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Bicycle as Transportation

Old 06-12-21, 05:42 AM
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alloo
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Bicycle as Transportation

It's funny how advocates of bicycling want more people to ride bicycles to work, but bicycle shops can't handle the service level required to make bicycling convienient. All you hear from bicycle shops are I don't know when your bicycle/parts will be coming in It could take weeks/months. This is pre pandemic, during the pandemic, and post pandemic. It's almost like having an oligopoly on bicycles means we have to live with it is the norm. The issue is also present in the powersports industry, where you have to wait over a week for parts. I guess that's why two wheel transportation isn't viable as transportation in the US. How is service/parts in other parts of the world? Asia and Europe? I'm very curious to hear your service experience in those countries too.
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Old 06-12-21, 06:05 AM
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Same issue with motorcycle shops. Cost money to stock parts. Chains, Tires and tubes for general use you can find at a bicycle shop. Years ago one could get a Shimano part more easily than Campi. Now there is SRAM. Then what speed. If you want a specific width tire or brand slim chance. Well road tires width not so bad. Except if you have an older bike and want a 19mm tire. Any having the same conversation on Advrider. Some shops are good. They have ways of tracking lost sales for locals demand. Others donít and rely on service. Not everyone can or wants to do there own maintenance.
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Old 06-12-21, 06:08 AM
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For 99% of the population it isn't practical to use a bicycle for daily transportation. This has nothing to do with shortage of parts. I was a daily bike commuter for 14 years and I temporarily stopped daily commuting because of a job change, it had nothing to do with bike shops being unable to supply parts. I still ride for recreation but I don't use my bike for daily transportation like I used to in the past...Personally I never experienced any shortages of bike parts or components that would prevent me from riding. I have 3 bikes, 6 extra wheels and many parts which I keep at home. Every time I go to a bike shop they always have the basic essentials such as: tubes, tires, brake pads and cables, bar tape, handlebar grips and etc. I have no idea what you're talking about.
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Old 06-12-21, 06:26 AM
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the internet has changed the way brick and mortar stores do business. Bike shops simply can't compete with internet orders and IMO it would be a mistake for them to even try. If they want to survive they need to find a better angle than suppling parts.

I think oligopoly is the wrong word. Rather than cornering the market bike shops are being squeezed out of it. If the demand for the bike shop services you desire existed then there would be more bike shops.

Welcome to the internet age.

This just in, so sad

https://www.bikeforums.net/general-c...y-closing.html
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Old 06-12-21, 08:08 AM
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You need to be prepared with a solid everyday back-up plan should you have a severe thunderstorm with high winds or extreme cold or other weather like fog.
Fog is a problem because you are maybe ten times more likely to be hit by a vehicle because the driver's visibility is limited (probably less than one mile visibility), and those drivers certainly don't expect that there will be an idiots that would be riding the roads, commuting to work in such crappy weather conditions.

Employers aren't going to tolerate employees who cannot be counted on to arrive to work on time. Sure, every once in a while weather, and road-block delays from major accidents cause the most punctual to be 7 minutes late. Hey, you gotta do whatcha gotta do to get to work on time. If that means monitoring the weather forecast more closely and perhaps starting your journey to the office one hour earlier than usual just so you get there before the worst weather hits. You may need to go and Ride Share or Carpool with some co-worker. Be prepared. You may also wish to have two bikes........perhaps one for heavy rain or perhaps slush & snow, that has fenders and wider tires more suited to rain, slush or snow...................and another bicycle, your regular bike for normal, good weather conditions.

You also must be prepared for the whatever that day's weather will throw at you.................BE PREPARED........you must stay warm and dry.......YOU ALSO MUST MAKE YOURSELF HIGHLY VISIBLE TO THE DUMB AZZ IDIOT DRIVERS THAT ARE RUNNING LATE FOR WORK AND MORE DISTRACTED THAN THEY USUALLY ARE. FACTOR IN FOG or POORER VISIBILITY AND IT BECOMES A RECIPE FOR GETTING HIT BY A SPEEDING SUV or PICKUP TRUCK or a TESLA or even a MINI CLUBMAN or anything with four or more wheels. Your riding jersey, shorts, helmet etc must be of the color(s) to give maximum visibility............ditto for your outerwear (clothing or reflective vest etc) that covers the normal attire that you might wear while you commute.........

Be Safe. If the weather is so bad or/and the roads are so bad that your commute apears to be going slower today......you should give the office a heads up via a call or perhaps text with your expected time of arrival. Reasonable people will understand if you alert them and don't let being tardy happen but perhaps twice a year at most no matter how bad the weather might be. This makes it tough for folks riding Bicycles and for those folks riding Mopeds, Scooters, and Motorcycles to the office.
You aren't protected from the elements. You don't have Heat or Air Conditioning. You Don't have Windshield Wipers. WET ROADS and WATER BUILD UP IN THE RIGHT LANE will be slightly worse nearer the portion most to the right of the right lane, because storm sewer drains might not be able to immediately drain off all of a hard rain storm until the rain lessens or stops.
Be Smart. There undoubtedly will be certain days that weather conditions will make it foolish and hazardous to commute by bicycle on that particular day.
The same is true for motorcycle riders. There are always the dumb azz MOPED riders and dumb azz BICYCLE riders who perhaps own no automobile, SUV or p/u--van, and rely on their only means of transportation, the bicycle, rather than UBER, LYFT, or getting a ride to work from someone with an automobile.
Motorcycle riders typically will drive their automobiles to work on those horrible stormy rainy days and the cold snowy, icey and rainy days etc because Motorcycle riders typically ride more miles per year than bicyle riders do and they are acutely aware that of the risk of death is great in any motorcycle accident, and that terrible weather and rain just exponentially raise the probability that an accident might occur. MOPED riders are poverty folks who do not have the financial means of owning any type of old used car/truck/suv. Some states do not require auto insurance on Mopeds of 49cc or less engine displacement. Sure, there are the poverty cyclists too that have zero choice except to ride a bicycle to work, but you also have really a few affluent cyclists that aren't playing with a full deck, who are just stupid enough to be so hard-core gung ho that they have to do it everyday for the challenge-adventure of braving the worst elements.
Hey, as that tv commercial pitchman says on a current television ad: ......Okay well, you gotta be you, I guess. "
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Old 06-12-21, 11:33 AM
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I think the OP comment is a little naÔve, and a little self-centered. "Why doesn't everyone have what I need in stock, right now?"

If you're going to be making a go of being a full-time cycle commuter, you need to have a little self-sufficiency, whether it's a backup bike (or vehicle) or a stash of 'critical spares' that will allow you to get your bike back in service with minimal 'down time'
I always carried a spare tube and patch kit, since that's the most likely form of 'breakdown,' and kept a couple extras at home, since sometimes you can go months without a flat, then get two on back-to-back rides.
Likewise, things like cables, chains and brake pads were something I keep around. I watch the 'clearance bin' and grab 'em when they're cheap, since it's not like they go bad.
In any event, something like a brake cable, or a quick-link for a 9-sp chain is still easy to find 'on hand' in your typical LBS.
If I have a particular tire choice, I'll get them on order when the old ones start looking scruffy, rather than waiting until the casing blows out, and throwing myself on the mercy of whatever the closest shop has in stock at the time.

As far as parts availability being the major hurdle to why two-wheel transportation isn't as visibly popular in the US as, say Europe, I think that's also a false correlation. Most of the US infrastructure design and development for the latter part of the 20th century was car based. We had the post-war manufacturing base to build lots of cars, and the room to build lots of big wide roads for them. Bicycles were toys for kids, or fun things for recreation, rather than a legitimate way to get around. Plus, the 'branch and stem' pattern of development means there's often not good, direct walkable or bikeable routes between the places you might need to go. There's a famous incidence (in FL, i believe) of two houses that share a backyard fence, but are 7 miles apart by road.
I used to ride my bike to my old job, quite frequently, but due to the need/want to avoid particular stretches of road and interchanges on the route, the bike route was 14 miles, as opposed to 10 in the car.
I'm not saying Europe doesn't have sprawl or congestion issues, although certainly not to the scale of the US, but generally, they've found other solutions than the default 'build more roads / bigger parking lots' Maybe having to do more with 'collective good' rather than 'rugged individualism'?
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Old 06-12-21, 12:40 PM
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Is there any recent good reading on why the supply shortage persists?
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Old 06-12-21, 12:46 PM
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Iíve been using the same bike for touring and transportation for 11 years. In fact, Iím about to go food shopping in a bit. If anything, Iíve seen more people riding locally. Itís not like you often need lots of new parts for a transportation bike. The few things I have needed over the last year plus I had no problem getting. Same with service. Recently had same day tubeless tire remount for my road bike at a shop. Bike parking around markets I visit is as tight as ever, and as office reopen itís starting to get tight again around the office towers.

In short, donít really understand what you talkiní Ďbout, Willis. Not sure why some people think that what is going on in their area is the norm everywhere.

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Old 06-12-21, 12:49 PM
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So the next time you buy a bike, buy it twice. The second one either your back up whike your main one is waiting for parts or use it for spare parts while you order replacement parts.

Compared to cars and motorcycles, bikes are cheap enough that you should be able to do that.
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Old 06-12-21, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
It's funny how advocates of bicycling want more people to ride bicycles to work, but bicycle shops can't handle the service level required to make bicycling convienient. All you hear from bicycle shops are I don't know when your bicycle/parts will be coming in It could take weeks/months. This is pre pandemic, during the pandemic, and post pandemic. It's almost like having an oligopoly on bicycles means we have to live with it is the norm. The issue is also present in the powersports industry, where you have to wait over a week for parts. I guess that's why two wheel transportation isn't viable as transportation in the US. How is service/parts in other parts of the world? Asia and Europe? I'm very curious to hear your service experience in those countries too.
It's only happened to me a couple of times, and just within the past couple of weeks. One item was not being manufactured to meet demand and the other was due to a discontinuation of the color that I wanted. My LBS has successfully obtained a lot of stuff for me throughout the pandemic so, I'm not sure that your experience is as common as you are suggesting.
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Old 06-12-21, 01:08 PM
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By the way, there is no "post-pandemic", yet. Covid19 is still raging around the world, birthing new variants that might not be effected by current vaccinations.
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Old 06-12-21, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
How is service/parts in other parts of the world? Asia and Europe? I'm very curious to hear your service experience in those countries too.
In S E Asia there are plenty of bikes and parts for sale. The shortage in the US seems to be caused by inability to ship things to the US fast enough. There is no shortage here.

Where I am in a small town in S E Asia. They cater of locals, and most people are poor, so they only stock parts in the lower price range. For rare parts, and more expensive models, you need to go to the city.

Mechanics are not always available. At one shop, the mechanic was busy harvesting his rice. He might be unavailable for a couple of weeks. So it is good if you know how to fix things yourself, and you buy the tools you need.
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Old 06-12-21, 02:27 PM
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I'm in the USA, and in the last year and a half I haven't been unable to get anything I've needed to maintain my six-bike fleet. I've purchased three chains, several cables, six inner tubes, two tires, a freewheel, two chainrings, disc brake pads, two Jones bars, three pairs of grips, and a pair of pedals. Oh yeah, and a saddle for my wife's bike. And some bar tape.

IMO, the viability of using bikes for transportation is far more closely related to cycling infrastructure than the ability to get parts on demand.
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Old 06-12-21, 03:08 PM
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^^This^^

IMO, the premise of this thread is false.
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Old 06-12-21, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
For 99% of the population it isn't practical to use a bicycle for daily transportation. This has nothing to do with shortage of parts. I was a daily bike commuter for 14 years and I temporarily stopped daily commuting because of a job change, it had nothing to do with bike shops being unable to supply parts. I still ride for recreation but I don't use my bike for daily transportation like I used to in the past...Personally I never experienced any shortages of bike parts or components that would prevent me from riding. I have 3 bikes, 6 extra wheels and many parts which I keep at home. Every time I go to a bike shop they always have the basic essentials such as: tubes, tires, brake pads and cables, bar tape, handlebar grips and etc. I have no idea what you're talking about.
-Yep, same here. Commuter. I stock a little at home and am never stopped by parts or maintenance issues. Maybe the limitation comes into play for someone who can't work on their own bike.

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Old 06-12-21, 04:07 PM
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If you take your car into the mechanic, you have to leave it with them while they order parts. I blame those automobile advocates for telling everyone to drive.
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Old 06-12-21, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Is there any recent good reading on why the supply shortage persists?
I read an article by an economist, can't remember who. He said that the simplest explanation right now is just that it takes longer to re-start an economy than anybody imagined.
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Old 06-12-21, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
If you take your car into the mechanic, you have to leave it with them while they order parts. I blame those automobile advocates for telling everyone to drive.
This is true, however, at least in my case I've never had to wait more than a day for regular repairs. There are a couple of services in town that maintain stockpiles of parts, and provide same-day delivery, such as NAPA. I think it's just that the car repair business is bigger and more organized, and can support businesses that exist to carry parts inventory. Also, the car makers are required to maintain a certain level of spares for older cars, don't know the specifics. And then, there is relatively little market pressure to adopt new standards. Nobody chooses one new car over another because of how the spark plugs, or the wheels, are attached.

When I got in a crash, it took longer, because the body shop had to find replacement parts. And I have a friend who works on racing cars that are shipped to his shop. His projects take weeks. Many of the spares have to be made on the spot.

When I was a kid, the local Schwinn dealer had the parts on hand to repair virtually any bike. There were simply fewer standards to deal with. The economy may also have been more forgiving of businesses that carried a big inventory.

My own experience has been that two things are game-changers for improving the use of a bike for basic transportation. 1) Being self sufficient for at least basic maintenance. 2) Spare bike. The downside of our car culture is that housing is more spread out. The upside is that bigger houses and more space mean that most of us have space for a second bike, that doesn't need to be fancy.
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Old 06-12-21, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
This is true, however, at least in my case I've never had to wait more than a day for regular repairs. There are a couple of services in town that maintain stockpiles of parts, and provide same-day delivery, such as NAPA. I think it's just that the car repair business is bigger and more organized, and can support businesses that exist to carry parts inventory. Also, the car makers are required to maintain a certain level of spares for older cars, don't know the specifics. And then, there is relatively little market pressure to adopt new standards. Nobody chooses one new car over another because of how the spark plugs, or the wheels, are attached.
Before covid, a shop could order a part and have it here in a day or two, just like car parts. They had certain days of the week when they got deliveries, like Tues and Fri.

Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
My own experience has been that two things are game-changers for improving the use of a bike for basic transportation. 1) Being self sufficient for at least basic maintenance. 2) Spare bike. The downside of our car culture is that housing is more spread out. The upside is that bigger houses and more space mean that most of us have space for a second bike, that doesn't need to be fancy.
This is improving for you. For most, the major points are:
  • Bicycle Infrastructure. If someone has a nice safe path, they are more likely to ride. A lot of people don't like sharing the road with cars.
  • Distance one has to travel.
  • Weather
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Old 06-12-21, 06:51 PM
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My experience is the opposite of the OP's. I commuted extensively in both the Denver area and here in my hometown of El Paso, and when parts were needed they were readily available in both cities. Denver, of course, because it is somewhat of a cycling Mecca, but surprisingly ELP has never had a lack of bikes or parts. It was very easy to stay on the roads while commuting.
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Old 06-12-21, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
...I don't know when your bicycle/parts will be coming in...
Man... have I heard that allot. Not just at the shop but in many cases routine maintenance. As one of those people who still does work on his own cars I have been surprised at how I no longer go to the auto parts store for my parts. Instead I order most of my parts online. Of course I still get miffed when the wrong part arrives, then again, I also get the wrong part sometimes at the parts store.

Now... How far away from this parking lot is the closest bike shop?


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Old 06-12-21, 09:33 PM
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If you are commuting by bicycle and literally only have one bicycle and no spare parts and no concept of the many many many many many other ways to get around, you probably are missing quite a great deal in the old brain compartment.

A bicycle commuter should have a spare bike, some important wear parts laying about (chains, cassettes, tubes, cables and housing, brake pads...) and if not the spare bike at least the knowledge that there are many ways to get to work other than the bike. They should also have some basic knowledge of basic bike care and maintenance and also should come in during slower cold seasons before everyone else. Generally pre-pandemic aside from being super busy during the spring and summer we had parts for most things could get you back out relatively quickly. Of course if you have some less common stuff or really abused your bike you could be in more trouble but that is on you for your poor choices.

The biggest problem in bicycles as transportation is infrastructure, we need better and safer ways to travel by bike and more awareness of cycle-commuting and incentives for people to ditch their cars and use bikes more often. We may not get a Dutch or similar Euro experience but we can at least make some bigger strides. Certainly things are getting better inch by inch and I am seeing more cycling lanes on the roads and other stuff to help us cyclists and some drivers are becoming a tiny bit more aware but we have a way to go.

Though yes we should blame bike shops for your inabilities. A shop cannot nor should they need to stock every single little part for every single bicycle that is probably a good billion in inventory plus space to keep it all and paying inventory people to count it and buy it. Waiting a week isn't bad I can take public transportation, walk, rent a bike, Łber, lift, car sharing or car rental services, drive my own car (if I had one), carpool, slugging, rent a scooter, jog, cartwheel, taxi, other private car service, telework/commute, ride my second bike, rollerblade, rollerskate or maybe some mix of any number of these. Maybe also see if the shop is willing to let you take the bike and drop it off the night before scheduled service or when the part comes in and they can schedule you, maybe not every shop can do that but if you are a good customer or at least polite and decent about it they might let you.

Also as Nyah said Covid-19 isn't over and we haven't seen any post-pandemic because it is still raging on. Let's not assume because we are barely at 43% of people vaccinated in the U.S. that Covid is magically over. If you got a 43% on your test in high school that would be a failing grade. Yes in terms of the virus it is better but still a failing grade.
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Old 06-13-21, 07:35 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
I read an article by an economist, can't remember who. He said that the simplest explanation right now is just that it takes longer to re-start an economy than anybody imagined.
I guess. I was hoping there might be a reference to a major manufacturer who could say what's going on. For a straightforward example, I can't find one model of Trek roadbike frameset that is available either online or at any nearby retailer (per Trek website). Thought I'd look at just framesets, so that supply-chain considerations of all of the rest of the parts is taken out of the equation.
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Old 06-13-21, 08:11 AM
  #24  
Gresp15C
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There's another benefit of doing your own maintenance: You become more aware of the condition of your bike, and can switch to a proactive maintenance approach, rather than a reactive one.

Consider some items like cables and brake pads, possibly even chains and cogs. When someone rolls a neglected bike into a shop, it may have been allowed to deteriorate to the point of being inoperable. The shop needs to get it in and out, all at once. Also, shops tend not to allow themselves to make a temporary fix just to get the bike back on the road.

When you do your own maintenance, you become attuned to things like the condition of your brake pads and chain, because checking them is quick and virtually effortless. There's virtually no such thing as being caught by surprise, by a worn-out brake pad or cable, or having the bike become suddenly inoperable. Instead, we notice that a pad is near the end of its life, and order a new pair, but keep riding the bike. And if a part needs a tool that I don't have, I order the tool along with the part. Then I forget about it until the part arrives. I have never been caught by surprise, by a bad cable.

Personally, I don't think I need to keep anything on hand for my bikes, except for maybe a spare tube, and a bottle of the oil-that-shall-not-be-named.

And of course, there's still always that spare bike, just in case.
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Old 06-13-21, 10:01 AM
  #25  
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I haven't experienced any shortages of bike parts but the prices have gone a lot since last year. Just today I purchased some 700x28mm-32mm tubes at $ 12.99 per tube. About 2 years ago just as we were entering first round of lockdowns those same tubes were $ 7.99 per tube...
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