Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - Reviews And Previews

Welcome to the summary of reviews and previews of 2010, by All Mountain Next.
For easy and quick access to the reviews and previews, knock yourself out:

BBG Bashguard 2010
Crank Brothers Joplin 3
Five Ten FreeRider 2010
FOX DHX 4.0 2010
Kenda Nevegal DTC 2.3"
Leatt Brace GPX
Maxxis Minion DH REAR Kevlar 2.35"
Maxxis Swampthing 2.35"
Pure Racing KS 900i 2010
Schwalbe Fat Albert Rear 2.25" Evo 2010
Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro 2010
Specialized Chunder SX and Specialized Chunder Control
Specialized Deviant 2 Carbon 2010
Superstar Components Mag Lite CNC - Magnesium body + Ti axle

BBG Bashguard 2010
Kenda Excavator 2.35"
Leatt Brace GPX
Manitou Evolver ISX-6
Point One Racing - Podium Pedal 2010
Pure Racing KS 900i 2010
Race Face SIXC Crankset
Schwalbe Fat Albert Rear 2.3" Evo
Sixpack - Millenium Handlebar
Specialized Chunder SX 2.3"
Specialized Deviant II Carbon 2010
Superstar Components Mag Lite CNC - Magnesium body + Ti axle

Rearshocks: Coil vs Air

Coming soon (Reviews and Previews):
Kenda - Excavator 2.35" (review)
Manitou - Evolver ISX-6 (review)
Maxxis - Minion Front tire (review)
Point One Racing - Podium Pedal (review)
Race Face - SIXC crankset (review)
RockShox - Monarch RT3 2011 (preview)
WTB - Weirwolf tire (review)
AM wheelset- Unknown as of yet (expect something different)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best and Worst of 2010

Thought idd do a roundup of whats good and bad from 2010. Or more precisely, what the WORST and BEST stuff of 2010. So without further ado:

The Best (in random order):

Wide bars
If you haven't  already, then you should go for it. I'm talking about wide bars, not wide as in a-bit wide, but im talking about 720mm + wide. Starting out with a 560mm bar, way back, I simply didn't know better. Later I got myself a 600mm, and later on a 660mm bar - that was starting to open up my eyes, but after a year of riding with that, I started to acknowledge the potential for even wider bars. So the true change came when I got myself a full 750mm, its just wow, it does so many positive things to your riding. So much so that when I recently had 660mm bars in my hands again, I immediately felt handicapped by it, and it just felt awkward. Go wide.

Leatt Brace
Ive seen more neck and back injuries than I care to admit - also with paralysis outcome. Its serious business. I could use this space to talk about the importance of hyperflexion, hyperextension or axial loading, but Ill settle with this: It does its job, it has the potential to save your life, and to keep you out of a wheel chair - with pretty much no draw-backs, this product really is a must have.

Winterberg Bikepark
Its won awards, and the hearts of bikers. The best German Bikepark there is - It won me over as well. The passion and the though-process behind every line is very evident, and a joy to ride. A real skill booster as well. I cant wait to get back for more.

The Worst (in random order):

Heavy Snow
Even though snow can have its charm at times, its mostly a pain in the ass for us. My favorite trails are locked down due to the snow, and that hinders proper riding. Skills are definitely not improved, when a thick carpet of snow hinders even basic technical treats.

Ti axles
Got one, broke one. I'm just glad it didn't happen during a landing or something else gravity oriented. Be warned.

Castrating trails
I'm all for trail grooming - dont get me wrong about that, but the castration of trails for the sake of making it more easy is just mind bugling to me. It just doesn't make sense to me - none the less its a returning trend in 2010 on some of the most popular trails here. Go ride a different trail if its too hard for you - dont dumb down an established trail because your skills lack.
Is this really necessary?:

Ok, so thats the up and downs for 2010. Feel free to submit your thoughts at any time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Video: ChainSmoker

Put together some footage from this summer and fall. Its been a sick season to say the least. This is mostly from the German bikeparks, but other places are in here as well. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All Mountain Next turns 1 year old!

So, the blog turns 1 year old. And I thought I would write down a few words about the how-abouts of this blog - where it stands, and where its heading. Its been a fun year to say the least. Its also been a hectic year with lots of travel, and rides, from the mountain peaks of Slovakia and Poland, to some awesome new "local" lines. Alot of new gear as well - from the Leatt Brace, to the SIXC crankset, some of the gear failed, others offered new standards. So..

How it all started.
As an avid mountainbiker I often got new gear for my bike, and more importantly got myself into exciting mtb trips. My mtb buddies often carry a camera, and so do I. So there I was, with a continues flow of new gear, and alot of pictures and snippets of video on my hands. I thought that I might just as well share the pics, and write my thoughts about the gear I got into my hands. After thinking abit about it, I decided to go for it. All Mountain Next was born.
Just as intended I started to post pics and write about gear. I didn't want to focus on mtb-news per se as I knew other websites did that better than I could ever do. So it was all about the riders and gear - with an hands-on approach. This proved to be a success. It started with a very small following, with 300 visitors a month, mainly friends, today its at 1500 visitors a month, and still rising. Not bad for a amateur blog covering a niche branch of the sport.

Where its at.
Alot of reviews, previews, and 100's of pictures later, this blog has found its bedrock. The use of a 0-6 scoring system proved to be easy to work with when reviewing stuff, and pretty straight forward. The focus on weight, and always putting stuff on a scale was gracefully received as well - its a no bull-shit approach, and my weight-measurements has even been quoted on other websites. Kinda fun to see. The use of pictures has increased during the short life time of this blog, but its found its own standing ground as well.

Where its going.
All Mountain Next is going as strong as ever, 81 posts later and its not slowing down. The focus will still be gear and stuff for the bike, as well as picturised reports from the trails in interesting places. I plan to post some more vids from the rides, just short ones without any edits, I think it could add a bit more entertainment, as well as some real-life riding into it, that most riders can relate to. But overall, ill continue to roll the stuff as usual. I'm always open for suggestions, so shoot away! The commentary section does not require any sign in. So go ahead and write.
So, thanks for all the great feedback! I hope for a even better year in 2011 for All Mountain Next.
Now go out and ride.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: FOX DHX 4.0 2010

Finally got a coil shock for my bike. Been looking for one for a long time, but something always prevented me from pulling the trigger - untill now.Everyone with coil shocks speaks of how amazing a coils linear stroke rate feels, and I have to agree, its just wow!
I went for the FOX DHX 4.0 from TF TUNED, its got propedal, rebound, bottom out resistance and a spring preload, so pretty much everything you would expect of a normal coil shock. But at this price, it would have suited FOX to step it up a bit more; the RockShox Vivid coil R2C 2011 offers all this and a dual flow rebound as well, and you can get it tune-specific, all this for the same amount of cash as well.

So how does it performs? Well when doing my first proper drop, I had to stop up and look at the shock and think "since when did I get 200mm of rear wheel travel?"- Its that buttery smooth end-stroke linear. Nothing like the sudden ramp up of an air shock in the end-stroke. When setup for DH this shock really shines, eating the bumps, rockgardens and roots all while furiously tracking the ground. This thing is a speed booster when things get tough - no question about that. When sagged deep, the shock is allowed to work both ways, and the DHX is an avid worker. For bikeparks or FR this is a gamechanger, step-ups, step down, drops, jumps, everything gets more controlled and a bit more easy on the rider as well. For AM the DHX is a bit more complicated, the right amount of rebound took me a loong time to get right, the problem was that the coil continued to feel too lively. Even when tuning in the spring preload, and adjusting all the low speed compression, this shock just wanted to be in constant movement - definitely slowing me down on the climbs compared to an air shock. I never figured out the low speed compression, as it has little, to no effect on performance. Disappointing. AM is doable with the DHX coil, but since my favorite trails are equally up/down the coil just doesnt justify itself there.

All in all a good coil shock, thats best suited for descends and jumps, features arent its strong points, but performance is amazing liniear - and if you know what to do with it, you'll likely to go faster and further than before.

The Good:
-Super linear feel
-Performance when doing DH or FR

The Bad:
-Not heavy on features
-Low speed compression has little effect
-Difficult to tune for AM riding.

Score: 4/6

Its been a long time coming, a coil on my AM rig:
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DHX coil hometurf:
TF-TUNED has been great, and got in contact with me in regards to my riding style, weight, purpose, bike type and even my hair color. Ok, not the hair color then. But everything else.
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Ive just hit the landing on this pic. The DHX coil makes for a controlled, and smooth landing.
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Heavy, but considering its a steel coil, its not that heavy
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Crank Brothers Joplin 3

There is a story prior to this review. Thing is I already did a Joplin review a few years back on another site. Back then everything was dandy. The Joplin worked as it should, seemed reliable, and the mechanics was working as it should. All that spawned a very positive review, that I ended up posting online.... Then the problems started.
The Joplin began to feel spongy, and was very sensitive to wet elements, it also leaked large amounts of oil - resulting in a bad overall funktion. I sent it in for repairs, not once, not twice, but 3 times! The problems kept coming back, and I started to feel like I was wasting my time. (It also taught me that long term testing is really the best way to go). The third repair installed 2010 internals into the Joplin. But the minute I got it back from the repair shop, I immediately put it in my store room...waaay back into the store room.. Instead I use my Pure Racing KS 900i, its in a whole different league.

So there you have it, this little story is actually a review on its own.

The good:
-You might be very lucky and get an example that wont break. Ive actually know of one such example. And having this point under "good" is somewhat silly anyway.

The bad:
- Reliability. Dont waste your time, or money.
- 75mm of adjustability is not enough for AM.

Score: 1/6

Pretty lightweight for an adjustable post.
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Good Post. Bad post. Its your choice.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Trail adaption: Spike tires

Installed the spiketires, this year im using it on both front and rear. It really makes a difference, if you want to know more, then  go read the review:

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And be sure to check this out as well:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow ride

So whats with this picture you might think - its just snow. Well actually its the trailhead of one of the more popular trails, untouched by other riders, so the trend from last winter continues: We are once again the first on the trails after the snow. Its a split situation for me; I tempted to do a facepalm, but on the other hand, it does give a better workout, and it has its moments to be the "snow plow" of the trail. The fact is, we actually had a fun time plowing this time around.
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Plow-machine 1:
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Plow-machine 2. This ride was before installing my spike tires, so im just riding regulars here:
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Ghetto tubeless fail.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pre-Snow Trail Riding

The snow retreated a bit, and that spawned some rides, here are some random pics:

Sure the snow pulled back a little, but the frost still guards the trails:
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Mikkel on his Yeti, pic turned out great:
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playing around:
Got new longer pins for my Point One Racing Podium pedals, these things are awesome:
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Riding a bit above ground helps on rolling resistance ; )
Days are way shorter, scenery can still kick ass tho'
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: Pure Racing KS 900i 2010

Adjustable seatposts has come a long way the last 3 years. From just a few manufactures some years ago, to a quite broad span today, with players such as Rockshox, X-Fusion joining the game, and even Fox has a adjustable seatpost in development.
Thats all good, but the initial seatposts also got a somewhat troublesome start, reliability issues where very prone, and posts like the Crank Brothers Joplin where equal hated and loved for its performance. Well mostly hated. Some of the very first providers of hydraulic adjustable seatposts was Pure Racing. 2009 was a very good year for Pure Racing, as they seamed to hit the nail on its head with their KS900i post, users where complimenting the reliability, and the press had nothing but top marks for this post. Finally - a reliable hydraulic adjustable seatpost hit the marked.

This review has the 2010 version in focus, with its 5" (125mm) of adjustments. Pure Racing has been trying to improve performance even more by adding new DU bushing and open bath oil lubrication, with a tripple seal system.
I have been testing this post for 8 whole months, and its seen all sort of weather and a very big variation of riding, as I believe that adjustable seaposts are subjects for long-term testing (not short-term, as I often see, and that simply doesnt make sense to me).
I found the post to be very reliable, easy to adjust, and it can take a beating. One slightly negative thing I would like to mention is that sometimes my post wont compress down the last 7-8mm. It has no effect on my riding, so it doesnt bother me, but I better mention it anyway - I dont know other KS900i with this issue. Otherwise, its been absolutely flawleess, and riding with an adjustable seatpost has fundamentally changed my riding style - I can never go back to a normal post, as it would definately make me a slower and clumsy rider. Want to enter the adjustable seatpost marked, then go for the Pure Racing KS 900i - its pretty much the best bet right now.

The good:
-The seals really keep dirt out.
-Install and forget - it just works.
-125mm of adjustment.
-Mud doesnt effect performance.
-Possible to install a remote control.

The bad:
-If you havent been using the bike for a few days, then the "first" activation of the post can feel quite hard.
-sometimes the post wont compress the last 7-8mm.

Score: 5/6
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Weight is pretty much standart for its travel:
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If you haven't an adjustable post yet, go get one, it will improve your speed and your technical agility. Alot.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trail riding ... in the snow!

Yearh, the white stuff hit us way earlier than any of us expected. Still, we went for a ride, and had alot of fun. The trail was slippery as hell, glad I had the right tires for the job. Mikkel on the other hand, well lets just say he struggled a bit more ; )

Hello snow, its been a while.
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The tools:
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We had alot of fun on a steep ascend, we ran it over and over, this stuff was slippery as hell, just made it all alot more technical and fun. Mikkel giving it a go. 
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Pointing the bike downwards was also bit more challenging than usual, a small layer of ice and snow had settled on the trail
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Giving it a go, good thread pays off. I did eject more than once tho' due to balance issues ; )
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Mikkel doing his "Oh fuck I wont make it, I better grab that tree"-move : D
(10 sek, raw footage)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November AM action

We had a blast last weekend. 4 hours of tech riding, most of it in sunshine, what more could one ask for?

Morten never disappoints. This guy is always first when it comes to adding flawor to stuff. And its always a joy to watch.
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Im working to angle that fucker more an more.
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Some tech sections got ridden, I hate how pics castrate an otherwise steep section.
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We found a small trail-gap:

I need to switch my rearshock to something more burly, fall didnt step down the game as I thought it would. Things just keep getting bigger and bigger, and no one has even begun to question it. Good times : )

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New video: Trail riding - Fall 2010

Shot some footage in September 2010, and decided to experiment with a combination of normal speed, and high-speed footage. Before shooting all the shots I wanted, September passed, and the forest lighting changed so much so that proper continuity was impossible. So I edited what I had, and this is the result, enjoy.

Go here to see a better quality version on youtube:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Maxxis Swampthing 2.35"

This is a tough workhorse that just wants to propel you forward when things get ugly. The nobby and pointy profile gives alot of rolling resistance, so dont expect an easy roller. But you get rewarded with a very good grip in challenging terrain. The big distance between the knobs give the tire some room to work with the soil, so that it really can get it "under the nails" - and then throw it all away again, so it doesnt pack up. The rubber spikes have different sizes and heights, all in the sake of grip. The braking capabilities are good, and predictable - so is the performance. Its not a light tire, but its not redicules heavy either. I do want to mention that the Maxxis Swampthing is a pain in the ass to install or even worse: to get it off - cant tell you why, it just is.
If you need a tire that grabs onto dirt, sand, mud, roots, even snow - and youre not an obsessive weight weenie - then this tire is a really good contender for a good and solid performing rear tire for the fall and winter. I wouldnt recommend this tire for the xc or trail rider, but if you ride aggressively in the winter time, with technical climbing, then this tire might just be for you. I wouldnt use it for anything else than fall/winter time, where this tire really can show what it can do for you.

Size:2.35" (Single Ply 60a)
Tested on: Rear
Claimed weight: 730 gram
Actual weight: 784 gram
Score: 4/6

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rearshocks: Coil vs Air

The coil-factor. For AM bikes its somewhat to the favor for the air shock when looking at factory assembled bikes from various bike brands. But its quite common to see riders swap out their air shock to an coil shock - and then absolutely rave about it. I want to know whats that all about. And more importantly answer the ever present All Mountain question: "Should I go coil?"

So I did just that, swapped my Specialized AFR shock, and installed a well known coil shock - the FOX DHX 4.0. Now im not new to air-shocks, ive ridden the FOX RP2, the more heavy duty Manitou ISX-6, and been on a Specialized AFR 2008 and 2009. Coil shocks however is a new game for me, so I wanted to test this thouroghly. Ive been testing this shock for 4 months, ive taken it to 3 very different bikeparks, ive ridden some DH, done some considerable drops, some good sized jumps and everything in-between. And I really mean in-between, because ive also taken the coil shock to xc trips, AM trips, trail, street and what not. So here are my thoughts and learnings, categorized to give a better overview. First the basics:

Coil & Air characteristics:

Air characteristics:
Air shocks by nature have a non-linear spring rate, meaning the spring rate ramps up exponentially towards the end of the stroke. In plain English: The air shock will have a tendency to bottom out faster and harder. Air shocks are usually light, and have a good beginning-stroke support, air shocks are likewise more steady in the beginning-stroke - making it desirable for xc and trail riders.

Coil characteristics:
Coil shocks have a linear spring rate, meaning the shock will ramp up in the end stroke in a linear fashion. In plain English: The coil shock performs very good right untill the very end of travel. Coils are however more heavy and are more lively - and that can be a disadvantage for some.

This is a simplified grapfh I did, showing a coil (blue) and an air shock (red). The coil is very liniear all the way through its travel. Air shocks takes a bit more to "activate", and has a weaker midstroke support, by going faster through its travel. The airshock also bottoms out faster than the coil.
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So thats the (simplified) basics, how does all this reflect on the trails and riding types? Well lets take a look:

XC: Forget about coil. Install a good air-rearshock like the FOX RP23 or the newer Rockshox Monarch, and enjoy a bob-free ride, where youll feel no efficiency lost when hammering the pedals. The coil will drag you down, and wont contribute to anything positive.

Trail: Go air, air shock are very much capable for all manners of trail riding, you will most likely be slower on a coil, compared to a good air-shock.

FR: If big hits and aggressive riding is your thing, then youll most likely get most out of it via a coil. The very liniear end-stroke makes jumps or drops feel more controlled, and way more smooth. You can still pedal, but youll work a bit harder to do so. Air shock comes short at FR due to its poor midstroke/endstroke support (compared to a coil). This is generally speaking.

DH: Want the best ground tracking, and the best rockgarden swallowing capabilities, then go for a coil. The coil will pretty much ease up everything when going downhill, and make you a faster rider. Sag it all you can, and watch the coil do its buisiness. Air shocks will eat the travel way faster when sagged deep, and wont ramp up in the end stroke, to give you a smoother ride, and leaving you with less control.

AM: Ok, the tricky one for last, and its tricky because it really depends on your trail - and what your priority is. But let me put it this way:

If your trail mostly consists of:
Technical climbs - Technical descends : Go air.
Technical climbs - Easy descends : Go air.
Easy climbs - Technical descends : Go coil.
Easy climbs - Easy descends : are you riding AM?


You might have noticed that I haven't mentioned the Fox DHX AIR, or the new Monarch Plus, or the Manitou ISX-6. Heres why; from what I have experienced, and from what ive been reading and hearing from AM users, air shocks like the Fox RP23 (2010+) and the Rockshox Monarch (2010+) are very much capable to tackle very demanding terrain, and have over the years been fine tuned to suit the AM market, some of the improvements have been done to the midstroke and endstroke feel. This has resulted in some very good air shocks, that continue to impress end users. Fox even declared its RP23 to be FR compatible in 2010, thats how much they believe in their RP23 performance. These are good times for All Mountain riders.

My AFR shock is good for XC, trail, and light AM. But it ignores the end stroke, and eats the mid stroke way too fast. Classic airshock downfalls.
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Im using the coil for bikeparks. It lets me sit deep into my sag, without blowing through the rest of the travel. Great for aggressive riding. It also smooths out the hits, and that really adds to the control. It gives a very good ground tracking.
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The ISX-6 is an airshock that tries to mimic some of the features we see on a coil. It has good midstroke performance, but ends up a bit too fast in the end stroke. Initial stroke is a bit too lively as well. Overall, it feels like a shock that wants to do alot of things, but fails to properly succeed.
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So that pretty much sums it up. Its really a daunting task to elaborate why one should go coil or air with a few more words than just "its way batter man!". Ive done my best here, with what ive learned on the trails.
Heres is what I personally do; When going to a bikepark, a DH session, or something gravity oriented, I put on a coil (it takes me less than 10 minutes to switch, so its no biggie). If im up to technical riding, where climbs are tough, I stick to my air shock - thats how I roll, so to say. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some AM riding

We had a chance to ride our bikes this weekend, and we even had a visitor from the deep south. Anyway, we had an awesome day, where technical riding, and jumps coupled with drops collided. Hey, we even pushed a thing or two mid-air. 

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It wasnt all jumps and drops, some tech riding where on the menu as well. Here you see Kim battling a technical section. And battle we did.
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Priceless facial expression. Click the pic to see all the fear.
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Some sections got ridden over and over. Typical.
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Christian dialing in his Spitfire. What a fun bike to ride.
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We got ourself a small off-camber drop - though its impossible to see that on this pic. 
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So ready for more.