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  1. #1
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    Titanium - Not all its cracked up to be?

    So after my first custom Ti frame, I am having second thought about the material. Ti is branded (and priced accordingly) as the wonder material for rigid and hardtail bikes. There is just one problem - FLEX.

    My beautiful frame is close to ideal in every aspect except lateral stiffness. I can noticablly flex the frame by twisting the bars and seatpost while standing. Compared to my steel bikes, such as Honzo, there is much less torsion in this test.

    Ti is something like 60% less stiff than cromolly steel, so this is not totally a surprise, and yet...

    The $1,000+ question is, can a Ti frame be made as stiff as a steel frame, without giving up the weight advantage?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Titanium - Not all its cracked up to be?-img_3254.jpg  


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    That looks like your bringing back the hardcore hardtail. What grade Ti was used and what is i.d. and o.d. of the tubing. Depending on diameter and grade, a ti frame can be made stiff or flexy. A friend of mine welded Ti frames at Serotta for a few years and on his personal hardcore frame he added a small brace near the headtube to give it more latteral rigidity, it was designed around a judy xl(back when 100mm fork needed a dual crown). Before yours that was the only "freeride" hardtail frame I had seen.

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    how is the flex affecting your ride?
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    I had a 2010 Lynskey Pro SL and it definitely had some flex. Really squirrely handling. I'd suspect that is why they went with bigger tubes in '11.

  5. #5
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    You were ill-served. A Ti frame can be easily made stiff and still kept light. Tube diameter and wall thickness will profoundly affect the aforementioned. I have a Black sheep and a Kish, and had a Lynskey. All were stiffer than my steel Waltworks (which was an excellent bike).
    Last edited by Climber999; 08-24-2012 at 07:53 AM.

  6. #6
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    No issues with stiffness or flex on my El Mariachi Ti.

  7. #7
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    Flex is a good thing to a point.

  8. #8
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    You're not going to find many frames that flex less than a Honzo. You have picked that frame up, right? What's the weight differential... 30% in the frame alone? Of stiffer material?
    Not surprising.
    The answer to your $1,000 question is: "without a doubt."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevada 29er View Post
    So after my first custom Ti frame, I am having second thought about the material. Ti is branded (and priced accordingly) as the wonder material for rigid and hardtail bikes. There is just one problem - FLEX.

    My beautiful frame is close to ideal in every aspect except lateral stiffness. I can noticablly flex the frame by twisting the bars and seatpost while standing. Compared to my steel bikes, such as Honzo, there is much less torsion in this test.

    Ti is something like 60% less stiff than cromolly steel, so this is not totally a surprise, and yet...

    The $1,000+ question is, can a Ti frame be made as stiff as a steel frame, without giving up the weight advantage?
    Flex is one of the things Ti is know for. A frame can be designed to be stiffer, at the expense of weight and and reduction of the signature smooth ride quality.
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    What is the weight of a Honzo compared to your Ti frame? I tested a Honzo before I got my El Mar, and was blown away by how heavy it was.

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    there are a lot of levels of execution when it comes to Titanium. As with all frame materials.

    At the lower end there can be compromises in reliability.

    I have thrown about 100,000 km at a Moots Ybb and its as good as new. Especially after a factory refinish.

    Lots of good builders out there but it costs a bit more.. Sourcing of Titanium and welding skills are important.. Also the use of machined hard points like seatpost section, BB, Headset and drop outs. It costs more but machined from Paragon or comparable are really durable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canyon93108 View Post
    What is the weight of a Honzo compared to your Ti frame? I tested a Honzo before I got my El Mar, and was blown away by how heavy it was.


    Honzo is a very heavy and strong frame. Build a 3Kg Titanium frame and you wouldn't hear any complaint about it being flexy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock View Post


    Honzo is a very heavy and strong frame. Build a 3Kg Titanium frame and you wouldn't hear any complaint about it being flexy.
    I've got a book on material strengths (at work), and it states that all metals, with the exception of a few exotic things like gold/platinum, have the same strength to weigh ratio give or take 2%

    I didn't believe it when I first read it, and had to create a speadsheet to prove it to myself.

    If you don't have a size limitation, there is no real advantage to titanium, that can't be overcome with a proper redesign.

  14. #14
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    As already pointed out, Flex can be good. You can also specify the type of titanium, and the gauge (wall) thickness on some tubes to increase stiffness.

    Additionally if you want a stiffer feeling you can always add more material such as a head-tube gusset. Ti isn't painted and doesn't require heat treatment, so you can always take it back to your framebuilder and ask/tell him what you want. They should be able to add more gussets / stiffening material. See the gusset at the tt, dt, ht junction on this bike:
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    My ti Seven is WAY more stiff & responsive than my steel Niner. It's not punishing though - not as smmoth as the Niner but it rides way smoother than my 2011 Canondale Alloy Flash without giving up any responsivesness. It's all about the build quality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canyon93108 View Post
    What is the weight of a Honzo compared to your Ti frame? I tested a Honzo before I got my El Mar, and was blown away by how heavy it was.
    Stock build was it? Those are well over 30 lbs, close approaching 35 lbs. The frame weight itself is on par with other All-Mountain cromoly frames out there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    I've got a book on material strengths (at work), and it states that all metals, with the exception of a few exotic things like gold/platinum, have the same strength to weigh ratio give or take 2%

    I didn't believe it when I first read it, and had to create a speadsheet to prove it to myself.
    I know for a fact that is not true. I'd love to see what you got, though.

    Strength-to-weight (or specific strength) as it is defined does not give a complete picture of a material's performance. It does not take into account susceptibility to fatigue, for example.

    That said, Ti has >30% higher strength-to-weight than aluminum, and about 10% higher than steel.

    There's a reason you don't see 3.5-lb. steel frames.
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    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    I know for a fact that is not true. I'd love to see what you got, though.

    Strength-to-weight (or specific strength) as it is defined does not give a complete picture of a material's performance. It does not take into account susceptibility to fatigue, for example.

    That said, Ti has >30% higher strength-to-weight than aluminum, and about 10% higher than steel.

    There's a reason you don't see 3.5-lb. steel frames.
    True that, to add to it this doesn't take into account the treatment of the metal.

    Annealing, case hardening, tempering, quenching, and other processes modify the lattice structure of the crystalline material. These processes can take the EXACT SAME base material and completely change strength/stiffness/fatigue properties.
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  19. #19
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    You can certainly stiffin your frame. Aluminum is more elastic that titanium, yet there are some seriously stiff Aluminum frames.

    BTW, what bikeabuser said is patently false. Link to data proof: Specific strength - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    I've got a book on material strengths (at work), and it states that all metals, with the exception of a few exotic things like gold/platinum, have the same strength to weigh ratio give or take 2%

    I didn't believe it when I first read it, and had to create a speadsheet to prove it to myself.

    If you don't have a size limitation, there is no real advantage to titanium, that can't be overcome with a proper redesign.
    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    I know for a fact that is not true. I'd love to see what you got, though.

    Strength-to-weight (or specific strength) as it is defined does not give a complete picture of a material's performance. It does not take into account susceptibility to fatigue, for example.

    That said, Ti has >30% higher strength-to-weight than aluminum, and about 10% higher than steel.

    There's a reason you don't see 3.5-lb. steel frames.
    It's not Strength-to-weight, it's stiffness to weight ratio what's almost the same.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Titanium - Not all its cracked up to be?-ratios.jpg  


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    Strikes me as a bike where standover height was prioritized over stiffness.

  22. #22
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    Stiffness to weight ratio is not constant among metals. Specific modulus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Compare steel to copper. It is similar for aluminum, steel, magnesium, and titanium.

  23. #23
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    My old Ti bike - Kona King Kahuna '98 - was plenty stiff. I chose that frame specifically because the larger diameter shaped tubing in the front end would make it stiffer and I knew that XL frames especially require that due to the longer tubes.
    Ti frames can be built up relatively solid, if the builder is experienced, aware of your size, weight and riding style and isn't restricted by a requested frame weight limit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by meltingfeather View Post
    I know for a fact that is not true. I'd love to see what you got, though.

    Strength-to-weight (or specific strength) as it is defined does not give a complete picture of a material's performance. It does not take into account susceptibility to fatigue, for example.

    That said, Ti has >30% higher strength-to-weight than aluminum, and about 10% higher than steel.

    There's a reason you don't see 3.5-lb. steel frames.
    Perhaps you're misunderstanding what I wrote from that book.

    Strength is a statement of resistance to 5 physical forces that exist.
    They are tension, compression, torsion, bending, and shear.

    And you are 100% correct about fatigue ... Titanium does not do as well in this category as steel.
    With that said, all designs are a compromise, and material choice, size, and geometry, are all compromises.

    The example I worked on, dealt primarily with a bending force, and when comparing steel to aluminum, to obtain an equal resistance to that force, the aluminum diameter was increased until the resistance was equal to steel, at which point the weight was basicaly the same.

    As was stated earlier in the thread ... A design change can eliminate the flex being discussed, and the best method to acheive this IMO would be triangulation.

    I will also admit that my book reference is dated, and titanium might have been in that exotic category, as it was probably written prior to Russia flooding the market with titanium.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock View Post
    It's not Strength-to-weight, it's stiffness to weight ratio what's almost the same.
    Man it's been a long time since I looked into this ... Yea, you're right ... Stiffness to weight.

    Sorry all !!!

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  26. #26
    JB
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddouble518 View Post
    That looks like your bringing back the hardcore hardtail. What grade Ti was used and what is i.d. and o.d. of the tubing. Depending on diameter and grade, a ti frame can be made stiff or flexy. A friend of mine welded Ti frames at Serotta for a few years and on his personal hardcore frame he added a small brace near the headtube to give it more latteral rigidity, it was designed around a judy xl(back when 100mm fork needed a dual crown). Before yours that was the only "freeride" hardtail frame I had seen.
    Tubing is Russian straight gauge with the following ODs:

    DT - 38.2 mm
    TT - 32.0
    CS - 22.3
    SS - 20.2
    ST - 35.6

    All pretty beefy by steel standards, but not so much for Ti. I think a major part of the torsional flex is the TT-ST junction. The extra standover is not really needed for me, but makes for a less stiff tubing junction.

  27. #27
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    To clarify, this is not the good flex that people look for in a steel or Ti frame. This is a lateral instability that is very noticable in riding on pavement just by putting leverage on the bars. The rear end feels "loose" like wagging your tail. It affects the tracking and stability of the ride in smooth and rough sections.

    XL Honzo weight is~7 lbs, compared to 4.5lb for this frame. As much as I like the rest of the bike, this is not a trait I want to live with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevada 29er View Post
    Tubing is Russian straight gauge with the following ODs:

    DT - 38.2 mm
    TT - 32.0
    CS - 22.3
    SS - 20.2
    ST - 35.6

    All pretty beefy by steel standards, but not so much for Ti. I think a major part of the torsional flex is the TT-ST junction. The extra standover is not really needed for me, but makes for a less stiff tubing junction.
    Here is a beefy Ti frame that is similar in design, but certain areas have noticeably more reinforcement or thickness. Methinks it was more the design than the material?

    EWR Bikes - E-MotionTi 29

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by XJaredX View Post
    Here is a beefy Ti frame that is similar in design, but certain areas have noticeably more reinforcement or thickness. Methinks it was more the design than the material?

    EWR Bikes - E-MotionTi 29
    Interesting design. The size of those tubes is probably what I would need to get the stiffness I'm looking for. However, the geo is not quite there, not looking for a race bike!

    Triton did not have tubes that large at the time the bike was built. They have a 46mm now, but that requires a new frame.

  30. #30
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    So your front and rear feel lose?

    IMO the front flex is due to the fact of small diameter DT, and the fact that there is no additional gusseting connecting the DT to the TT. Since you have a larger size frame and the TT does not meat the DD prior to the HT, it would have benefited from an additional piece to bridge the two.

    For the rear, what do the seatstay and chainstay bridge pieces look like? These can affect lateral stiffness. Additionally i don't see a seatstay to chainstay brake boss on the rear triangle, Another thing that would help. Larger diameter tapered CS tubing would have helped but i am not sure as to what is actually available in TI.
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    I noticed a dramatic difference with my Motobecane Ti 29's lateral flexibilty when I upgraded hubs/wheels. I had the fork lowers swapped out to a 20mm axle and the rear hub is 135x10 bolt on, Hope hubs.

  32. #32
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    How's the sizing and geo compare to the Honzo?
    konahonzo

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    Perhaps you're misunderstanding what I wrote from that book.
    mmm... nope.
    you said strength-to-weight for "all metals" is within (+/-)2%.
    pretty simple... and not at all true.
    going on about bending and russian titanium doesn't change that simple statement.
    as Vrock pointed out, you probably meant stiffness-to-weight, which is of course different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevada 29er View Post
    The extra standover is not really needed for me, but makes for a less stiff tubing junction.
    I think you probably hit the nail on the head.
    I'm also wondering how you end up with something that "is not really needed for [you]" on a custom frame.
    I hope you get it worked out.
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  35. #35
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    My Seven ti hardtail was not light at 26lbs with a XTR build. But there was no flex either

    I am not a frame designer, so I am not familiar with specific OD's. The extra bridge from the ST to the TT makes me wonder if the designer thought it would be flexy. Also another trick is to join the DT and TT at the HT for added stiffness, which your bike does not have.



    But I do have a strong concern with most ti builders that they design so few mountain bikes compared to road, that they are stuck in the 90's XC mode: 71/73 angles, 13cm stems, 80mm forks.

    Take this line from Serotta's website about their Ti Max:

    Don’t ask for massive over-size head tubes. They’re stupid. In order to have long term strength, you need to have the right amount of material and a frame built for a 1 1/8” fork gives you the best strength/weight combination.
    I've been meaning to give them a call and ask what about the Lefty fork, which is designed for 1.5 XC frames.

    When it comes to custom frames, there is a lot of fudge factor: want a 22lb bike and keep it stiff? May not happen. I need at least 12 inches of standover. You get a non-double diamond frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevada 29er View Post
    To clarify, this is not the good flex that people look for in a steel or Ti frame. This is a lateral instability that is very noticable in riding on pavement just by putting leverage on the bars. The rear end feels "loose" like wagging your tail. It affects the tracking and stability of the ride in smooth and rough sections.

    XL Honzo weight is~7 lbs, compared to 4.5lb for this frame. As much as I like the rest of the bike, this is not a trait I want to live with.
    Just curious how much you weigh?

    Post the geometry as well,,,if you dont mind.
    Last edited by Canyon93108; 08-24-2012 at 02:29 PM.

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    Seven really know how to build a frame to behave to a specific and defined stiffness on an arbitary scale. Take a look at their website-it's how you build it not what it's made of.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nevada 29er View Post
    To clarify, this is not the good flex that people look for in a steel or Ti frame. This is a lateral instability that is very noticable in riding on pavement just by putting leverage on the bars. The rear end feels "loose" like wagging your tail. It affects the tracking and stability of the ride in smooth and rough sections.

    XL Honzo weight is~7 lbs, compared to 4.5lb for this frame. As much as I like the rest of the bike, this is not a trait I want to live with.
    As others have said, I would attribute this to the design rather than the material. I have an El Mariachi Ti size L that weighs around 4.25 lbs (so fairly similar in weight to your larger frame). As I said before, no issues with flex at all other than a slightly smoother ride than my steel hardtail. The Ti frame seems just as stiff as the steel frame when cornering or accelerating and both Ti and steel are not too far off from Aluminum hard tails I have had in the past.

    First thing that jumps out at me is that my frame seems to have much larger diameter tubes than yours.
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    Sanjoro....
    ."joining the downtube to the headtube" does not make a frame "stiffer" If anything it is weaker and less stiff. Companies miter tubes that way fit them on a certain size headtube and to clear a fork's crown. A downtube completely welded to the headtube with no mitering to the toptube is way Stiffer

  40. #40
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    There was a guy rocking a Ti frame at our clubs mid-week TT and he DNF due to a break near the head tube. Steel breaks, aluminum breaks, Ti apparently breaks and so does carbon. So it all breaks eventually. What's the problem?
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  41. #41
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    All I know is that my Kona Raijin is the best frame/bike I've ever ridden. I'm on that thing any time I get the chance...whether my muscles are sore or not. Every day I jump on it after work and at least ride it around the neighborhood. I don't notice any flex, feels smooth, snappy, tracks great and puts a smile on my face.

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  42. #42
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    My Black sheep has noticeable "flex" but it rides so nice.
    A bike built out of steel H beam would be super stiff, but it would be crap to ride.

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    Mechanically you can produce frames from steel / aluminium / titanium with same stiffness.....but the tube diameters, wall thicknesses and fatigue life will be very different. E.g. if you select a steel frame as blueprint for a Ti bike, you want different tubing to get the similar ride.

    Yours seem to be build with a rather skinny downtube.

    P.S. In the News Blog from Firefly Bicycles is a post giving insight into tube selection and how to finetune the stiffness/comfort of a (titanium) bike. (Can't link to yet due to low no. of posts )
    -------------------------------
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  44. #44
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    Yes.... thanks for linking
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  46. #46
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    Cant you just get the down tube replaced with a bigger tube?

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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by appleSSeed View Post
    All I know is that my Kona Raijin is the best frame/bike I've ever ridden. I'm on that thing any time I get the chance...whether my muscles are sore or not. Every day I jump on it after work and at least ride it around the neighborhood. I don't notice any flex, feels smooth, snappy, tracks great and puts a smile on my face.

    Lovely bike, I'm considering one for my next HT build.

  48. #48
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    I have the 2012 Lynskey Pro29 SL....no flex just like the Kona Raijin..but wait..they are nearly identical frames made by the same company.

    The big difference from previous year models is a wider bottom bracket (more welding surface, bigger BB) oversized downtube (2") oversized head tube (44mm) and a larger chainstay brace.

    Like everything, its not always the material but the design and build quality.

    My Lynskey does everything I want it to. I don't get lateral flex, I get some vertical compliance from the stays, but most of it comes from the great Ti. post.
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just J View Post
    Lovely bike, I'm considering one for my next HT build.
    I've got an extra Raijin frame for sale if you're interested...it's also a 20".

    I got greedy and bought two
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by appleSSeed View Post
    I've got an extra Raijin frame for sale if you're interested...it's also a 20".

    I got greedy and bought two
    Damn I think the 20" will be a touch too big for me!

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