Over the past couple of weeks I have been in contact with the fine folks at Budnitz Bicycles, hammering out the details of a review bike and contest to come.  In doing so, I have come to learn (from conversations and research) that Paul Budnitz himself is a pretty unique and interesting person.  I have also learned that he and I share a few core beliefs – for instance, you should always do what you love and in doing so you will find success and to spend your money once and spend it right.

Hoping to learn more about the guy behind the brand, I sat down with Paul to pick his brain.  Enjoy.

Bikerumor: Who are you and what are you doing here?

Paul Budnitz: I’m the owner and founder of Budnitz Bicycles.  I do some of everything — from designing bicycles to laying out our web site, writing copy and art directing the photography.  I load boxes too, when we’re short handed.

Being such a small company (there are only a handful of us here) makes the company relatively dynamic and responsive.  We know all of our customers personally, and can take the time to build bicycles that are just right for each rider. That’s a blast.

Paul Budnitz with Kidrobot toy

Bikerumor: What was your first job or experience in the cycling industry? How did you “break” in?

Paul Budnitz: I like to think we’re not in the bicycle industry, and I’m not sure if we’ve actually “broken in” anywhere.

I started out designing bicycles for my own use, mainly because I couldn’t find what I wanted on the market.  I wanted a beautiful, fast, lightweight bicycle to use every day as my primary city bike, for commuting, and to use for long rides on the weekend.  I also wanted my bicycle to be comfortable, and to look amazing — as beautiful as a classic car, and a design that would age beautifully as well.

Generally, though, most production bicycles I found in bike stores had lower grade components or just didn’t last or ride well over time — and others were just plain ugly.  Plus, most high-end bicycles out there are designed race bikes, which makes them light and fast, but uncomfortable and impractical for everyday use.

It took many years and iterations and prototypes to come up with our first bicycle design, which eventually turned into our Model No.1. It’s been redesigned and enhanced over time, but it’s still our best-selling model.

The other key decision we made was to skip the bicycle industry completely, and to only sell direct to our customers.  No bike shops.  This means we can take less of a markup, and our customers get a much better bicycle, hand built with higher grade components than almost anything else out there. What other production bicycle offers White Industries hubs, Chris King Titanium headsets and Paul Components levers?

It also means that the person selling our bicycles understands them, top to bottom. If a customer calls and wants a bicycle we know he’ll be unhappy with, we won’t sell him that bicycle.  We also won’t make a bicycle that we think is ugly, though we’re happy to work with a customer on a custom color.

We even offer a no-questions asked return policy, and so far we’ve had zero returns.  None.  I love that.

Budnitz No. 1 in Titanium
Budnitz No. 1 in Titanium

Bikerumor:  What’s your educational background?

Paul Budnitz:  I studied art at Yale University.

Actually — I started out studying physics, but switched to art when I realized I’d get to do more different things, and have more fun doing them, if I headed in a different direction.

Bikerumor: After that first experience/job, what was the path to your current position?

Paul Budnitz: I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never had a regular job. It probably would have done me some good, but I’ve been told I have a problem with authority most of my life, and always ended up doing my own thing.

I generally start my own companies based on ideas I have.  Because I’m a designer too, I can design products that I love and that interest me deeply.  I founded a company called Kidrobot which makes art toys with fine artists and street artists.  That was certainly the biggest company I’ve created, but I’ve done many things as well, from programming software to writing screenplays to selling used clothing in Asia.

Budnitz Bicycles came out of a lifetime of riding, and a love of bicycle design.  The bicycles we are making today are some of the best things I’ve ever done.  I’m very proud of them.


Bikerumor: What’s a normal day for you?

Paul Budnitz: Get up, bike to the office.

Usually there’s a combination of design work, some marketing questions, and sales questions waiting for me.

I’m working on a book about creativity, design, and business and I usually take a few hours each day to work on that, unless a mini-crisis comes up.  We manufacture many of our own components, and there’s often some pull and push to get everything we need in on time! Plus customer questions to be answered.  Many details.

Bikerumor:  What are the highlights of your job?

Paul Budnitz:  Running into people riding one of my bicycles on the street and talking to them.  That’s always fun, and I always learn a lot in the process.

That and cycling to lunch with the good people I work with!

Budnitz No. 3 Steel Honey Edition

Bikerumor:  What could you do without?

Paul Budnitz:  Bike snobs (not THE Bike Snob. We love him!).

Bicycle people tend to have strong opinions, which is a good thing — but there is sometimes a general intolerance for new or different ideas.

For example, some people gave us flack when we started out for making city bicycles that cost more than $300.  As far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to elevate bicycles to the level of high art and engineering, like a BMW car or Moto Guzzi motorcycle, we need to be willing to invest in that.  Also, there’s enough opposition to cyclists from the outside.  In any case, time and a myriad of good reviews seem to have solved that issue for us on its own.

As bicyclists ought to support one another, whether you’re riding a fixie you built yourself from a bike shop’s dumpster, a vintage Raleigh you bought at a flea market (beautiful!), or a high end boutique bicycle like a Rivendell, IF, Beloved, or one of our bikes.

The key thing is that the bicycle you ride is something you love.  That should be enough!

Budnitz No. 4 Mini-Velo
Budnitz No. 4 Mini-Velo

Bikerumor:  What advice would you give to someone looking to follow your path today?

Paul Budnitz:  I tend to burn bridges behind me, and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone do just what I do.

But I do suggest that the shortest path to success is following what you love and care about, and always having a commitment to do what you do immaculately. Also that your weaknesses tend to be your greatest strength, if you are willing to ask others for help.

It’s easy to sell something that’s truly wonderful.  If your heart is in it, the love shines through.



  1. Um, three thousand dollars?! For a steel straight gauge single-butted frame?! Are you kidding me?!

  2. ”We manufacture many of our own components, and there’s often some pull and push to get everything we need in on time!”

    Really?!? you mean, you have to push your Taiwanese vendors to deliver your stuff on time?? Who knew?

  3. To say he started designing bicycles because he “couldn’t find what he wanted in the market,” and to reconcile that with what he ended up creating, is like saying you built your own car because you don’t like the cupholders in current designs.

  4. Holy crap, what a con artist.

    Hilarious that this website treats him seriously and doesn’t mock him in the way his thievery deserves.

    Yeah, Budnitz never had a real job because he’s a trustafarian who sucks others’ blood like a vampire.

  5. This one’s a gem: “For example, some people gave us flack when we started out for making city bicycles that cost more than $300. As far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to elevate bicycles to the level of high art and engineering, like a BMW car or Moto Guzzi motorcycle, we need to be willing to invest in that.”

    High art? I’m sorry but these bikes are had-out, trite, and boring as hell. Go see a real frame builder if you want something unique that is truly art.

  6. So much hate for this guy. To be clear, I won’t be buying one, but I like the way the look. Are they a good deal? Not to me. I’d ride one if it was given to me, though. Different strokes, I guess.

  7. Well I was going to say some mean hateful things but you guys pretty much have it covered.

  8. wow! If I ever get bold enough to do my own thing, i’ll make sure to let everyone else sit back and comfortably take whacks at it. We may bant about stuff at the trailhead over a beer, but…mmm hope i don’t share a tree with y’all during a lighting storm.

  9. running into bros on bicycles is especially cool on bridges. you need them to commute.

  10. It’s interesting that when someone takes a risk and puts themselves out there via art and/or business they get bashed so easily if it is “different.” To start a company is stressful/scary on any level even if you have experience. People who so flippantly have a mean opinion of someone or something are very shallow and mean spirited. Obviously this bike and brand is not for you and look like a fool bashing him. Some people have a lot of cash and can easily buy a cleanlined, highend, fast rolling commuter. I’ll give him props for putting himself out there and taking a risk… unlike most of these negative people.

  11. So if something is ridiculously expensive, with poor engineering and sells entirely on hype and babble like that above you aren’t allowed to call it out anymore? Bummer.

  12. i’m not hatin on the guy. props for doin your own thing. personally, the words high end and daily commuter cannot coexist on my commute. 5k frame to go get a $10 cup o’ joe while i “locknleave it” with a $250 lock is not me. i wish had that kinda cabbage though!

  13. KruiserBic – There is nothing new or different about this bike, and nothing high end aside from the parts. If you see the welds up close you can very clearly see there is less art and more fluff involved here. I applaud the guy for being a salesman but thats as far as it goes.

    He also didn’t look very hard for the bike he wanted as there are hundreds of guys out there capable of this work (and better).

  14. Lots of negativity in the air today! Has anyone here actually ridden a Budnitz? I bought a #1 a year ago, and I love it. Overhyped and poorly engineered? I don’t think so. The bike rides smooth as silk, and is a great balance of speed and comfort. It looks great, better in person than in photos, classic and elegant without the sit up and beg position of a cruiser. Off the top of my head, the only people doing anything similar are Black Sheep out of Colorado. 5K for a made in USA ti bike is not peanuts, but not out of line either. I also own a Niner hardtail, and a Roubaix. Some days I don’t feel like driving an hour to the trailhead, or click-clacking around in Sidis and spandex. Does that make me a douche?

  15. Hey Bikerumor- So my comment got deleted because I called the guy an ass? Are you kidding? Okay, how about this: He is unpleasant. Is that PC enough? Or is it simply that I’m not allowed to say anything negative about a Budnitz advertisement? Why are you taking this guy seriously? He starts out by being so condescending as to say that doesn’t consider himself a part of the bike industry, even though is attempting to market and sell bicycles. Then he says that he chose to skip the local bike shop because he can charge the customer less of a markup and provide a better bicycle! Real cool. This guy is a joke!

  16. He is catering to a different demographic. One that has never even been to bikerumor.com. He is getting people on bikes who normally would not ride. Not a bad thing in my opinion.

  17. Dubba-

    So there was this whole demographic of rich (deleted), that would have never even considered riding a bicycle because all of the previous offerings were beneath them, and then this guy comes along to fill a niche?

  18. Why are all the panties getting knotted? Congress has many things on its schedule to accomplish before it gets around to passing a law mandating that people have to buy a Budnitz bike. Until that time comes, you are still free to buy what ever you choose and can afford (or not if you have a line of credit).

    Meanwhile, sentient beings quasi-aware of their surroundings have long realized that people have different motivations for buying whatever product it is that they buy. Some buy utilitarian stuff, and some buy stuff that’s highly fashionable. Heck, some people will even avoid buying stuff that isn’t expensive or expensive looking enough? Here’s the big question: who cares? If someone wants to spend the dosh on a Budnitz, so be it. At least they’ll ride thing.

    I don’t know Sr. Budnitz, but I’d wager he’s no more snotty, snooty, or judgmental than all the snotty, snooty people commenting so far. I guess I really don’t understand the cycling community. See, I worry about what I ride and my riding. I’m not concerned about what someone else chooses to ride and their reasons for doing so. I’m not concerned about the moral or fashion consequences of Mr. Budnitz’ bike business, but I do admit to being surprised by the volume of thoroughly nasty, hateful people that populate the cycling community. I have to wonder what all the nastiness really accomplishes.

  19. Show me the way Psi. I guess I’m just not feeling the love for this guy’s pretentious attitude.

  20. Psi Squared; your panties seem as knotted as anyones, you are correct, no-one has to buy one of these bikes, but equally nobody has to read the comments. This page provides an opportunity for Budnitz to promote his non-cycle-industry bike comprised of cycle-industry sourced components AND a comments section for people to comment on it… If YOU want the internet to be a one way portal of marketing BS direct to YOUR frontal lobe then just skip this bit…

  21. Appreciate the diversity of the bicycle industry for without it we become just another cement city, not a jungle. Don’t get me wrong, I also of course with this view appreciate the comments good and bad. We should all recognize however that the industry is in a better place than it would be if it were run by the negative minded instead of the positive and often unencumbered dreamers.


  22. @The Goats-

    I think you actually make a very nice point, and I agree with it. However, this isn’t just another bicycle manufacturer to hate on because the bikes or business practices aren’t your cup of tea. This guy is in his own league. And after all, he isn’t even a part of the bicycle industry that you are referring to, remember?

  23. The guy founded Kidrobot.. A company which is almost exclusively a branding exercise, ala Shepard Fairey’s Obey, and everyone is lining up to criticise the product as being style over substance? Too funny.. (Disclosure statement: I love Kidrobot.)

    So if you measure these bikes based on BOM cost, they’re probably not a great value.. But news flash, neither is any other high end bike you might buy. The aesthetic is what youre buying here.. Its a different aesthetic than what’s generally sold in the industry, but clearly there’s a market there.. So cheers to them.

  24. A man is but the product of his thoughts.
    What he thinks, he becomes.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    “Positive thinking will let you do everything better
    than negative thinking will.”

  25. … “I generally start my own companies…” Lol. Give up jack. Besides the tech part, as I said the guy does not even know how to route cables… The bike is straight ugly and boring, the components look cheap, the whole thing looks cheap and dated. Total newbie. No eye for detail. Just missing the basic understanding of how to make a bike look elegant. No clue of how to design a bike. Keep adding spacers jack.

  26. If you don’t get it, it’s not FOR you.

    If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

    Who does this hurt?

    Here’s the process:

    1. The people that aren’t into it are free to go about their lives, riding whatever bike they want.

    2. The people that like and can afford these bikes are free to go about their lives, riding the bike they want to ride.

    3. People employed by Budnitz get to make money building bikes.

    4. Budnitz makes money doing something he enjoys.

    5. ???

    6. Giant pokey sticks up everyone’s bum.

    A lot of Bike Rumor commenters seem really bigoted toward people who ride or create bikes outside the commenters’ narrow view of how bikes should be enjoyed.

  27. Belt drive, Alfine hub, disc brakes, Brooks saddle, great lines, quality throughout. What’s not to like?

  28. I love the Budnitz-alias comments which praise the guy endlessly for his “innovation” and “courage.”

    I see no innovation. I see no courage.

    Well, maybe there’s courage in getting a frame built in Taiwan for $100 USD and then selling it for $2000 USD in America. I guess it takes brass balls to mark something up by such a massive factor, and pretend it’s better quality.

    Have I ridden a Budnitz? No, because I have a $100 USD Taiwanese frame sold by IRO that I paid $170 for. I have $2500 more in my pocket, and the ride quality is not lesser than that of a Budnitz, no matter what Paul Budnitz says above under 15 different handles in this comment thread.

    Con artists being endorsed and defended. What a great thing. America sure is at a wonderful point in its cultural development as of May 2013.

    It’s the Yellow Kid Weil era, and a con man is a hero.

    Oh, and “doing what he enjoys”? That’s what hit men and serial killers do too. Don’t hate on THEM.

  29. I’m curious, why is there so much hate against this Budnitz guy. There has to have been a past history behind this vitriol boiling over like it has. Granted this site attracts it’s fair share of tards who will hate on anything and everything, but this is a bit intense even for here.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but from what I understand the frames are made in the U.S., the Ti frames are made by Lynsky and the Steel ones are made somewhere in Washington or Oregon.

  30. Someone with info on this brand cited that the frames are made in China. Not Japan. Not Taiwan. Not the US of A. China. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but $3000 for a steel frame? Come on.

  31. Why is everyone assuming these frames are made overseas? They are hand welded in the USA by Lynskey, and their house brand components are also made there. A lot of assuming seems to be leading the hateraid.

  32. I don’t know about where the frames are made, but perhaps those that are saying that the hatred is unfounded failed to actually read the interview.

  33. if enough people ask why this guy gets so much hate, does this imply that each one deserves a different answer? Every story about them on this site garners so many comments that answer the question they keep asking regardless. It’s this deliberate ignoring of the substance of the negativity that shows how thin skinned they are. You ask, you get told, you ask again under a different screen name, over and over. Masochist much? then you really are the perfect target demographic for an overpriced underperforming product of any type. Funny how it works despite all appeals to logic, but you can’t have perpetual motion in the real world, either.

  34. I liked the interview. Still too expensive and one have to choose between four sizes so they’re not custom. He said that they’re commuters but why aren’t there any holes for fenders, or baggage? The brakes aren’t even hydralic. I can understand why peoples gets angry, and I agree, they’re too expensive, but for the right customer it’s worth the money.

    There’s better alternatives for daily usage in a rainy enviroments. Such as a Kogswell.
    They deserve a interview. Or even a ANT. or Thorn, they have a wide range.
    I have a butt-ugly Surly 1×1, with ugly fenders, and I love it!

  35. This dude went to Yale. To study art.

    His family must be absolutely loaded for him to pursue such a worthless degree at such an expensive and prestigious school.

  36. @Steve M – I am staring at our Budnitz No. 3 review bike right this very moment, and rest assured there are both fender and rack mounts. I am curious, why do you think there are none ? And yes, the brakes are mechanical – at this price point you would assume they should be hydraulic. However, for the non-experienced bicycle owner (their intended market) working on, and learning to work on hydraulic brakes isn’t really the best idea. While there are many other cheaper, as (or more so) functional bikes for the intended purpose of commuting, this one does it with class, and for those that have the disposable income to spare it is a great option.

  37. At least he isn’t part of the bike industry! He doesn’t want it, and it surely doesn’t want him.

    Wait, so how did he end up in a column about the cycling industry? Oh, thats right… he sells bikes. Maybe someone should tell him.

  38. Nice dialogue going on here… So as a Budniz No.2 owner I’ll add my two cents. I got mine straight from Lynskey, as a Budnitz-employee trade-back, if I’m not mistaken. I paid exactly half off the regular price, plus it came outfitted with a Rock-Shox fork rather than the rigid original. For my 40th birthday I had wanted to get a Porsche, but my wife objected (plus I didn’t exactly have the cash), so I negotiated for a Black Sheep. Alas, the wait was 3 months and I came across this one, and at a great price and low miles. It’s outfitted as a SS, with 26″ on both sides, and I use it primarily as a cross-country MTB down here in Puerto Rico. It rides well enough, at least as good as my old rigid Merlin did, maybe with a tad more flex. I do enjoy the bare-bones, mechanical concept behind it (SS, mechanical brakes, etc.), although the EBB has become a little noisy in recent months. It’s definitely a head turner here and everywhere I take it. Last summer I took it with me for two weeks to NYC and I was constantly stopped by fellow curious bikers. I actually don’t see how others lust after IF’s, Black Sheeps, and Newsboy’s, and trash this one so much. Yes, I agree, Mr. Budnitz might come off a little arrogant, and the interview doesn’t really help with the mentions of Yale and “my multiple companies”, etc. yet, from what I’ve heard, Mr. Budnitz is a smart, talented fellow, a serial entrepreneur, and his Kidrobot toy line is rather succesful. Also, I don’t think he’s exactly blue-blooded, but rather from an imtellectual background (professor parents, I believe). Plus as a fellow Ivy Leaguer – not Yale though – I must atest we’re not all jerks, nor do we all come from old-money. Regardless of personal preferences, I think this dude is trying to come up with his own version of what a bike should be, and it’s up to his clients to decide whether theyre worth the while (and cash), or not. Again, there seems to be a healthy market for expensive titanium bikes (custom, and boutique pre-configured designs), so what’s so diffrent about this one? I also agree that claiming to found his bike company because of not finding that perfect bike available on the market is total bullshit, but give the guy a break, he’s trying to sell his product as much as Tony Ellsworth or Scot Nicol are trying to sell theirs…

    PS: Lynskey stopped producing frames for Budnitz around the first quarter of 2012. E-mail them (Lynskey) and you’ll see. Budnitz claims something about “not being able to get the desired build-quality produced domestically”… Sounds like Lynskey was too expensive a variable within their business equation to make it profitable. Last time I checked (Christmas, 2012), all titanium frames came from China. E-mail them (Budnitz), you’ll see. That being the case, there’s shouldn’t be any reason not to get their steel frames from there as well. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that…

  39. Sometimes I mess up and forget something in an online order. That’s when I happily visit a local bike shop and keep on smilin’ cuz they will always be around.

    I think this guys bikes are as much works of art as transport, something refreshing in an increasingly boring world.

    It’s ALL good

  40. Personally I quite like the look of his frames, but looks are a very personal thing anyway. I like builders like Retrotec and Black Sheep, so goes with my personal tastes in frame design. That said I can understand a lot of the negative comments here simply because he comes across in the interview as pretentious twat. Totally at odds with the custom bicycle manufacturer attitude in general insofar as I have experienced it. So he is playing in that space, but does not really want to be part of it. I would find that rather insulting if I were a custom builder. What gets my goat is the “designing” part. His frame design is based on the Black Sheep Speedster which was originally designed for him by James Bleakley of Black Sheep. And built initially too if I’m not mistaken. By his own admission he burns bridges behind him so assume he burnt that one and likely the Lynskey one too, based on a previous comment. I’ll pass.

  41. If I had family to loan me the startup capital interest free, i would make bikes that are just as beautifull, twice as capable, and a third the price.

  42. “B” or Paul Budnitz I expect…”Who does it hurt?” you ask. You ripped off the design aesthetic directly from Black Sheep Bikes out of Fort Collins Colorado 5 years ago. Not brave, innovative or courageous…pathetic. Budnitz is bad for ‘merican small business who created an original design approach…you’re hurting people you stole from, that’s who. For the price you should be providing top end components (not mechanical breaks, hydraulic) and clean up how the cables are being ran. Man…it’s just sad.

    Budnitz…you’re the Trump of the bicycle industry. Keep it classy.

  43. He designed the bikes? Really? What a blatant, bald faced lie. This guy is just another egocentric jerk who steals ideas from real innovators and gets them bulk made cheaply with lesser materials and craftsmanship. All while crowing about how awesome he is. That’s neither original nor innovative.

    What a shame the author of this article didn’t do some digging. Instead they wrote a complete PR fluff piece. That’s not journalism. That’s advertising. Did this guy take out some ad space after the acticle was written? Maybe send you a few bikes?

  44. OK-I like these bikes but they are way to pricey. Live in a city, mostly rec riding; city paths with kids; go get case of beer of saturday groceries.

    I like the curvy top tube and the simple look (Cables in the frame?). Would love to buy US.

    Who makes the alternative? I’ve looked at custom near me and with these components I’d be at $2,600 for steel and a IGH. Have a GF simple city 8 but prefer something a little less fancy pants than that.

    Ideas? Just go build out a cross check or ogre and call it a day?

  45. James and Curtis should get royalties, flat out. Too bad their calloused fingers and creative efforts have been overshadowed by Budnitz and his expertise in handling a steaming pile of marketing hype. Some honest mad skillz there at least. Burning bridges indeed.

  46. This guy is a fool. Many great ideas are inspired by others but to go to Black Sheep and then pull that crap. BS is smart not get wrapped up in litigation as this guy will not be around for the long haul. I don’t want to get into class warfare but an art degree from Yale?

  47. From the Blacksheep Facebook page. A quote:
    “We rarely rant here at Black Sheep Bikes. We see no need to defend what we do as bike builders and similarly we leave others to do as they please. If you like what we do great, if not cool. There is many talented people making bikes in this world. Check out your local builder for instance. We build the bikes we love out of the passion for our trade and our love for bikes. Pretty simple. However we do feel that the we need to clarify some things as we have gotten a lot of questions so the air needs to be cleared. 5 or so years ago we were approached by a fella we will call Mr. B. He came to us with a need for a quality built bike that would suit his needs, keep him fit, and have some style. No problem. We built him a Speedster style frame, belt drive, internally geared hub, internal routing, etc.. Great commuter and he was very satisfied. So much in fact that he wanted another with a little different style and bigger tires. Kind of a urban thrasher that can fit in a travel case. Done. Another happy customer. After awhile he approached us with an idea of helping him build a bike company under his own name. He wanted us to make him replicas of the bikes we had already made with the potential to go over seas and have them massed produced. As you can imagine we felt like this wasn’t the best idea for our company and went against why we build these bikes with our own hands here in Colorado in the first place. Nothing against bikes made out of country and in Asia as many are high quality and almost all are handmade by skilled workers. It just sounded boring and not our style. So we told him we weren’t interested. Mr. B however is a man with money and the means to do as he pleases so he took our bikes had them replicated(kind of) at another American bike company and now has some being produced over seas. Damn! Wasn’t what we thought was going to happen. Oh well we suppose. We still get to build our dream bikes, one at a time, with our own hands here in Colorado. What this really boils down to is a choice. You can buy a bike from a man who has his name on it with no other connection to his product or the hard work that others have put into it. Or you can buy a bike from people who love what they do and do it themselves, pour their soul into their craft, and actually have a passion for bikes. The point is, before you drop a bunch of your hard earned cash on a Budnitz…give a guy like Curtis Inglis a call first. You will be glad you did.”

    Budnitz = Douchebag

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