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Archive | Fenders

Rene Herse Fenders in Black

In the northern hemisphere, we are moving into the season where we need good fenders: They can make the difference between enjoying the ride and enduring it. The Pacific Northwest, where we live and ride, is known for its long rainy season. We cycle year-round, so it’s natural that we obsess about fenders.

We’re excited to offer our all our Rene Herse fenders in black: smooth, fluted and hammered, in 700C, 650B and 26″ sizes. In the past, black fenders were prone to scratching. The silver aluminum showed through the paint, making the fenders unsightly. Now Honjo, who makes our Rene Herse fenders, has improved the manufacturing process: The black coating is much more durable. We had been waiting for this, and now we offer all our fenders models in black as well as the classic polished aluminum.

The photos show prototypes on the bikes of our Paris-Brest-Paris team. They still were equipped with silver stays, but now we have black stays in stock to match the fenders.

With the right fenders, riding in the rain can be fun. Once you eliminate the spray from the road, you realize: There isn’t that much water falling from the sky. It’s the deluge spraying up from the road onto your feet, legs and backside that can make cycling in the rain so miserable. Your backside is easy to protect – even the most basic clip-on fenders do that. However, most fenders do little to protect your feet and legs.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYiHMPNtJyU&feature=youtu.be?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

Aluminum fenders work much better than plastic ones: They wrap further around the tire, and the rolled edges keep the water inside, rather than having it drip onto your feet. Both fender blades and stays are stiffer, so the fenders are quiet even when you ride over rough roads. Mounted correctly, they last for decades of hard use. (We provide detailed, illustrated installation instructions with our Rene Herse fenders.)

Honjo in Japan make the best fenders in the world. We’ve worked with them to spec our Rene Herse fenders for the ultimate performance. Our front and rear fenders are longer than usual to provide better coverage. This greatly reduces the spray that goes onto your feet, your legs, and your drivetrain.

We use our own hardware to attach the fender stays. Our 7 mm bolts are only as long as necessary, so they don’t stick into the fender, where they can catch debris. The nuts with their built-in serrated washer make sure your stays remain tight. Small details like this add up to create fenders that you can install and forget – until you are hit by a rainstorm, and you realize that being cold and miserable isn’t a necessity.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’re all about performance. Our fenders are already among the lightest in the world – much lighter than most plastic fenders (which use heavy steel stays). If you really care about weight, we offer tubular aluminum stays that save another 35 g without any loss in strength. The tubular stays are now available in black, too.

To mount your front fender noise-free and safely, we strongly recommend a third attachment point in front of the fork crown. Rene Herse racks have an integrated fender mount. For rack-less bikes, we offer individual stays and hardware so you can install your fenders properly without having to buy multiple fender sets to get all the hardware you need.

Honjo recently introduced a fender reinforcement. It goes under the seatstay bridge, where it distributes the stress. It’s patterned after the reinforcement that Rene Herse used on many of his bikes.

Even without the reinforcement, well-made and properly mounted aluminum fenders last as long as the bikes they are mounted to. Most Rene Herses made in the 1940s and 1950s still wear their original fenders – and many of them have been ridden hard.

Further reading:

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New Products and Back in Stock


We are excited about a number of new products. MKS has reworked their popular Sylvan pedals with silky smooth cartridge bearings. Now called the Sylvan Next, we’ve carried the Touring version for a while. New in the program is the Track pedal (above).
The new Track pedals are a great choice not just for track riders, but for all riding with cycling shoes and toeclips. The cut-away pedal body provides better cornering clearance and reduces the weight, while still offering full support for the shoe. Eddy Merckx used to race on track pedals because of these advantages.

What is the difference to the Touring version (above)? The platform of the Touring pedal is wider, so giving you the option of riding comfortably in street shoes, too. And since it’s double-sided, you can use it with or without toeclips. The Track pedal is easier to use with toeclips, since the flip tab at the bottom helps with rotating the pedal to insert your foot into the toeclip.

Both pedals are available in ‘EZY Superior’ Rinko versions, which allow removing the pedals in seconds without tools – great for travel bikes and for cyclists who ride one bike with multiple pedal systems. Removing the pedal couldn’t be simpler: Turn the ring on the adapter, push it inward, and the pedal releases.

Our Compass Switchback Hill 650B x 48 mm tires have been very popular, but until now, there were no fenders to go with them. We asked Honjo to custom-make their smooth 62 mm-wide fenders in a new XL version for us. With a larger radius, these fit perfectly over ultra-wide 650B tires (up to 50 mm wide).
To provide clearance for the chain with road cranks, fenders cannot get wider than this, so this fender does not wrap quite as far around the tire as our fenders for narrower tires. It still provides better spray protection and more tire clearance than any other fender we’ve tried.

Pacenti’s Brevet has become our most popular rim: strong, reasonably light and without the cracking problems that bedeviled many recent rims, it’s proven reliable and easy to build. It’s also tubeless compatible. We are excited to offer this excellent rim in new 700C versions, as well as the well-known 650B.

The HED Belgium Plus is one of the best modern 650B rims out there. It builds straight and the diameter is spot-on, making tubeless installations a snap. We’ve persuaded HED to keep it in production, and the rim-brake version now is back in stock. Disc brake rims will arrive soon.

Gilles Berthoud’s underseat bag is a great way to add carrying capacity to a bike that doesn’t have provisions for luggage. It holds a rain jacket, arm warmers, a wallet and some food in addition to spare tubes and tire levers. It’s made from the same waterproof cotton with leather edging as Berthoud’s famous handlebar bags that last (almost) forever.
We now carry these bags with a more secure leather buckle closure. The previous elastic has worked great for me, but since you won’t access a saddlebag while riding, the two-handed operation is no problem, and you no longer run the (admittedly small) risk that the elastic breaks, spilling the contents of the bag onto the road.

The Berthoud saddle bag attaches either with straps to the rails of your saddle, or with a KlickFix adapter directly to most Gilles Berthoud saddles (above).

Our handlebars combine modern materials with classic ergonomics. Their generous shapes provide room to roam during long days in the saddle. Now all sizes are back in stock.

The Compass taillight has been very popular. It combines a beautiful shape with modern electronics: a powerful LED and a standlight circuit so you remain visible when you stop. It incorporates a reflector. Mounted between the seatstays, it’s visible from where it matters, yet it’s well protected. Our taillights are made by a good friend right here in the U.S., and we’ve had a hard time making enough to keep up with demand. Now they’re back in stock.
Click on the images above for more information, or click here to check out the complete Compass Cycles program.

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Myth 3: Fenders Slow You Down


To celebrate 15 years of Bicycle Quarterly, we are looking at ‘12 Myths in Cycling’ – things that aren’t quite what we (and most other cyclists) used to believe. Part 3 of the series is about fenders.

Many cyclists here in Seattle install fenders when the rainy season starts, and remove them for the dry summer months. British time trialists even had quick-release fenders that they used on the ride to the start; then they took off the fenders for the actual competition. Our research indicates that this isn’t necessary – fenders don’t slow you down. Here is why: Continue Reading →

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Fenders for Different Tire Sizes

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As the rains return to the northern hemispheres, many cyclists’ thoughts turn toward fenders (or mudguards, as British riders call them). Fortunately, the idea that fenders are just an afterthought is long passé – today, most real-world bikes are designed with fenders in mind from the onset. Just like Porsche and Ferrari only sell cars with fenders…
Whether you are planning a new bike or retrofitting an old one, fitting fenders takes some consideration. Well-mounted fenders enhance the appearance of the bike, and they disappear when riding – until the roads get wet, when they protect your body and your bike’s drivetrain from the road spray that makes life so miserable.
Poorly designed and/or poorly mounted fenders rattle and resonate, they drip water onto your feet, and they often break prematurely. Sometimes, they even catch on the front tire and send you over the handlebars.
Fluted Honjo fender
The best fenders are stiff enough to hold their shape, long enough to prevent front wheel spray from reaching your feet and drivetrain, and have rolled edges that keep the water inside, so it doesn’t drip onto your feet. The Honjo aluminum fenders Compass sells meet all these requirements, plus they are lightweight and beautiful.
Once you have ridden with these fenders, you realize that plastic fenders are at most “50% fenders” – they keep some water off you, but they offer only 50% the protection and riding comfort that you get with the Honjos.
We went one step further: The Honjo fenders we sell are a bit longer than their ‘standard’ models, both for the front and rear fenders, to provide even more coverage and less spray onto your feet and drivetrain.
Requirements for good fender installation:
alps_fork_crown

  • Clearance (required). Some riders manage to squeeze a fender into a 5 mm gap between tire and frame, but ideally, you should have about 30 mm between the tire and the bridges/fork crown. 20 mm (above) is workable, but if you have much less then you are running into safety risks. On some bikes, it may be necessary to switch to narrower tires when mounting fenders.

alps_chainstay_bridge

  • Chainstay bridge (highly desirable): If your bike doesn’t have a chainstay bridge, fender mounting will be difficult. There are work-arounds, such as using a clamp on the seat tube and cutting the fender short, but they are less than ideal.

alps_seatstay_bridge

  • Drilled bridges (required): If your chainstay and seatstay bridges aren’t drilled for fenders, then fender installation will be difficult. Ideal is a vertical drilling (above), which allows direct mounting of the fenders. The Honjo fenders we sell come with a sliding bracket that allows mounting the fenders on a seatstay bridge drilled horizontally for a rear brake.
  • If your bridge isn’t drilled, you can drill it yourself and install a rivnut. Rivnuts usually are used to retrofit waterbottle bosses on older frames.
  • Equidistant bridges (desirable): When you look at the three photos above, you see that the gap between tire and bridge is the same at the seatstay and chainstay bridges, as well as the fork crown. (The same applies to any fender mounting points on the racks.) This makes it easy to get good fender lines and to install the fenders stress-free, which is crucial for their longevity. If your bridges aren’t spaced correctly, you’ll need to figure out spacers to mount your fenders.

The short summary of the above: As long as you have adequate clearances, you can use Honjo fenders.
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Which fenders for which tire size?
Generally, fenders should be about 40% wider than your tires. This allows them to wrap around your tires without encroaching on the required clearances. This works well for tires up to 42 mm wide, which are best used with 58-60 mm-wide fenders.
However, you cannot scale up fenders indefinitely: Fenders wider than 60 mm do not work with “road” drivetrains, as the chain hits the fender in the smallest gears. For tires wider than 42 mm, stick with a 60 mm-wide fender. Choose a model that does not wrap around the tire very far, and mount it higher above the tire to provide the required clearance. You get a bit of “air” showing between tire and fender, but this “motocross” look is inevitable if you want to run ultra-wide tires with a road drivetrain. (Mountain bike cranks sit further outward and have room for wider fenders.)
Here is a list of Compass tires and recommended fenders:

  • 650B x 38 mm tires: Honjo 650B fluted.
  • 650B x 42 mm tires: Honjo 650B smooth or fluted.
  • 650B x 48 mm tires: no fenders currently recommended by Compass.
  • 26″ x 1.25″ – 1.8″ tires: Honjo 26″ smooth, 60 mm wide.
  • 26″ x 2.3″ tires: Honjo 650B smooth. These fenders are 60 mm wide and don’t wrap very far around the tire. The 26″ x 2.3″ tires have the same outer diameter as 650B x 42 mm tires, so 650B fenders are a good choice.

BQ92fender
If you buy your fenders from Compass Bicycles, we include a reprint of Peter Weigle’s article on fender installation in Bicycle Quarterly 34, with easy step-by-step guidance on how to indent the fenders for fork crown and chainstays (don’t cut aluminum fenders!) and how to mount them free of stresses, so they will give decades of silent, trouble-free performance.
Click here for more information about Honjo fenders.

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Does My Bike Take Fenders?

Singer1985full
We often extol the virtues of aluminum fenders over plastic ones: They keep rider and bike drier and cleaner, they last longer, they don’t make noise on rough roads, and they are lighter. (I also think they look better.)
Metal fenders’ major disadvantage is that they require a bike designed for fenders. While you can retrofit plastic fenders with zip-ties, clamps and brackets, these devices do not work well with metal fenders. Plastic fenders are pulled into shape by the stays, which makes them easy to mount. The resulting inbuilt stresses are one of the reasons plastic fenders have a limited lifespan, but they work fine for a few years.
If you pull aluminum fenders into shape using the stays, the stresses will cause the fenders to crack within months. Basically, metal fenders really are worthwhile, but they must be mounted correctly. For that, you really need a bike designed for fenders.
What does “a bike designed for fenders” mean? Many manufacturers believe that all you need are slightly larger clearances around the tires and a set of eyelets on the dropouts. In reality, it’s not that simple. Here are the requirements that make fenders installation easy (even if you use plastic fenders!):
derche_fork_crown
Clearances: Obviously, you need room for the fenders. It’s often shocking to see how generous the clearances are on classic French cyclotouring bikes, once you remove the fenders. The photos here show a 1940s Derche tandem, which has especially large clearances. Even on this bike, you won’t see “air” between fender and tire when the fenders are installed. The clearances are spot-on for what the builder wanted to achieve. (It’s also possible that the original tires were taller than the Hetres is carries now.)
You can get away with smaller clearances and still have fenders that work fine. You need at least 12 mm between tire and fender, plus about 1 mm for the fender, and another 2-3 mm for the leather washer that cushions the fender against the frame. This adds up to about 15 mm between tire and bridges/fork crown. (Better would be about 20 mm.)
On the sides of the tires, you don’t need as much room, because there are no bolt heads protruding inside the fenders. 8-10 mm is about right, and 6 mm still is tolerable. (You can install fenders with even tighter clearances, but they are likely to rub. And if a foreign object gets picked up by the tire and goes into the fender, the fender may collapse, causing you to crash.)
derche_chainstay_bridge
Equidistant bridges: Your bike needs two rear bridges: one between the seatstays and one between the chainstays (above). Many makers eliminate the chainstay bridge, which makes fender installation difficult.
The bridges should be equidistant from the rear axle. At the front, the distance between  fork crown and front axle should be the same. That way, both fenders will have the same radius and follow the line of the tires.
derche_dropout
Vertical rear dropouts: The rear fender surrounds the tire on three sides and is open only at the bottom. So you want vertical dropouts, which allow your wheel to be removed downward. Horizontal dropouts require the wheel to go forward (or rearward with “track” dropouts) first, where it will hit the fender.
If you have horizontal dropouts, you will have to deflate the tire when removing the wheel (unless you have an unsightly gap between fender and tire). On bikes that need horizontal dropouts to adjust the chain tension (unless you use sliding dropouts), this is par for the course, but fender installation and wheel removal will be compromised.
Dropout eyelets: The photo above also shows the eyelet on the dropout, where the fender stay attaches. Clamps can be used instead, but they tend to move around, flex and cause all kinds of other trouble.
derche_seatstay_bridge
Mounting points on frame and fork: The fender is best mounted directly to the frame. To facilitate this, the bridges should have threaded holes facing the tire (above). The fork crown should also have a threaded hole facing the tire. Alternatively, an eyebolt can go onto the brake bolt or front rack bolt inside the fork crown. (The latter method was used by most French constructeurs, including Derche on the bike shown here.)
Some aluminum fenders now come with brackets, which isn’t ideal, but provides a work-around for bikes that lack dedicated fender mounting points on the seatstay bridge.
Mounting point in front of the fork crown: The front fender needs to attach to something in front of the fork crown, so it doesn’t vibrate and break prematurely. This can be a braze-on on the front rack, or a second fender stay (in which case you need eyelets on top of the front dropouts for attaching the extra stay).
If your bike doesn’t meet the requirements above, then you might want to think twice about installing metal fenders. In some cases, it can be done, but it will be a lot harder. In other cases, plastic fenders are a better alternative on a bike that isn’t designed for fenders. And some bikes just don’t work with fenders at all.
Of course, this brings up the question: Why don’t all makers design their “real-world” bikes for fenders? None of the above is rocket science, but it requires careful design and precision manufacturing. Take the placement of the seatstay bridge: Brakes usually give you about 10 mm vertical adjustment, so you have +/- 5 mm leeway when locating the bridge. Fenders are much less forgiving (+/- 1 mm). Even so, bicycle manufacturers and builders are capable of designing and building frames where the fenders drop right in during installation. It’s up to us, the customers, to demand those features. (What would you say if a maker didn’t provide a derailleur hanger, and told you to clamp a hanger to the dropout?)
Once you have determined that your bike can take metal fenders, they need to be installed correctly. To help you with this, we now include a Bicycle Quarterly article on how to install aluminum fenders with every fender set you buy from Compass Bicycles. Written by constructeur Peter Weigle and myself, it takes you through the process step by step, with detailed photos to guide you. If you need the article separately, you can order it as a back issue. (It was published in Vol. 9, No. 2.)
Aluminum fenders cannot simply be slapped onto any bike, but once installed, they do work much better and usually last much longer than plastic fenders. Even if you only ride occasionally in the rain, they are a far superior choice.

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Why We Don't Need Rain Bikes Any Longer


I moved from Texas to Seattle 20 years ago and continued to ride and train year-round. At first, I refused to use fenders. I did not want to spoil the beautiful lines of my racing bike. After one miserably wet winter, I gave in. Like most of my teammates, I got a rain bike.
For those from drier climates, a rain bike is a racing bike equipped with fenders. It usually is a less-valuable bike intended to take the wear and tear of riding in the rain, while your “good” bike remains pristine and ready for rides and events in better weather.
My rain bike was built with an old Celo Europa Columbus SL frame and parts sourced at various swap meets. The only brand-new parts were German SKS fenders (back then made by Esge), the best available in Seattle at the time.
As I wrote above, the “rain bike is intended to take the wear and tear of riding in the rain.” And wear and tear it took indeed, my poor rain bike. The drivetrain always felt gritty from the spray of the front wheel that went straight onto the chain. Lubricating the chain was a ritual after every long ride in the rain, because it squeaked terribly and turned a rusty orange as soon as it dried out. After each ride in the rain, my bike was covered in filth, and so was I. I overhauled my bottom bracket at least twice a year to remove the grit that had found its way into the bearings. I was glad to spare my “good” bike this ordeal. It always was a relief when the forecast had no rain, and I could take out my good bike, with its smooth drivetrain that seemed to run like clockwork.
Today, I don’t have a rain bike any longer. Neither do the people with whom I ride. We ride our “good” bikes all year round. It’s not that it rains less in Seattle than it did in previous decades. Nor have we resigned ourselves to riding ugly bikes with gritty drivetrains. It’s just that our good bikes now have aluminum fenders that don’t spoil the lines of the bike, and more importantly, keep the grit and spray off our bikes. We no longer oil our chains after a rainy ride, nor do we overhaul bottom brackets every year. How are our fenders today different from the SKS plastic fenders?

My rain bike never got photographed, so this bike will serve as a stand-in. The “spray zone” of the front wheel is shown, as well as the drip from the fender stays. Here are the characteristics of plastic fenders:

  • Front fender covers just 90°: Spray from the front wheel goes directly onto feet and drivetrain.
  • Fenders attach to stays with brackets that form dams on the inside of the fender: Water gets diverted and drips off the stays – onto your feet and chain.
  • Fenders are flexible: They resonate annoyingly on rough roads.
  • Fenders have to be pulled into shape for mounting: Inbuilt stresses cause them to break after 2-3 seasons.
  • Bike frame not designed for fenders means: Clearances are tight.  Fenders tend to rub on tires. Fenderlines aren’t perfect, so the bike’s appearance is compromised.


The spray zone of my current bikes’ front wheel is much reduced, and no longer reaches the pedals or the chain. Here are the characteristics of the aluminum fenders:

  • Front fender and mudflap reach within 5 cm (2 in) of the ground: No spray reaches feet or drivetrain.
  • Fenders have uninterrupted interior and rolled edges: All water stays inside. Most water exits at the bottom, where it drips off the mudflap straight back onto the road.
  • Stiff aluminum fenders bolts directly to the stays: Silent even on the roughest roads.
  • Metal fenders can be shaped to the desired profile: No inbuilt stresses, so fenders last for decades.
  • Bike frame designed for fenders: Perfect clearances everywhere and no rubbing ever. Fenders no longer detract from the appearance of the bike.

We never would have thought that better fenders would make such a difference. I discovered aluminum fenders almost by accident, attracted to the classic appearance of a set of hammered Honjo fenders that I put on my touring bike. It came as a surprise that my feet stayed so much drier.
Now we feel pity for the many riders we see riding in the rain with short plastic fenders. We have been there. Like most riders, we used to think that fenders were fenders, and spray and grit were an inevitable byproduct of riding in the rain. Now we know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Dedication to Details


At Compass Bicycles, we tend to be a bit obsessive when it comes to our bicycles. “Good enough” usually is not good enough when we’re out on our bikes, and we apply the same exacting thoroughness to the components we sell. Take the Honjo fenders as an example:
When you buy Honjo fenders, you usually get a pre-packaged “kit” with bolts and hardware. Unfortunately, the eyebolts for connecting the stays to the fenders are 12 mm long, so they stick out a little over 4 mm beyond the nut into the inside of the fender (above right). Either you saw 4 mm off the eyebolts – be careful not to ruin the threads in the process! – or you risk having obstacles snag on the bolts that protrude 4 mm beyond their nuts.
Honjo actually makes 8 mm eyebolts (above left), but those are a special-order product and not available from their North American distributors. (Don’t ask me why!) To address this situation, we import the 8 mm bolts directly from Japan. When you buy your fenders from Compass Bicycles, we automatically replace the too-long eyebolts with the correct 8 mm bolts.
Getting the correct-length bolts is a bit of a hassle, and few people notice the difference, but that is beside the point. We don’t want our bikes to have protruding bolts inside the fenders, and neither should yours.

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April 1: Taking Off Fenders


Spring is here at last, and so this weekend we took the fenders off our car. While we were at it, we also removed the lights. We don’t use the car much in the rain or after dark, and we like the extra performance and uncluttered appearance of a car without those accessories. We’ll put them back on in autumn.
By now, you probably have remembered today’s date, and in any case, I doubt I fooled anybody with this unlikely story. But if you replace “our car” with “our bikes” in the paragraph above, you would not have thought that this was an April Fool’s joke.
For years, I was one of those who took off fenders in the spring. Fenders were a nuisance: They resonated when the road was rough, they tended to rub on the tires, and they gave my bike toe overlap. So every spring, they came off my bike. Inevitably, it started raining the following week.

Some fenders are popular because they are easy to install and remove. It took me a while to realize that my fenders were such a nuisance exactly because they were easy to install and remove, rather than being an integral part of the bike.
On my car, the fenders are part of the package. If I drove around without fenders, nobody would think: “Cool car.” Instead, they’d wonder where I crashed, and whether I am on the way to the body shop to have my car fixed. The fenders (and lights) are an integral part of the car.

That wasn’t always the case. Cars used to have add-on fenders and lights, like the 1930s Ford Model A above. And in the 1950s, it was indeed popular to remove them to improve the performance of your old car (below).

Most bikes today are still made like old-time cars, with fenders and lights as afterthoughts. Their performance indeed is improved by removing the fenders.
Fortunately, my bikes aren’t stuck in the 1930s. They are up-to-date machines, where the fenders are part of the design. They don’t come off easily; in fact, the lighting wire runs through the front fender.

But then, why would I remove the fenders? They are part of the bike. The frame has just the right clearances, so the tires don’t rub on the fenders. The fenders are made from stiff aluminum and mounted to dedicated braze-ons, so they don’t make noise, not even on rough roads. The bike’s geometry is designed so that there is no toe overlap even with fenders. The fenders don’t affect the performance in a significant way, and they are there when I need them.
The photo above was taken in France last summer. Guess what: I rode for 10 hours that day, and 8 of those were in pouring rain. In southern France in August! And once, in Chile, I rode through a herd of cows on the highway. The cows had left fresh droppings all over the road, and boy, did I wish for fenders that day!

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