Front Wheel Upgrade: XR4 vs Ardent- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Front Tire Upgrade: XR4 vs Ardent

    I recently bought a Marlin 6 and it comes with Bontrager XR2s but I have found the front end not to be the best and the tires seems to eager to slide when pushed. Would you recommend the XR4 or the Ardent for the front?
    Last edited by mattmers; 04-25-2020 at 11:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    I like the xr4

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    I had Ardents on my old 26" but i Have not tried the xr4s so I don't have a comparison.

  4. #4
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    I didn't notice a big difference in performance between them for my soil conditions and riding style, so personally I'd run whichever was least expensive and easiest to get. Those things being equal, I might lean slightly toward the XR4. I don't, however, care for the Ardent Race and wouldn't recommend it.

  5. #5
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    PLEASE do not put a 2.4 Ardent up front. When I started riding I went through a period where I thought i just sucked at cornering, but it was that damn tire. It'll just wash out in the dead zone between knobs and the outter knobs aren't strong enough to hook up after the dead zone.... aka your face in the dirt. The XR4 is a much better option... or a 2.4 Rekon... or a lot of other things. I actually like the ardent race about 100x more than the Ardent.

    But hell.... if you really want to give it a go I have a 29x2.4 ardent that is damn near new that you can have for the cost of shipping

  6. #6
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    The Ardent is a horrible front tire. Slides out / washes out easily. I used to run Ardents front and rear and switched to XR4 (f) XR3 (r). Huge difference in grip and still rolls great and lightweight. Ardent worked fine as a rear tire.

  7. #7
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    Anyone know where I can get a decent deal on an XR4 29x2.4? And does it matter if I run 2.4 in front and 2.20 (Stock) in the back?

  8. #8
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    IDK about a deal. Call your LBS. Trek is through dealers only, though with covid19 they're shipping directly to customers...I think. REI was carrying them so you might be able to order there and get the 10% dividend, or 15% if you have their CC.

    2.4 front with a 2.2 rear is fine. What inner rim width do you have?
    What, me worry?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    What inner rim width do you have?
    Good question. Trek is vague about specs of these rims. 20mm internal maybe according to this thread: https://forums.mtbr.com/wheels-tires...d-1094919.html

    Would I be loosing stability with a wheel that wide on a rim that narrow? 2.4 is the smallest XR4s come for 29".

  10. #10
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    +1 for keeping the Ardent off the front. Is there a reason you're only looking at these 2 tires?
    :nono: :thumbsup:

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by noapathy View Post
    Is there a reason you're only looking at these 2 tires?
    I have just heard them compared and know they are considered pretty good. I am open to suggestions. I just want something that grips well for turns, will fit on my existing rim and won't break the bank. I just bought the bike so I want to keep my cost down for the next few months. I was hoping to find a sub $50 tire but beggars can't be choosers.

  12. #12
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    maxxis forekaster 29x2.3. Make sure you run her a bit soft so it bites well. Love that tire.

  13. #13
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    I have a marlin 5 with xr2's, and I replaced the front with a cross king 2.3. HUGE upgrade and much more traction, but its not sluggish or heavy. They're also about 30-40 bucks in their highest trim (black chili). They come in 2.2 and 2.3, the 2.2 might be better for the stock wheels.

    Id shy away from the XR4 if you're still on the stock wheels. Its a big tire, kind of too much for your stock rims. It'll technically work, as in its safe, but that tire is more suited to a rim closer to 30mm.

    I found the XR2 to have very little traction in general. You don't need to go too much more aggressive to get significantly more grip up front.

  14. #14
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    Where do you live? Type of dirt?

    I never had an issue with the 2.4 Ardent on a HT... hard pack and small loose over hard. I run the XR4 in a 27x2.6, and also the Conti Cross King in 29x2.4.

    Between the two, Iíd go xr4 since it has way more grip but if more hard pack, Cross King.

  15. #15
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    I'm currently living in Kansas. lots of hardpack but also lots of areas of loose decomposing vegetation and rocks

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    Xr3 or Cross Kongís should be good. I would also ask the local shops what they run, or see what other ppl on the trails are riding.

    Donít judge based on what comes stock on bikes in the shops... they ship with the same tires regardless where in the country the bike is headed.

  17. #17
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    From the amazon reviews of the cross king, it appears to get punctures easy, anyone experience this?

  18. #18
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    I think any modern mountain bike tire punctures pretty easily. If you puncture often, tubeless is really the only solution, or poor-riding slime tubes.

    The cross king doesnt puncture unusually easy though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    What is the difference between Shieldwall and Protection?

  21. #21
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    I would say the xr4 is more similar to a forkaster than the Ardent. I think either would work well and provide better traction than the xr2.

    Since bontrager has a 30 day guarantee I'd try the xr4 first. If you don't like it return it within 30 days and buy something else.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmers View Post
    I'm currently living in Kansas. lots of hardpack but also lots of areas of loose decomposing vegetation and rocks
    As a general rule - open and deep tread pattern and with a squarish profile for loose conditions on the front.

    High Roller 2.

    Dissector.

    Specialized Butcher.

    Onza Ibex


    That style of tyre in 2.3-2.4
    Less isn't MOAR

  23. #23
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    I'd say XR4 hands down, very impressive tire. IMO rolls marginally faster than the Forekaster, and I found the Forekaster knobs a little unsupportive and prone to folding on hard pack. For the riding conditions you describe, seems like XR4 would be great. Good luck!

  24. #24
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    Keep in mind hes on this:

    Its damn near a slick.

    It doesnt take much to get a LOT more grip, without going to a crazy enduro tire.

  25. #25
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    Given that the Marlin is a HT I say stay with the XR2 or if you really want more grip go XR3. The XR4 is big burly tire that is much heavier. I run XR2 in 2.2 and 2.35 on the back of my XC bikes. I have an Ikon 2.35 in front, but when they wear down will go XR3. I have run 2.6 XR2 and like them. I do want to run the XR4, but only on my 160/145mm trail bike where some weight not that big of a deal.

    The XR2 will grip, but needs the right pressure and technique. I run my Ikon's at 20psi in front on 24mm wide wheels and my 2.6 XR2 at 15psi on 35mm wide wheels.
    Joe
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  26. #26
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    Im almost positive hes got the XR2 wire bead base tires. A XR4 team isnt much heavier, and its a decent roller. Its actually only a 780g tire, really not bad!

    I agree that he shouldnt go nuts or anything. No need for a dual ply DHF or SE5, but a XR4 isnt weird for a xc bike front tire.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Im almost positive hes got the XR2 wire bead base tires. A XR4 team isnt much heavier, and its a decent roller. Its actually only a 780g tire, really not bad!

    I agree that he shouldnt go nuts or anything. No need for a dual ply DHF or SE5, but a XR4 isnt weird for a xc bike front tire.
    Yeah maybe the wire beads. I run Team issue tires. XR2 2.2 630g and 2.35 at 675 and XR3 2.4 at 755. These are quoted weights on the packing. I don't have XR4 handy
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", 19' Vassago Optimus Ti SS 29", '19 Ibis Ripmo, XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  28. #28
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    I got a flat today so I had a reason to go to the local bike shop. I ordered some tubes and the mechanic recommended an XR3. He thought the XR4 was too heavy. So I have 2 tubes and an XR3 tire ordered and the XR3 only cost $40 for the comp version. I'll let you all know what I think of it.

  29. #29
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    ditch the tubes.. that will allow you to run less pressure and therefore get better grip. And I only get the team issue. More money, but lighter and they still last.

    I have 933 miles on my XR2 2.2 in the rear and it just ready to be replaced. My Ikon is at 1600 miles in front and still pretty good. This pretty consistent mileage.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", 19' Vassago Optimus Ti SS 29", '19 Ibis Ripmo, XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmers View Post
    I got a flat today so I had a reason to go to the local bike shop. I ordered some tubes and the mechanic recommended an XR3. He thought the XR4 was too heavy. .
    I'd be cautious of lbs 'mechanic' advice.

    I walked in to the local Trek lbs a few weeks ago intent on buying a SE4 or XR4. The guy talking me through these tires explained how the XR4 (in 27.5 2.4) was waay more than enough tire. I explained I wanted the heavier sidewall of the SE4 and he went on to tell me how the SE version is the Trek D/H version tire and it was close to 1200g. Without even looking at the package (where is states the weight) I told him my research shows the SE4 2.4 at right around 850g and at that weight it would be one of the lightest tires I have ran in some time. He didn't believe me until I showed him the package and it said 849g on the back.

    My point is, even in a 29'r the XR4 is an appropriate tire for most non-racing xc/trail bikes. It's not heavy. Oh, and do your own research, most 'advice' sucks. Including mine

  31. #31
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    I guess If I don't like it then I will just return it since it is a Bontrager component so it should be included in the 30-Day Unconditional Guarantee.

    I would need an all new wheel set to go tubeless so I probably wont right now. I also enjoy the easy of flat changes with a tube.

  32. #32
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    Put together some of the data:

    Tire Size Weight (g) Cost
    XR2 Comp 29x2.2 705 $40.00
    XR2 TI 29x2.2 630 $60.00
    XR3 comp 29x2.3 765 $40.00
    XR3 TI 29x2.3 705 $60.00
    XR4 TI 29x2.4 780 $60.00
    CrossKing SW 29x2.2 785 $34.00
    CrossKing Pro 29x2.2 655 $56.00
    CrossKing Pro 29x2.3 770 $56.00
    Rekon Exo 29x2.25 670 $68.00
    ForeKaster EXO 29x2.20 690 $60.00
    ForeKaster EXO 29x2.35 735 $60.00

  33. #33
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    Unless you are an expert level XC rider (trying for all out speed and got the skills to keep it under control), I would for sure recommend the XR4 TI or Forekaster over something like an XR3 as a front tire. They are both light weight at 200 grams less than something like a Minion DHF, and the knob depth and compound are relatively fast rolling as a front tire. I think the 2.4 XR4 probably beats the Forekaster 2.35 if you are looking for more volume. My 2.35 Forecaster measures closer to only 2.25 when new. I don't see it expanding to more than 2.3 with some miles on it. The Forekaster has been a great front tire for me so far (I have 4 90-minute rides on it so far in mixed terrain/conditions), but when it wears out, I'm going to try the XR4 next.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmers View Post
    I would need an all new wheel set to go tubeless so I probably wont right now. I also enjoy the easy of flat changes with a tube.
    Tubeless isn't as hard as it might initially seem. Gorilla tape, a valve stem and some sealant are all you really need. And while it might be easy to change a flat with a tube, with tubeless, you will get FAR less of them so it will never be an issue ... and the few you do get can usually be plugged without even removing the tire. Worst case scenario, carry a tube with you and you can still throw one in if things are really bad. The benefits however are IMMENSE. Far less rotational weight, much better traction, more comfortable ride because you can run much lower PSI, less rolling resistance. In my opinion, I would say going tubeless would be my first try before going to different tires. It is a night and day difference.

  35. #35
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    I'll add a tubeless conversion to my future upgrades. It will probably be after a few other things.

    My next upgrade is probably going to be a new front fork since the xct is garbage. I definitely miss my Raidon Air fork.

  36. #36
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    I would go tubeless first. More critical than a fork and alot cheaper.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", 19' Vassago Optimus Ti SS 29", '19 Ibis Ripmo, XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  37. #37
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    Same thing here. I ended up with the SE4 and love it..

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    I would go tubeless first. More critical than a fork and alot cheaper.
    The fork upgrade will only cost around $250

    A tubeless conversion will require a new wheel set and new tires. The tubeless tires alone will cost over 100 so unless I can get a tubeless wheelset for ~$150 it just is not a lot cheaper.

    On amazon there are a few wheelsets with tire combos but they are around ~$230 for something decent
    https://www.amazon.com/WTB-Brake-Tub...g-goods&sr=1-1

    https://www.amazon.com/WTB-Boost-Bra...g-goods&sr=1-9

    But with those I don't get to pick the tires. Unless you know where I can get a decent deal on a wheelset.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmers View Post
    The fork upgrade will only cost around $250

    A tubeless conversion will require a new wheel set and new tires. The tubeless tires alone will cost over 100 so unless I can get a tubeless wheelset for ~$150 it just is not a lot cheaper.

    On amazon there are a few wheelsets with tire combos but they are around ~$230 for something decent
    https://www.amazon.com/WTB-Brake-Tub...g-goods&sr=1-1

    https://www.amazon.com/WTB-Boost-Bra...g-goods&sr=1-9

    But with those I don't get to pick the tires. Unless you know where I can get a decent deal on a wheelset.
    You should be able to use your current wheels. Use gorilla tape, a good valve and sealant. I have set up MANY non tubeless wheelsets with no problems. Just make sure to get the tape covering up the sides of the weld good and the sealant should take care of the rest. As for tires, you can easily find tubeless tires for under $50 each. Or you could more than likely reuse your current ones for now. A tubeless specific tire will have stiffer sidewalls but a non tubeless tire can often times work just fine once the sealant coats it nicely. Iíve had good luck with actually ďpaintingĒ the entire inner surface and letting it sit overnight before installing. Then add more sealant after installing.


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  40. #40
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    Tubeless conversion is not much money. Same tires, Just need valves and some rim tape. And of course sealant. $250 for new fork still means a cheap ass fork so it hardly an upgrade.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", 19' Vassago Optimus Ti SS 29", '19 Ibis Ripmo, XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    Tubeless conversion is not much money. Same tires, Just need valves and some rim tape. And of course sealant. $250 for new fork still means a cheap ass fork so it hardly an upgrade.
    I've done the upgrade before and an upgrade from an xct to a Raidon XC LO Air is a huge improvement.

    I'll look into the conversion but I guess if the existing tires that are not tubeless ready can be used then the entry barrier is much lower. Any links to vids or forum discussions on how to?

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmers View Post
    I've done the upgrade before and an upgrade from an xct to a Raidon XC LO Air is a huge upgrade.

    I'll look into the conversion but I guess if the existing tires that are not tubeless ready can be used then the entry barrier is much lower. Any links to vids or forum discussions on how to?
    This video kind of illustrates what is possible .... however, the two changes I would make are to use actual tubeless valves (~$15) and a better sealant ... Iíve had great luck with Stanís but different people have different preferences.

    https://youtu.be/JK5vumCMntY

    On the first video, the guy purposefully used non tubeless everything and really hacked his way through to kind of prove that it doesnít really take anything special. This second video is a little more straight forward without the commentary.

    https://youtu.be/wTCvIH6GOBc
    Last edited by SuperUltraKel; 04-23-2020 at 05:46 AM.

  43. #43
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    Just a note on the front tire... I upgraded to a new wheelset (along with a new bike build) over the winter. My front tire is an XR4. I've had it out for some good mileage so far on the CO front range, and a few different types of rides.

    I am not a pro, but to me, the XR4 is still miles behind my old front... a Maxxis DHF Minion. I've washed out a few times on stuff I'd grip with the old Minion. I can't tell if it rolls any slower, and I don't bother with weight, but if you want grip, my vote would be the Minion.

    Have fun out there!

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperUltraKel View Post
    This video kind of illustrates what is possible .... however, the two changes I would make are to use actual tubeless valves (~$15) and a better sealant ... Iíve had great luck with Stanís but different people have different preferences.

    https://youtu.be/JK5vumCMntY

    On the first video, the guy purposefully used non tubeless everything and really hacked his way through to kind of prove that it doesnít really take anything special. This second video is a little more straight forward without the commentary.

    https://youtu.be/wTCvIH6GOBc
    So I watched the videos plus a few others it and seems pretty straight forward. total cost is about $30
    for me. I plan to buy a pair of shrader valves to mount (~$14) because I don't really trust using a tube valve.
    Do you guys think the XR2 and XR3 will seal against the wheel well?

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattmers View Post
    I plan to buy a pair of shrader valves to mount (~$14) because I don't really trust using a tube valve.
    I would get the Stan's Presta valves. They do actually make a tubeless Schrader valve but their Presta valves actually fill the Schrader hole nicely. The rubber on the back end is like a cone so it just fills the extra space of the Schrader hole with no issues. I built up a set of Stan's Hugo rims which only come with Schrader drilling and the Presta valves worked great on them.

  46. #46
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    I prefer the SE version and agree with comments that Ardent is not a best front tire but they're great tires.

    The Bontrager 4 tree is predictable, versatile, and rolls well for a true knobby vs semi or slick type. SE versions of their tire have been tougher and not seemed heavy or stiff. 4 tread has been outstanding for works all over and you don't regret them if you ride to trailhead or move along on fast packed single track. There are lots of great choices out there but we've got sort of a fleet of bikes and family riders who all find them good. The quarterly Trek sales, REI dividend and opportunities make them affordable relative to more exotic German and other tires I've liked.

    FWIW, at times our family setups have a faster 3 tread for rear. That tire and the 4 seem to not pack as fast as Ardents that I really do like.

    I do see some sidewall leak (wet from sealant) with the Bontragers others don't have but they're not tearing and don't weight a lot.
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  47. #47
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    I got my XR3 the other day but have not had a chance really ride it yet (Finals). But I have noticed that the XR3 comp is very thin in the side walls compared to the Stock XR2s that come on the Marlin 6. That gives me confidence that the XR2 will hold up well for the tubeless conversion but I am a bit concerned about the XR3 comp holding up. In a few weeks I will do the conversion and I will let you all know.

  48. #48
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    The XR3 seems pretty good after a few rides.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperUltraKel View Post
    This video kind of illustrates what is possible .... however, the two changes I would make are to use actual tubeless valves (~$15) and a better sealant ... Iíve had great luck with Stanís but different people have different preferences.

    https://youtu.be/JK5vumCMntY

    On the first video, the guy purposefully used non tubeless everything and really hacked his way through to kind of prove that it doesnít really take anything special. This second video is a little more straight forward without the commentary.

    https://youtu.be/wTCvIH6GOBc
    I finally decided to follow the seemingly overwhelming opinion i should convert my bike to tubeless. I got orange seal, gorilla tape and some tubeless valves (Blue to match my bike) after watching probably about five plus videos on it. I attempted the front one first with the XR3 comp and it would not seal against the rim and while attempting to inflate sealant poured out. I tried pumping and rotating hoping it would take shape and nothing. I gave up on that one so I tried the back which was the stock XR2 and the sidewall seemed more ridged and still no luck. The tires are not sealing against the rim.
    Pretty disappointed so back to tubes I go.

  49. #49
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    Before you give up, see if you LBS will inflate them with a compressor. Or get https://www.googleadservices.com/pag...gQIDBBe&adurl= . Worth the investment

  50. #50
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    Big fan of the XR4 TI. Got them on 2 out of three bikes. Just one of those tires that seems to hit the sweet spot...for me...between weight, grip and durability. No, it is isn't going to hook up like a DHF or Magic Mary, but it does pretty well for where and how I ride. Don't ask how much I spent on different tires coming to this epiphany

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