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October 28, 2010

How-to: Storing your bike

Yamaha’s Motorcycle Product Manager, John Bayliss, did a great job detailing the steps involved for winterizing your motorcycle. If you missed it last year, or need a refresher, please click here for the full story. If you have some tips of your own, feel free to comment!

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Posted @ 10:12 am in Authors,Yamaha Insights   
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March 24, 2010

Left or Right?

Hugh Hutner: I ride with a number of other riders on various brands of bikes, but one day, at the cafe, we notice that the five guys who ride the R1 are all left handed. The other day we had a woman rider on an R1 join the ride from one of our affiliated social groups, and she is left handed.

So we have ages ranging from 30 to 60, both genders, all different years of R1, ethnic backgrounds are german, malaysian, chinese, african, thai and russian jew (hey, this is Vancouver, eh) and occupations range from low tech to professional. So the question is: what is it about the R1 that makes it the choice of lefties?

Bryan Hudgin: Hello Hugh!! Since I’m the PR specialist, customer service sent me your email and what a great message it was! It actually got me thinking about the people who work here. You guessed it, I’m also left handed. Both VP’s and the President are as well. There seems to be a disproportionate number of staff that I talked to that are left handed.

I’m thinking we can put this to the test on our Facebook page and the 2000+ Yamaha fans we have on there. If you have Facebook, look for us at http://www.facebook.com/YamahaMotorCanada. We’ll ask the question later today and see what kind of response we get. Something like, “Do Left-handers prefer Yamaha?” and we’ll point to your informal data as the catalyst.

As a side note, I did come across this while looking for the breakdown of handedness amongst general populations. It seems like the intelligent choice is Yamaha?  Maybe it has something to do with right brained people preferring the colour blue? Maybe it’s because left handers are the only ones in their “right” minds?  [laughs]. Have a great day, Hugh.

Two Pakistani researchers explored the effect of handedness on the intelligence level of students. The sample included an equal number of left-handed and right-handed students drawn from various universities in Pakistan, altogether 150 subjects. Subjects were assessed for both handedness and intelligence.

The researchers found no significant difference in intelligence between subjects from various educational levels, but they did find that left-handed subjects were significantly more intelligent than right-handed subjects. Results were published in the January 2007 Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

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Posted @ 10:50 am in Commuting,Sport,Yamaha Insights   
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March 19, 2010

Good Dirt for you

Spring is here, let’s go riding! You know, I’m not a huge fan of the cold, bitter weather of Canadian winter, but it definitely makes me appreciate these warm, sunny days that much more. All I can think about is calling in sick, loading up the pickup with a YZ and heading out to Gopher Dunes

On the topic of riding, OFTR’s Ken Hoeverman was in the office yesterday discussing the going-ons of trail riding in Ontario. Ken is a passionate, intelligent guy who has some really good ideas, many of which are already in action, to promote off-road riding throughout the province.

His main objective is answering the most simplest of questions for new (and even current) riders. Things like, Where can I ride? Do I need a license plate? Do I need insurance? Where can I learn how to ride? Furthering his proactive approach, Ken wrote these questions down on hang-tags, and has sent them to supporting dealerships to place onto bikes.

Makes sense … I’m buying a bike, now tell me where I can ride it. It’s not like it used to be; you can’t just fire up your bike and head out into the great unknown. Well, you can, but it’s not going to help the cause.

Insurance has been a longstanding battle for those wishing to hit the trails without spending a fortune. Fortunately, the wall is starting to crumble. Ken and his group have worked out a deal with Open Skies Insurance. Beginning May 1, 2010, Open Skies is offering a flat rate liability only insurance for trail plated bikes in Ontario. The rate is $160/year for non-members, and OFTR members receive a 25 percent discount on the premium. Not too bad, eh!

Stay tuned to their website, oftr.ca, for more details.

Noise (more sound = less ground), who to ride with, training facilities, current stats, and general trail riding responsibility was discussed as well. Probably the biggest hurdle that keeps us dirty dirt bike riders from gaining more ground, is the fact that we’re still looked upon as “bad.” We’re no good. Our bikes our loud, we kick up dust and promote chaos everywhere we go. I don’t mind being considered a badass (chicks dig it!) but this “dirt bikers are bad guys” has got to stop.

Most of those on the trail are reasonable, approachable people, and it’s usually families and kids looking to enjoy our land. Our tainted image won’t be removed overnight, but if we work together, and support clubs and organizations who are taking on “the man,” we’ll get there.

I’m more of a track than trail rider, so my knowledge of trail riding is limited. But I am working on making contact with other regions in Canada, and will do my best to bring the pertinent info to you guys and girls here. Darryl Copithorne of Alberta Society of Off-road Motorcyclists (ASORM) touched base with me today, and appears to be trying to create some structure in his region. I’ve also shared some conversations with Scott Josey, who works with the Nova Scotia Off-Road Riders Association (NSORRA). Those guys should be able to answer any questions in their respective regions.

If you have any suggestions of places to ride, that won’t cause a fuss, feel free to share them with us. Or if you have ideas that could help bring new light to off-road riding, share them also.

Keep the rubber side down!


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Posted @ 3:18 pm in Authors,Commuting,Dirt,Yamaha Insights   
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December 2, 2009

Keeping your beauty fresh

Tips on Motorcycle Winter Storage
By John Bayliss

Depending upon where you live in this great country, Mother Nature has been very kind to the motorcycling faithful this fall. Especially in Southern Ontario. Just when we thought the riding season was over, the sun came out and temperatures during the day were high enough to extend our riding season. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but winter is coming and it is time to prepare your bike for its winter hibernation.


“Danger” – that’s Johnny’s middle name! Johnny has experience on all forms of motorcycles, and if you keep reading, some wonderful insight on properly storing your bike.

I have owned plenty of bikes over the years, and each fall, I take the time to store them properly so they are ready to go when spring arrives. I’d like to share some advice and tips for winterizing your bike this year. I am not a mechanic, but I am a backyard enthusiast who loves to tinker. I have yet to experience one of my bikes failing to fire-up in the spring … so I must be doing something right. Here is my list of winter motorcycle storage tips:

1. Fill your gas tank with fresh premium fuel that contains no ethanol (Shell premium contains no ethanol … or so says the sign on the pump). I recommend premium because most regular grade fuels contain ethanol and there are a bunch of folks saying it is not the best for power sports applications … especially if you are not using them everyday. More importantly, add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer. Make sure the tank is completely full for final storage … it will prevent condensation during winter temperature fluctuations.

2. Either take your bike for a short 5 to 10 minute ride or warm your bike up in the driveway and change your oil and filter (this will also insure that the fuel stabilizer has worked its way through the entire fuel system). Refer to your owner’s manual for oil change info.  Unless you have recently changed your oil (1,000 kms or less), it is a good idea to store your bike with fresh oil … it will also save you from having to do it next spring when you are itching to go riding. A bike should not be stored with old, well used oil … its acidity levels will be elevated and could harm your engine internals. Start your bike after the oil change for a minute or so to get the fresh oil circulating.      

3. Once your bike has completely cooled down, if the float bowl drain screws (on non- fuel-injected bikes) can be accessed, drain the float bowls (it is a bit of extra “insurance”). There is no draining required on fuel injected motorcycles, since it is sealed from the outside air.

4. Wash your motorcycle before storing. A coat of wax on the painted parts is a good idea. Always inspect your bike as you wash it. This is a great time to look for damaged, loose or missing parts. If your bike is being stored in a damp environment, consider using some light oil on the chrome bits … just make sure you remove it prior to starting the bike in the spring.

snow road

Sigh …. opportunities to ride your two wheeler are few and far between now. Unless, of course, you have some studs! (And no, I don’t mean in the Chip ‘n’ Dale sense ….)

5. Lube your chain (if applicable) after you have washed and dried your bike. Once again, it is not a bad idea to adjust your chain at the same time … it will save from you having to do it next spring. Please note, chains are not tightened, they are adjusted to a specific tension spec which will be outlined in your owner’s manual.

6. Find a safe, secure spot to store your bike. If your bike has a centre stand, it is best to put it on this stand in order to get as much weight off the wheels and suspension as possible. If you own a sport bike, there are various types of stands available that can raise the wheels off the ground. If not, the side stand will have to do. Remember to store your bike in a well ventilated area away from open flames, sparks, electric motors, etc. (as high ozone levels will degrade the rubber in tires). While talking of tires, the very soft compounds used for high performance sport bikes become easily damaged when the ambient temperatures get really cold. Even a gentle bump down a curb can crack the surface of the tire.

7. Remove the battery, and if applicable, check the electrolyte level and top it up to the correct level with distilled water. Put the battery on charge and fully charge it. The battery should then be stored in a warm, dry place. Never store your battery directly on a concrete floor … this could damage or permantely kill the battery. You can use a 2×4 to keep it up off the concrete. The battery should be charged every 4 to 6 weeks while in storage. [Note: Some MF (maintenance free) batteries require a special charger. There are some very good chargers that can be left connected to the battery for the whole storage period. Perfect if you want to connect and forget it until spring.]

8. Since you have warmed the bike up to change the oil, double check to see if the gas tank needs to be topped up again. If so, make sure you use stabilized premium fuel … this will help prevent condensation and corrosion in the tank. If your bike has a fuel petcock, make sure it is in the off position during storage.

9. Cover your bike with a breathable cover to help protect it and keep it clean. Careful of using a non-breathable cover (plastic tarp etc.) which could cause condensation and corrosion.

10. Depending on where your bike is being stored, if vermin are a concern, take the time to tape up the intake opening and exhaust outlet and put some moth balls under the cover … this will help keep the critters away. (I have also been told that dryer sheets do the same thing … keep vermin away … but have never tried them.) Make sure you remove them before starting in the spring.

11. Some folks go the extra step and remove spark plugs, put a small amount of oil (about a teaspoon) into each cylinder and then rotate the engine a few times to prevent rusting. I have never done this, but some folks feel it is very important. If you are storing your bike for more than just the winter this could be a good idea. [Note: Be careful … removing spark plugs can be a tough job on the newer high-tech bikes, and do not put too much oil into the cylinders.]

12. If you are storing a race bike that has water or water wetter in the cooling system, (read: road race bikes) make sure you drain the water from the cooling system and replace it with proper coolant to prevent freezing and a very costly engine repair.

Finally, remember that thieves don’t go away in the winter. Keep your bike locked up at all times and out of view if possible.

[Note: Lots of riders get an itch to go for a ride on that beautiful mid winter day … if you do this, remember to go through most of the storage procedure again. Also, be aware that if you ride through a puddle or wet area you may have just sprayed your bike with salty water … do not put it away without thoroughly washing it again. Otherwise you will be in for a surprise when you pull the cover off it in the spring … the salt will not only corrode your chrome but may also pit any aluminum parts too.]

Thanks for reading! If you have some tips of your own, feel free to share!

Johnny B

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February 7, 2008

Welcome from Andre Harris

Hi, my name is Andre Harris (you can call me Dre’); I’m the Events and Show Coordinator in the marketing department of Yamaha Motor Canada.

I’ll be one of the folks blogging here; often I’ll blog about sport bikes, though I’ll cover anything motorcycle-related (especially if you ask me to! 😉

Now, a bit about my background…

I’ve worked at Yamaha Motor Canada for going on five years. I like my job – the company is full of enthusiasts, and I get to travel and meet like-minded individuals. And I get to sample the latest and greatest of a wide selection equipment – from dirt bikes and sport bikes to large-displacement cruisers, even beginner bikes.

And quite often, I’m testing one-of-a-kind equipment, before it even goes into mass production! Cool, eh?

I’ve been riding since 1974 (I’m NOT telling you my age! I was out of diapers, but not old enough to get a mature rider insurance discount 😉
My first bike, way back when, was virtually unheard of in Canada, but it was all I could afford – brand new for $600! It was a Jawa CZ 175 [JaWa the first two letters of the developer’s name- Janecek – and first two from a competitor’s model Wanderer; the CZ for Czechoslovakia.)

I’ve been training novice riders as part of the Humber College Rider Training program for more than 20 years, and instructing in advanced cruiser/touring at the FAST Road Racing School for more than seven years.

I was asked recently if I have a favourite bike; I don’t think so – really, any bike with an attitude (but not too obnoxious!) The MT-01 torque sport bike, Vmax, and Roadliner all come to mind.

My hobbies? If it’s got a motor and handle bars… I want to ride it!

Why am I blogging? ‘Cause I want to share my passion (obsession?), relay my stories and experience – and generally be part of the never-ending quest for what it is about motorcycling that we true enthusiasts like so much!


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January 29, 2008

Good times at the Yamaha Fukuroi Test Track

Riding the same course the Yamaha MotoGP team rode the day before!

By Dave Shepherd, motorsports technical specialist, Yamaha Motor Canada

I was lucky enough to find myself recently at the Yamaha Fukuroi road track test course to test some new motorcycles.


The town of Fukuroi is one train stop down the line from Iwata, Japan, home of Yamaha Motor Company. Nestled in the hillside of Fukuroi sits this famous Yamaha test track.

Built in 1969, the Yamaha Fukuroi track (known as “FookU” to us inside the company) follows some of the older designs for its 5.8 km layout. Yamaha Fukuroi is shaped in a figure-8, similar to Suzuka Circuit (the centre of Japanese motorsports and that country’s first full-fledged racing course when it opened in 1962).

The Yamaha Fukuori test track has many trees and rails in close proximity, and not much run-off room (sand traps were unheard of in those days).

The day started out with heavy rain, and I worried that the test session might be cancelled. (Apparently, being located among the hills causes problems such as rivers forming and running over the track surface.) But by lunchtime, the sun was fierce and steam was rising from the black surface.

Engaging racetrack functions… all systems go!

The first few laps on the drying tarmac were slow. That gave me an opportunity to switch on those circuits in my brain that let my body perform racetrack functions. Those include:

  • bending in a full armour racesuit
  • getting the mind up to speed to handle the blitz of bike control information
  • learning the curves and ripples of the track at the same time

In a couple of slower turns, the exit line was seriously marked with a wide stripe of rubber. Not my doing, that’s for sure!

There is something special about riding high-performance motorcycles on the track. Without the distraction of normal road traffic or the constant vigil for our police friends, it is much easier to concentrate on the task of improving one’s riding skill set. (In my case, I need all the improvement I can get!)

It’s a great moment when you suddenly slip into the “zone” and the rest of the world is a million miles away.

Inside my Suomy helmet, I hear myself think, “that’s right, I’m being paid to be here and wring out this bike.” A bug-eating grin spreads across my face, and even the fact that I just missed my brake marker doesn’t really matter. I know that some much better riders than me have been on this very same track, and may even have missed a marker or two themselves!

I finally return to the hot pit where a large Japanese contingent is waiting patiently. (see the photo here). I ask about those wide stripes of heavy wrist action; they tell me that the Yamaha MotoGP team were here the day before, testing some new engines and control systems. With the rubber laid that wide, there had to be some very sideways riding; I’m awestruck by the talent of those unknown pilots!

We spend a very full day riding seven new models, gaining an understanding of the reasons for changes and sampling new technologies in the pipeline.

I realize just how lucky I am to experience these things – it’s almost as great as watching delight on the faces of bike enthusiasts at shows back home when they first see these models for themselves.

What bikes did I ride in Japan? That’s a blog post for another day…!

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Posted @ 8:45 am in Industry Insights,Maintenance,Racing,Special Events,Sport,Yamaha Insights   
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January 24, 2008

Birth of the XV 1900 Custom “Raider” – Part 2

From early ‘protos’ to clay models to road tests in America

By John Bayliss

This is the continuing story of “How the XV 1900 was born.”

XV1900 Custom BikeBehind the scenes, extensive costing and engineering studies for the newly developed XV1900 custom bike are completed. If all goes well the project will get the green light and a development code will be issued. In the case of the new XV1900 the code was “06S” and during any and all discussions, the code name will be used until the model is released to the public.

While final detail work is under way, the engineering group will cobble together a running prototype. I used the word “cobbled” because some of the early “protos” look pretty rough. (You need to remember, the protos are for testing purposes… not styling.)

Testers from both Yamaha Japan and Yamaha USA will ride the prototype and provide feedback; everything from functionality to sound to ride comfort will be assessed.

clay1.jpgfianl-clay.jpgMeanwhile, back in Japan, clay models are painstaking carved and sanded in a special studio right at the factory. (See examples of clay models here, left and right.) The clay model will be the final styling phase before measurements are taken for moulds and dies, etc.

I have been present when some minor changes are requested and believe it or not, the “artists” can manipulate the clay model right before your eyes!

After the initial stages of testing are completed, another testing “prototype” will be produced, although in a farproto2.jpg more finished state. (See right, and below.) The test unit will be shipped to the US and tested on American roads. (Yep, right out in the public view! But from my own experience most passerbys never seem to notice.)

Every aspect of the test machine is evaluated, including suspension settings geared toward North American roads. Any issues or concerns will be reported back to Yamaha Motor Canada for improvement. Testing takes proto-final.jpg place right up until the first pre-production machines start to roll off the line.

So, if you think that Star cruisers are conceived, designed and built in Japan, think again!

Our friends south of the border can and should take most of the credit for the new XV1900 Custom (“aka) “Raider”.

Let me know if you like hearing the ‘behind the scenes’ development stuff. If you do, I’ll try to dig up some stories of previous models as well as the new ones. JB

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January 22, 2008

How the XV 1900 was born

Made in Japan? Not so fast…!

By John Bayliss

On Sept. 10, Yamaha introduced a number of exciting new models for 2008. I would like to take you behind the scenes and provide some insights into how our latest Star cruiser, the XV1900 Custom bike evolved; you might be surprised…

Made in Japan right? Not so fast! Made in Japan yes, but conceived and designed in the USA. Here is how the process works.2008 XV1900 Custom C bike from Yamaha

Yamaha Motor USA (YMUS) has a full staff of product planners who attend key motorcycle events across the country. They talk one-on-one with as many customers as possible.

As they begin to develop a feel and direction for a new model, they contact Yamaha USA’s design company in Southern California, near where YMUS is based.

The design company takes the research info and produces a number of basic sketches of the new idea. The sketches are shown both internally at YMUS and to selected customers. A “whittling down” process will reduce the number of sketches from 15 or so down to the top 3 or 4.

Depending on the model, the planners will then host a focus group study for even more feedback. At this stage YMUS maysketch2.jpg stick to the final design ideas or continue to make changes based on feedback.

sketch-1.jpgAfter much internal discussion, a final sketch direction is chosen. (See left and right here for sample bike sketches.)

The sketch is taken from paper and is duplicated in real life – yes, sir, a full-size prototype model with all the bells and whistles is produced. For the record, these models do not run but can be touched and sat on (very carefully please!) … they are real motorcycles for all intents and purposes – except for the riding part.cad1.jpg

As the old saying goes; “a picture (or in this case a 3D model, see left) is worth a thousand words!”

Once the model is finished (which happens surprisingly quickly), the model is crated and shipped off to Yamaha Japan (YMC).model2.jpg

The YMUS product planners, including their in-house Japanese assistant, travel to YMC for the big presentation. Engineers, upper management and sales staff are all present at this meeting. Can you say “pressure”? Believe me, this is a stressful time for all involved!

During the meeting, the planners review their customer research, current trends in the biz, and describe their ‘target audience’. The bottom line is they make their best pitch for this new idea. Once they have everybody truly excited about the project, they unveil the 3D model. If all goes well, the engineers jump up and start checking out the model in detail!

model1.jpgAfter a period of time, the engineers will begin to assess what they can, and cannot, do. Some of the features of the 3D model may not be possible to duplicate due to mass production restrictions. It is not uncommon for other players/countries to join these presentations, too. Yamaha Europe,Yamaha Australia, and Yamaha Canada are often present, with the hope that we’ll buy into the project.

Stay tuned for part 2 to come in the next few days!

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Posted @ 8:45 am in Cruisers,Custom,Industry Insights,Technology,Yamaha Insights   
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January 17, 2008

Welcome from Tim Chelli

Hi my name is Tim Chelli; I’m the Compliance and Product Liability National Manager at Yamaha Motor Canada. I ensure that all Yamaha products comply with the necessary regulations. I also liaise with our lawyers, and handle intellectual property issues.Tim Chelli

But I’m not a lawyer; I’m a mechanic by trade. I started with Yamaha Motor Canada 20 years ago in the service division.

Prior to that, I worked at a large Yamaha dealer, Royal City Cycle, in Guelph, Ontario for more than six years.

My fondness for motorcycles started as a kid when I owned a mini bike. (My older brother had a real motorcycle). I read as much as I could about motorcycles, magazine after magazine.

I am primarily a sport bike rider. Here’s a list some of the Yamaha’s I’ve had over the years:

  • 1972 Yamaha DT2 (my first street legal motorcycle)
  • 1976 XS750D
  • 1977 XS7502D
  • 1980 XS850G
  • 1981 RD350H
  • 1982 XJ650LJ (Turbo)
  • 1985 RZ500RN
  • 1985 FZ750N
  • 1985 RZ350
  • 1988 FZR400
  • 1989 TDR250
  • 1995 VMax
  • 1997 Royal Star
  • 2003 FZ1
  • 2004 XV17PCP
  • 2005 FJR13
  • 2006 XV1900

My favourite bike is the 1993 GTS 1000. I drove one once on an expressway in Japan – now that was an experience I’ll never forget!

I also like sports cars (I’ve owned lots of those, too), mountain biking, and cottage life.

I’m blogging here in the hopes of helping someone rekindle the passion they once had for motorcycling, by sharing the insights I’ve gained in my 28 years in the bike industry. (And if can make someone chuckle, I’ll feel like I contributed, too!)

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January 10, 2008

Welcome from Bryan Hudgin

Bryan Hudgin

Hi, and welcome to the Bike Blog! My name is Bryan Hudgin (“Huggy” to folks at work). I’m a marketing rep at Yamaha Motor Canada, where I’ve worked since November 2003.

What do I ride? Everything, and nothing! Meaning, I don’t have my own bike right now – but I probably rode more than two dozen Yamaha models this past year.

All the loaner bikes I ride are good at what they do, but my roots are with motocross. I like to razz the sport bike guys around the office, saying ‘everyone knows that real athletes race motocross, the rest of you putt around on pavement!” 😉

Bikes I have owned include a series of unfortunate purchases I don’t particularly like to recall. There was red, then yellow, then red, then yellow. What can I say, I was young and naive! Then the first love of my life (or maybe second?) was a 1997 Yamaha YZ 125.

My favourite bike model of all time is the 2001 YZ 250F. My friend owned one in 2002; I hadn’t been on a bike in a couple years, and I was back from university for the weekend. I jumped on my pal’s YZ 250F, and just loved how fat the power was! (I’d never ridden a 4-stroke specifically built for motocross before.)

My favourite trip ever on a bike was probably riding my Mom’s Virago 750 the day after I turned 16. The beauty of the M1 license in Ontario at the time meant that I didn’t need a chaperon to drive with. So I was off to the job site at my summer job (where I was officially a blue-collar redneck).

My hobbies used to be working out, riding, partying…you know, typical early-20s stuff. I’m at that stage now, though, where home renovations, weddings, and paying bills seem to be taking an inordinate amount of my time (and money).

I am choosing to blog on this new Yamaha Bike Blog to… increase my typing words per minute? No, wait … I want to communicate to our customers stuff they might find interesting, or want to get involved with. Hope you enjoy!


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