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A clean bike is a happy bike

We're delighted to present our new bike repair and maintenance video series, bringing you mechanicking tips and techniques to make your bike work better and keep it that way.

We've teamed up with Cycle Surgery and their chief mechanic Andrew Brown, a man who, as you'll see, really knows his way around a bike.

As you can see above, the series kicks off with the most important but basic routine maintance job: keeping your bike clean and lubed.

Want more? The whole series is up on YouTube, so you can check it out straight away:

Part 1: How to Clean and Lube Your Bike for Maximum Cycling Efficiency
Part 2: How to Get the Best from Your Bike's Brakes
Part 3: How to Keep Your Bike's Wheels Round, Tight and True
Part 4: How to Adjust Your Bike's Gears for Maximum Shifting Performance
Part 5: How to Choose the Right Gear Ratios for You and Your Bike
Part 6: How to Cure Your Bike's Creaks and Squeaks
Part 7: How to Choose and Set Up the Right Tyres for Your Bike

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.

37 comments

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Andrew Southard [12 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Yup, always make sure you get a good coating of GT85 on your discs, want to be clean and shiny as you plough across the next junction.

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whobiggs [144 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Andrew Southard wrote:

Yup, always make sure you get a good coating of GT85 on your discs, want to be clean and shiny as you plough across the next junction.

 

To be fair he was sparing with it. My gripe is not torquing up the cassette

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Luv2ride [111 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
whobiggs wrote:

 

To be fair he was sparing with it. My gripe is not torquing up the cassette

 

Don't think I've ever torqued up a cassette after refitting (I. e. with a torque wrench? ), just done them up "pretty tight".  Never knowingly had problems with this approach,  but am I likely to damage the freehub doing This?

I always tend to degrease the chain in situ but think I'll try the Chinese takeaway container hack today though...

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BBB [479 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Full length mudguards + waxed chain(s) = nothing to clean, wipe or degrease...

P.S. By "full" I mean as LONG as practically possible with a mudflap close to the ground.

It makes all the difference.

Avatar
Mungecrundle [977 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes
BBB wrote:

Full length mudguards + waxed chain(s) = nothing to clean, wipe or degrease...

...

It makes all the difference.

Utter and complete tosh. Mudguards will not protect your bike from road salt and grime. At best they will make you less unpopular on a group ride and keep some of the worst spray off your clothes.

Wash after every ride. Clean the chain with a rag and oil. Expect to fit a new chain in spring.

Leave your bike dirty and it won't last long or be nice to ride.

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dottigirl [819 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:
BBB wrote:

Full length mudguards + waxed chain(s) = nothing to clean, wipe or degrease...

...

It makes all the difference.

Utter and complete tosh. Mudguards will not protect your bike from road salt and grime.

Total and utter tosh.

Mudguards protect your brake calipers, your seat tube and saddle, your down tube, and any exposed cables on there, as well as your headset.

My decision to fit full mudguards was enforced after going out riding the same bike as a friend. Both of us had clean bikes when we started. Mine was a nice shade of muddy grey by the end, while his was still mostly white.

While I wouldn't agree with BBB - the bike and especially the wheels still need rinsing down - the mudguards do make for a much, much cleaner bike. My seatpost doesn't need so much regreasing, my headset bearings are protected and not having to cope with a constant stream of filth, and my brake calipers aren't seizing up along with my cables due to crud getting in.

They're not perfect, but I wouldn't ride without them when the roads are anything but clean and dry.

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Mungecrundle [977 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I can guarantee you that whilst the amount of dirt may appear to be less after a few miles, there is still more than enough to corrode your bike and fittings in all the nooks and crannies. Having mudguards does not remove the need to wash, clean and relubricate and unless its your daily hack this should be done after riding on salted roads.

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tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1368 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
tonyleatham wrote:

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

the only place lubricant is of any use is between the pin and roller bushing. So one drop on each link is all that's needed. All lubricant on the outside of the chain roller/teeth will do is collect foreign matter and turn into a grinding paste. And lubricant on the plates is doing nothing at all. 

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a1white [103 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Dissapointing to see a so called 'professional' cutting corners on his chain cleaning. Any bike mechanic worth his salt should know that the only sure way to clean your drive chain is with the The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System .

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BBB [479 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:
BBB wrote:

Full length mudguards + waxed chain(s) = nothing to clean, wipe or degrease...

...

It makes all the difference.

Utter and complete tosh. Mudguards will not protect your bike from road salt and grime. At best they will make you less unpopular on a group ride and keep some of the worst spray off your clothes. Wash after every ride. Clean the chain with a rag and oil. Expect to fit a new chain in spring. Leave your bike dirty and it won't last long or be nice to ride.

Like I said I don't need to clean, relube or whatever else anything. A good rain or a few big puddles are good enough to keep the bike clean.

A waxed chain stays clean with only a hint of surface rust at the end of its life. I use more than one in rotation instead of wearing it down to 0.75% obviously. Cassette and chainring are usually covered only with a small amount of dry loose dirt that doesn't build up.

As for other components, Hope hubs, UN55 bottom bracket, enduro headset bearings... there's nothing to clean, lube or maintain for thousands of miles.

My mudguards are full length Gilles Berthoud with a custom mudflap. Like I said, a long wide front mudflap makes all the difference as almost no crud has a chance to get to the drivetrain.

Vast majority of so called winter bikes have mudguards mounted too high above the wheel, too narrow and too short hence they require more tlc.

Avatar
StantheVoice [124 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

KiwiMike wrote:

tonyleatham wrote:

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

the only place lubricant is of any use is between the pin and roller bushing. So one drop on each link is all that's needed. All lubricant on the outside of the chain roller/teeth will do is collect foreign matter and turn into a grinding paste. And lubricant on the plates is doing nothing at all. 

\

 

Did you watch and listen to the video? If oyu have, I'm amazed you missed him saying exactly those words (about lubricant), and he wasn't applying lubricant, it was a disperser.

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beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

one thing this video brought home to me - I haven't actually cleaned my bike for 10 years!

Avatar
tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
StantheVoice wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

the only place lubricant is of any use is between the pin and roller bushing. So one drop on each link is all that's needed. All lubricant on the outside of the chain roller/teeth will do is collect foreign matter and turn into a grinding paste. And lubricant on the plates is doing nothing at all. 

\

 

Did you watch and listen to the video? If oyu have, I'm amazed you missed him saying exactly those words (about lubricant), and he wasn't applying lubricant, it was a disperser.

Ermm - 4:10 in shows him very clearly lubing the outside of the chain. 

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2949 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

tonyleatham wrote:

StantheVoice wrote:

KiwiMike wrote:

tonyleatham wrote:

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

the only place lubricant is of any use is between the pin and roller bushing. So one drop on each link is all that's needed. All lubricant on the outside of the chain roller/teeth will do is collect foreign matter and turn into a grinding paste. And lubricant on the plates is doing nothing at all. 

\

 

Did you watch and listen to the video? If oyu have, I'm amazed you missed him saying exactly those words (about lubricant), and he wasn't applying lubricant, it was a disperser.

Ermm - 4:10 in shows him very clearly lubing the outside of the chain. 

Erm… no it doesn't

Avatar
beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Tony Farrelly wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
StantheVoice wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

the only place lubricant is of any use is between the pin and roller bushing. So one drop on each link is all that's needed. All lubricant on the outside of the chain roller/teeth will do is collect foreign matter and turn into a grinding paste. And lubricant on the plates is doing nothing at all. 

\

 

Did you watch and listen to the video? If oyu have, I'm amazed you missed him saying exactly those words (about lubricant), and he wasn't applying lubricant, it was a disperser.

Ermm - 4:10 in shows him very clearly lubing the outside of the chain. 

Erm… no it doesn't

I suspect he means the top - the video guy is very cleverly using the force of gravity in his favour to get the lube into the links - it really doesn't matter if the lube is between the sprockets and the chain, that's not where it needs to be - it has to get into the joints of the links

Avatar
ConcordeCX [816 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
beezus fufoon wrote:

one thing this video brought home to me - I haven't actually cleaned my bike for 10 years!

 

there's no need if you only ever ride it in the house. We have a modest fleet of Bellendi Speziale Fellazione which we use to get from one wing to the next. They rarely need more than a rub of Turtle Wax, which the tweenies usually take care of.

Avatar
tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
Tony Farrelly wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
StantheVoice wrote:
KiwiMike wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

Kind of surprised to see him apply the lubricant to the outside of the chain. I've alway oiled the inner surface which is the one which comes into contact with the teeth of the sprockets.

the only place lubricant is of any use is between the pin and roller bushing. So one drop on each link is all that's needed. All lubricant on the outside of the chain roller/teeth will do is collect foreign matter and turn into a grinding paste. And lubricant on the plates is doing nothing at all. 

\

 

Did you watch and listen to the video? If oyu have, I'm amazed you missed him saying exactly those words (about lubricant), and he wasn't applying lubricant, it was a disperser.

Ermm - 4:10 in shows him very clearly lubing the outside of the chain. 

Erm… no it doesn't

 

Ermmm.... yes it does

Avatar
fukawitribe [2448 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
tonyleatham wrote:
Tony Farrelly wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

...

Ermm - 4:10 in shows him very clearly lubing the outside of the chain. 

Erm… no it doesn't

 

Ermmm.... yes it does

Tony, do you mean 'outside' as in the port and starboard sides of the left and right face plates resp. or, as beezus fufoon wondered, the top or back part of the uppermost bit of the chain ? (e.g. dropping it on the rollers from above or the back). The second one is what i'm seeing.

Avatar
matthewn5 [1204 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:
BBB wrote:

Full length mudguards + waxed chain(s) = nothing to clean, wipe or degrease...

...

It makes all the difference.

Utter and complete tosh. Mudguards will not protect your bike from road salt and grime.

Tend to agree with this to some extent. Most rear guards stop just above or between the chain stays, leaving all the grit and water to spray out right onto the inside of the lower chain where it's returning to the derailleur and sprockets. Some guards like Crud roadracer 2 have a wider section level with the chain on the right, which works quite well to spare the upper chain.

But  if you can, the much better solution is to install the guard so that it goes down between the chain stays and finishes below the chain when it's in the big ring. Hard to do with some frames, but if you can, it is much better.

Avatar
tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
fukawitribe wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
Tony Farrelly wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

...

Ermm - 4:10 in shows him very clearly lubing the outside of the chain. 

Erm… no it doesn't

 

Ermmm.... yes it does

Tony, do you mean 'outside' as in the port and starboard sides of the left and right face plates resp. or, as beezus fufoon wondered, the top or back part of the uppermost bit of the chain ? (e.g. dropping it on the rollers from above or the back). The second one is what i'm seeing.

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
tonyleatham wrote:

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

personally, I'd save that thick expensive gunk for the chain links, and use something much thinner (and cheaper) where the rollers contact the sprockets.

Avatar
tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

personally, I'd save that thick expensive gunk for the chain links, and use something much thinner (and cheaper) where the rollers contact the sprockets.

OK, so the chain, which is easy (and to use your favourite parameter, cheaper) to replace, gets better lubrication than the rest of the drive train?

The problem with this kind of thing is that it's very easy to make mistakes and do something daft the consequences of which won't be felt until a long way down the line. If we're going to get all religious on this, here's my list of devotions: I clean the chain when the chain looks black (I use silver chains) with a chain cleaning tool and morgan blue (usually once a week or so), I change my chain every 2,000 miles or so,  I use KMC chains, and I use morgan blue chain lube. Dull and pedantic I know, and I suspect that the number of different opinions equates almost exactly to the number of people who read these posts, but this is what I do as it makes sense to me from an engineering perspective, from a shifting performance perspective, from a bike longevity perspective, and it's not hard or expensive.

Avatar
DrJDog [472 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:
BBB wrote:

Full length mudguards + waxed chain(s) = nothing to clean, wipe or degrease...

...

It makes all the difference.

Utter and complete tosh. Mudguards will not protect your bike from road salt and grime. At best they will make you less unpopular on a group ride and keep some of the worst spray off your clothes. Wash after every ride. Clean the chain with a rag and oil. Expect to fit a new chain in spring. Leave your bike dirty and it won't last long or be nice to ride.

 

I rode for years without mudguards on my commute, I've ridden for 2 years now with mudguards, and I can tell you that they make a massive difference. Day and night.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
tonyleatham wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

personally, I'd save that thick expensive gunk for the chain links, and use something much thinner (and cheaper) where the rollers contact the sprockets.

OK, so the chain, which is easy (and to use your favourite parameter, cheaper) to replace, gets better lubrication than the rest of the drive train?

The problem with this kind of thing is that it's very easy to make mistakes and do something daft the consequences of which won't be felt until a long way down the line. If we're going to get all religious on this, here's my list of devotions: I clean the chain when the chain looks black (I use silver chains) with a chain cleaning tool and morgan blue (usually once a week or so), I change my chain every 2,000 miles or so,  I use KMC chains, and I use morgan blue chain lube. Dull and pedantic I know, and I suspect that the number of different opinions equates almost exactly to the number of people who read these posts, but this is what I do as it makes sense to me from an engineering perspective, from a shifting performance perspective, from a bike longevity perspective, and it's not hard or expensive.

wow, you're not wrong about multiple different perspectives - I get about 10,000 miles out of a chain using GT85 and my sprocket is still shifting perfectly after 14 years - I guess the term "a long way down the line" has very different connotations for each of us!

Avatar
tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

personally, I'd save that thick expensive gunk for the chain links, and use something much thinner (and cheaper) where the rollers contact the sprockets.

OK, so the chain, which is easy (and to use your favourite parameter, cheaper) to replace, gets better lubrication than the rest of the drive train?

The problem with this kind of thing is that it's very easy to make mistakes and do something daft the consequences of which won't be felt until a long way down the line. If we're going to get all religious on this, here's my list of devotions: I clean the chain when the chain looks black (I use silver chains) with a chain cleaning tool and morgan blue (usually once a week or so), I change my chain every 2,000 miles or so,  I use KMC chains, and I use morgan blue chain lube. Dull and pedantic I know, and I suspect that the number of different opinions equates almost exactly to the number of people who read these posts, but this is what I do as it makes sense to me from an engineering perspective, from a shifting performance perspective, from a bike longevity perspective, and it's not hard or expensive.

wow, you're not wrong about multiple different perspectives - I get about 10,000 miles out of a chain using GT85 and my sprocket is still shifting perfectly after 14 years - I guess the term "a long way down the line" has very different connotations for each of us!

Or you're just lucky.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
tonyleatham wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

personally, I'd save that thick expensive gunk for the chain links, and use something much thinner (and cheaper) where the rollers contact the sprockets.

OK, so the chain, which is easy (and to use your favourite parameter, cheaper) to replace, gets better lubrication than the rest of the drive train?

The problem with this kind of thing is that it's very easy to make mistakes and do something daft the consequences of which won't be felt until a long way down the line. If we're going to get all religious on this, here's my list of devotions: I clean the chain when the chain looks black (I use silver chains) with a chain cleaning tool and morgan blue (usually once a week or so), I change my chain every 2,000 miles or so,  I use KMC chains, and I use morgan blue chain lube. Dull and pedantic I know, and I suspect that the number of different opinions equates almost exactly to the number of people who read these posts, but this is what I do as it makes sense to me from an engineering perspective, from a shifting performance perspective, from a bike longevity perspective, and it's not hard or expensive.

wow, you're not wrong about multiple different perspectives - I get about 10,000 miles out of a chain using GT85 and my sprocket is still shifting perfectly after 14 years - I guess the term "a long way down the line" has very different connotations for each of us!

Or you're just lucky.

haha! - well, as you brought up religion - it's sacrilege to change your chain without also changing your sprocket!

Avatar
StraelGuy [1445 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Oh no it isn't! I change my chains when they get to .75 on my Park Tool checker (900-1,200 miles usually). One bike's on it's 3rd chain, one on it's fourth and the cassettes on both are fine. If you replace the chain before it's totally scragged you get a lot more life from your cassette. 

Avatar
beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
guyrwood wrote:

Oh no it isn't! I change my chains when they get to .75 on my Park Tool checker (900-1,200 miles usually). One bike's on it's 3rd chain, one on it's fourth and the cassettes on both are fine. If you replace the chain before it's totally scragged you get a lot more life from your cassette. 

blasphemer!!!

Avatar
tonyleatham [62 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:
beezus fufoon wrote:
tonyleatham wrote:

I do mean the uppermost bit of the chain. I'm a graduate engineer and the son and grandson of engineers, and from a young age, I was always told to lube every link on the "inside" of the chain as this lubricates the inner surface of the rollers where they come into contact with teeth of the drivetrain. If you watch the equivalent video on another well-respected cycling journal's website, they do it exactly as I suggest.

personally, I'd save that thick expensive gunk for the chain links, and use something much thinner (and cheaper) where the rollers contact the sprockets.

OK, so the chain, which is easy (and to use your favourite parameter, cheaper) to replace, gets better lubrication than the rest of the drive train?

The problem with this kind of thing is that it's very easy to make mistakes and do something daft the consequences of which won't be felt until a long way down the line. If we're going to get all religious on this, here's my list of devotions: I clean the chain when the chain looks black (I use silver chains) with a chain cleaning tool and morgan blue (usually once a week or so), I change my chain every 2,000 miles or so,  I use KMC chains, and I use morgan blue chain lube. Dull and pedantic I know, and I suspect that the number of different opinions equates almost exactly to the number of people who read these posts, but this is what I do as it makes sense to me from an engineering perspective, from a shifting performance perspective, from a bike longevity perspective, and it's not hard or expensive.

wow, you're not wrong about multiple different perspectives - I get about 10,000 miles out of a chain using GT85 and my sprocket is still shifting perfectly after 14 years - I guess the term "a long way down the line" has very different connotations for each of us!

Or you're just lucky.

haha! - well, as you brought up religion - it's sacrilege to change your chain without also changing your sprocket!

 

As others have said, you are a blasphemer and will be smote down into a pit of sulphur and brimstone. Or maybe not. My Dad told me (forty years ago) about changing sprockets and chains together. However, I think with modern materials, you'll find that this is no longer best practice. It's often instructive to see what Pro teams do and they regularly change chains, but not sprockets. Think about it. A Dura Ace cassette has some sprockets made from titanium - far better to allow the chain to wear quickly and replace it inexpensively. I've come across teams who say run Dura Ace, but use 105 chains, and chuck them away after a single race.

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