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Bombardier's Embrio: Sexier Segway? 339

Posted by timothy
from the for-modern-clowns dept.
Ridgelift writes "Articles at Wired News, Popular Science, and Forbes are covering Bombardier's Embrio. It's a single-wheeled, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, gyroscopically balanced concept vehicle. While the Segway tops out at 6 mph, the Embrio 'hits 35 mph in the learning mode alone.' Very cool -- looks like something straight out of 'Minority Report.'"
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Bombardier's Embrio: Sexier Segway?

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  • dupe? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mantorp (142371) <mantorp 'funny A' gmail.com> on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:29AM (#7591227) Homepage Journal
    deja /.
    • Re:dupe? (Score:2, Funny)

      by toupsie (88295)
      Whew, I just thought it was the alcohol...
    • Re:dupe? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @03:53AM (#7591471) Journal
      You'd think the editors could actually search their own archives for the word [slashdot.org] "Bombardier" [slashdot.org] or "Embrio" [slashdot.org], wouldn't you?

      Is it really that hard to do?

      Jeez, you could write up a script in five minutes that would search a story for company and product names (hint: look for capitalisation) and check to see what other related stories there have been recently. Flag those for the editor to briefly glimpse over before hitting the "approved" button and you've saved yourself 99 percent of dupes.

      Again, is it really that hard to do?
      • Re:dupe? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stud9920 (236753)
        You'd think the editors could actually search their own archives[...], wouldn't you?
        You'd think ANYONE could actually search slashdot archives, wouldn't you ? Have you seen their crappy search engine ?

        the only reason /. readers notice dupes, is because they READ /.
      • Re:dupe? (Score:3, Funny)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Is it really that hard to do?

        That would take precious seconds out of their frantic schedule. You know how much work goes into posting a paragraph-length passage that someone else wrote every few hours? I mean, where would they find the time for even those few seconds?
  • by eurleif (613257) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:30AM (#7591231)
    Yeah, Embryos don't create themselves.
  • by MacFury (659201) <me@@@johnkramlich...com> on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:30AM (#7591233) Homepage
    Crusing along on a Segway and having the thing die would be bad enough at 12mph. Speeding down the street at 35mph in this thing, only to have it's sensors bust would give you a serious case of road rash.

    All the same I bet it's a fun ride.

  • by 56ker (566853)
    than what they called one of their other products - Sea-Doo Speedster 200
  • from bombadier.com (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbellis (142590) * <jonathan.carnageblender@com> on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:32AM (#7591242) Homepage
    The Bombardier EMBRIO Advanced Concept is a one-wheeled recreational and commuting vehicle that promises a whole new experience on the road. Aimed at the 18 to 45 age group, this advanced concept prefigures the kind of user-friendly, minimalist vehicles we might be seeing - and using - on our urban, suburban and country roads in the year 2025.
    I don't think they're planning on starting mass production any time soon, guys. :P
  • concept (Score:5, Informative)

    by mOoZik (698544) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:33AM (#7591244) Homepage
    The Embryo is a concept. Until it is realized and a prototype is built, it is as good as any notebook sketch. The numbers quoted for speed are estimates. Given that, it is ridiculous to compare it to the Segway, which is in production.

  • Stopping distance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Camel Pilot (78781) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:33AM (#7591245) Homepage Journal
    I noticed no specs on stopping distance. Just from the physics of a unicycle wouldn't rapid stopping be a problem?

    Hot Stuff [sammcgees.com] and more
    Linux and Mozilla customers get 5% off.
    • Just ask Dubbya [bbc.co.uk].
    • by XNormal (8617) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @03:04AM (#7591339) Homepage
      For now though, this Embrio is still in utero-no working model yet exists.

      Imaginary vehicles don't have a stopping distance.

    • Re:Stopping distance (Score:5, Informative)

      by djupedal (584558) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @03:20AM (#7591385)
      No problem at all...and a traditional unicycle is hardly a basis for an example. The 'propulsion' is hard-fixed to the wheel, and there is no computer to make split second decisions. Try this for more info... [speedworx.com]

      Couple a decent accident avoidance system with an anti-lock disc brake, along with the gyros and the only limit is the adhesion patch between the tire and the pavement. Staying upright is just a matter of not locking the brake...micro-second brake pulses, etc. Or, assuming an electric motor of some sort is involved, you simply backfeed (turn the motor into a generator), and it will do the braking for you.

      My sportbike [kentidwell.com] does +150mph, weighs 370lbs and can haul down from 60-0 in less than 120 feet (0 to 60 to 0 inside 5 seconds). I'd bet the Embrio could do better than that, just on less weight alone.
      • Your reference is for a four point system which is a more stable system.

        If you draw a free body diagram for the single wheeled system you will see that there is nothing to counter the moment that is generated between "adhesion patch" and the centriod of the body when riding in a normal vertical position. Braking can only be achieved by first moving the center of gravity back from the vertical before applying braking. I guess the vehicle would have to accelerate slightly to move the rider back from the ve
        • Re:Stopping distance (Score:2, Informative)

          by mako (30489)
          In reference to your bike (btw the link was broken) imagine if you had to brake with only the front tire!

          What do you mean? Most motorcyclists brake exclusively with the front brake.

        • by at_18 (224304)
          In reference to your bike (btw the link was broken) imagine if you had to brake with only the front tire!

          You MUST use the front tire brake if you want to stop in any sensible way. Using only the rear one is a recipe for disaster, on bikes and bicycles.
          • Exactly...with these bikes, the rear brake is along for the ride.
          • Re:Stopping distance (Score:3, Informative)

            by Uggy (99326)
            Not necessarily. The rear break always makes for a more stable (less unstable) stop (provided you put some weight on it). The front wheel is the the upside down pendulum, statically indeterminate, and by virtue of the wheel axle and the headset it is indeterminate in all planes (except of course -y, where all the blood and mangled bones will end up). Using the front brake makes the rear wheel want to pivot about it (up or to the sides).

            Now, of while braking (with whichever wheel), the vehicle's momentum
        • by djupedal (584558)
          The reference is for a 'four point static', not 'system'. The optimal system is described as a tricycle, which is the Embrio at low speeds.

          Stopping with the front brake (link is fine for me), is routine...no one with any sense uses the rear at all. We've all heard of 'wheelies'...ever seen a 'stoppie' [verticalmischief.com]. No problem up on one wheel.

          Physics says you can't exceed 200mph in the quarter mile, where we know that 300 is exceeded with abandon. Those same physics will fall to the wayside when the Embryo hits the
          • by Avihson (689950)
            Motorcycle stunt drivers are a lot different than the day to day commuter.

            Every day, in every major city, someone fails to stop their 4 wheel car when all 4 wheels are in contact with the pavement. Blind faith in computerized ABS seems to have made matters worse. In my experience, a large number of the tailgating drivers rely on the ABS instead of good judgement to prevent 'accidents.'

            Good engineering falls to the wayside when confronted by mass stupidity and apathy.
            • by djupedal (584558)
              The first people to drive motorcycles were considered stunt drivers, and were actually sedate compared to today's two-wheeled commuter. Stunters today are simply an indication of what can be done...where that goes is usually beyond our feeble imaginations.

              The first time ABS and airbags save your life, or the life of someone you love, you'll be less jaded about technology and other drivers.
      • I bet this will make you giddy

        A few things that the ghostrider gets to play with [ghostridermovie.net]. Here's [importdriver.com.au] a site with some specs on his Suzuki GSXR1300 Hayabusa Turbo Special. If you look around you'll find some videos of nutjobs trying to push the redline in 6th gear on their turbo's busas.

        How can a bike like that push 400hp at 14,000 rpm without exploding into lots of tiny pieces???

        • :)

          Those 400 ~ 500hp turbo'd 'busas are stupid fast (mine only puts out 115). And I think 'tiny pieces' is routine (although 14k rpm is not that big a deal stock)...no way those things are daily drivers. Way they would be an E+ ticket ride, tho!
    • MESSAGE TO THE MODS (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ModernGeek (601932)
      Don't moderate on this topic, this is a dupe, and everyone is just copying comments from the previous story to get mod points, I know this sounds stupid, but if I had mod points, I wouldn't waste them on this discussion.
    • by stmfreak (230369)
      I imagine the acceleration and deceleration are limited by the gyroscope's mass and reactiveness.

      As a regular motorcyclist, I'd like to think that high-delta-v isn't required for commuting because 99% of the time I don't use it. But I would never give up the potential of a solid braking system with a large cantilevered countermass. There have been moments when it was the difference between life and pain.

      Even so, this would be a super cool toy. I hear Bombardier is quite good at making those.
    • >> Just from the physics of a unicycle wouldn't rapid stopping be a problem?
      Nope. Well, depends.
      If rapidly stopping the vehicle is what concerns you, the rider is still perfectly fine after the vehicle abruptly stopped and he's arcing through the air, flailing his hands in all directions.
      Rider abruptly stopping by hitting hard surface at 20mph... ahm.. yep. It probbably would.
    • Also, on a unicycle you are pretty much standing still when you turn (by shifting your body-weight around). How do you turn on a one wheeled thing when going at 35mph, or am I missing something?
    • One word: retrorocket.
  • Heavy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dj961 (660026) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:34AM (#7591246) Journal
    If you look at the specs this thing is really heavy, I don't think I could lift 360 pounds so to me it more like a motorcycle then a segway.
  • Perfect... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:34AM (#7591249)
    This is just the perfect thing for everyone who already has a motorcycle, and has been routinely frustrated with their inability to donate organs.
    • Re:Perfect... (Score:2, Interesting)

      No, you do NOT do this AC. Read the simple fucking instructions. [anti-slash.org] I know this minor point isn't clear, but AC's are ignored both by preference and habit. If you want to help, log in.

    • I know the article is a dupe, but so is this comment. [slashdot.org] :P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:36AM (#7591258)
    The design is really, really cool. But other than that, I don't really see the advantage of this. It seems to give no advantage compared to a normal bike, and has quite a few disadvantages (less space, more complexity). Throwing in a fuel cell-based drivetrain could just as easily (if not easier) be done for a two-wheeled bike as well - and would incidentally be a pretty good idea (with the electric motors in the wheels, you would get rid of the chain, and could have practical two-wheel drive).
  • Hehe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    I love dupes, you get the opportunity to use other people's comments to achieve mod point heaven.

    Jerk store Jerry, Jerk store! Jerk store!!!
  • New Jingle (Score:4, Funny)

    by McCarrum (446375) <mark.limburg@ g m ail.com> on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:43AM (#7591284)
    All I want for Christmas is my Embrio

    Urgh. Now there was an image I didn't want ...
  • ARTICLE INCORRECT (Score:5, Informative)

    by mOoZik (698544) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:48AM (#7591302) Homepage
    It says the Segway tops out at 6 mph. In reality, the number is 10 mph for the P Series and 12.5 for the I and E Series. (source: Seqway Specs [segway.com].
    Get your facts straight!

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:50AM (#7591306)
    While the Segway tops out a 6 mph, the Embrio 'hits 35 mph in the learning mode alone.

    But this statement fails to mention the main objective of the Embrio's "learning mode": To instill in the trainee using adverse experience why it's a bad idea to exceed the maximum recommended operational speed of 6 mph.

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @02:56AM (#7591320) Homepage
    So the design is cool, granted. And quite maybe it should have been done, as a design, as an exercise in mad science. Engineers need to relax too :-)

    But from the practical POV, this thing is a no-go. Anyone who ride motorbikes probably would agree. The mechanics of braking is none too gentle, and even if your bike has two wheels (and you on top, which is usually the case ;-), it can easily fight the gravity. And if anyone thinks that the riders of this Embrio will never exceed 30 mph, and will never need deceleration more than 1g, for example, they haven't learned a thing about humans :-) Fact is, humans tend to go as fast as they can, and as result they need to stop equally fast too.

    Besides, what's the point? A motorbike (or a bicycle as its little brother) is already perfect. It exists pretty much unchanged for how much - 100 years? It's fun to ride, it's reliable, it's powerful (kW per pound ratio is good!), and it's small - so you can park it anywhere. You only shouldn't ride it in winter; but this Embrio is not any better traction-wise.

    So again, why? Why exactly two wheels are bad? Why exactly it is so inherently evil to lose power and still be able to coast safely to a stop anywhere you choose? Why it is so bad to be able to brake hard when you have to? Why it is ungood to be able to fishtail on a wet road but still stay up & smiling? There is no such explanation in the article. My guess is, they made it because they could.

    But as I said, the design is cool. Hydrogen fuel cell should be used in other vehicles (bikes #included). That would be good for the planet. But one wheel ... leave it for the circus.

    • since its a concept vehical for 2025, they just need to add the bullet point:
      Inertia damper.
      • On the subjct of the design: "Very cool -- looks like something straight out of 'Minority Report.". - It actually looks like the unicycle bike out that Leila of the Anime flick Vampire Hunter D, rides. Infact, almost exactly.
    • by at_18 (224304)
      will never need deceleration more than 1g, for example

      All ground vehicles have a limit on acceleration and deceleration, exactly 1g, unless they grab the asphalt with something else than their tires.

      1g means 0-60 in 2.5-3 seconds. This is what racing cars do, and what most good cars can do when braking (it's easier to make a good brake than a 500-hp engine).
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by joto (134244)
      The mechanics of braking is none too gentle, and even if your bike has two wheels (and you on top, which is usually the case ;-), it can easily fight the gravity. And if anyone thinks that the riders of this Embrio will never exceed 30 mph, and will never need deceleration more than 1g, for example, they haven't learned a thing about humans :-) Fact is, humans tend to go as fast as they can, and as result they need to stop equally fast too.

      Also, humans tend to drive at roads that are less than perfect. I

    • I dunno, but I think history has the bicycle being more like "Dad" than "Bro."
  • ...but really, why?

    What advantage comes from having just 1 wheel? With 2 or more at least you get built in redundancy...if the electronics fail you have the laws of physics working for you, not against you.

    Hmmm...built in redundancy. Sort of like slashdot! bwahaahhah...sorry, it's late.
  • That's a plastic concept model, people, not a working prototype. To make it work, they'd have to do most of the engineering needed to make it real.

    My favorite concept vehicle remains the General Motors Firebird III [conklinsystems.com]. That was a working vehicle. Turbine power. Automatic driving. Joystick steering. Huge tailfins. 1959.

  • Don't get me wrong, I love concept designs but this one is *really* impractical.

    I mean, it only takes a minute of looking at its configuration with the heavy gyroscope package in the centre of the wheel to realise that changing a tyre is going to be monumentally difficult.
  • A La Maddox (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Metallic Matty (579124) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @03:19AM (#7591381)
    How to render the Segway Obsolete [xmission.com]

    All I have to say is, BAM, third wheel!
    • Ahh, I have that maddox troll covered.
      See
      [dachte.org]
      http://blog.dachte.org/live/entries/entry1067459 93 1.html

      Basically, the guy's a wannabe jwz [jwz.org] without a clue.
    • Re:A La Maddox (Score:2, Interesting)

      by edmac3 (604659)
      The great thing about a Segway is not that it will keep you blanced, which is something accomplished by other vechiles long before, but that it will let you move simply by leaning forward. Just like if you were walking.
  • by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @03:19AM (#7591382) Homepage
    Looks like exactly what Heinlein called "tumblebugs" in "The Roads Must Roll". As he described it "...the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel." Personally, I think I'll hold out for the flying car.
  • The Segway does NOT top out at 6 mph. That's just plain wrong, and I would've thought someone would've picked that up before it made the main page.
  • Embrio
    Because a Segway isn't expensive enough!
  • by Hexydes (705837)
    Did they add the feature where people care about the Segway and are willing to buy them?

    I think that that's what was really keeping the Segways from taking off. =)

  • I have to say the big downside (other than price obviously) about segways was that at 6 mph you wouldn't get there any faster than walking - which meant, for practical purposes it was only suitable for lazy ass bastards who couldn't be bothered walking. It was not a revolution in means of transport.

    As 35mph, on the other hand, you can actually get somewhere. Effectively that puts this in the unicycle-moped range, which starts to look interesting. As people have pointed out, crashing at 35 mph could be u
  • by io333 (574963) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @04:08AM (#7591506)
    linky [collisiondetection.net]
  • Yeah, that sounds safe.

    Yes, I know it has a "landing bar" that retracts at 20 Km/h and the wheel is wide and flat, but the braking and acceleration forces have to go somewhere...
  • by nuba (660398) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @04:17AM (#7591529) Homepage
    Very cool -- looks like something straight out of 'South Park'". http://store.wush.net/tmp/entity.gif [wush.net]
  • by t0qer (230538) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @04:36AM (#7591564) Homepage Journal
    50 years ago, if you wanted to build a car/motorbike you would need to draft plans, then have a prototype built/tested before it ever hit a real assembly line. This would also generate tons of paper which had to be stored and secured. If you wanted another plant to have your plans you would have to mail them, train workers, ect. Changes and customizations took weeks or months, depending on how much training was needed for the workers and how much retooling was needed for the line.

    Now you can design it in cad. Without even building a prototype you can test the handling inside a computer, then when your cad drawing is exactly how you want it, outsource the assembly it to a foriegn factory. Thanks to the lovely internet you can have your plans get there in hours. Changes can be made on the fly because workers have been replaced with robots. Japan is still ahead of the game in robotics, that's why I predict they will be the first to specialize in these types of "Just in time" assembly lines.

    As reliable as current automotive robotics are, I think that we will see companies like Honda building entire factories filled with Asimo robots. Since the human body is designed so well for so many tasks, it makes sense for them to use humanoid robots for more general tasks like the current human population is used for today. Yes despite robots in factories now, we still need humans, but I don't think it will be too long before we have robots doing these tasks.

    The bottom line to all this is once the ball gets rolling from these independant outfits like segway building vehicles, we'll see more variety on the road, and not just the gas guzzling oil dependant combustion vehicles we have today, but neat stuff like this self balancing unicycle.
  • We can already tell at the embryonal stage.

    (For the clueless: the story is a dupe.)
  • If they get this off the drawing boards, and solve the problem of a user eating pavement in the event of a hardware failure, they should probably market this in asia first.

    Think about it. Asian cities are much more crowded then north american cities, and have much worse traffic problems. The appeal of rapid personal transportation over there would be much greater, I think.

    I for one like the idea of using Embrio type personal transportation combined with mass transit for longer distances.

    END COMMUNICATI
  • isn't the niche this thing would fill in an awkward slot just above (and overlapping) the segway, and just below (and overlapping) those scooters which sit below - and slightly overlap with motorbikes?

    relatively short, and speedy trip from place to place in the city I'd use one of those things versus a big motorbike (scooters just look a touch to fey - well, more than a touch).

    So is the vision of the future one where we have a different vehicle for every trip distance and speed?

    how far are we going? not
  • Current pricing is definitely a turn off..
  • by haggar (72771) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @05:59AM (#7591714) Homepage Journal
    I totally hate the idea of the Segway: it's too slow to be on the motorway, too heavy and quick to be safe on the walkway (and yet, it -is- allowed on the walkway), and it's realy bad on your knees.

    This thing, however, addresses all my issues with the Segway: it's fast enough for the motorway and you can sit, reducing the strain on your knees.

    If this thing takes off, it could reduce congestion and pollution caused by cars. That's almost utopian.
    • Is standing up really that bad on your knees?
      I didn't notice any unusual strain from Segway
      riding.. and if the mere act of standing is
      giving you knee pain, well.. sitting on your duff
      is the last thing you need to do ;)
    • it could reduce congestion and pollution caused by cars. That's almost utopian.

      Anybody who rides a motorcycle such as this EMBRIO has to breathe the exhaust of the Ford Compensator in front of him.

  • by CedgeS (159076) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @06:06AM (#7591731) Homepage Journal

    Here is a monumental safety imporvement to any low speed scooter, like a balancing scooter [tlb.org], a segway [segway.com], or something else [xmission.com]:

    Problem: In a low speed (under 15 mph) failure of the equipment, the passenger will continue to move forward after the vehicle has stopped. The safest and most reasonable thing for the passener to do when the vehicle halts is to step off the front. However the front handlebar of these scooters eliminate that option, and as noted by the first reference, and more publicly by Mr. Bush, you will be thrown down on your face.

    Solution: Remove the front handlebar. You could implement the controls on a rear handlebar that wraps arround the sides of the rider. It would make the vehicle less natural to mount (you step into it backwards) but much safer to bail off of at speed. If this is unacceptable, (or if passangers need to be able to bail off of an out of control scooter without being run over by it), provide the controls above one or two handlebars on the sides of the vehicle.

    Better Idea Forget the whole self balancing nonsense as proposed by the third reference. Tricycles, however, are very unstable when turning. Make a quadricycle with no stearing column or handlebars. Put a pressure sensing pad on the top - transfer of pressure in any direction indicates a desire to exprerience acceleration in the opposite direction. The rider only fails to communicate with the platform if she has lost her balance and her center of mass is no longer "over" the platform (with respect to gravity and any pseudo forces she is experiencing), i.e. when she has already comitted herself to falling off. The vehicle automatically stops when the platform is vacated.

  • by dtfinch (661405) *
    Unlike a slow segway, if it fails while you're going top speed in that thing, you might die. If you're on a motorcycle that dies, at least you don't lose your balance.
  • Bombardier? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TarpaKungs (466496)
    This would be the same Bombardier that brought the UK the Class 375/377 Electrostar trains [bombardier.com] which run Windows 95 on the systems monitoring computer?

    And yes - when it crashes (often) you have the reboot the train.

    The bl**dy thing can't even be diesel shunted if it breaks, there's no way to get the brakes off - not even a hand valve.

    This is also the train that went through a period of having dead multiple unit trains if they coupled two sets together that have different versions of the software as the in

  • A Bagatelle (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Oswald (235719) on Sunday November 30, 2003 @10:13AM (#7592184)
    I'm sure I'm just being too picky, but shouldn't a business publication like Forbes be able to do better than this:

    ...Bombardier...the privately held, Quebec-based company...

    This is frustratingly typical of what passes for journalism in this world. When you consider that the press is critical to the proper functioning of a democracy, it's frightening how really bad they are at their jobs. Between the general incompetence and some people's [foxnews.com] active efforts to skew the truth, it's a wonder we ever get anything right.

    For instance, I'm pretty sure there are journalists who have had enough exposure to George W. Bush to have made an informed decision on this very important question: is he stupid, or is he malicious, or is it a combination of the two? But, we'll never hear the truth from these people, because their continued access to the White House, and hence their jobs, depend on them placidly following the scripts they are handed.

    I don't know what can be done about this situation, but it's the kind of thing I had hoped the internet would help with, and so far [slashdot.org] there doesn't seem to be much improvement.

    Oh, and by the way, Bombardier is a publicly-held company. The reason the Forbes writer couldn't find them on the NYSE or NASDAQ is that they have the temerity to list their shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

  • by gr8_phk (621180)
    "Even without the landing gear, the EMBRIO would be stable when motionless because of the gyroscope."

    I've studied balancing machines quite a bit (worked on some too) and I'm not aware of any good way to balance a unicycle at rest without some funny rocking/rotating motions. OTOH, I am impressed at how little of this is required to keep a 2-wheel machine upright. Maybe it's not so bad. I niticed the picture had no rider....

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