Chain? No. Lower maintenance? No. More reliable? Definitely not. The supposed durability of older, thicker chains is myth and superstition. Not true in practice.

When groups add more speeds, they don't just make the chain and cogs narrower and call it a day. 8 speed has existed for, what, 25 years? There have been advances in materials, design and manufacturing since that time that the old stuff doesn't benefit from. The new stuff does. In my experience, the new stuff works better 100% of the time. Swapping 11-speed for 8-speed is foolish. Especially going from modern 5800 to Sora. Save yourself the hassle and just use what you have.
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Old 02-16-16, 07:29 PM
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I have several bikes with eight speed systems and am very happy with them. But I really do not know if it is easy to put together a new eight speed system with new parts or not. Many of my parts were bought over 10 years ago, some of the ones I bought more recently were good quality used ones on Ebay.

My point is that I do not even know if it is practical to go out and buy a new grupo for eight speed that is of high quality. You might have to spend some time piecing together what you need. All but one of my eight speed systems is with bar end shifters, so I can't really comment on Shimano eight speed brifters. My one bike that uses a brifter has a Campy 10 speed brifter on a Shimano eight speed derailleur and Sram eight speed cassette, thus I am not even using a Shimano brifter in my collection.

That said, my most recent build was a couple months ago and I stayed with an eight speed system. It is robust, works well, stays in adjustment well, I do not find it lacking. And I bought three new eight speed cassettes a couple weeks ago, so I have several more years supply.
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Old 02-16-16, 11:32 PM
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8 speed "stuff" is only going to be tougher to find as time goes on and you will have very limited options. I doubt that there is that much greater reliability (if any) by dropping to an 8 speed gear set, also consider that your present 11 speed hubs may not be able to accept an 8,9, or even 10 speed cassette, so now we're talking even more cash for new wheel build.
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Old 02-17-16, 12:30 AM
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Shimano generally relabels previous higher end models and kicks them down, SO more than likely, the shifters you are looking at were at one time modeled from the 8-speed Sora. Like grolby said, I would definitely keep the 105 group. Personally, IMHO, the 105 is probably the most durable and reliable of the Shimano road groupsets.

If you drop down to 8-speed, you'll more than likely have to swap out the front crank to accommodate the chain width as well. If anything, swap out your cassette and/or possibly your chainrings (not sure if you run compact, mid, or standard). Aside of that, I've heard some real good things about the KMC DLC chain lasting about 3 times longer than a Shimano or SRAM chain, but price wise, you'd pay roughly twice as much as a standard chain. But really you just have to see whats beneficial for you...

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Old 02-17-16, 12:34 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby
except MAYBE the cassette wearing longer.
In theory wider chains allow for thicker teeth, but this probably isn't going to be significant unless you dig up a vintage freewheel. Ever since indexing became a thing, even the 6/7/8-speed stuff uses sprockets with narrow, heavily tapered teeth.

(And if you do dig up such a freewheel, you'd better like friction shifting.)
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Old 02-17-16, 04:00 AM
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It's just that most touring bikes I see all use 8 speed or other speed casettes. I've yet to see 5800 105 on a stock touring get bike
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Old 02-17-16, 04:12 AM
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If you are really concerned about sturdiness, you should be looking at MTB groupsets.
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Old 02-17-16, 06:15 AM
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Your shifting and especially drivetrain maintenance methods will play a much bigger part in its longevity than 8 supposedly being longer lasting than 10 or 11.
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Old 02-17-16, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
It's just that most touring bikes I see all use 8 speed or other speed casettes. I've yet to see 5800 105 on a stock touring get bike
That's because touring bikes are spec'd with inexpensive parts, due to low sales volume (=worse parts pricing for the manufacturer) and the fact most tourists are unwilling to spend $2000+ on a touring bike - and if they do, they tend to go to boutique or custom makes. Not because the 8-speed stuff is more durable. Not dissing the 8-speed parts by the way, they work well, but they're not better than 11-speed 105 in any way.
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Old 02-17-16, 08:20 AM
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Touring bikes do not come with 8 speed, you'll see 9 and 10. They haven't come with 8 for close to 10 years probably.

Grolby, mid level perhaps, but then perhaps you mean something else by inexpensive. Deore, deore LX and that sort of range is well made, lasts a very long time and are reasonably priced to replace in case of damage. This has been the priority and common level of components in touring bikes for decades, a sweet spot of performance/cost.

I would add that 10 speed is now becoming the standard number and this is reflected in stock tourers having 10 now. Even 3 or so years ago an acquaintance bought a new tourer with 10 speed 105.
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Old 02-17-16, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by 36Oly_Rider
...
If you drop down to 8-speed, you'll more than likely have to swap out the front crank to accommodate the chain width as well. ....
One of my eight speed bikes has a 10 speed crankset. I added some thin spacers to mount the chainrings a bit further apart. I used the Wheels Mfg spacers, not the ones described at this link: Le Tour Chainring Spacers - Branford Bike - Seattle/Bellevue - Campagnolo Pro Shop

Originally Posted by spectastic
It's just that most touring bikes I see all use 8 speed or other speed casettes. I've yet to see 5800 105 on a stock touring get bike
You probably are seeing older bikes then. Most of my eight speed bikes run 1990s vintage Shimano XT rear derailleurs, I am using the older steel axle Shimano hubs instead of the newer Aluminum axle XT hubs, thus my hubs are over a decade old. Up front I am using square taper cranks and bottom bracket because they work just fine and just keep going. When Campy stopped making square taper road triples, I stocked up at clearance prices, I have them on several of my bikes.

There is a good discussion of the problems of touring bike manufacturing companies finding good touring components at this link: https://www.adventurecycling.org/defa..._DAmbrosio.pdf

I am not going to get in an argument with the other posters here, I do not know if eight speed is more reliable and more robust because I have never used nine, or ten, or eleven, or whatever. (I do have one 14, but that is a Rohloff, not derailleur.) But, my eight speed equipment has been working so well that I have decided that I will stick with it instead of chasing the latest fads. That is why I am still using square taper.

The photo is the drive train for my new rando bike, I ordered the frame for this two months ago and just recently finished building it up.



And yes, I even put on a new dork disc (spoke protector). I have heard of too many problems of people not using them.
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Old 02-17-16, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
my eight speed equipment has been working so well that I have decided that I will stick with it instead of chasing the latest fads.
Now that's funny
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Old 02-17-16, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
Touring bikes do not come with 8 speed, you'll see 9 and 10. They haven't come with 8 for close to 10 years probably.

Grolby, mid level perhaps, but then perhaps you mean something else by inexpensive. Deore, deore LX and that sort of range is well made, lasts a very long time and are reasonably priced to replace in case of damage. This has been the priority and common level of components in touring bikes for decades, a sweet spot of performance/cost.

I would add that 10 speed is now becoming the standard number and this is reflected in stock tourers having 10 now. Even 3 or so years ago an acquaintance bought a new tourer with 10 speed 105.
I didn't say "cheap" or "bad." If you want to say mid-level, that's fine, it doesn't matter. The point was durability isn't the reason most touring bikes don't come with 11-speed parts. I actually think you're right, most touring bikes these days will have 9 or 10-speed drivetrains, 8-speed is probably only on bikes under $1,000.

Come to think of it, one reason you might not find 11-speed parts on touring bikes is the lack of triple front shifters. It might be possible to get around that issue with a 2x11 MTB group, or if you're touring light. But if you're planning loaded tours and you want a front triple, you'll probably need to get pretty creative to use an 11-speed drivetrain.
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Old 02-17-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby
I didn't say "cheap" or "bad." If you want to say mid-level, that's fine, it doesn't matter. The point was durability isn't the reason most touring bikes don't come with 11-speed parts. I actually think you're right, most touring bikes these days will have 9 or 10-speed drivetrains, 8-speed is probably only on bikes under $1,000.

Come to think of it, one reason you might not find 11-speed parts on touring bikes is the lack of triple front shifters. It might be possible to get around that issue with a 2x11 MTB group, or if you're touring light. But if you're planning loaded tours and you want a front triple, you'll probably need to get pretty creative to use an 11-speed drivetrain.
in my experience with touring bikes going back 25 years or so, generally the number of speeds on common touring bikes bought as is in stores is usually one speed below the latest stuff. It just gets back to the sweet spot of performance/cost, and this will always be a shifting (sic) level. When I bought a touring bike 25 years ago, it had 7 speed, 8 speed was probably out there but at that time 7 was that middling point of cost etc.
Go back 6 years ago and my 9 speed bike was at that point, sure 10 was out there, but chains, cassettes, all cost quite a bit more. Now, 10 is getting to be the new normal, and prices of 10 stuff reflect that.

I would also say that for a lot of people, myself included, mid range stuff performs perfectly well, and for a long long time, especially if you are someone who takes care of your drivetrain maintenance wise. I think its fair to say that for a lot of people touring, they'd rather spend x hundreds of dollars less on a bike with one step down than newest, use that money for other stuff like camping gear, or a plane ticket. You also get into the area of X speed stuff being easier to find if ever you have an issue, and this aspect can apply to wheels, spoke lengths or whatever depending on where you plan to tour, and is a good thing to take into account when planning for a trip and or where in general the bike will be used predominantly.

and yes, as you say, with 11 spd you certainly get into the whole crankset availability, somewhat like the issues with 10 sp mtn vs road stuff, shifters and derailleurs.
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Old 02-17-16, 10:46 AM
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Is Your Touring about the Bike, competitive Data , Or the trip?
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Old 02-17-16, 11:22 AM
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When I built my current LHT Deluxe I went 8-speed because I was unhappy with the chain life I was getting touring on 9-speed. PLUS 8-speed is more economical all around. I figured the seemingly beefier 8-speed chains would give me more miles. It turns out I was wrong about the chain life. The kind of touring I do, which includes lots of back-county grit, still only gives me about 2500 miles on a chain (8 or 9). BUT the advantage is 8-speed chains can be picked up anywhere for considerably less than chains for a 9,10, or 11 (especially). Before my last tour I got an SRAM-870 chain for around $12.

The new parts I used for my 8-speed build (2012) was:

$17 Cassette SRAM PG850 8-speed, 11-32t
$13 Chain: SRAM PC-870, 8-speed
$22 Front Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra FD-4403 triple
$45 Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore LX, RD-M581, SGS, long cage
$60 Shifters: Shimano SL-BS64 Bar-end, 8-speed

The consumables are economical (chain & cassette = $20!) and very readily available. The derailleurs are both super sturdy, although exact replacements may be harder to find. Should the off-chance occur and they fail on the road other parts could be easily substituted.

OP: I think you should reconsider bar-ends. I highly recommend them for their simplicity, reliability, and economy.


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Old 02-17-16, 11:40 AM
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aura, your example is a good one. I am familiar with that 11-32 8 speed, and for me there are some pretty big percentage jumps between gears in there. When I went to 9 speed on another bike, having that extra cog was worth the change. It will be the same when I get a 10 sp bike.
I guess it always comes down to what a certain extra cost is involved for newer stuff, plus being realistic about really how much more you will spend over a few seasons. For me, changing chains a bit less often than you, but in time so not wearing out cassettes, means that the actual cost of 9 sp vs 8 was minimal--but then I very much appreciated the extra cog, as I will a 10sp.
In the end, the actual money diff is pretty small compared to other stuff in life, and one could save that money easily by not going to a restaurant one evening, or driving slower on the highway, or using your bike instead of the car here and there. Thats really how I look at it, to a point (meaning I will not get a 11 speed bike any time soon).
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Old 02-17-16, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura
... The derailleurs are both super sturdy, although exact replacements may be harder to find. Should the off-chance occur and they fail on the road other parts could be easily substituted.
...
Agree. Since the front shifter is friction, many front derailleurs will work without difficulty. And since the rear is used by both 8 and 9 speed systems, there are lots of perfectly adequate substitutes.
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Old 02-17-16, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
One of my eight speed bikes has a 10 speed crankset. I added some thin spacers to mount the chainrings a bit further apart. I used the Wheels Mfg spacers, not the ones described at this link: Le Tour Chainring Spacers - Branford Bike - Seattle/Bellevue - Campagnolo Pro Shop

Wow, I was figuring that the chainring width would be wider on 8-speed. Granted, those are pretty cool, but (just out of curiosity), would you have to adjust the spacing on the bottom bracket to maintain proper chainline?
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Old 02-17-16, 01:47 PM
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Ought to be able to use an 8 speed with friction bar end shifters Like I do With a 7 speed freewheel.
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Old 02-17-16, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 36Oly_Rider
Wow, I was figuring that the chainring width would be wider on 8-speed. Granted, those are pretty cool, but (just out of curiosity), would you have to adjust the spacing on the bottom bracket to maintain proper chainline?
Since the middle ring on my triple has no spacer between it and the spider, chainline is the same.

That said, I never get too excited about chainline. On my eight speed cassettes, I do not use the two most cross chained gears for each chainring. Thus when on the big chainring, do not use the biggest rear two sprockets, when on the middle chainring, do not use the innermost and outermost rear sprockets, etc. That reduces any impact of a non-perfect chainline. Lets face it, most people with derailleur bikes often run combinations of gears that are far from an ideal chainline.

Of my 24 possible gears, I only use 18 of them. But none of the 18 are duplicates, and all are well spaced. Several of the cross chained gears that I do not use are duplicates, so I am not really missing much by not using those six gears.

I am sure my 10 speed chainrings wear slightly faster because the thinner rings have less contact on the chain, but has not been a problem yet.
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Old 02-22-16, 01:40 AM
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- The jump from 7 speed to 8 speed basically kept the sprocket spacing, but the freehub got wider and another sproclet was added. Therefore the legendary 7 speed XT and Deore flatbar thumbshifters can be used with 7 or 8 speed cassettes.
- Then the next jump from 8 to 9 speed kept the sprocket thickness, but reduced the sprocket spacing and introduced a new chain with thinner plates. But because the sprockets are the same thickness, the rollers of the chain should be as wide as 8 speed chain.
- The next jump from 9 speed to 10 speed changed sprocket spacing, sprocket thickness and chain width (both the plates and the rollers).
- I am not sure if the jump from 10 to 11 speeds changed the sprocket thickness, but the importatnt thing is that they changed the freehub width, and this without increasing the hub spacing results in a weaker wheel. This is the main reason I would not consider 11 speed for touring.

For myself I decided to use 9 speed gearing for my touring bike. Even the low groups are now 9 speed so parts are readily available and cheap, while the gear jumps are just about right.

If the OP wants to go from 11 speed to 8, fine, but the change would't make sense without replacing the rear hub for one with narrower freehub (8-9-10 speed type) for a stronger wheel. In case of Shimano hub, the freehub body can be replaced without relacing the wheel, the wheel just has to be re-dished and some spacers added to the NDS.


Adv of 8 speed
Longevity... kind of big deal because one would like the chain and cassette to last through a long tour
Lower maintenance
Cheaper to replace
Possibly more reliable
- 8 speed is just very slightly more durable. The modern materials used in the 10 and 11 speed chains really make them very good, but at a much higer price.
- maintenance is the same
- deffinitely much much cheaper
- not so sure about reliability, but if stronger rear wheel is more reliable, then yes, 8 or 9 speed should be more reliable

Adv of 11 speed
Better performance all around
More gears
- what do you mean by better performance ? more crisp and precise shifting ? This is true only when everything is clean. When the cassette is full of mud I can guarantee the 8 speed would shift better. Also in case your shifter breaks and you buy a cheap friction thumbshifter in a village garage repair shop, the 8 speed would be more tolerant to the less precise shifting. Moreover, 8-9-10 speed use all the same ratio (except dyna-sys MTB) and can be used with all sorts of Shim-ergo solutions e.g. use 10 speed shifter with 9 speed cassette only by different clamping of the shifter cable at the derailleur.
- probably smaller jumps between gears, but you can probably use front tripple with low range cassette to reach the same with 8 or 9 speed casette. With front tripple the 11 speed in the back just loses sense.
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Old 02-22-16, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Of my 24 possible gears, I only use 18 of them. But none of the 18 are duplicates, and all are well spaced. Several of the cross chained gears that I do not use are duplicates, so I am not really missing much by not using those six gears.
What cassette and crankset are you running may I ask?
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Old 02-22-16, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by OndrejP_SK
- The jump from 7 speed to 8 speed basically kept the sprocket spacing, but the freehub got wider and another sproclet was added. Therefore the legendary 7 speed XT and Deore flatbar thumbshifters can be used with 7 or 8 speed cassettes.
- Then the next jump from 8 to 9 speed kept the sprocket thickness, but reduced the sprocket spacing and introduced a new chain with thinner plates. But because the sprockets are the same thickness, the rollers of the chain should be as wide as 8 speed chain.
- The next jump from 9 speed to 10 speed changed sprocket spacing, sprocket thickness and chain width (both the plates and the rollers).
- I am not sure if the jump from 10 to 11 speeds changed the sprocket thickness, but the importatnt thing is that they changed the freehub width, and this without increasing the hub spacing results in a weaker wheel. This is the main reason I would not consider 11 speed for touring.

For myself I decided to use 9 speed gearing for my touring bike. Even the low groups are now 9 speed so parts are readily available and cheap, while the gear jumps are just about right.

If the OP wants to go from 11 speed to 8, fine, but the change would't make sense without replacing the rear hub for one with narrower freehub (8-9-10 speed type) for a stronger wheel. In case of Shimano hub, the freehub body can be replaced without relacing the wheel, the wheel just has to be re-dished and some spacers added to the NDS.



- 8 speed is just very slightly more durable. The modern materials used in the 10 and 11 speed chains really make them very good, but at a much higer price.
- maintenance is the same
- deffinitely much much cheaper
- not so sure about reliability, but if stronger rear wheel is more reliable, then yes, 8 or 9 speed should be more reliable


- what do you mean by better performance ? more crisp and precise shifting ? This is true only when everything is clean. When the cassette is full of mud I can guarantee the 8 speed would shift better. Also in case your shifter breaks and you buy a cheap friction thumbshifter in a village garage repair shop, the 8 speed would be more tolerant to the less precise shifting. Moreover, 8-9-10 speed use all the same ratio (except dyna-sys MTB) and can be used with all sorts of Shim-ergo solutions e.g. use 10 speed shifter with 9 speed cassette only by different clamping of the shifter cable at the derailleur.
- probably smaller jumps between gears, but you can probably use front tripple with low range cassette to reach the same with 8 or 9 speed casette. With front tripple the 11 speed in the back just loses sense.
Very good description, thank you for posting.
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