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Suzuki Gixxer SF 250: Initial impressions after a month & 2500 kms

In slow moving traffic, other enthusiasts steal long glances at the motorcycle. Occasionally, I find someone transfixed by the sporty race livery. Kids wave at me from their school buses.

BHPian neil.jericho recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Welcome to the ownership review of my Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 or as I like to call it, the Suzuki GSX R250. From being absolutely nowhere on my radar, Suzuki’s faired 250 cc offering caught my fancy, with just one uneventful test ride. Thankfully, its extremely capable, if unexciting sibling, the VSTROM SX did a lot of the heavy lifting, beforehand. After a few frustrating weeks of dealing with Suzuki’s incompetent dealers, I gave up on them and almost booked a TVS Apache RR 310 BTO, instead. Luckily, I stumbled upon an excellent dealer (Aluva Suzuki) that got me the Gixxer SF 250 in this gorgeous 100th Year Anniversary Edition paint scheme, while also offering me a substantial price discount. That's right, in 2022, a year in which the automotive industry has gone off its rockers on the subject of vehicle pricing, Suzuki dealers are / were offering discounts on this motorcycle.

1 month and 2,500 kilometers later, I am extremely happy with this highly underrated, quarter litre sports tourer from Suzuki.

Thumbs Up:

  • Your better half will not approve of the lingering glances that come your way.
  • While your neighbours assume that you are street racing with squids on KTM motorcycles, the comically comfortable ergonomics allow you to easily commute and tour.
  • The high revving engine has a linear power delivery that is as exciting as stamp collecting.
  • The headlight is so bright that it has the potential to be an IAS topper.
  • The mileage leaves you with money to buy IOCL and BP shares, rather than emptying your wallet at their petrol pumps.
  • Affordable service costs make you wonder if Suzuki is secretly running a charity service.
  • Suzuki’s gross negligence in the marketing department, guarantees you exclusivity.

Thumbs In The Middle:

  • The 9/10 size of the motorcycle makes it look as though you have grown taller and gained weight.
  • That front brake is spongier than a chocolate cake from your favourite artisan bakery.
  • The rear tire takes the touring in the term ‘sports-touring’ a little too seriously.

Thumbs Down:

Suzuki’s engineering team misplaced the actual large windscreen, minutes before signing off on the final product.

Strong crosswinds will make you cancel your plans of intermittent fasting.

Short service intervals of 6 months and / or 5,000 kms will keep you on a first name basis with everyone at the SVC.

Other owners complain about spare parts availability. No laughing matter, this.

Long time readers will know that I own a Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 and a Triumph Street Triple 675. I bought the yellow Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 in August 2014. Over the past 7 ½ years, I’ve ridden what was once the company’s flagship motorcycle, for close to 30,000 kilometers. It is a bike that connects with me in a very special way. The Continental GT 535 got me back into the motorcycling community. It also introduced me to so many wonderful enthusiasts on this forum, many of whom have gone on to become great friends. It’s fair to say that I’ve had my share of ups and downs with the Continental GT 535. You can read more about it in my ownership thread. Overall, there is a strong love – hate relationship with this highly misunderstood motorcycle. I love it. My friends and mechanics hate it.

In 2018, I bought the Triumph Street Triple 675. To me, it is one of the finest motorcycles that Triumph has ever engineered. This black Street Triple 675 helped me to dip my toes into the big bike world, both as a motorcycle rider and as an enthusiast, who has to live with it. While the middleweight motorcycle is brilliant, in almost every conceivable way, my ownership experience was marred by the terrible Triumph service center in Cochin. Over the last 4 years, I haven’t even crossed 20,000 kilometers on the Triumph Street Triple 675. This has more to do with the global pandemic, than the motorcycle or its capabilities.

Errr …. Why Another Motorcycle?

The onset of Covid in the year 2020, taught me one thing – there is no point in always saving up for a rainy day, if you are not going to have some fun, while you are young and your body is willing. Well, I'm not sure if I can still be categorized as a young 'un but that is immaterial to this ownership review….

Needless to say, the Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 and Triumph Street Triple 675 have very contrasting personalities and hence, are used to fulfill completely opposing requirements. Thanks to my new found wisdom, the itch to add a 3rd motorcycle to the garage, became very strong. I did not need a rocket scientist to tell me that I was not doing any justice to both my current bikes. The truth is that some (a high?) degree of irrationality is part and parcel of being a motorcycle enthusiast! Since I had a single and a triple cylindered motorcycle, I narrowed my search criteria down to twins and inline fours. With the lockdowns keeping the world indoors, I began my research. I checked out a couple of interesting options that I never would have considered in the past. Meanwhile, life happened. The days became weeks. The weeks became months. And the months became years. I was not any closer to a final decision.

Fast forward to the summer of 2022. I decided to sell my immaculate and fully accessorized Triumph Street Triple 675. Barring the plethora of issues with the company SVC, I had thoroughly enjoyed my ownership experience with the naked middleweight motorcycle. Why sell it, then? Even with its 100 HP map, the power delivery didn’t scare me anymore. Now, I am in no ways suggesting that my skills had outgrown the capabilities of the Street Triple 675. That would be a preposterous claim and I would need several lifetimes of avid motorcycling, to do so. However, I had improved my motorcycling skills and the dream of owning a proper litre class motorcycle was rapidly fading away. I was not getting any younger. It was time to go big or stay at home.

How many of us had this....

...and this as the wallpaper on our desktop and phones?

A well-maintained Yamaha R1, that a friend vouched for, seemed to be the perfect answer to my long standing dilemma. If I sold the Street Triple 675, the asking price of this 1000cc motorcycle, was comfortably within my reach. This was a now or never situation. I had plans for an upcoming ride to Mangalore with fellow TBHPians. After I returned, I would reach out to a handful of known enthusiasts, to find a buyer for my motorcycle from within the close knit community. This 2,000 km round trip promised to be the perfect send off for the black motorcycle that I dearly loved.

The funny thing is that somewhere during the ride, I realized that I would be a complete fool to sell this gem of a motorcycle. What was I going to do with a litre class motorcycle that delivered 170+ BHP, without a full suite of electronics to keep me safe? Where were the roads in Kerala to thoroughly enjoy such a motorcycle? Honestly, I simply love the all round usability and fleet footedness of my Triumph motorcycle. It flies under the radar, both literally and figuratively. I had made peace with its highway mileage being in the low 20s. The brakes are good. It’s a friendly bike that can be a hilarious riot, if you do give it the beans. Simply put, I would sell a perfectly capable motorcycle that I was very happy with and then invest an additional Rs 3+ lakhs, to fulfill a childhood dream that was a lot heavier, hotter, thirstier, far less usable and most importantly, way more uncomfortable!

Trying to balance a modicum of practicality with a motorcycling enthusiast’s inherent irrationality, is no easy task.

The other factor that weighed heavily on my (in)decision making, was that I finally had some time for good old fashioned motorcycle touring. Like many others here, I’ve been planning to do an unencumbered solo ride across different states. All this is easier said than done. When I finally began planning in earnest, the Covid pandemic struck. The right dates were one perennial worry. The right motorcycle, turned out to be a bigger headache than I ever anticipated it to be.

Given the patchy track record of the Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 and the fact that is a discontinued model that barely sold in decent numbers, there was no question of rolling the dice with it. Had it been a Himalayan 411 or an Interceptor 650, an unexpected visit to a company service center in another state would not be a bother as their spares are easily available across the country. That is not the case with the Continental GT 535. Barring the basics, almost everything else needs to be back ordered by a service center or parts distributor. In smaller towns, even these basic spares are not likely to be available off the shelf.

While the Street Triple 675 is a fabulous mile muncher, when the going gets tough, you will wish that you are on a motorcycle that is more comfortable and easier to deal with, especially in crowded conditions. Also, the Street Triple 675 is not completely inconspicuous. You cannot simply park it anywhere (even if it is overnight) and pray that it does not draw any attention. In terms of raw numbers, a hypothetical pan India ride would involve a couple of services, a chain replacement, new tires and a lot more. As the costs add up, you realize that you are staring at a mammoth total. This is even before you add your accommodation and food expenses.

Once again, I was at an impasse.

A close friend and a fellow TBHPian suggested that (for once?) I think out of the box. He asked me consider something reliable, lightweight, fuel efficient and which came with alloys. That was all that I really needed to tour with peace of mind. Since I had mentally prepared myself to spend Rs 3 L on the upgrade to a litre class bike, I could instead, go the other way. My friend suggested that I buy a third bike and use it for as long as I would do solo tours. When its’ time was up, its’ time was up. That would be it. No strings attached. The bike would be sold quickly, with no second thoughts. This was going to be a short-term solution to my long standing wish of touring alone. Though I am someone who holds on to my cars and bikes for several years, I really liked this practical line of thinking. All things considered, I would not have to consolidate my garage by parting with the Continental GT 535 (perish the insane thought ….) or the Street Triple 675.

There would be peace in the kingdom.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650:

My long term love affair with the Interceptor 650 could not be taken to the next step, only because Royal Enfield has still not offered OEM alloys for their twin twins. Im beginning to suspect that they never will. With a very heavy heart, I stopped checking Olx for pre-owned silver or black Interceptor 650s.

KTM Adv 250:

The better of the 2 KTM showrooms in Cochin only had stock of the new-ish RC200. Every other motorcycle from the KTM catalogue had to be ordered. The standard response for the waiting period of any KTM motorcycle was 45 days. I was certain that in reality, it would be a lot longer than that. Despite the insistence of the sales executive, I did not test ride the Adv 250. I was not prepared to wait for 2 months to get a motorcycle.

Given that the RC 200 was readily available, I did not want to rule it out, without first trying it. I had mixed thoughts on the RC 200. On one hand, KTM has really raised the fit and finish levels of the RC series. It finally looks and feels premium. That does come with a very hefty price tag of Rs 2.77 L. While the motorcycle sounds sporty, the fact is that the engine is a dud. During most of the test ride, I wondered if I was riding the RC 125, instead of the RC 200! This matches my earlier experience of riding the BS6 Adv 390, which felt like it was a well disguised Adv 250.

I simply cannot figure out why KTM has not worked its magic with the Euro 5 / BS6 engines. Even the friendly sales guy told me that they are not converting many leads because everyone who test rides the BS6 KTMs, finds the motorcycles to be too bland and un-KTM like.

Royal Enfield Scram 411:

I was quite impressed by this variant of the Himalayan 411 platform. For better or for worse, it felt similar to my Continental GT 535. If I'm going to treat myself to 2 scoops of ice cream, Im not going to pick one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of chocochip.

Hero 200T:

While this was a left field option, it was a sensible one, nonetheless. The price was extremely attractive. The motorcycle has an unremarkable engine. Some might call it a lackluster powerplant. The bike comes with 17 inch alloys. The icing on the cake is the really cheap service costs. However, I was wary of Hero’s quality levels, or rather, the absence of them.

The showroom that I went to did not have any 200T motorcycles on display. Neither did they have an idea on when new stocks were expected to arrive. I checked out the Xpulse 200 4V. The quality levels are significantly better than the first gen one. That said, it still looks crude when compared to the other motorcycles in a similar price range. Since the Xpulse 200 4V does not have alloys, I did not plan to test ride it. The dealership which is located in the heart of the city, did not have a test ride bike of the Xpulse 200 4V.

TVS Apache RR310 BTO:

The local TVS showroom did not have a test ride bike. They informed me that the price was around Rs 3.38 L. The BTO version would cost more. Now, Ive spent some time with the Apache RR310 BTO in the hills and I was very impressed by TVS’s flagship motorcycle. However, without a test ride in Cochin, there was no way that I was going to put my money down on one. If no other motorcycle was shortlisted, then I would circle back to this option. A Titanium Black BTO in a carbon fibre wrap, to mimic the original Akula concept, would be sweet.

Suzuki VSTROM SX:

All roads led to the then newly launched Suzuki VSTROM SX or as well all call it, the Suzuki VStrom 250. It was the right motorcycle at the right time. The VStrom 250 was everything that I was looking for, at a price that I could afford. This should have been it.

When it was launched, I stalked the VStrom 250 thread and pored through the feedback from fellow TBHPians. I liked most of the VStrom 250 experience. However, the ergonomic issues that I faced on my extended test rides, meant that it was disqualified without any second thoughts.

As one door closed, another two opened.

Disappointed, I started thinking about alternatives from other manufacturers. However, my friends suggested that I try out the Gixxer SF 250 (faired version) and the Gixxer 250 (naked version). After all, the underlying mechanical components were shared between the three motorcycles. Since I liked everything about the VStrom 250, except the ergonomics, I decided to heed this sensible advice. This was the first time that I had put some serious thought into these two Suzuki motorcycles.

On the showroom floor, the seating position of the Gixxer 250 felt very upright and commuter-ish. The Gixxer SF 250, in comparison, looked and felt sporty, without being aggressive. With both bikes, I could comfortably place my feet on the ground. My calves were not anywhere close to brushing against the footpegs, like they did on the VStrom 250. Overall, Suzuki’s fit and finish levels were really good. On paper, there was nothing that was a negative. Now, all that I needed was a proper test ride to confirm that the ergonomics were not a deal breaker for me.

The buying experience should have been simple and straightforward. Little did I know what lay in store for me.

There are 2 Suzuki dealerships in Cochin. For the purposes of this thread, let’s call them Dealer A and Dealer B. I normally name errant dealers on the forum, so that other enthusiasts can stay away from them. In this case, it does not matter which is which, because both of them are equally bad, in their own special way.

When I was seriously considering the VStrom 250, Dealer A was very good to deal with. They kept calling me every day. I was given the keys to the brand new test ride bike, with no questions asked. They encouraged me to take any route that I wanted, for as long as I wanted. As soon as they realized that I was not going to buy the VStrom 250, they turned colder than Antarctica in the frigid winter. The sales guy stopped responding to me ownership related queries. I had to follow up repeatedly with the showroom sales manager to get information on the service costs and other details that I requested. Even then, information trickled in like they were doing me a favour.

My requests for a test ride of the Gixxer SF 250 were always met with some long winded story or the other. Since I kept following up, they began to offer me unregistered Gixxer SF 250 motorcycles for extended test rides. I was appalled by their mindset and refused this. The sales team mentioned that there was a company discount of Rs 8,000 for the Gixxer 250 and the Gixxer SF 250. The lack of a test ride bike, coupled with these shady sales practices, meant that I did not want to do business with them.

Dealer B was a breath of fresh air! They had a test ride bike of the Gixxer SF 250. Again, I was given a test ride with no questions asked and no mandated test route. Other companies can learn a thing from Suzuki dealers (only in this regard!). What was the actual test ride like? Unexciting, to be honest. The motorcycle did everything well. The big question of ergonomics was answered within the first couple of minutes.

Finally, a test ride bike!

When we test ride motorcycles, we look for the ones that have “IT”. That magic sauce that jumps out at you, from behind the spec sheet numbers and fancy paint schemes. The Gixxer SF 250 certainly did not have that “IT factor” which I found when I test rode the Continental GT 535, way back in 2014. However, I was not looking for something special. I needed a motorcycle that was reliable, lightweight, fuel efficient and which came with alloys. The Gixxer SF 250 ticked all those boxes. If there was one negative about the test ride, it was that the particular motorcycle had a slightly bent handlebar, which was a bit disconcerting. Im not sure why the dealership had not fixed it.

Neither Dealer A nor Dealer B had a test ride bike for the (naked) Gixxer 250. That motorcycle would have offered a much more comfortable and upright seating posture, while making my large-ish frame feel like a parachute at highway speeds. The faired Gixxer SF 250 with a large aftermarket windscreen would be easier to tour with, than the naked sibling. Since I was comfortable on the sporty looking Gixxer SF 250, I dropped the Gixxer 250 from my shopping list.

Now, it was only a question of what colour to pick. As per the Suzuki website, there were 2 colours that were available:

Metallic Matte Black no. 2

Metallic Triton Blue

From day 1, the senior sales person at Dealer B was eager to make a sale. They only had 1 matte black Gixxer SF 250 in stock. It was manufactured in January 2022. There was a company offer that month for Rs 6,000 or so. It was slightly different from what dealer A told me. The sales person mentioned that Suzuki was not currently manufacturing the Gixxer SF 250. So, they could not tell me when I would get my motorcycle, if I wanted a brand new unit. Despite the recent launch of the VStrom 250, I found this piece of information to be rather unusual. A partial amber flag was raised.

The sales person explained to me that their dealership could arrange for unsold inventory in other colours, from friendly Suzuki dealerships in other towns / districts. If I was open to 2021 motorcycles, then there were great discounts on offer, as well. My ears perked up!

Here is the price list that was shown to me. The black version cost Rs 2.3 L on road and the others cost Rs 2.35 L:

To ensure that there would be no confusion at a later date, I asked for all the details pertaining to a potential booking for a 2021 motorcycle, that was currently sitting in another dealership. Dealer B confirmed that after I paid the booking amount of Rs 5,000, they would bring the particular motorcycle to their dealership. I made it clear that I would make the full payment, only after I did a full fledged PDI in their dealership. These were the terms that we agreed on.

The discounts being offered were:

  • 2022 Metallic Matte Black No. 2 : Rs 18,000 (i.e. the motorcycle in their showroom)
  • 2021 Metallic Triton Blue: Rs 25,000
  • 2021 100th Year Anniversary Edition : Rs 30,000

They could not explain why the Triton Blue and the 100th Year Anniversary Edition had different discounts, despite costing the same in 2021. Anyways, the final on road prices for these would be approximately:

  • 2022 Metallic Matte Black No. 2: Rs 2.12 L
  • 2021 Metallic Triton Blue : Rs 2.10 L
  • 2021 100th Year Anniversary Edition : Rs 2.06 L

At first, I was leaning towards the matte black motorcycle. It was a very understated colour that would help me maintain a low profile. Besides, it was a 2022 manufactured motorcycle. However, a conversation with a fellow TBHPian who owns a matte black Aprilia RSV4, made me realize that living and touring with a motorcycle that had a matte finish, would be a terrible idea. Within a year, the motorcycle would be half matte and half glossy. With that, I dropped the idea of buying the matte black Gixxer SF 250 and getting the alloys repainted, to match that of the 2017 GSX R1000. Sigh!

Simply delicious

Meanwhile, I exchanged a few messages with Bangalore based TBHPian AnAntInspired to find out what offers the dealerships were giving on the Gixxer SF 250. Incidentally, he too had the VStrom 250 as a prime contender and ended up falling for the faired Suzuki motorcycle. I was shocked to learn that dealers in Bangalore were taking fresh bookings, while committing to a waiting period of only 2 weeks. This was the first major red flag in my interactions with Dealer B.

While the discounts in Bangalore were a lot juicier than what were being offered in Cochin, I was happy with the final on-road price of the 2021 Triton blue and 100th Year Anniversary Edition variants. Of the two options, my pick was the Metallic Triton Blue. I called the senior sales person in Dealer B to confirm that I wanted to book the 2021 Metallic Triton Blue at Rs 2.10 L. Before I made the payment, I double confirmed my understanding of the timelines to bring the bike to their showroom, how many days it would take for registration and delivery etc.

This is when the plot unraveled.

Suddenly, the senior sales person was unsure about the logistics of arranging for a motorcycle to be brought from another Suzuki dealership. As soon as he said this, I knew that another massive red flag was coming my way. He wanted me to make the full payment of Rs 2.10 L without even seeing the bike! As per him, only after Dealer B transferred the money to the other dealer, would the latter release the said motorcycle from their side. This went against everything that was explained to me earlier.

The other option was for me to travel 70 kms (up and down) in order to do the PDI in that corresponding showroom. Having worked in sales for a long time, I knew that Dealer B was trying to palm off their matte black Gixxer SF 250. Sure enough, they flipped the script to convince me to buy the solitary black Gixxer SF 250 that was in their showroom. I made it clear that I did not want a matte black motorcycle. The sales person in Dealer B never had any intention of sourcing the other motorcycles for me.

Frustrated with the malpractices at both the Suzuki dealerships, I decided to happily cough up the additional Rs 1.5 L and buy the Apache RR 310 BTO. It came with TVS’s racing pedigree and boasted of better components including a more powerful engine, adjustable suspension, excellent tires, good brakes and much more. The unintended benefit was that I could also take it to the track, where it promised to be a lot of fun. The feedback from the community was that the service experience in Cochin was good.

As it turned out, there was no test ride motorcycle in Cochin. Had TVS and / or its dealer invested in one, this would have been an Apache RR 310 BTO ownership thread. I hope someone from their leadership team is reading this. As great as the Apache RR 310 BTO is, if you cannot provide potential customers with a test ride bike, then you should not wonder why it does not sell in greater numbers!

Annoyed at TVS’s lethargy, I expanded my search for Suzuki dealerships. There was a dealer, Aluva Suzuki, that was around 22 kilometers away from my home. In metros, such a distance is not really a big deal but in a small city like Cochin, that is quite far away! I was clutching at straws by now. This was my last hope.

If they were as crooked as the other Suzuki dealers, then I would be back to square one.

After test riding the KTM RC 200, I dropped into the sister showroom of the Aluva Suzuki dealership, which was just down the road. I put my cards on the table. The enthusiastic young sales advisor immediately connected me to the manager at the main showroom. Mr Sinoj confirmed that there was a 2021 100th Year Anniversary Edition motorcycle in a sister dealership. Bear in mind that up until then, I had not even seen the motorcycle in this paint scheme. I had only checked out the matte black version.

Aluva Suzuki was willing to bring the motorcycle to their main dealership, if I planned to make a booking with them. Since I was not all that keen on this colour scheme, I asked them to first check the availability of a 2021 Metallic Triton Blue in other friendly dealerships. Unfortunately, they could not arrange for one. Also, Aluva Suzuki was only able to offer a Rs 25,000 discount on this 100th Year Anniversary Edition motorcycle, as against the Rs 30,000 discount that was “offered” by Dealer B. On the plus side, Mr Sinoj from Aluva Suzuki immediately sent me pictures of the bike and told me which dealership it was in.

The 2 photographs that were sent to me.

Since Dealer A and B were not viable options, I asked Aluva Suzuki to bring the motorcycle to their dealership. All these transactions were over the phone. Meanwhile, I dived into the internet to find as many videos of the 100th Year Anniversary Edition, as I could find. I lost track of how many Youtube videos of the Gixxer SF 250 were watched on mute because I could not understand the language that was being spoken!

I told myself that if the paint scheme was good enough to be the MotoGP livery for Suzuki, then it was certainly was good enough for me.

The manager at Aluva Suzuki, Mr Sinoj, was such a pleasure to deal with. We only met when I went to do the PDI of the bike in their showroom. The front brake was spongy. This was consistent with the test ride experience in Dealer B, my earlier test ride of the VStrom 250, as well as all the 250 cc bikes on display in all three dealerships. More on this later. Other than that, everything was perfect. I paid the advance on the spot and took the dealership’s bank account details, to transfer the rest of the money online.

After I made the booking, Mr Sinoj called me every day to update me on the status of the registration, timelines etc. On the day of the delivery, I took the metro to the last stop, which is Aluva. The dealership sent a salesperson on the test ride VStrom 250, to come pick me up. This was a first for me! The delivery was a very smooth affair. I gave Mr Sinoj a small gift, before riding out of the dealership, with a huge grin on my face!

Thanks to a well connected motorcyclist friend, Suzuki’s area sales manager got in touch with me, to understand the problems that I faced during the sales process. He promised to look into these issues with Dealer A and Dealer B, to ensure that no other potential customer will go through the same difficult sales experience. After all, these practices are what turn potential customers away from the brand. I am happy that the officials at Suzuki are trying to rectify the pre-sales situation on the ground.

While I was creating this review, the below paragraph is what I originally wrote:

What I have heard from other owners is that the company and / or its dealers, are not really interested in building the Suzuki community. Despite that, I do find that Suzuki owners are a passionate bunch and most of them love their motorcycles. Nobody is expecting Suzuki to magically create a Royal Enfield level of connected owners and past owners. You need years, if not decades of investment and focus, for such a company supported community to be organically built. However, Suzuki has to start somewhere and there is no time like the present. If the company and its dealers proactively invest in measures to engage with the active community of Suzuki owners, it’s a win-win for everyone.

The day I began to upload the review onto the forum, Mr Sinoj reached out to invite me for an event hosted by the company and its dealers for Suzuki owners. I am happy that the company is taking baby steps towards building the community. Obviously, a lot more needs to be done.

Now that we are done with the lengthy backstory, lets break down the motorcycle to better understand it.

Continue reading BHPian neil.jericho's ownership review of his Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

 
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