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Thread: Vertigo Cycles

  1. #1
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    Default Vertigo Cycles

    I'm a late bloomer. After saving my lawn mowing money for two years, I got my first mountain bike in 1989 when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a Lotus Viking and I was a kid who hadn't ridden a bike for six or seven years. Every free moment I had was spent exploring the trails in the neighborhoods near my house. Probably like a lot of kids who have more enthusiasm than riding ability, I was breaking everything on the bike and couldn't afford to replace much so I learned how to fix it to the best of my ability. Despite years of hassling shop managers, I didn't get a toe in the door at a shop until 1994 when I began assembling bikes at night while I kept my day job and I've had a foot in the industry ever since.

    I can't remember a time when I wasn't completely obsessed either with making parts or making existing parts work better. I painstakingly pulled the liners out of kevlar wrapped compressionless brake housing so I could run Gore liners and cables to make the braking on my trials bike smoother and more predictable (I did the same thing on the MTB...before hydro discs). I spent a great deal of time modifying the Dia Compe 987s on my '92 MB-2 so I could flip them around on the brake posts in an attempt to get firmer braking (it didn't work, I ruined them). I had a special "Homie Hop Up Kit" that I made for Rock Shox Judy's (the elastomer period) that made them actually work. It was a source of pride when people would come into the shop to ask for it by name. I worked with the founder of 5.10 to develop a trials specific brake pad compound to work with an aluminum backing that I designed for Maguras. Ultimately, none of it ever made an impact but I had fun tinkering and was always inspired to work on something else. I never really "got" custom frames despite owning a couple of Steve Potts built WTBs. I DID know that if I sketched out a design and sent it along with some $$ to SAPA or Kinesis, I could get some "me" branded frames...it never felt right and I never pulled the trigger because ultimately I wanted to make them myself.

    In the summer of 2005 I was looking for a builder to build me a Rohloff compatible titanium 29er. I called a few builders, most were generally uninterested and one genuinely offended me by calling my simple idea "ridiculous and stupid" and telling me that I had no idea what I was talking about. That was pretty much all I needed to hear. I had seen "framebuilder" in an article about Portland in the month before we moved here. I thought "never heard of Vanilla" so I Googled it, didn't see any mountain bikes so I didn't look any deeper. A few months later Sacha had his open house as part of Pedalpalooza and in such a genuine and passionate manner described framebuilding, showed us some bikes in progress and told us that it could all be done with simple tools. He connected the dots...there were no robots, no magicians or wizards, no incantations...it all seemed very sensible and very tangible.

    In the summer of 2006 the company I worked for wanted me to move back to the D.C. area and I wasn't about to go back, so I signed up for a ti frame building class (not at UBI) and built my first frame, incorporating the "ridiculous and stupid" idea that I presented to the builder the year before. The frame looks terrible and the welds are awful but it was very satisfying to finally build my own frame on my terms. I'd still ride it if I didn't need something "in the family" that I can depend as bike show material.

    Four years later, I've built a bunch of frames and I'm at a point where I'm proud of everything that's put out into the world. The goofy one-off stuff is what I find truly enjoyable and it seems to be why my customers call me. If I ever get bored, stop learning or run out of ideas I'll find another line of work.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    right on, Sean - thanks for signing up! I too had a long history of trials riding {an ibis guy myself, owned three} and wanting a mtn bike that did what i wanted to do was allot of what made me start up building, too. So, you are a busy guy, it seems! I am always interested to see what you are working on. What's next? How is BB30 shaping up? bigger HT's? internal hydro routing? are you batch building for others? give us a crystal ball peek & keep up the great work! - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Sean,

    You were one of the dudes I contacted when I tried my hand at Ti; before I concluded my current welder was not fit. I wanted to extend a thank you for being so open and helpful with your advice during the process.

    On your most recent frame, I believe it was for yourself, you had some pretty cool stuff going on there. The plate connecting the DS CS to the BB, the fastback SS attached to the TT, and that ridiculous internal hydraulic brake routing. How does the CS plate feel riding? Can you tell the difference between it and a tube? Can you give us any insight into the internal routing?

    Thanks.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post
    right on, Sean - thanks for signing up! I too had a long history of trials riding {an ibis guy myself, owned three} and wanting a mtn bike that did what i wanted to do was allot of what made me start up building, too. So, you are a busy guy, it seems! I am always interested to see what you are working on. What's next? How is BB30 shaping up? bigger HT's? internal hydro routing? are you batch building for others? give us a crystal ball peek & keep up the great work! - Garro.
    Thanks Steve! It seems that the guys who rode and competed are few and far between. It was disappointing to see the competition schedule get thinner and thinner. Everything that was going on with NORBA in the late '90's, then Doug White's departure...then our local (east coast) organizer stud, Randy Vancil called it quits to tend to his ailing wife...then Tim Williamson scaling back as his family grew...it all fell apart rather quickly and while some good folks stepped up to try to fill the void, I don't think any of them were up for the incredible time sink involved in organizing competitions. I have huge respect for Doug, Randy and Tim. Each of them made tremendous contributions to that goofy sport I loved so much.

    PF30 is the new BB30. The BB30's I've done are working just fine (though it's only been a few years; time will tell) but I steer any customer who wants a 30mm BB to the PressFit. I'm also jumping into the big head tube for tapered steerers with both feet. IMO, there's a huge difference in feel between a tapered steerer suspension 29er fork and standard one. I'd still love to get my hands on some tapered CX forks but I'm skeptical that I could feel a difference between a tapered and standard road fork. I developed that headset cup with 29er forks in mind and if it trickles into other frame styles from there, I'm OK with that. The internal hydro routing was just something that I needed to get out of my head. It's been rattling around in there since a few years before I started building and it's one of those things that I get so crazy obsessed over that I need to do it just to stop thinking about it.

    I'm not doing work for other builders at the moment but I do have six bikes with the same chainstay length and four of them are CX bikes so it made sense to me to set up the tool once and knock them all out. If I don't get anything else out of it, at least I don't have to find my notes for a few more weeks. I'm experimenting with batching some of my process wherever I think it'll make sense. My business model has changed considerably since my daughter was born and during the school year (my wife is a teacher) my primary job is being a stay-at-home dad. It became apparent to me last winter that I can't make anyone happy while attempting to maintain strict deadlines from Sept to June so I've been organizing all my orders for summertime delivery in an attempt to have as "normal" a family life as possible during the school year while my wife is busy. I'm sure the scheduling will evolve again over time but for now this is how it's going to be.

    I'll add that you've been a big inspiration to me for some very obvious reasons and others that aren't so obvious. Keep doing what you do.
    Last edited by VertigoCycles; 07-23-2010 at 01:33 PM. Reason: more to say
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    Thanks Steve! It seems that the guys who rode and competed are few and far between. .......... The BB30's I've done are working just fine (though it's only been a few years; time will tell) but I steer any customer who wants a 30mm BB to the PressFit. I'm also jumping into the big head tube for tapered steerers with both feet. IMO, there's a huge difference in feel between a tapered steerer suspension 29er fork and standard one. I'd still love to get my hands on some tapered CX forks but I'm skeptical that I could feel a difference between a tapered and standard road fork. I developed that headset cup with 29er forks in mind and if it trickles into other frame styles from there, I'm OK with that. The internal hydro routing was just something that I needed to get out of my head. It's been rattling around in there since a few years before I started building and it's one of those things that I get so crazy obsessed over that I need to do it just to stop thinking about it.


    I'll add that you've been a big inspiration to me for some very obvious reasons and others that aren't so obvious. Keep doing what you do.
    did I sell you some EBB's once? for one of our friends? help me here...........also, can you share some pics of the new HT system & your BB setup? that would be sweet. Rock On, man - I gotta go have seatstay day - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by anthonymaietta View Post
    Sean,

    You were one of the dudes I contacted when I tried my hand at Ti; before I concluded my current welder was not fit. I wanted to extend a thank you for being so open and helpful with your advice during the process.

    On your most recent frame, I believe it was for yourself, you had some pretty cool stuff going on there. The plate connecting the DS CS to the BB, the fastback SS attached to the TT, and that ridiculous internal hydraulic brake routing. How does the CS plate feel riding? Can you tell the difference between it and a tube? Can you give us any insight into the internal routing?

    Thanks.
    Anthony,

    You're absolutely welcome, I'm happy to share what knowledge I have. The open knowledge base and collaborative environment are some of the coolest aspects to what we do. I'm flattered to have been accepted as a peer and for the record, as a flickr junkie, I've been following what you do over the past few years and am truly impressed not only with the skills you developed but that you can juggle a full time job AND be productive in the shop.

    The frame you mention was a many faceted experiment. One of the hard earned lessons that I've learned over the past few years is that it doesn't make any sense (to me) to change a standard frame unless I can develop a process or a tool to make the fabrication part efficient enough to not hemorrhage time while making it. The post mount fixture was born out of that, as was the direct mount front derailleur fixture. The seat stay bend profile and fitup is something that I set out to do from my first bike (and it's part of my first bike) but I never was able to develop tooling that allowed me to bend the stays consistently enough, nor was I able to efficiently miter them to fit both the TT and the ST. Three of my first five frames were done that way and then I took it off the table. Thanks to Don's magnificent bender and a right angle attachment for my vertical mill (and some home made fixtures) I have the ability to make the stays consistent and relatively efficiently.

    The plate was just a means to an end. I'm one of those short stays on my 29er guys and I wanted two chainrings up front. I had and still have my doubts about the longevity of the plate attachment which is why you won't see it on any of my customer bikes for a few years but I don't think it had a big impact on rigidity of the BB area. That's a 1.75" down tube welded to a 2" BB shell and a short ST to boot so it's a pretty stout frame to start with.

    I'm torn on the hydro line as I share almost everything I do as a rule. My intent with this was to keep the finished product under wraps until NAHBS but a buddy posted pictures he took while I was on the east coast...so it's out. I learned relatively recently that Sean at Soulcraft already did it so while I realize I'm not breaking new ground here I did invest considerable time doing it and I'm not keen on seeing another one anytime soon. I'll shoot you an email offline though...you'll be underwhelmed.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post
    did I sell you some EBB's once? for one of our friends? help me here...........also, can you share some pics of the new HT system & your BB setup? that would be sweet. Rock On, man - I gotta go have seatstay day - Garro.
    you did indeed. Justin Mitchell has the only steel bike I've ever built. I thought it was so cool that I got parts from you that I think originally came from Wade. I had seen a bunch of Wades bikes under a lot of the guys I met at Barbie Camp and I learned that they all know you from when your days killing it at the Cream Puff. I've since had the pleasure of getting to know Wade a little bit better and he's one of those guys that makes me feel good about our community. He's good people.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    You mentioned building only one steel bike. From conversations we have had I know that ti allows you to keep parts-to-product in house and allows you to build in a very "clean" fashion. Can you talk a bit about how process and materials have influenced how and what you build?

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    The biggest influence on my choice of using ti was owning a ti WTB Phoenix. The bike just felt right to me. Maybe it was emotional goofiness, maybe not, but I loved that bike and had good times on it without ever thinking about it while it was under me. I'm also keenly aware of some of my weaknesses, two of which are writing and choosing colors. Not only does ti rub all my nerdy spots the right way, I realized that by building with it exclusively, I might never have to come up with a paint scheme thus allowing me to keep one of my weaknesses hidden as long as possible. I was always told that it's hard to work with, which was also alluring to me (not that I think it's true). In this case I think "hard" is defined as temperamental. Ti is kind of fussy and I like that.

    Computer work is done for the day. Time to weld stuff, I'll check in later.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Sean,

    Greetings from CO.

    What makes you not want to move back to DC? and what made you decide to make framebuilding a business?

    Cheers,
    Renold Yip
    YiPsan Bicycles

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    Hi Reynold,

    The first question is more complicated than I initially thought so I'll answer it second.

    Timing is the answer to your second question. I wanted to build bicycles since my senior year in high school but I didn't have the first clue as to how to get going. I asked my parents about it, I called the local shops and I called various companies to ask about it. I probably didn't want it bad enough back then because I let everyone I spoke to talk me out of it. My parents spent their lives trying to work their way out of their blue collar roots. It's a shame, but despite their experience I was always given the impression laboring wasn't good enough. So I tried to fit the mold and held some kind of desk job from the time I got out of HS until 2006. I went from CAD guy, to Nutritional Analyst, to retail store manager, to IT guy to Financial Analyst all while working in bike shops part time. I got all fired up about it again in 2001 when I thought I had designed the greatest trials frame that could have existed at that time. I was dating someone who painted for Bill Davidson so I called him up...I don't know whether he said "stupid" or "idiotic", maybe it was both. Then I interviewed with Seven a month or so before I moved up to Providence because things seemed to be serious with said painter. All interviews went extraordinarily well until they realized that I was going to be living in Providence and not the Boston area and the door was closed. In 2006, everything finally came together. I was given the "move back to DC or lose your job" ultimatum, I was well past any notion of caring what my family thought about my career path, I had sacrificed a few years as an adult living with my parents so I could save every penny I earned, and I figured that I had to work it out with two people...myself and my wife. I was happy to let the analyst job go, my wife finished grad school and got a job at her favorite school, we took a 40% cut in income but I had her support and that's all I needed to finally jump in with both feet. The timing was right.

    I don't know that I want to move back but it's something that my wife and I continually discuss. Both of our families live in an area between Bethesda and Urbana and we're always wondering if we're doing the right thing for our daughter by raising her so far away from family. Then there's the (in)convenient trail access issue. I can admit now that I took it for granted that I've never lived more than a 20min ride to some excellent trail networks until we moved to Portland. I love it here for many reasons, we've made friends with some incredible people, it's easy and safe to get around by bike, living near the city center is affordable and safe and wife loves her job. We took a trip back so Maddy could visit with her grandparents and I think it's out of our systems for a while. It looks like we're planted here for another couple of years at least. If we do move somewhere, it's going to be close to some rocky singletrack, I can tell you that much.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Is Vertigo a mountain bike company?

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    Sean rules on the level ground too, answers questions I had to ask more than once...I welded some ti today thank you very much. There is some love/hate with ti for me, I dig your pics with dykem or sharpie the blue goes with ti really well.

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Hi Sean, it's been fun watching your work. You seem to be very detail oriented and always looking for a better way. I think it's very interesting that you decided to start in Ti vs. steel because that's not the way people usually do it. So I'm curious of how you liked building the one steel bike you've done and what things did you find harder or easier in working with steel vs. Ti?
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    Is Vertigo a mountain bike company?
    My riding interests are more in line with mountain bikes than anything else but Vertigo is an any-kind-of-bike company, it just happens that I mostly build 29ers. I built a couple of road bikes early on in the year and have four CX bikes in progress at the moment. There's a belt drive rohloff commuter on deck and then more mountain bikes. If I only built mountain bikes, I wouldn't have the opportunity to bend super curvy stays because they interfere with disc rotors. Road and cross bikes keep me sexy ;)
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Hi Sean, it's been fun watching your work. You seem to be very detail oriented and always looking for a better way. I think it's very interesting that you decided to start in Ti vs. steel because that's not the way people usually do it. So I'm curious of how you liked building the one steel bike you've done and what things did you find harder or easier in working with steel vs. Ti?
    Thanks Carl. I'm definitely always thinking about my process and how to make it more efficient but more importantly how I can make it more accurate and repeatable. There's always something for me to learn by peering over the shoulder of other builders and I especially love seeing the small tools that make a huge difference. I'd rather spend a little extra time on the front end of a build ensuring that I'm doing a task in a way that it won't add time at the back end. That's why I always seem to be making tools. I love making them, but I hope that a few years from now I won't feel the need to do it as often.

    That steel bike was a nightmare. The reality is that I didn't build it just once, I think I had to build three frames before it was acceptable. I used all the same cleaning techniques that were working for me on ti and I kept getting flash rust while I was welding it out. I had no idea why at the time but switching from a stainless filler rod to ER70 fixed the problem. In a lot of ways I think steel is harder for me to weld than ti. Welding that frame made me realize that the fusion pass I do on my ti frames practically eliminates the risk of keying open a tube while laying down the filler. My tendency is to just crank the amps and go with it until I get to the crotch of a joint and then I back off a bit. I was blowing holes all over the place on the first few tries on that steel frame and obviously wasn't adapting to the difference in heat control. I owe a few favors to friends and will be building two steel frames this year so I'm looking forward to getting another chance to do a much better job of it.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    you did indeed. Justin Mitchell has the only steel bike I've ever built. I thought it was so cool that I got parts from you that I think originally came from Wade. I had seen a bunch of Wades bikes under a lot of the guys I met at Barbie Camp and I learned that they all know you from when your days killing it at the Cream Puff. I've since had the pleasure of getting to know Wade a little bit better and he's one of those guys that makes me feel good about our community. He's good people.
    there you go. I wanna look up Justin, can you PM me his info? he used to tow his buddy using his MTB up to the top of Alpine trail in his wheelchair {a truly awesome feat} and I always thought that was just badass, as well as getting to know him when i helped out/raced the CCP100 as an "X-Man" in which he was the best support guy/cheerleader/comic relief ever. Anyway, that story would always make me tear up a bit that he would do that, and well, I wanna do that with him now except I can pedal myself and want him to spot me just so I can have that experience with him. I'll be there in sept. I think Denise is gonna do the 50 mile singletrack rack in Sept in Poison-Oakridge. C'mon down - we'll talk. You are right on Wade {The Vulture} one of my favourite people ever. Damn smart guy, the kind that come up with all the forehead slapper "why didn't I think of that" cool stuff. we were roomies in "nightmare on elm st" here in Flag. it was out of control, in a mostly good way. I'll get the beta on the race, let's pow-wow - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    PM Sent. That's an amazing story that I hadn't heard but it's none too surprising, it's obvious they guy has a big heart. In fact, a lot of those people around Eugene are a pleasure to be around and I always look forward to fall BC when I have an opportunity to meet them all over on the dry side of the cascades for a few days of riding, beer and silliness. We can talk about Wade like he's not reading ;) I always look forward to chatting with him at the bike show shindigs when he's around and I'm looking forward to when he's finally able to take the time to tour over to fall BC (ahem) so I can hang out with him some more and leach some knowledge.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post
    .........also, can you share some pics of the new HT system & your BB setup? that would be sweet. Rock On, man - I gotta go have seatstay day - Garro.
    Here's the initial model of the headset system. The whole reason behind it is that I've always had a suspicion that a great deal of the fore-aft flex under hard braking came from steerer flex. As I wrote before, I can't really complain much about 1.125 steel steerers or Edge road forks much but I think anyone who's come in too hot into a chunky corner on their 29er might want for a little more front end stiffness. The same goes for cross forks. I know there's a vocal bunch of people who are just fine with the traditions of cantis but I'll take powerful predictable braking over tradition any day. Why wouldn't you want to carry more speed and brake harder right before a turn if you could?

    Oregon CXers, I know you know that long gravel DH at Rainier just after the long climb, the one that takes a hard left onto off-camber grass. I'm just an out of shape C racer but after passing a dozen or so folks on that DH I may have left something on my chamois trying to reign in the speed before getting into that turn.



    http://www.canecreek.com/articles/fi...20Assembly.PDF

    Anyhow, the head tube size isn't anything new. It's been done on production bikes for at least a decade. Giant was the first manufacturer I can remember who was using the ZeroStack headsets from Cane Creek (or was it Dia-Compe back then?) There was a period of time that King tried to get a similar headset into the marketplace called the Perdido but I'm not sure what happened to it. Now they have the InSet which is built to the same HT I.D. spec as the ZeroStack. King makes reamers/facers for it too which I think are the first to be available to small builders/shops.

    Not everyone is going to see a need for it, but I like it and I'm happy to have played a part in getting it into the hands of small builders. Real or imagined, some consumers see tapered steerers and different BB standards as advancements in technology. I don't intent to argue whether it is or isn't but if I can increase my product offering so it's a non issue, I figure I might have a better chance at stealing a customer from a big manufacturer and then getting him/her hooked on custom frames for life.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

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    Default Re: Vertigo Cycles

    Sean, I love seeing your work as well. Everything is always so neat and clean, and you have some good ideas. Speaking of your possible move, how rooted in your locality are you, and do you think moving back east would change anything as far as clientèle or the flavor of your brand? Or, do you think Vertigo is Vertigo no matter where the shop is?
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
    Summoner of Crickets
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