The 10 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes for Men and Women in 2023 + Tips for Beginners

The Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners: A mountain bike with saddle and frame bag in a field when it is partially cloudy

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Here are the best beginner mountain bikes for men and women at a price range between $500 to $1000.

You don’t have to spend hours researching because I’ve gathered all the useful information I’ve learned from years of biking and following the bike industry.

The best mountain bike for beginners is the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 with 27.5″ wheels. It’s affordable, suitable for men and women, and offers the best price-value ratio of all bikes in this selection. Additionally, it features disc brakes for effective stopping power and a Shimano Tourney groupset with 21 gears that always allow you to find the right gear.

Additionally, I spoke with my MTB buddies and bike shop owners to provide you with valuable advice on selecting your first mountain bike and starting out.

Continue reading to find out more.

What Are the Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners?

Black Trek 820 mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension
Trek 820

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Grey Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

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Blue Cannondale Trail 6 mountain bike with disc brakes
Cannondale Trail 6

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Skip to the comparison table…

The best MTB for beginners are affordable, have a suspended front fork, components from Shimano, and enough gears to tackle various terrains and gradients.

They also shouldn’t be expensive (sub $1000), so you avoid spending money on a sport you may not enjoy (but I hope you will!).

I recommend reading the How to choose a mountain bike section if you are new to mountain biking and don’t know where to start.

Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike

Grey Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike | Source:

Main Features

  • Suitable for men and women
  • Rapidfire Plus shifters for smooth shifting
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 features a unique top tube design that makes it suitable for both men and women.

You can stop efficiently in any weather condition with reliable disc brakes, making it ideal for various terrains.

The 3×7 Shimano Tourney drivetrain provides a broad range of gears, allowing you to find the right gear for steep climbs and speedy descents.

Equipped with 27.5″ wheels and 2.1″ tires, the bike can easily handle muddy terrain thanks to its impressive traction.

Compared to the Trek 820, the DRT 1.1 is a bit pricier but offers the advantage of hydraulic disc brakes that don’t require excessive force on the brake levers (learn more).

So, if you’re searching for a reasonably priced mountain bike ideal for beginners, the Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 bike is a great option. You can check out how it stacks against its higher-end versions in this Co-op DRT mountain bikes comparison.

Don’t you have a bike helmet yet? Check out the selection of these cheap mountain bike helmets and increase your safety!

Cannondale Trail 6 (Best Runner-Up)

Blue Cannondale Trail 6 mountain bike with disc brakes
Cannondale Trail 6 | Source:

Main Features

  • Available for men and women
  • Platform pedals included
  • Exceptional finish

Technical Specifications

  • Suspension: 75mm travel
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Altus/Acera 2×8spd
  • Wheels: 27.5″ or 29″, depending on the bike size
  • Tires: WTB Ranger Comp, 27.5 or 29 x 2.25 in
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Weight: 14.9 kg

The Cannondale Trail line features multiple bikes designed for different riders. The Trail 6 is more advanced and geared towards men than Trail 8, for example.

It boasts hydraulic brakes and weighs around 14.9 kg.

It comes with either 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels and tires, depending on the bike’s size. Keep this in mind when selecting your preferred size.

As its name implies, the Trail bike is best suited for off-road trails, dirt paths, gravel roads, and forest trails. With a 75mm fork travel, I do not recommend using it on difficult terrain. However, you can feel free to use it for commuting.

Thanks to its 2X drivetrain, shifting is more manageable and provides a wider range of gears than 3X drivetrains, reducing the likelihood of cross-chaining.

Additionally, the bike already comes with pedals, so there’s no need to purchase them separately.

Also available at

Polygon Xtrada 6

Blue Marin Palisades Trail 2 mountain bike with disc brakes
Polygon Xtrada 6 | Source:

Main Features

  • Highly durable double-wall alloy rims
  • 1X Shimano Deore drivetrain for quick and easy shifting
  • Partially integrated cable routing
  • Pedals are not included

Technical Specifications

The Polygon Xtrada 6 is a great-value mountain bike.

It follows modern trends by having a 1X drivetrain, which means you don’t need to worry about cross-chaining and can easily select one of its 11 gears that suits you best. The 11-51T cassette provides gears for steep climbs and fast flat sections.

This bike is excellent for climbing, thanks to its slack head tube and steep seat tube, allowing you to push effectively into the pedals. And the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes offer reliable stopping power when needed.

The Xtrada 6 is the mid-range model in the Xtrada line, but you may also want to consider the Xtrada 5, which has a 2X drivetrain and entry-level components.

Marin Bobcat Trail 3

Blue Marin Palisades Trail 2 mountain bike with disc brakes
Marin Bobcat Trail 3 | Source:

Main Features

  • Trail geometry for better stability on in technical descents
  • Partially integrated cable routing
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Suspension: SR Suntour XCM HLO with 120mm travel
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Altus (2×8spd)
  • Wheels: Marin Aluminum Double Wall, 25mm Inner, Pinned Joint, Disc Specific
  • Tires: MTB, 27.5/29×2.25″
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes

If you’re searching for a mountain bike specifically designed for trails, look no further than the Marin Bobcat Trail 3.

As an entry-level MTB in the Bobcat Trail lineup, it’s perfect for beginners and those on a tight budget.

The Bobcat Trail 3’s geometry incorporates a slack head tube, low standover height, relatively long reach, and steep seat tube angles, resulting in predictable handling on trails.

Equipped with a 2×8spd Shimano Altus drivetrain, you’ll have 16 gears. You can also count on powerful stopping power in any weather condition, thanks to the Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes.

Keep in mind that the wheel size varies based on the bike size. Smaller sizes come with 27.5-inch wheels, while larger sizes feature 29-inch wheels.

Trek 820 (Best Budget)

Black Trek 820 mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension
Trek 820 | Source:
Blue Trek 820 step-through mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension
Trek 820 Step-Through | Source:

Main Features

  • Available for men and women
  • Mounts for accessories
  • Platform pedals included
  • External cable routing

Technical Specifications

Trek 820 is the right mountain bike for you if you want to try mountain biking. It is perfect for various surfaces ranging from city streets to forest roads, trails, and singletracks.

With its durable steel frame, you can rely on it. But it’s not the lightest bike, coming in at 33.68 lb (15.28 kg).

The 21-speed Shimano drivetrain offers enough gears for various gradients, so you’ll always find the right gear.

Knobby tires provide excellent grip on dirt roads, gravel, and other terrains. You can also ride this bike on paved roads, but it will require more energy than a road bike.

The front suspension with 75mm travel absorbs bumps and vibrations, making your ride comfortable and your hands relaxed.

Plus, mounts for a rear rack allow you to attach bike bags or panniers for additional cargo space, perfect for storing spare clothes, food, and other essentials for a long trip.

This bike is available for both men and women, with a step-through option for easier mounting. So why not buy a bike and go on a trip together? The Trek 820 is the right choice for anyone looking to try mountain biking.

Learn more details in this review of Trek 820.

Trek Marlin 5

Green/yellow Trek Marlin 5 mountain bike for men with disc brakes
Trek Marlin 5 | Source:

Main Features

  • Partially integrated cable routing
  • Rack and kickstand mounts
  • 720 mm handlebar
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Suspension: SR Suntour XCM 30 with 100mm travel
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Tourney 2×8spd
  • Wheels: 26″, 27.5″, or 29″ depending on the bike size
  • Tires: Bontrager XR2 Comp
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Weight: 13.97 kg / 30.81 lb [M]

The Marlin 5 by Trek is a great option if you have a slightly larger budget. While the 2022 and 2023 versions don’t include women-specific step-through models, the smaller sizes have a curved top tube for more clearance.

This bike provides a great price-value ratio and is versatile, well-equipped, and reliable. You can use it for trail riding, cross country, bike packing, and long overnight trips because it’s compatible with a rear rack. This way, you can equip it with panniers to increase its cargo capacity.

The Shimano Tourney drivetrain shifts quickly and precisely. Higher-end Trek Marlins come with better components and different gearing (1X).

The Marlin 5 features partial internal cable routing that creates a premium look. With the 720 mm-wide handlebars, you’ll feel like a proper mountain biker. Additionally, the VP-536 nylon platform pedals are included, so you don’t have to buy them separately.

If you’re just starting out with mountain biking, the Marlin 5 could be the perfect first bike for you.

Diamondback Hatch 2

Grey/blue Diamondback Hatch 2 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Diamondback Hatch 2 | Source:

Main Features

  • Highly durable double-wall alloy rims
  • Shimano Tourney drivetrain with gearing that is perfect for hills, trails, or flats
  • Platform pedals included
  • External cable routing

Technical Specifications

  • Suspension: SR Suntour XCE with 100mm travel
  • Frame material: Aluminum 
  • Drivetrain: SunRace, 11-34T & Shimano Tourney Combination 3 ×7spd
  • Wheels: Aluminum MTB DDM-2 double wall
  • Tires: MTB 29 x 2.25
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes

The Diamondback Hatch 2 is perfect for recreational mountain bikers who want to explore local singletracks, trails, etc.

The bike is made of lightweight, yet durable aluminum and comes equipped with a 100mm travel suspension fork and reliable Shimano drivetrain. It’s designed to help you push your boundaries on the trails with every twist and turn.

The 29” wheels and 2.25” MTB tires provide the perfect balance of comfort, traction, and control on any terrain, allowing you to confidently hit the trails and corner at speed.

The Shimano Tourney drivetrain and gearing make it easy to tackle steep hills and long fire roads without leaving you exhausted.

Plus, the mechanical disc brakes provide excellent stopping power that works well in various conditions and speeds.

The double-wall alloy rims enable you to ride confidently over rocks and bumps, making this an excellent entry-level bike to help you feel at home on the trails.

BMC Twostroke AL Five

White BMC Twostroke AL Five mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension.
BMC Twostroke AL Five | Source:

Main Features

  • Beautiful design
  • Shimano Deore groupset
  • Partially integrated cable routing
  • Pedals are not included

Technical Specifications

The BMC Twostroke AL Five is one of the most beautifully designed MTBs on this list. It would be the best overall choice if it were a little cheaper.

This modern hardtail mountain bike is perfect for tackling steep climbs while maintaining stability on descents.

Equipped with a 1X Shimano Deore groupset, this bike offers super easy and hard gears, ensuring you won’t have any issues on any terrain. The 1X groupset also rivals more expensive bikes.

One standout feature is the hydraulic Shimano disc brakes, providing excellent stopping power in all conditions.

The only minor issue to note is the white color. While it looks great, you’ll have to clean this bike often as it will inevitably get dirty.

Giant Talon 2

Black Giant Talon 2 mountain bike with disc brakes and front suspension
Giant Talon 2 | Source:

Main Features

  • Available in 2 colors
  • Well-built
  • Partially integrated cable routing
  • Platform pedals included

Technical Specifications

  • Suspension: 80 or 100mm travel (depending on the bike size)
  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Altus 2×9spd (11x32T cassette)
  • Wheels: 27.5″ or 29″
  • Tires: Kenda Booster 27.5 or 29×2.2, wire bead
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes

The Giant Talon 2 offers great value for the money. It comes with 27.5″ or 29″ wheels (depending on your preference). It’s suitable for beginners and experienced riders needing a spare mountain bike.

While it’s not designed for the toughest terrains, the Talon 2 can handle dirt roads, trails, gravel, and more.

Thanks to the up to 100mm travel fork that absorbs major bumps and vibrations, you’ll enjoy a comfortable ride.

The hydraulic disc brakes provide ample stopping power in any weather conditions, so you can rely on them anytime.

The Talon 2 has a 2X drivetrain, providing a wide gear range (18 speeds). However, it’s also easy to maintain, less complex, and simpler.

You have the option to choose from two colors and five sizes, making it easier to find the perfect fit.

Schwinn High Timber

Black Schwinn High Timber mountain bike with rim brakes and front suspension

Main Features

  • GripShift for easy shifting
  • Platform pedals included
  • External cable routing
  • Questionable quality

Technical Specifications

Schwinn is one of the most iconic bicycle brands in the US. I included High Timber because it’s a popular choice for many, especially on Amazon.

It features 21-speed GripShift shifters, which enable easy shifting with just a twist of your hand. But the truth is this shifting system is becoming obsolete.

It comes with all-terrain knobby tires with durable alloy wheels to provide good traction even on rough terrain. But unfortunately, it only has rim brakes.

I like that it has a quick-release seat post, allowing you to adjust the saddle height quickly without having an Allen key.

The bike may require some tweaks and adjustments after purchase. Some customers also reported poor components quality. In this case, you can leverage the Amazon return policy.

Upgrade the stock pedals with the best mountain bike flat pedals to improve your riding experience.

Mountain BikesFront SuspensionGearsWheelsFrame MaterialBuy
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 Bike100mm travel3×7spd27.5″AluminumCheck Price
Cannondale Trail 675mm travel2×8spd27.5″ or 29″AluminumCheck Price
Polygon Xtrada 6120mm travel1×10spd27.5″ or 29″AluminumCheck Price
Marin Bobcat Trail 3120mm travel2×8spd27.5″ or 29″AluminumCheck Price
Trek 82075mm travel3×7spd26″SteelCheck Price
Trek 820 Step-Through75mm travel3×7spd26″SteelCheck Price
Trek Marlin 5100mm travel2×8spd26″, 27.5″, or 29″AluminumCheck Price
Diamondback Hatch 2100mm travel3×7spd27.5″ or 29″AluminumCheck Price
BMC Twostroke AL 5100mm travel1×11spd29″AluminumCheck Price
Giant Talon 280 or 100mm travel2×9spd27.5″ or 29″AluminumCheck Price
Schwinn High Timbern/a3×7spd27.5″SteelCheck Price
List of the best beginner mountain bikes with the info about the suspension, gears, wheel size (often depends on the frame size), and frame material.

My Verdict

Go for Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 if you have a limited budget. This is the best beginner mountain bike because it offers a lot for its price.

You can rely on it, thanks to quality Shimano components. Use it to ride on various terrains, including dirt roads, gravel, forest roads, singletracks, or trails. Its 100mm Suntour fork will absorb the bumps easily.

It has disc brakes that stop you when needed. Its only minor disadvantage is the 27.5″ wheels (some riders may prefer the 29″ wheels for their better inertia and more comfy ride).

But overall, this MTB has everything beginners need.

How to Choose a Beginner Mountain Bike?

If you’re a beginner cyclist who feels uncomfortable sharing the road with cars, a mountain bike should be the right choice.

In this section, I’ll go over what you can anticipate from a low-priced mountain bike and how to spend your money wisely.

Watch this video to preview what you can expect from cheap mountain bikes.

$149 Mountain Bike vs mountain - The Walmart Enduro
Should you avoid buying cheap mountain bikes?


When choosing a beginner mountain bike, you have to decide if you want a front-suspension or a full-suspension bike. Beginner mountain bikes are equipped with basic coil or air suspension.

A front-suspension mountain bike icon
A mountain bike with front suspension (hardtail)
A full-suspension mountain bike icon
A full suspension mountain bike

Front-suspension bikes are more affordable, and you get better components for a given budget. Front suspension makes for a more comfortable ride, and your arms won’t get tired from bumps and rough terrain.

Full-suspension bikes are better if you know you will ride in technical terrain and want comfort and help from the rear suspension. However, you have to prepare a larger budget to get the same components as a front-suspension bike.

Hardtail• Lower weight of the bike
• Lack of rear suspension maintenance
• Lower price
• Lower energy loss when pedaling
• Better for climbing
• Right riding technique for rough terrain needed
• Not as comfortable as full suspension bikes
• Doesn't handle rough terrain as well as full suspension bikes
Full suspension• Better comfort in rough terrain
• More versatile (jumps, drops, rock gardens, roots...)
• Easier to ride in more difficult terrain
• Better for downhills
• Higher price
• Higher overall weight of the bike
• More parts that can break
• Rear triangle maintenance
The pros and cons of hardtail vs. full-suspension mountain bikes

If you buy a full-suspension mountain bike, you can choose between coil or air suspension.

  • Coil suspension is used on the cheapest bikes. Unlike cheap air suspension, the coil is great for quick response to minor bumps. You can adjust only the stiffness of the coil exactly for your weight. This means it is not very precise, and you have to guess the right setting by your sag. The right sag will improve bikes’ handling and comfort.
  • Air suspension is used on mid-range to high-end mountain bikes. Thanks to the shock pump with a gauge, you can set your suspension sensitivity with great precision. Usually, you can set the rebound and other advanced features.

Learn more about the sag and rebound in this guide by

Frame Material

Most cheap mountain bikes are made of aluminum thanks to low manufacturing costs and easy processing. However, you can look for carbon, steel, or even titanium bikes if you have a larger budget.

Aluminum frames offer a great weight-to-stiffness ratio and durability for a given price. This means that the manufacturer can spend the money saved on the frame on other important components, such as the drivetrain, wheels, or brakes.

Carbon mountain bikes are lighter, stiffer, and more flexible than aluminum ones. They are great for pro or more demanding riders. Their downside is that they are expensive, so the manufacturer has to cut corners and equip the bike with cheaper components (if we talk about bikes for the same or similar price). The downside of the stiffness and flexibility is that carbon frames are more fragile when crashing. They can break when you fall on a rock or another hard surface.

Usually is better to buy an aluminum frame with better components when you are on a tight budget than a carbon one with worse components. Your bike will last longer, and the overall experience will improve.

The steel and titanium frames are found on more premium bikes. Yes, you can buy a cheap steel bike, but it will probably feature very bad components compared to a bike with an aluminum frame at the same price range.

To learn more, read the article about my bike frame materials’ pros & cons.


The drivetrain is one of the most important things I look for when choosing a bike. It is put to hard work every time I ride my bike.

Beginner mountain bikes are always equipped with the cheapest drivetrains (groupsets). That does not mean that they won’t last. They are just as precise and quick as high-end groupsets and will also wear out faster. Sometimes you have to help the derailer shift by pushing the lever, but after you learn how to use them, they can serve you for many years. Yet, I recommend frequent maintenance.

There are 3 types of chainrings – 1X, 2X, and 3X. 2X and 3X chainrings are great for beginners. Using the front shifter, it is easier to shift from the faster gear to the slower one. So if you are new to the sport, you won’t put the rear derailer to hard work every time the terrain changes. Just make sure you avoid cross-chaining.

Cross-chaining vs. good shifting - illustration of the wrong and right chain positions.
Avoid cross-chaining to reduce chain friction and drivetrain damage. Follow good shifting best practices to improve efficiency.

2X and 3X chainrings come with higher weight and are harder to set correctly. 3X chainrings are available only in the cheapest groupsets. So if you want precise shifting, you are “stuck” with 2X or 1X chainrings.

If you decide to go for a 1X, consider a chainring size. A chainring with 30 teeth will allow you to ride faster on downhills, but you may have a problem in steep uphill sections. On the other hand, thanks to the 34 teeth chainring, you will climb very steep hills.

Most 1X chainring bikes I have ridden were equipped with 32 teeth chainring; I did not struggle anywhere, even with a 10 or 11-speed cassette.

An illustration of a 1x chainring
1x chainring
An illustration of a 2x chainring
2x chainring
An illustration of a 3x chainring
3x chainring


Most modern mountain bikes use 27.5″ or 29″ wheels. The older ones used 26″ wheels. 26″ wheels are not very common anymore because the larger diameter wheels are more stable and more comfortable.

A side by side comparison of the 26" vs. 27.5" vs. 29" wheels
Comparison of 26″, 27.5″ and 29″ wheels

26″ were pretty popular; however, they are outdated these days. It is because of all the advantages that the bigger wheels have. They are available on the most affordable mountain bikes thanks to their low price (they are made from affordable materials like aluminum).

29″ wheels are better for speed and stability. Thanks to their size, the inertia is better, and you can maintain your speed more easily. But, on the other hand, the acceleration is slower.

If you ride off-road, they will handle bumps better, and your ride will feel smoother. The bike will also be more stable on downhills. You will also have better traction and brake power thanks to the larger contact area with the surface.

27.5″ wheels are more suitable for shorter people. Because of the smaller size, the bike is more agile and is easier to handle in tight spaces. Since they are bigger than the 26″ wheels, the speed, traction, and stability will still be noticeable.


Beginner mountain bikes are mainly equipped with rim or disc brakes.

  1. Rim brakes are great for their price-to-performance ratio. They are cheap, easy to maintain, and work well on most occasions. Because the brake pads are in direct contact with the wheel, road conditions can affect their performance, mainly if you ride through water or mud. Rim brakes are also much cheaper than disc brakes.
  2. Disc brakes give you the best stopping power in almost any condition and are easier to control. Thanks to the different technology and the disc placement, the braking power is usually unaffected, and the brakes are more powerful. But they can get pretty hot on long and steep descents. This can result in a lack of stopping power. Don’t worry. You will be fine if you don’t plan to descend a 10-mile route.
    There are two types of disc brakes – mechanical and hydraulic. Mechanical are cheaper and easier to maintain, but hydraulic brakes are more popular and have better brake control due to the different technology.

Bike Size

Once you choose the mountain bike model you want to buy, it is time to pick its correct size. This is a crucial step because you won’t enjoy your ride with the wrong bike size.

It can be difficult to choose the right size when you can’t try the bike in person and try it out. But, thanks to bike size charts and bike size calculators, it will be a matter of a few minutes.

So, make sure you read my other article, where I explain How to Choose a Bike Size. It also contains a bike size calculator to calculate your mountain bike size.

Additional Tips for Beginner Mountain Bikers

In the following section, you will learn a few beginner mountain bike tips. I gathered them from my experience and friends who have been riding mountain bikes since childhood.

1. Get a Bike Helmet & Bike Accessories

There are many different types of accessories for mountain bikes.

The first and most obvious thing is that you need a helmet. Even a cheap one can save you from severe injuries. Don’t underestimate your safety.

Trust me; I know what I am talking about. My good friend crashed badly on his mountain bike, and the helmet saved him from a concussion and other injuries.

But it is not just about the helmet. If you plan to ride longer trips, you can take advantage of bike accessories.

Make sure you get at least the following ones:

A speedometer is great for those who like to measure the speed and distance of their trip. Yes, you can use your phone, but why drain your battery and risk damaging it?

2. Download Useful Cycling Apps

Mobile apps can help you find the right trails/paths, track your progress, or even help you with first aid.

These are my favorite apps for mountain biking:

  • Trailforks for planning rides
  • Strava for ride tracking
  • Red Cross for first aid

Another useful app is Windy for a weather forecast. It is great if you plan longer trips and want to be sure about the weather. To find more useful apps, check the selection of the best cycling apps.

3. Enjoy It

There is one thing that I repeatedly hear from most of the riders.

It is not about the equipment you have. It is about you and about the moment you are in. And if you are enjoying it, that is all that matters.

Beginner Mountain Bikes FAQ

This post is regularly updated to provide the most up-to-date product tips. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

About The Author

4 thoughts on “The 10 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes for Men and Women in 2023 + Tips for Beginners”

  1. Profile picture of Petr Minarik - the founder of

    Thank you for this guide. It was immensely helpful and is helping me pull the trigger on my very first mountain bike!

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