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Can you trust an eMTB Motor in 2021?

Let’s be honest here. EMTB ownership hasn’t exactly been the smoothest experience for the large majority of us since its inception. Those looking for a more intimate relationship with their bike manufacturers warranty department have been in luck. The bulk of current owners: test dummies if you will, have been required to stump up their hard earned cash in return for a part time job at the troubleshooting department of (insert ebike brand here) just to avoid owning a bicycle shaped brick. Maybe I’m being a little harsh here but I’m sure we all have a degree of scepticism and concern when it comes to owning an EMTB out of warranty.

When the mass market finally wake up and realise that EMTB’s were the answer after all, the industry will have undoubtably progressed and individuals will likely be walking into the same consumer experience expected from a modern day smartphone or flat screen TV. Switch it on, and it just works, every…single…day. They will have no idea of the anguish and pain we all had to go through just to make sure we could fulfil our electric dreams. The question is when on earth can we expect this reliability revolution to happen?

In my opinion, adoption will eventually breed perfection. But how long do we have to wait? As EMTB’s transition from the niche segment of the MTB industry into the more dominant segment (a shift that has arguably already happened in some European markets) will we still hear the same horror stories but on a much larger scale?

Since 2019 I’ve been running a growing rental fleet of Shimano powered, Vitus ebikes running E7000 and E8000 motors. The fleet is based in the heart of a very wet and wild Snowdonia national park, so as you can imagine our bikes take quite a beating. Not only do they have to deal with a varying range of rider abilities, they are also sometimes required to haul larger than average loads up some very steep forest hills. I’ll say no more but you get the idea. Its no wonder Shimano installed a W010 error code indicating the temperature of the drive unit is higher than it should be. The code causes the motor to assist at a lower level or shut off completely to protect itself from overheating and dying an untimely death. Despite rarely seeing the W010 error code we have had our fair share of motor related issues. 

In this video I discuss the pain and anguish I have so far faced, but prove that it is indeed possible to operate a fleet of Shimano powered ebikes and come out the other side with only marginally more grey hairs than you started with #justformen

  1. Still early days but I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying you can trust a Shimano (or any other) motor in 2021.
    Known a few EP8’s getting the E010 error code and needing a new motor…
    The pinkbike review of the SC Bullit even had it die on their test ride.
  2. A mate had the E010 error on the third ride on his new SC Bullit.
    Loan bike provided and new motor fitted by his dealer very quickly.
  3. I wouldn’t mind so much if i could just send my motor off to Madison. Choice with Vitus is to loose the whole bike for months in CRC warranty process or pay £100 per go for diag/removal/refit at Shimano Service Centre. Gets a bit expensive when the replacement motor only lasts 30 miles… LBS purchase essential for ebikes imo.
  4. I wouldn’t mind so much if i could just send my motor off to Madison. Choice with Vitus is to loose the whole bike for months in CRC warranty process or pay £100 per go for diag/removal/refit at Shimano Service Centre. Gets a bit expensive when the replacement motor only lasts 30 miles… LBS purchase essential for ebikes imo.

    You don’t have to send bike back to CRC, I warrantied my E-Sommett motor direct with Madison via LBS, we 10 day turnaround (though was pre covid).

  5. I wouldn’t mind so much if i could just send my motor off to Madison. Choice with Vitus is to loose the whole bike for months in CRC warranty process or pay £100 per go for diag/removal/refit at Shimano Service Centre. Gets a bit expensive when the replacement motor only lasts 30 miles… LBS purchase essential for ebikes imo.

    If you’re UK based and ever have a problem again with Shimano get in touch with Madison customer care on 01908 326032. You should be able to deal with them direct providing you can send them proof of purchase.

  6. I wonder what the failure rates actually are? And at what mileages / time of use?

    You only ever get people online saying when their motor has failed, not when its just working fine, so can be hard to judge. Or at least have a negatively biased view.

  7. I know I am repeating myself here but this topic comes up in so many different threads!
    I have not seen any EMTBs that have the electrical components and wiring adequately protected against the elements and that includes components inaccessible within the motor casing. There really is no excuse for that given experienced gained in other industries such as motor cycles, outboard motors, jetskis etc. External electrical components like controllers and switches should be hermetically sealed and connections into them made totally waterproof. Charging points need a complete re think, they are always a weak link. The motors include a PCB…..there should of course be no opportunity for water ingress into the area with the PCB and similarly the connections into it should be within a sealed area. Even so a PCB bolted to a metal surface subjected to big temperature differences and humidity will produce condensation unless sealed within a vacuum…………so how a bike is stored also impacts on reliability ( you would not leave your laptop out in a cold garage in the middle of winter I suspect!!).
    A good look over any new bike bought playing the "what if" game is well worthwhile because there are several DIY fixes you can devise to shorten the odds of a water ingress failure……………I know it should not be needed………….but the reality is that it pays dividends.
    Similarly, knowing something about the mechanical construction and then riding with a degree of mechanical sympathy should not be necessary…………but if you do..it pays dividends.
  8. Bit of a misleading title IMHO. The issue being discussed is relevant to all brands, not just Shimano, and that is even mentioned in the video itself….
  9. Bit of a misleading title IMHO. The issue being discussed is relevant to all brands, not just Shimano, and that is even mentioned in the video itself….

    Atleast the title’s been updated to remove ‘(YES!)’ 😂

  10. Bit of a misleading title IMHO. The issue being discussed is relevant to all brands, not just Shimano, and that is even mentioned in the video itself….

    I am thinking like you. Over the last 2 years i have read a lot about Ebikes reliability and issues and he is skipping many. The 7000 has a poor reputation and the 8000 also is seen has often as my third motor. We have to remember many isues happen in the first 3 months, even in the first 3 weeks. These motors/systems have design problems. There is no reason in my opinion to trust Shimano saw the light and from now on is putting reliability first. The lighter, smaller mentality is having a poor reliability track record.

  11. I think (touching wood) that the yamaha engines seem to be reliable. They obviously have a long track history of making engines and they don’t make massive changes to them each year.
  12. Thanks for your feedback. I probably should have made it clearer that I was only covering the problems I have personally experienced during the ownership of the fleet. Whilst I appreciate all ebikes have their problems (something I discussed in the accompanying article) I cannot have an informed opinion on the long term ownership experience of other brands. This is something I would like to cover in the future if I get the opportunity to run them long term.

    Thanks for watching :)

    May I ask which motor you found more reliable between the e7000 and e8000?

    Thanks for the video BTW!

  13. Personally speaking I’ve been through my bike (XDuro10) with a magnifying glass and made quite a few mods/improvements to wiring/routing/protection etc. The motor is sublime. So far so good.

    I do agree, e-bikes are not without issues but I also think, at this stage of their evolution the more "hands-on" owner will come out on top.
    My own feeling is the drive systems need to become user-serviceable, no more complex to service than a BB. The parts that can’t be made like this need to be bomb proof.

  14. I have read about many problems with bearing.
    It seems strange nothing is mentioned in this article?
  15. In my personal experience the E7000 is the more reliable motor and has shown very few error codes.

    Many thanks!

    How much use do the bikes tend to get before you sell them on? Do you tend to sell them on once at a certain mileage or just on time?

    Sorry for the questions, just interested!

  16. Many thanks!

    How much use do the bikes tend to get before you sell them on? Do you tend to sell them on once at a certain mileage or just on time?

    Sorry for the questions, just interested!

    The original plan was to sell the fleet in the Autumn regardless of mileage or condition, however due to the state of the bike industry we have only been able to purchase 7 new bikes from Vitus this year so the plan is to run a handful of last years bikes until we can get hold of further stock. Generally our bikes are sold on in an excellent condition as most of our customers are pretty easy going on the bikes. We try not to attract the hardcore rider :LOL:

  17. Does it mention anything about motor rebuildability/spares availability. I’m an ex shimano motor fan (as they don’t seem to be very rebuildable, as I understand it still no commercially available rebuilders for them, happy to be proven wrong as I think it would benefit all owners) whereas Brose and Bosch seem to be fairly rebuildable. I live in the very vague hope that the EU right to repair legislation will put an end to this.
  18. I’ve done over 4000 miles on my Bosch powered Cube, and not had a single motor issue. Ridden in all weathers, spent a lot of the time either wet or full of silt, and it’s been 100% reliable.
  19. No issues so far with my Shimano 8000.

    Although l don’t actually go out if it’s raining, l have been out when the ground is wet, and it has rained while l have been out.
    Last week it snowed while we were out on a ride, riding home the ground was covered in slush and the bike got water sprayed for about ten miles straight.

    Maybe l should take the covers off and check the motor. But it’s running fine with no issues or error codes.

  20. I’ve got over 1,000 trouble free miles on my Levo SL Mahle 1.1 motor. Haven’t read about any motor failures for this motor on here. I’m hoping I lucked out. But the 2 year warranty is reassuring just the same.
  21. I’ve got over 1,000 trouble free miles on my Levo SL Mahle 1.1 motor. Haven’t read about any motor failures for this motor on here. I’m hoping I lucked out. But the 2 year warranty is reassuring just the same.

    I am the same just over 1,000 miles and no problems so far, As for failures I know of a few but then again my mate is a Specialized Dealer, However my experience with my Creo is fantastic (awesome motor)

  22. Before we go around this circle again! We should know by now that motors fail for many different reasons and it’s not always about how you clean your bike, or what terrain you ride. It’s a whole raft of issues: The way you change gear, the way you transport your bike, how often you clean your bike, the way you store it etc. etc. Many of these little things currently make big differences to whether you’ve done 1,000 without any issues, or you’ve done 1,000 miles and your on your 4th motor.

    The bottom line is that these motors are still in their infancy and they are still yet to be designed for an off road bike. And trust me, this is not as easy as you may think. Try to design a seal that does not increase friction for example. Or try to make a motor a few grams lighter than your competitor but still resist the crank clouting a rock at 20mph without breaking.

    The hurdles are massive and complex. As always, I am not standing up for the manufacturers but I have been there and I know that to produce a new product or make a design change takes millions of pounds, about 5 years in time, and thousands of miles of testing and abuse.
    And this is all for a market that is 10% of your overall sales (European road/commuter bike market consume around 90% of ebike motors). I know we all feel like the guinea pigs at the moment, but better products will come…

    In the mean time, you’ve just got to bare in mind that you bought a mountain bike and not a tractor! It really surprises people when I tell them we often see road bike motors (not Brose) that have done in excess of 50,000 miles (80,000km) with no real issues! Bearings fine, plastic gears fine! For the market these motors were designed for, they are definitely fit for purpose.

    Maybe if we didn’t demand that a battery lasted for ever and a motor weighed as much as a field mouse, we would get exactly what we wanted… A watertight tractor gearbox (y)

  23. Re: clouting a rock at 20mph

    Quite honestly, I’m surprised eMTB motors are not designed with torque limiters. I wasn’t even thinking about nailing a rock with a crank (this is a relic of Aughts MTB relatively-high-BB mindset), but just bad shifts.

  24. Well Brose must be the least reliable , I have spoken with LBS , after 2000 miles prepare for a change. Is it true? Who knows, for one person I know it is. He is on 5th motor. There is no Shimano owner on 5th motor I believe :) I won’t praise Bosch but one of the LBS who is selling many different motors said to me that Bosch is testing motors for 30.000 miles. I was shocked, I really can’t believe it.
  25. Well Brose must be the least reliable , I have spoken with LBS , after 2000 miles prepare for a change. Is it true? Who knows, for one person I know it is. He is on 5th motor. There is no Shimano owner on 5th motor I believe :) I won’t praise Bosch but one of the LBS who is selling many different motors said to me that Bosch is testing motors for 30.000 miles. I was shocked, I really can’t believe it.

    The longevity depends on the design. Some favor very small, very light.
    I prefer VERY DEPENDABLE. My bikes and Ebikes are not wasting time in the shops.
    No Brose, no Shimano for me until they prove they can last problem free.

  26. My mates and i all take turns taking the piss at each other. Who will have a breakdown today?!? The four of us run different motor brands and ALL have failed during the last six months. It’s the warranty or lack of that sets the brands apart. My downtime was five days…. so i am still laughing :D
  27. I have the Shimano E7000 motor and have 3400 miles and a couple of eDuro races on it with no issues (Knock-On-Wood).

    At some point I figure the bearings in the motor will need to serviced or replaced.

  28. 2800 miles and still smiling with the Levo SL ….. must add I’m only 10 stone (63kg) never shift when under full load and only use turbo for about 3 mins per ride. best thing Ive ever bought and
    Love every minute riding it.
  29. It would be interesting to know % of the time eMTBers are in a mode level on their motors.
    Just to see how it effect the life span of a motor, which I am sure it does.

    For most of the riding I do in my area this how I use my motor ECO=40% Trail=50% Boost=10%

  30. It would be interesting to know % of the time eMTBers are in a mode level on their motors.
    Just to see how it effect the life span of a motor, which I am sure it does.

    For most of the riding I do in my area this how I use my motor ECO=40% Trail=50% Boost=10%

    The thing is different manufacturers are not equals, even one company has differences with models, generations, et…
    Many modify the out of factory *preset levels*.
    Some will drain their battery after work they know 90 minutes is all they have so it is just not practical.
    Obviously a rider with a fullface 170 mm suspension probably is rarely in eco mode.
    I am about 2% on boost, my Yamaha/Giant has 5 levels, i am most of the time on 3.

  31. Yes you can trust. No all are created equal.

    Done quite a few of these Rocky Mountain motors now. They usually shatter or crack the clutch bearing, but also had a few with electrical issues and sensor failures… Perhaps some are created more equal than others 🤔

  32. Would going wireless help with sealing? Seems connections are one of the weak links. Being able to seal sensors/shifters might mean you could seal those units better and have a few less connections by the motor which then you could use the retail estate to add bulkier connectors with better IP rating.

    Could also open the door to the motor talk/combine to other wireless systems like AXS and shimano’s offering if indeed its a thing. Would be interesting to see dropper/mode in one unit and derailer/sensor in another.

    Also ref those road motors my guess is they are experience wear at a lower rate but at some point they’ll catch up with the mtb’s issues and manufacturers will have to address it. Maybe the next leaps in motor tech will be competing on Ingress ratings.

    Still all said and done would anyone want to go back to not having a motor?

  33. Done quite a few of these Rocky Mountain motors now. They usually shatter or crack the clutch bearing, but also had a few with electrical issues and sensor failures… Perhaps some are created more equal than others 🤔

    Im on the FB group and most reported problem is a bit of play on some jockey (guess is that one you say) that you can service yourself. Honestly is a very reliable motor it only spin at 1200 rpm, is cranks/motor separate and I think is more robust and less problematic than the others, despite all the bits it have. No one is 100% free for sure.

  34. @1oldfart

    "The thing is different manufacturers are not equals, even one company has differences with models, generations, et…
    Many modify the out of factory *preset levels*.
    Some will drain their battery after work they know 90 minutes is all they have so it is just not practical.
    Obviously a rider with a fullface 170 mm suspension probably is rarely in eco mode.
    I am about 2% on boost, my Yamaha/Giant has 5 levels, i am most of the time on 3."

    Yea, motor manufactures all have different mode levels (Assist/Nm) and eMTBers all use the levels differently. Still be interesting to hear from other riders on the % mode level they ride in, mileage on their motor and when the motor failed.

  35. The thing is different manufacturers are not equals, even one company has differences with models, generations, et…
    Many modify the out of factory *preset levels*.
    Some will drain their battery after work they know 90 minutes is all they have so it is just not practical.
    Obviously a rider with a fullface 170 mm suspension probably is rarely in eco mode.
    I am about 2% on boost, my Yamaha/Giant has 5 levels, i am most of the time on 3.

    Yea, motor manufactures all have different mode levels (Assist/Nm) and eMTBers all use the levels differently. Still be interesting to hear from other riders on the % mode level they ride in, mileage on their motor and when the motor failed.

  36. Yea, motor manufactures all have different mode levels (Assist/Nm) and eMTBers all use the levels differently. Still be interesting to hear from other riders on the % mode level they ride in, mileage on their motor and when the motor failed.

    OK here is my data. Bought a Yamaha/Giant 2020 130/120 suspension new 9 months ago.
    Probably 3,000 miles, nada, no issue. I changed the chain 1 time. My kind of bike.
    It has 5 levels i am probably 95% of the time in medium(3).
    I think the big suspension is more likely to use boost(max assist) or close to it.

  37. My Bosch shoved an Error 500 code a few days ago, and stopped working.
    Got the Rail 9.8 last may and had just passed 2000km. Did a diagnosis at a LBS and he said every possibly error came up. Both battery an motor. Sent the info off to Bosch, the day after he told me a replacement motor was on its way. 1-2 weeks delivery.
    At least the customer service was great. And I didn’t even by my bike in that shoo
  38. Km/miles really means F all. Type of terrain/rider abuse is far more relevant to motor longevity.

    Can I trust a motor in 2021?

    No you cant, but can you trust a chain? A tire? A hub?, Suspension?, Your own common sense?

    Just ride the bike and don’t forget to smile as you wheelie past analogues on the way up.

  39. Km/miles really means F all. Type of terrain/rider abuse is far more relevant to motor longevity.

    Can I trust a motor in 2021?

    No you cant, but can you trust a chain? A tire? A hub?, Suspension?, Your own common sense?

    Just ride the bike and don’t forget to smile as you wheelie past analogues on the way up.

    Yes I do agree with rider abuse & type of terrain as a another variable to motor life-span.
    eMTB motors are like the 2-stroke motors of the 70s, ride them hard too Lock-Up.

  40. My bike has been ridden hard since May last year, and all through the winter (in the snow -10-15c). Only trails, never on the road😬 So I’m not complaining, and just happy to get a new motor under warranty
  41. Hi everyone, great reading your comments and the Video at the beginning was very useful. I started riding MTB when they first came out and had a Hybike all mountain with a bosh motor. The chip was mainly the problem with water ingress, but eventually I did have to replace the motor. I sold that and bought a Turbo Levo 2019 I an on the third motor on that. I have bought a new Turbo Levo 2020 and after 2 months needed a new motor! I am annoyed that Brose have not sorted the issues, however if you view a company called speedy bearings they will do a great job upgrading your motor bearings and clutches and sealing the motor. Problem is your motor has lost its warranty. I have both bikes now just in case one motor goes and both are chipped. totally over the top I know. Bye the way I always ride on Turbo full power, I don’t think it makes any difference. I do about 70 miles a week so the maintenance on these bikes is quite high, chains and rear sprockets. I never push on changing up or down now to try and save the chain. Cheers
  42. Hi everyone, great reading your comments and the Video at the beginning was very useful. I started riding MTB when they first came out and had a Hybike all mountain with a bosh motor. The chip was mainly the problem with water ingress, but eventually I did have to replace the motor. I sold that and bought a Turbo Levo 2019 I an on the third motor on that. I have bought a new Turbo Levo 2020 and after 2 months needed a new motor! I am annoyed that Brose have not sorted the issues, however if you view a company called speedy bearings they will do a great job upgrading your motor bearings and clutches and sealing the motor. Problem is your motor has lost its warranty. I have both bikes now just in case one motor goes and both are chipped. totally over the top I know. Bye the way I always ride on Turbo full power, I don’t think it makes any difference. I do about 70 miles a week so the maintenance on these bikes is quite high, chains and rear sprockets. I never push on changing up or down now to try and save the chain. Cheers

    Welcome to the Forum. You might want to change your location (hover over a user name) so it doesn’t say your postcode. You don’t know who might use it to work out where a bike could be stolen from. Just change it to your town or something.

  43. If you’re UK based and ever have a problem again with Shimano get in touch with Madison customer care on 01908 326032. You should be able to deal with them direct providing you can send them proof of purchase.

    This is what I’ve done – and had to re-do today. Their firmware fix did nothing – my E010 errors are back.

    I’ve told them it’s a new motor or a refund.

  44. Can you trust an air shock in 2021? A tubeless tire? A wireless derailleur? We take a calculated risk any time we’re 10 miles out on the MTB/eMTB that this stuff won’t let us down. I find the drive system on an eMTB to be the least risky of the above, since you’ll still likely get home without walking much.
  45. I agree with everything said in this article except the hope that "individuals will likely be walking into the same consumer experience expected from a modern day smartphone or flat screen TV. Switch it on, and it just works, every…single…day."

    Uhhh… No. No for SEVERAL very big reasons!

    1) Smartphones & TVs are largely solid-state devices. Bad designs aside, the only reasons they have for hardware failure are heat buildup, & user error (smashed against hard surface). In contrast, ebike drivetrains rely on many moving parts, most of which take impact loads from a variety of directions under the course of *normal* wear (not just when "dropped"). Motors with circuits & moving parts can never be as reliable as similar circuits without moving parts. *Never.* Literally impossible.

    A TV might have some fans which could fail, but even then a fan is trivial to service compared to high power drive components.

    Comparing ebike drivetrain reliability to solid-state devices is totally unrealistic.

    2) *WHAT* device exactly "just works every single day"?!? I have never seen one. Perhaps you have no experience of TV service… In the last three years, the most expensive TVs & cheapest I’ve seen, had THE SAME (idiotic) design issues; fancy features & crap quality, across the board, in every brand I’ve found. We’re talking every conceivable problem from loose factory connections, connections lacking proper strain relief, inadequate cooling by design (so quiet & efficient!), backlighting that rapidly becomes anything but uniform, power switches that have the infrared receiver built in so that both fail together; problems *no* device reaching high-volume production should have. (And these are just the hardware problems with TVs.)

    Nearly all TVs are ready-made garbage, designed to be sent to the landfill in far less time than all but the crappiest cathode-ray-tubes TVs of old.

    Cellphones are even worse. Most cellphones are designed to break easily (yes, including those with "hardened" screens; LOL). You know what material lets wireless through but doesn’t shatter like a glass backing? *Plastic*, but that "felt cheap" supposedly; so glass cases it is! Again, idiotic design intended to fail.

    If your phone’s casing needs a case around it, that’s a bad case! Phones can be made durable but aren’t, because the market has come to expect something with a new "must have" feature every few years.

    For a more realistic reliability comparison, look at motorcycles: Many motorcycle riders hardly get a few thousand miles before bad design or cheap materials cause something to fail; some others go tens of thousands of hours without major issue, on routine service alone… but in general, many motorcycle brands tend to spend a lot of time in the shop. Compare the difference in hours ridden per hour of shop time, between a Triumph Rocket Triple, & a Honda Valkyrie. Some riders have better or worse luck, but in general, the Honda gets more time on the road. Why? Because Triumph can sell bikes on factors like looks & sentiment (sentiments like "US brand" or "love their old bikes"), whereas a new motorcycle from Honda has to be built *better* than an otherwise comparable Triumph, to sell equally well.

    Many auto aficionados will tell you "never buy the first year of a model" but consumers do that *constantly*, often in the misguided hope that a new model will magically shed the (often intentional) problems plaguing an earlier model. Worse, we often buy based on styling or non-critical features, rather than seeking the most reliable.

    Which brings us yet again to the real problem: Features are prioritized over quality, in modern manufacturing.

    The solution may sound crazy, because it reduces manufacturer profits that could go to R&D:

    Buy used!

    Buying *only* used goods, helps build a healthier market in multiple ways:

    1) Funds the repair & maintenance infrastructure we *need* to keep our vehicles on the road.

    2) Reduces new sales; again, this may sound counterintuitive, but manufacturers selling new equipment year after year have little financial motivation to offer good quality *or* support. Reducing sales of new models, ensures that parts sales to service centers remain a significant & important source of revenue. Car dealerships make a lot of money off service; often much more than off new sales! "Right to repair" gets lobbied against heavily for exactly this reason.

    3) Aftermarket service & mods are essential ways of improving reliability. Buying used leaves (a lot!) more in your budget for upgrades & maintenance. The more money we pump into our local shops’ labor & parts budgets, *instead* of new-unit sales to manufacturers, the harder it becomes for a manufacturer to stay in business selling crap that can scarcely be kept running. Those who produce parts & long-term upgrades aplenty, are allowed to flourish; whereas in a "buy new" market, they’d be wasting money.

    Bottom line:
    TVs & smartphones *aren’t* reliable, nor built to last, & the reason is consumers buying new units instead of having old ones repaired.

  46. Currently suffering dreaded shimano e8000 e010 error intermittently, usually after 14 to 20 miles. 3800 miles on this motor which is out of warranty. LBS says I should sell it.
    Big issue is that no one is offering repair or replacement service, but I really like my bike and would be happy to put a new motor on it if I got a 2 year warranty.
    Certainly won’t be getting another shimano motor, bosch might break but at least they are fixable/replaceable.
  47. I was in a giant shop two days ago. 3yrs warranty on motor and is fully rebuildable. Seems OK to me. Might even buy one. My mate did.
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