No easy ride: Motorcycle industry is in deep trouble and needs help fast, panel agrees

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12/18/2017 9:31 AM

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-motorcycle-summit-20171214-story.html

A group of two dozen concerned motorcycle veterans has published a comprehensive research document that addresses the question, “Can this industry be saved?”

Maybe, it concluded, but it’s not going to be easy.

Former Indian Motorcycle executive Robert Pandya formed the Give A Shift group this fall, hoping to find a consensus of opinion among his friends and colleagues.

He began with a written survey, which included 300 participants, and proceeded to a two-hour roundtable discussion in Long Beach, on Nov. 16, with 25 of the most ardent influencers.

Their comments, made anonymously for fear of offending employers and business associates, paint a dire picture.

Sales are flat or falling in almost every area.
Baby boomer buyers, the most consistent motorcycle consumers, are aging out of the industry fast.
The industry has failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.
The old dealership model is broken and needs a makeover.
The arrival of autonomous vehicles may push motorcycles off the road entirely.
“The message is, ‘We are in trouble, and there is no silver bullet,’ ” Pandya said.


Robert Pandya, left, seen here discussing a new Indian product with actor and motorcyclist Mark Wahlberg, hopes his Give A Shift forum will invigorate riding enthusiasm and sales. (Manny Pandya / International Motorcycle Shows)
Among the key findings in the report, which can be read in its entirety here:

The motorcycle industry does not need better product, but its marketing and advertising methods are failing to attract new riders in part because they are too focused on selling bigger, faster, more expensive machines to veteran riders.

“There has never been a more compelling and interesting time in motorcycling,” the report said. “It’s clear … that the bigger issue is lack of general interest in riding.”

The industry also has failed to appreciate the importance of the female rider, losing sight of the concept that mothers who ride tend to produce children who ride. Instead, manufacturers focus too tightly on the more typical male consumer and, when it comes to women, rely on the careworn “shrink it and pink it” approach to apparel and gear manufacturing.

“There is clearly a path to attract female ridership that does not come from traditional motorcycle marketing and must be explored,” the report said. “The increase in female ridership will have a huge influence on young riders’ access to motorcycling.”

The panel faulted motorcycle dealerships for being outmoded and unimaginative, and for employing sales personnel primarily interested in selling top-of-the-line products to well-heeled buyers while ignoring the entry-level beginner.

“Dealers still often do not know how to sell to women, couples, families and non-traditional customers,” the report concluded. “Being enchanted by motorcycling can quickly be dulled by a poor, confusing or dismissive dealership experience.

Even more worrying, Pandya’s report said, is the approaching widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles, whose prevalence on public roads may leave no safe space for motorcycling.

“There is a very real risk of motorcycling being completely cut out of the conversation for future vehicle infrastructure systems,” the panel concluded. “The single biggest threat to motorcycling overall … will be the incompatibility between autonomous vehicles and existing motorcycles.”

Though the panel’s conclusions were bleak, its members did have ideas for slowing the erosion in sales and enthusiasm.

The paper called on the power sports industry collectively and riders individually to self-correct, self-police and work together to improve motorcycling’s image.

Manufacturers must “promote motorcycling as an activity for everyone,” “tell a compelling story about the benefits and joys of motorcycling” and “affect acceptance of the positive aspects of motorcycling.”

Riders, in turn, must be better ambassadors for the sport they love and better at sharing the message.

“If just 20% of existing riders were able to bring a new rider into the mix every year, the shift would be dramatic not only in sales but in camaraderie,” the report said. “Motorcycling can no longer be our secret.”

Blaine Schuttler, managing director of Husqvarna Motorcycles North America, said a major challenge is in simply identifying consumers and connecting with them.

“Our marketing activity plans are geared toward people who are currently in the sport, and toward trying to attract returners to the sport,” Schuttler said. “At the same time, everybody in the industry is trying to attract people who haven’t been exposed to motorcycles or have never ridden motorcycles before.”

Some companies, the report charged, have failed to produce enough motorcycles that are appropriately sized and priced for new riders, or have failed to make them sufficiently attractive.

But even those who have built splendid lineups of starter motorcycles, like Honda, are having trouble capturing the attention of potential riders whose free time and disposable income already are occupied by online gaming, streaming video content and other popular outdoor activities such as cycling, mountain biking, hiking or RV camping.

“There are so many options for that audience in terms of transportation and recreation,” said Lee Edmunds, national motorcycle advertising manager for American Honda. “I don’t see anything approaching what we need to do with that audience.”

The problem is made particularly acute, the report said, because many millennial consumers were “bubble-wrapped for safety in their youth” or raised by overprotective parents who discouraged risk-taking.

“Adventure is not at the top of the list,” said MotoQuest tour company founder Phil Freeman. “It’s more about comfort and security.”

Industry consultant and former Honda executive Chris Jonnum, who was not part of the panel but endorses many of its conclusions, observed that the thrill of motorcycling alone should make it an easy sell.

“What we have is cool and fun and genuine and appealing,” he said. “Everyone who does it knows how great it is, and how fun it is. What we’re trying to do here shouldn’t be impossible.”

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12/18/2017 9:35 AM

Im failing to see where its struggling. I dont even agree with any of these points. Maybe its failing in some spots and booming in ohio? I see tracks packed, bikes selling, stealerships expanding, and people riding their adventure bikes with salt on the roads in 25F weather.

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2009 Kawasaki KX450F
2009 Kawasaki KX250F
2002 Suzuki GSXR 600

12/18/2017 9:41 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 9:44 AM

Wondering when this would pop up here. The Powersports industry was propped up for years by watercraft, and now side by sides. Luckily many of the industry's roots are in dirt bikes, but they aren't paying the rent for most.

If you were to be in charge of a manufacturing company, what would you produce that could sell in volume as a new product?

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2015 Beta 500 RS, history: 99 KTM 300, 87 CR250, 84 KLR 600, 82 GPZ 550, 81 KX 250, 80 KX 250, 79 Montesa 414 VE, 78 250 VB, 77 360 VB, 76 360 VA, 75 YZ 125, 74 TM 125, 72 TS 125, 60's West Bend Go Boy Kart

12/18/2017 9:42 AM

Acidreamer wrote:

Im failing to see where its struggling. I dont even agree with any of these points. Maybe its failing in some spots and booming in ohio? I see tracks packed, bikes selling, stealerships expanding, and people riding their adventure bikes with salt on the roads in 25F weather.

I think that is part of the reason for such a panel, to identify what IS working.

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2015 Beta 500 RS, history: 99 KTM 300, 87 CR250, 84 KLR 600, 82 GPZ 550, 81 KX 250, 80 KX 250, 79 Montesa 414 VE, 78 250 VB, 77 360 VB, 76 360 VA, 75 YZ 125, 74 TM 125, 72 TS 125, 60's West Bend Go Boy Kart

12/18/2017 9:43 AM

In todays economy, anything less than double digit growth year over year is considers failing.

Forget making a modest living and running a good company that people want to work for and sells a good product. It has to make CEO's and stockholders millionaires or else it a bust.

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2013 CRF450R Factory Connection revalve, All stock.

12/18/2017 9:50 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 9:58 AM

The entire industry, but especially the road-going portion has geared itself to chasing boomer dollars since 1963. That's all well and good -- it was and is a huge money demographic, and one would be stupid not to participate. But it will (as all things do) dry up.

The last 20 years have produced amazing product for us enthusiasts. We have top-notch performance, style, and reliability in nearly all sectors of our little market.

But for broadening motorcycle culture? For making the cost of entry (the prime motivator for the previous generations) dirt-cheap? For cultivating youth and casual participation? There's a nearly thirty year casual consumer gap that will need to be compensated to really expect long term industry stability. And that time has already gone by.

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12/18/2017 9:53 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 9:55 AM

Acidreamer wrote:

Im failing to see where its struggling. I dont even agree with any of these points. Maybe its failing in some spots and booming in ohio? I see tracks packed, bikes selling, stealerships expanding, and people riding their adventure bikes with salt on the roads in 25F weather.

I think its referencing towards future sales. Meaning its steady now but with all the tech stuff now days its gunna be hard to get these people on bikes. I didnt sit around when i was 10 playing video games or watching youtube. I as many others on here probably went outside rode bikes, played guns. All kids do now is sit on there social media and sext eachother. On a side note. Chapparal changed the store layout so now you have to walk through the showroom to access the rest of the store. Which makes me think they are looking for ways to get more sales.

In the 20 years ive been going there ive seen so many things come and go but the bikes are always there. For a while it was packed with boats and seadoos, now its packed with UTVs and in 10 years maybe hovercrafts who fucking knows... Sorry about the spelling or grammar, i didnt gradgumate.

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12/18/2017 9:54 AM

OFF-ROAD’S ENDURO & COMPETITION MOTORCYCLES
Dependent on enthusiast riders, the Total Off-Road Motorcycle market, which represented more than 30% of the Total Motorcycle market in the early 2000s, shrunk to represent only 17% from 2011-2013 before achieving incremental growth to approx. 20% representation.
The Off-Road Motorcycle market is split between Enduro and Competition models. Enduro models include a wide breadth of bike, from 50cc youth models like the best- selling Honda CRF50F to 350cc trail masters like the KTM 350 EXC-F. In many states, Enduro bikes can be easily modified for on-road legality.
Competition models, typically 250cc and 450cc models, are high-strung off-road-only
bikes. As with the “Supersport” market, the “Competition” niche is highly susceptible to the trends of young persons. As mentioned above, it may not be the young peoples’ passion for powersports that has disappeared but the monetary means with which to recreate. Unemployment & underemployment continue to be an issue, leaving little funds for such pastimes. This, mixed with higher acquisition costs, higher maintenance costs and increasing travel costs will continue to impact this motorcycle segment. Plus, since Competition models require a dedicated area, many hobbyist riders appear to be coaxed from the endeavor by intricate land use laws and a dwindling number of far-away properties on which to recreate.
Although Off-Road motorcycles are “past-time” vehicles more so than On-Road motorcycles, and expenditures on past-time vehicles are the first to dry up when the economy is in question, positive news for the Off-Road market comes in the form of recreational riders unaffected by the economic woes, the hardcore dirt enthusiast living the off-road lifestyle, and landowners using the bikes on ranches, farms or as cabin run- abouts.

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12/18/2017 9:58 AM

Side-By-Side Utility Vehicles (UTVs) represent another market experiencing stellar
New RV Sales in the U.S.

growth, with sales up 97% from 225,800 units in 2009 to 444,100 units in 2016, according to Minneapolis-based research firm Power Products Marketing (PPM).

- Power Products Marketing
Previously a vehicle more likely to be found at a work site than a forest trail, North American UTV sales in 2002 began a six-year surge at an average annual growth rate of 20% on the strength of Consumer applications, popularized in 2004 by the Yamaha Rhino and in 2007 by the Polaris RZR, according to PPM.
Sales were relatively flat in 2008 – at the dawn of The Great Recession – fell 16% in 2009, but quickly bounced back as consumer recreationists with deep pockets became attracted to the wide breadth of vehicle types being offered.
Who’s buying all of these machines?
Whereas in 2000 the ratio between Consumer and Commercial applications was approximately 40/60, respectively, there was a significant shifting to consumers accounting for 55% of sales in 2003. For 2016, PPM found Consumer applications likely accounted for 83% of sales while Commercial applications looked to be responsible for 16%.
PPM’s data shows the Recreation category was the largest Consumer application in 2016, representing 34% of the total market. Other Consumer categories of note include Farmers (28.5%), Residential Homesteads (8.9%), Hunters (6.3%) and Estates (5.7%).
As with the RV market, it’s suspected the UTV market is also benefitting from population trends as well as the familial aspect of the endeavor. A UTV’s standard, automobile-like operating platform makes them easy to drive for a wide variety of user, their utility effectiveness straddles many uses, and their multi-passenger seating options mean you can easily take family or friends along on an adventure.

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12/18/2017 10:04 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 10:18 AM

Acidreamer wrote:

Im failing to see where its struggling. I dont even agree with any of these points. Maybe its failing in some spots and booming in ohio? I see tracks packed, bikes selling, stealerships expanding, and people riding their adventure bikes with salt on the roads in 25F weather.

Think bigger. They’re talking motorcycling in general, not the corner of it that you’re interested in.

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12/18/2017 10:05 AM

For what its worth on the on-road side of things I sold my '12 GSXR1000 when I moved to Texas because full coverage went from $45/mo in Ohio to $383/mo here in San Antonio and that was the cheapest I could find. Progressive wanted $537/mo. My bike payment was only $140/mo. So I can see why the market would be down with insurance the way it is for full coverage, which you have to have when financing a bike.

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2018 KTM 250sx
Instagram CamaroAJ

12/18/2017 10:13 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 10:23 AM

AJ565 wrote:

For what its worth on the on-road side of things I sold my '12 GSXR1000 when I moved to Texas because full coverage went from $45/mo in Ohio to $383/mo here in San Antonio and that was the cheapest I could find. Progressive wanted $537/mo. My bike payment was only $140/mo. So I can see why the market would be down with insurance the way it is for full coverage, which you have to have when financing a bike.

But let's look bigger, picture-wise.

A GSXR1000 is the road-going equivalent to, say, a Lexus RC? A BMW M3? Man, I don't know, I'm a bike guy not a car guy. But I do know Toyota expects the middle of it's marketshare and brand loyalty to be on Corollas, Camrys, and even Priuses -- not on RCs.

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12/18/2017 10:17 AM

We need land for newbie riders to play in the dirt and a modern hodaka for them to play on. Those newbies in vacant lots during the 60s and 70s turned into lifetime riders, without that entry point this sport is a tough sell..

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12/18/2017 10:22 AM

Affordability is the name of the game... encourage others to start riding. If you know the used market, help them find quality products to get started. Bikes, boots, helmets, ect... if they only have xxx amount of cash, help! It'll take a team effort to get people started. Inspire others to the want to be a part of something so special, including friends of friends. We are all in this together, let's use our knowledge to generate more fans of motorcycling.

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12/18/2017 10:24 AM

Put Obama on a scooter...millennials will buy that shit all day long. Problem solved

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12/18/2017 10:29 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 10:32 AM

vikingBoy wrote:

Put Obama on a scooter...millennials will buy that shit all day long. Problem solved

It's mostly too late for millennials. We already squandered the largest (actually larger) generation since the Baby Boom by ignoring them as an industry. The bulk of their generation are adults in their mid 20s to 30s, and probably pretty ingrained in their purchasing habits.

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12/18/2017 10:32 AM

AJ565 wrote:

For what its worth on the on-road side of things I sold my '12 GSXR1000 when I moved to Texas because full coverage went from $45/mo in Ohio to $383/mo here in San Antonio and that was the cheapest I could find. Progressive wanted $537/mo. My bike payment was only $140/mo. So I can see why the market would be down with insurance the way it is for full coverage, which you have to have when financing a bike.

Definitely insurance is killing the streets

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12/18/2017 10:34 AM

More people will be riding sex robots in 20 years then motorcycles.

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12/18/2017 10:34 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 10:36 AM

AJ565 wrote:

For what its worth on the on-road side of things I sold my '12 GSXR1000 when I moved to Texas because full coverage went from $45/mo in Ohio to $383/mo here in San Antonio and that was the cheapest I could find. Progressive wanted $537/mo. My bike payment was only $140/mo. So I can see why the market would be down with insurance the way it is for full coverage, which you have to have when financing a bike.

kkawboy14 wrote:

Definitely insurance is killing the streets

Is it purely insurance?

Or the fact that a huge portion of the streetbikes are the practical equivalent of a Supercar or a Bentley. I had coverage on my old Ninja 250 for $125/yr.

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12/18/2017 10:36 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 10:37 AM

AJ565 wrote:

For what its worth on the on-road side of things I sold my '12 GSXR1000 when I moved to Texas because full coverage went from $45/mo in Ohio to $383/mo here in San Antonio and that was the cheapest I could find. Progressive wanted $537/mo. My bike payment was only $140/mo. So I can see why the market would be down with insurance the way it is for full coverage, which you have to have when financing a bike.

kkawboy14 wrote:

Definitely insurance is killing the streets

Dirty Points wrote:

Is it purely insurance?

Or the fact that a huge portion of the streetbikes are the practical equivalent of a Supercar or a Bentley. I had coverage on my old Ninja 250 for $125/yr.

Man that’s cheap! Full coverage? As in real insurance not just liability?

I think texas and Florida costs are crazy

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12/18/2017 10:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 11:22 AM

kkawboy14 wrote:

Definitely insurance is killing the streets

Dirty Points wrote:

Is it purely insurance?

Or the fact that a huge portion of the streetbikes are the practical equivalent of a Supercar or a Bentley. I had coverage on my old Ninja 250 for $125/yr.

kkawboy14 wrote:

Man that’s cheap! Full coverage? As in real insurance not just liability?

I think texas and Florida costs are crazy

Liability only. And I live in a downtown, high density Zipcode. 20 years clean record.

Remember, Corolla / Supercar or Bentley. Which do you think will be $10 a month? Or do you own an R8 on two wheels and complain that it doesn't cost the same as your Civic?

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12/18/2017 10:39 AM

AJ565 wrote:

For what its worth on the on-road side of things I sold my '12 GSXR1000 when I moved to Texas because full coverage went from $45/mo in Ohio to $383/mo here in San Antonio and that was the cheapest I could find. Progressive wanted $537/mo. My bike payment was only $140/mo. So I can see why the market would be down with insurance the way it is for full coverage, which you have to have when financing a bike.

kkawboy14 wrote:

Definitely insurance is killing the streets

I can say first hand, thats because 20 year old kids who never rode dirtbikes go out and get a $2,000 supersport and dont have any idea what its like to ride one. I have 3 or so street buddies like this. They have all crashed within their first 6 months. Its not fair for people like most mx guys who have been riding more difficult terrain/conditions their entire life

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2009 Kawasaki KX450F
2009 Kawasaki KX250F
2002 Suzuki GSXR 600

12/18/2017 10:49 AM

$140 a year for liability in CA. I do not let her out of my sight and she sleeps inside. Photo

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12/18/2017 10:50 AM

7eleven wrote:

$140 a year for liability in CA. I do not let her out of my sight and she sleeps inside. Photo

Lucky. My liability in ohio is $55/month for an 02 gsxr 600 lmao

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2009 Kawasaki KX450F
2009 Kawasaki KX250F
2002 Suzuki GSXR 600

12/18/2017 10:52 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 10:57 AM

Insurance rates for liability coverage on most midrange motorcycles is a fraction of cars. Sport bikes, expensive cruisers, and tipover coverage get pinged, just as sports cars, luxury models, and all-inclusive plans do for cars.

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12/18/2017 10:58 AM

Yeah, a mini bike in the dirt lot for little Johnnie is just too much of a 'bust' now. Cops, politicians, lawyers, land owners, its all about them and their money. Im here to make stacks, get out of here with that fun little machine.

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12/18/2017 11:11 AM

insurance..in the big picture ..
...and crazy motocross tracks in the dirt bike side with injury's that were not so common once upon a time.
for sure theres more people on the streets...should be stricter motorcycle test..to promote a safer rider.
common sense went out the window..just read the posts here..most opinions are off the charts in a lot of threads

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12/18/2017 11:18 AM

Will someone please mention 2-strokes. The suspense is killing me...

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Instagram: @motoxeno


Premium Off-Road Products: www.jcrspeedshop.com


12/18/2017 11:21 AM

Dirty Points wrote:

Is it purely insurance?

Or the fact that a huge portion of the streetbikes are the practical equivalent of a Supercar or a Bentley. I had coverage on my old Ninja 250 for $125/yr.

kkawboy14 wrote:

Man that’s cheap! Full coverage? As in real insurance not just liability?

I think texas and Florida costs are crazy

Dirty Points wrote:

Liability only. And I live in a downtown, high density Zipcode. 20 years clean record.

Remember, Corolla / Supercar or Bentley. Which do you think will be $10 a month? Or do you own an R8 on two wheels and complain that it doesn't cost the same as your Civic?

I’m not complaining, I was just pointing out that your low cost is really like not having insurance, I wouldn’t own a street bike without full coverage. I know 4 guys that are jacked up because debts from only having liability insurance. I bet a lot of parents won’t let their kids at home ride because of the costs.

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12/18/2017 11:24 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/18/2017 12:03 PM

kkawboy14 wrote:

Man that’s cheap! Full coverage? As in real insurance not just liability?

I think texas and Florida costs are crazy

Dirty Points wrote:

Liability only. And I live in a downtown, high density Zipcode. 20 years clean record.

Remember, Corolla / Supercar or Bentley. Which do you think will be $10 a month? Or do you own an R8 on two wheels and complain that it doesn't cost the same as your Civic?

kkawboy14 wrote:

I’m not complaining, I was just pointing out that your low cost is really like not having insurance, I wouldn’t own a street bike without full coverage. I know 4 guys that are jacked up because debts from only having liability insurance. I bet a lot of parents won’t let their kids at home ride because of the costs.

What is the cost of liability coverage? Seriously...

I would be concerned, iIf I weren't old, cranky, and perfectly, curmudgeonly capable of purchasing full coverage. And I rode the equivalent of an R8 around town.

And I might still have more claims than you -- hit while parked in 2005, bike wrecked in a hit-and-run in 2008. In 2014, I got nailed as a shithead turned in front of me in traffic then fled... And, yet, here I am: 10 dollars and forty cents a month.

Complain about insurance RISK, I guess, if you will... But COST? maybe if you weren't excluding your own liability I might take it as a barrier. But it's not.

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