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REVIEW

OEM Alternative Brake Pads : One month later

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jun 3, 2021
Reading time

In my first article on this topic, I talked about a few after-market brake pads I'd received to test and went over my break-in and testing methodology. These companies are trying to fill the gap during the current shortage of bike parts which includes brake pads.

Mountain bikers, in North America in particular, are more likely to choose OEM pads over alternatives. In the automotive world, the idea of running OEM brake calipers and pads is laughable in high performance applications. In that arena you can choose more pistons, more pad surface options, more rotor sizes, more fancy materials, more more more... To me it seems like a company that focuses on making brake pads and nothing else, could produce a better product than Shimano, Sram, TRP or Magura could offer.

A month of riding has gone by. That's about 20 rides on the good ole test platform. Conditions changed from hot and dry to wet and muddy and back. I increased the frequency of shuttle rides to get as much downhill riding as possible. Anything in the name of science!

These are the pads I've been riding and comparing to OEM Shimano D02S Metallic XTR-XT-DEORE pads (also fit Saint and Zee).

  • KoolStop Sintered Metal
  • MTX Red Label Race Ceramic
  • Jagwire Extreme Pro

final_rpr_pstr_3.jpeg

The Rim Reaper poster was a great wall art for the shops I've wrenched at.

Koolstop

The first pads to go on the front of the heavy hitting Druid were the KoolStops. I've always liked the old-school simplicity of the brand. The bedding-in process was quick and uneventful. 5 or 6 pulls down a steep road with a squirt of water did the trick. I was ready to jump in the deep-end immediately after. Steep trails where a 29er rear tire occasionally buzzes my derriere were on the menu. Koolstop pads didn't do anything that surprised me. The on/off nature of shimano brakes was preserved, and the levers still had a light feel after the initial bite. There was enough friction to stop a moving train. Under hard braking there was no more fade than with the OEM pads.

If you dragged the brakes for minutes on end, a 'woody' feel would poke out its grainy head, but late and hard braking was accomplished without any loss of lever feel or stopping power. I would not hesitate to have these pads in my regular rotation even though I didn't see any improvement over Shimano.

After about 6 rides, I took the pads off and remeasured the thickness and was happy to see no measurable wear. They measured the same as they did out of the packaging.

Koolstop has been making pads since 1977 - which is also when they designed their website. Prices will vary depending on the continent you ride on. Here in Canada they are around $36 a pair at local shops.

DSC04652-pete-roggeman-gloves-trek-rail-review.jpg

No need for brake performance while in the air, but it's the run-ins and run-outs that count on the Shore PC: Pete Roggeman

Jagwire Extreme Pro Sintered Pads*

With a name like 'Extreme Pro,' I expected sparks to fly out of the brakes on each squeeze. Sadly, I was not rewarded with that fireworks show. The bedding in process took more or less the same time as the KoolStops but the initial brake squeal was quite loud. So loud as a matter of fact that the neighborhood dogs got upset. Fortunately this noise issue didn't continue on the trails.

If the ride was wet, there was a longish period before the pads heated up to silence things. Once they did go mute, they mostly stayed that way. The stopping power was on par with the Shimano pads. There was plenty of power on tap and I could feel the Extreme Pro compound digging into the seemingly soft surface of the Shimano Icetech Rotors. I run 203mm front and rear FYI. Prolonged brake bdragging here also provoked a woody feel at the levers and hard heavy braking was again a better choice.

Jagwire makes excellent bulk brake pad options for some of the more common brake pads. (Shimano B01S, V-Brake, Road Calipers) It would be interesting to offer a bulk option for higher-end brake calipers as well. It would sort out your yearly brake pad usage once for all.

These Jagwires are about 32 CAD in North Vancouver and they have a much more modern web presence hatched in 2003.

*A rotor clean and resurface was done and then on went the pads.

MTX Red Label Race

I wasn't thinking much about these pads and the unassuming packaging they come in. But don't judge wine by its label. These pads take a compound approach. Unlike the more common metallic materials, MTX pads offer a mix of Kevlar, ceramic (CeraEvo®) and special japanese sauces to brew the stopping surface. Ceramic is used in high-end car brake systems quite regularly to stop 2 ton super cars. I'm sure it'll do fine stopping my 155 lb body and 35 lb bike.

The bedding in process was quite similar to the rest of the field but it took a little longer. It took a few pulls to get the system heated up enough to generate power. Ceramic seems to resist heating more than metallic pads and the transfer of the material to the rotor took more effort. Heavier riders may have an easier time with this.

When I dropped into the trail, I initially thought I didn't have enough stopping power and regretted my pad decision. There was nothing else to do but get down the trail, I focused on riding on the cautious side. And then there was an off-camber rock move to high-speed chute run-out. You have to scrub as much speed as possible to avoid a bronco ride out and a potential wreck. You can't over brake either because the rock is at 45º and is often wet. Modulation is the absolute key.

Shimano XTs aren't known for excellent modulation, but what I thought was improperly bedded pads turned out to be increased sensitivity. I rode the rock smoother than ever and have done so repeatedly since. I like to run my levers close to the bar and added modulation meant I had to push them out a click or two. These are not a cheap option in the grand scheme but nothing is when it is actually an upgrade from stock.

MTX red Label Race and the Gold Label (harder wearing compound for e-bikes and heavier riders) deliver on their promise. There was no noticeable fade on long descents. That combined with excellent lever feel will make these pads my go-to for added performance. Recent discussion with the most recent Loam Ranger about switching to 220mm rotors were interesting and many of my peers seem to embrace that path.

I'd stick to 203mm rotors and MTX pads for my journey.

I'd also like to try these pads in Code RSC brakes and the TRP EVO-DHs.

Some Additional MTX Red Label Comments (Cam McRae)

I used a set of MTX Red pads long enough to wear them down to the point where pad retraction was compromised in the rear* on my Yeti SB150, riding almost exclusively steep and challenging trails. Like Deniz I wasn't incredibly impressed at first, although the near silent operation caught my attention. I gradually noticed that I was able to access a new level of finesse in situations where grip was compromised. Off camber wet roots or loose over hard conditions that normally caused me to panic, became relatively low stress moments. It often felt like I had sensitivity super powers.

I noticed this even more acutely when I switched them out for another after market brand.** They were grabby and chattered against the rotor, despite careful cleaning and bed-in procedures. And strangely they got worse as they heated up, becoming louder and skipping over the disc surface. I exploded at the bottom of a rock face that I was terrified to enter because of the tilted rock entry. I was sure my front wheel was going to slide if I applied the brakes so I pointed my finger and went.

They were so grabby but had so little power, they made my suspension feel terrible because my forearms were constantly shredded. Riding similar trails on the MTX pads and then switching to these on consecutive days, I felt like I'd never ridden them before. Moves that were in my back pocket became terrifying. This experience, and switching back to some OEM SRAM pads, made me realize how much I appreciate performance of the MTX red label pads. They might have a little less power than stock SRAM Code pads, but the increased control and sensitivity allowed me to brake later and more effectively in challenging circumstances. As soon as I can get another set of MTX reds for my Code RSC brakes*** I will.

*apparently I'm using my rear brake too much

**more on this later – I'm going to try another pair to see if there was a one-off problem with my set

***the set I installed on the front of my hardtail with Shimano brakes broke in poorly on the first ride and didn't recover which makes me wonder if there's something wrong with my bed-in procedure since I didn't bed in the first set of MTX pads

MTX shockingly seems to have designed their website in this decade

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Cam, who also is on the MTX train, rides "the chute" before THE CHUTE

Concluding Thoughts

There have never been as many brake pad options in the history of bikes. This kind of entrepreneurship can only benefit the end-user. No matter if you buy your pads from Uncle Lou or Ali Baba.. (I'd err on the side of caution for the latter)

If you are in search of OEM-like performance, there are many options in the market including those I haven't had a chance to try. I am sure you'll point those out in the comments. Loamgoat, bikeco, galfer, etc...

And yet there seems to be a lack of better-than-OEM performance pads options. MTX seems to fill that void. I am likely keeping this set on, and hope to keep a few more in reserve.

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

Photog

5'9"

155lbs

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Comments

DangerousDave
+3 Velocipedestrian Cam McRae Pete Roggeman
DangerousDave  - June 2, 2021, 11:29 p.m.

Wow - that last photo is rad.

Reply

denomerdano
0
Deniz Merdano  - June 3, 2021, 10:11 a.m.

Thanks Dave! it is the indiana jones snake pit...

Reply

Cheez1ts
+1 Pete Roggeman
Garrett Thibault  - June 2, 2021, 11:34 p.m.

Thanks Deniz and Cam, I appreciate this article and the previous. I already picked up the Loam Goats as spares after the last article, but it’s great to know more about the other options. I expect to refer back to this article in the future.

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denomerdano
0
Deniz Merdano  - June 3, 2021, 10:12 a.m.

it is so great to have all these options now!

Reply

Bikeryder85
+5 Grif Andeh Pete Roggeman bushtrucker 4Runner1
Bikeryder85  - June 3, 2021, 3:26 a.m.

"Koolstop has been making pads since 1977 - which is also when they designed their website."  Burn!

Awesome articles, to echo the others on here, this will be bookmarked for future use!

Reply

YDiv
+1 Ben Rogers Grif 4Runner1 Beau Miller Konrad
YDiv  - June 3, 2021, 8:27 a.m.

Kinda funny until you realize that a lot of the shops on the North Shore have shit websites*.

Which means they're missing out on a lot of capital.

*A lot of the stores are pleasant to work with and they're great people, but simply from a business perspective, it's a huge mistake to not invest in an online webstore.

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denomerdano
+2 Beau Miller Konrad
Deniz Merdano  - June 3, 2021, 10:13 a.m.

shops are too busy fixing bikes and selling to even bother shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for online presence...

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MuscogeeMasher
+1 Sharephoto
MuscogeeMasher  - June 3, 2021, 3:59 a.m.

Making me feel good about my MTX pads.  Running the gold on my enduro bike.  Good experiences just like with the reds on my trail bike.

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denomerdano
0
Deniz Merdano  - June 3, 2021, 10:13 a.m.

great to hear!

Reply

rwalters
+3 Deniz Merdano Sharephoto Pete Roggeman
Ryan Walters  - June 3, 2021, 7:28 a.m.

This is the test I needed to read. I've had big troubles trying to silence my Codes. I'm running 220 rotors as well, so I'm probably worst case scenario. Definitely keen to try out the MTX.....

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MuscogeeMasher
+2 Sharephoto Ryan Walters
MuscogeeMasher  - June 3, 2021, 9:52 a.m.

I'm 205ish pounds running Codes and plain old centerline rotors (200 front and rear) and finally (knock on wood) enjoying excellent braking and beautiful, blissful quiet, ride after ride after ride, without any fussing with the rotors and pads to quiet them back down every 15-20 rides or so.  Need to go stock up on spare pads before everyone else catches on.

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rwalters
0
Ryan Walters  - June 3, 2021, 12:56 p.m.

You running the red, or the gold pads??

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MuscogeeMasher
0
MuscogeeMasher  - June 4, 2021, 4:41 a.m.

Red on trail bike and gold on enduro.  Same brakes and rotors on both bikes.

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Hollytron
0
Hollytron  - June 5, 2021, 2:24 p.m.

This gets rid of the gobble gobble? I love the brakes but man that Turkey shows up every 10 rides or so and i have pull every thing and clean it and re-surface the pads.

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denomerdano
+2 Sharephoto Ryan Walters
Deniz Merdano  - June 3, 2021, 10:14 a.m.

Get yourself a pair.. I want to hear your thoughts too!

Reply

chris
+2 JVP MuscogeeMasher
Chris  - June 3, 2021, 8:24 a.m.

MTX gold last 2-3x longer than OEM SRAM organics for me.  They are dead quiet in all situations, have incredible modulation and enough outright power but not as much as metallics.

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fabriciofracchia
+1 Pete Roggeman
Fabricio Fracchia  - June 3, 2021, 8:32 a.m.

I have a set of MTX red label and a set of MTX gold resting until I burn my pads. I'm currently using since 2019 the Galfer standard pads in my Megatower, I weight fluctuating from 95kg to 100kg (210-220lb) and they has been working great, paired with Galfer rotors 203 front and rear. I will install a set of the pro model in the front the next change with the standard in the rear to compare, finally when these finish their lives I will install the MTX, good feedback from the guys in MTX and I know someones using them that had very good experiences with the pads.

Reply

JVP
+1 Pete Roggeman
JVP  - June 3, 2021, 8:37 a.m.

Good stuff! Bike dorks like me always like it when a couple reviewers chime in with nuanced takes like this.

When I first heard about these I was thinking that you want Red if you're on Shimano (for modulation), Gold if you're on Codes (for power), but now I'm not so sure. Quiet would be nice, but not at the expense of performance. Do the MTX Red keep their power in the wet, or do they lose it like traditional organics?

Reply

bobthestapler
+1 Andeh Pete Roggeman Sharephoto
Mitch Stockwell  - June 3, 2021, 8:50 a.m.

The Magura Gold pads are the most ridiculous pads I've ever tried. The power and bite I had was insane at the expense of modulation and durability. Not to mention their $50USD price tag.

I have since switched to Galfer Green pads and have been super happy. Supposedly the Purple (e-bike) pads are nearly as good as the greens but last a lot longer. They are on my list to try next!

Reply

rcybak
+2 Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman Beau Miller Sharephoto
rcybak  - June 3, 2021, 9:52 a.m.

I, too, tried the red MTX pads on my Saint brakes, excited about the opportunity to get quieter brakes for the wet, wintery rides we get around here. I found that bedding them in wasn't much more difficult than Shimano pads, and they sure felt powerful enough. However, I found that the pads in the wet were way louder and took longer to stop being loud than any pad I've ever used. Their power was sufficient, until it wasn't. My front set became very weak, almost like a contaminated pad, but without the accompanying squeals, unless I got them wet. Very loud. My rear pads also send to lose power after a while, and, before I had even worn 10% of the thickness, they were in my garbage can, replaced by another aftermarket option, which is available locally for less money. This new option (Basic Bike Co), works much, much better than the MTX. I'm a heavy rider (210 lbs), ride steep techy terrain, and I need pads to perform consistently, and I just didn't get that from the MTX, so now I'm left to question either the reviewer's sanity, or my own. I'm biased towards my own genius and skills, so I cannot recommend those MTX red pads.

Reply

MTXbraking
+1 Pete Roggeman 4Runner1 Beau Miller
MTXbraking  - June 3, 2021, 4:27 p.m.

Hello - FYI, if you have an issue, you're more than welcome to reach out to us to discuss it. At the very least you could have exercised our guarantee. Your experience is absolutely not common; I would have preferred to help you troubleshoot the problem, which is typically easily resolved with some rotor prep. Something clearly was going on here if you had noise and performance issues. We're here to help.

Reply

rcybak
+2 Pete Roggeman Beau Miller
rcybak  - June 3, 2021, 6:25 p.m.

Hi, thanks for reaching out. I don't have a relationship with the brand I'm using now, but I do like their product. My rotor prep when installing new pads is the same as I've always done: clean with isopropyl alcohol with a clean rag. If there is a different rotor prep technique that your pads require, some instruction should come with the pads. I will sand my rotors as necessary, and I haven't contaminated a brake pad since 2015, so I'm reasonably confident I didn't do that. When I bedded the pads in, they felt excellent, and were quiet and powerful. My first ride, I was very excited to use them, even stating to my riding partner that I was going to have the quietest brakes on the mountain, which was going to be impressive, because there was snow on the ground. Unfortunately, once wet, they became the loudest pads I had ever used, and I'm not exaggerating. They had excellent stopping power, excellent feel, and if I was deaf, I'd have been very happy with them. However, after about 10 rides or so, the front brake started to lose a lot of power. In the dry, the pads were quiet, but this particular ride, when the brake felt very weak, I became concerned. Though I was sure the brake didn't need a bleed, I bled it anyway to make sure it was not that, and it wasn't. So, I sanded the pads, sanded the rotor, cleaned the pads, cleaned the rotor, re-bedded them, but the lack of power remained. I replaced the front pads with a different brand, and they felt normal again. A few rides later, the rear started acting the same way, so I replaced those as well with a different brand, and the problem was again solved. 

I realize that I could have contacted you and probably would have had 2 new sets sent to me, but in my mind, the pads had already negatively affected two of my rides, and I value my time on my bike very highly to risk ruining another ride, so I decided to go on a different direction. Maybe my set of pads were defective somehow, I don't know. By the sounds of the review, they had a great experience, but I cannot say the same thing.

Reply

MTXbraking
+5 MuscogeeMasher Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman Beau Miller jaydubmah
MTXbraking  - June 3, 2021, 8 p.m.

All good; we can't win them all, but you're maybe 1 in 1000. Sanding is not required but suggested when switching to a different compound, etc. Although this does not apply to our product only ...its just a general rule of thumb moving from one pad to another. 

As far as noise, again thats a huge red-flag that something else is going on - there is no way we would have been as successful as we've been with issues like this as commonplace. The lack of noise is the hallmark characteristic that was actually a happy by-product of our formula, but its what most people gravitate to as far as what they notice the most. 

Happy to take this off line to email - hit us on our contact form and I can explain further (ie: alcohol doesn't really do anything but remove oil from your fingers), and I'm happy to offer a refund as well. Thats what the guarantee is for. I get the value of time, but you're a really, really rare case if you had a negative experience. I'm disappointed that you didn't have the right experience but proud to say that 99.9% of our users do.

Reply

rolly
0
rolly  - June 6, 2021, 8:40 p.m.

So if I wanted to switch from metallic pads from my XTR N04C (finned) pads, a) what do I need to do to prep the rotors and bed the pads, and b) what can I expect in performance difference?

Reply

Sharephoto
+1 MuscogeeMasher
Sharephoto  - June 3, 2021, 11:42 a.m.

MTX pads rule! Im running the Red Label pads on my Guides and they offer superior feel, and modulation to the organic/metallic compounds. Stoked to give the Golds a go for bike park days.

Reply

just6979
+3 Sharephoto Pete Roggeman Tjaard Breeuwer
Justin White  - June 3, 2021, 12:23 p.m.

Excellent work!

When people slag off a certain brake, I always like to ask "Did you try other pads/compounds?", because many OEM builds come with organic pads for quiet and the feeling of power*, which are often not the best choice for most riders. 

(*just grabbiness really: test riding around the parking lot you really don't get to experience absolute power nor modulation)

Reply

rolly
0
rolly  - June 6, 2021, 8:42 p.m.

organic pads give you quiet, not power.  I can't use them on my Shimano XTR's because the stopping power isn't as good.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
0
Tjaard Breeuwer  - June 14, 2021, 6:49 a.m.

Some organic pads DO have a lot of power. More than many metallic. Especially in organic pads, there is a a huge difference in compounds, so you can not make many blanket statements.

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 Pete Roggeman
Tim Coleman  - June 3, 2021, 1:09 p.m.

Great article, and something I never thought about. I've really only ever used OEM pads in my bike disc brakes. Yet when I take my car to the track I wouldn't dare use an OEM pad, and always trying out different after market solutions that offer the best compromise for my use. I certainly hope some of the after market options here can start to offer options that are better than the OEM pads.

Reply

MTXbraking
+4 Sharephoto MuscogeeMasher Pete Roggeman Falltricky
MTXbraking  - June 3, 2021, 2:04 p.m.

Appreciate it Cam and Deniz. Flattered and appreciative of your experience with our product. We're always here and available if anyone has questions.

Reply

Shortyesquire
0
Andrew Collins  - June 3, 2021, 2:37 p.m.

Do you guys have a distro in Australia?

Reply

MTXbraking
0
MTXbraking  - June 3, 2021, 4:18 p.m.

Not yet Andrew - we're pushing hard in the US and Canada first in order to establish our dealer network here, but global distribution is next. We have shipped direct to AUS several times; it is an option at checkout on our site.

Reply

Shortyesquire
0
Andrew Collins  - June 3, 2021, 2:32 p.m.

If you guys are interested in going further down this rabbit hole. The Uberbike Racematrix and Trickstuff Power+ pads are worth trying. I've got a set of TRP Quadiems which I find are a little down on power (but up on modulation) compared to Saints, but the Uberbike pads more than make up the gap (without losing modulation). 

I also have an old set of m755 XT 4 pots and they happen to use the same pads as Trickstuff Direttissima. The Power+ pads have turned them into monsters. In a blind test you wouldn't be able to tell the brakes are over 20 years old.

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Tjaardbreeuwer
0
Tjaard Breeuwer  - June 3, 2021, 3:24 p.m.

I got the Trickstuff Powerplus pads a few years ago after reading a test(field and Dyno) showing some huge improvements in power and heat resistance compared to stock SRAM and very needed for the older 2 piston XT’s, when taking both bikes to Whistler bikepark

Reply

cheapondirt
+1 Carmel
cheapondirt  - June 3, 2021, 5:41 p.m.

Did those pads last a full day in the bike park?

Reply

Shortyesquire
+1 cheapondirt
Andrew Collins  - June 4, 2021, 3:25 a.m.

My Trickstuff pads lasted a week at Maydena in Tasmania. So not quite Whistler levels of punishment but still plenty of elevation and I drag my brakes like its going out of style.

Reply

momjijimike
+2 jaydubmah Tjaard Breeuwer
momjijimike  - June 4, 2021, 5:56 a.m.

I used to run Trickstuff Power(on Saint and Code) pad's a lot, but if its wet and muddy a hand full rides and they are gone... Good performance but not so good for your pocket :)

Since I switch to Hayes Dominion's I could be happier. The T100 and Hayes-Disk's have so much power and modulation and you can run them "forever" compared to Trickstuff :) I don't know what Hayes is doing but my wear of pad's and disk is so much less.

Reply

cheapondirt
0
cheapondirt  - June 4, 2021, 11:33 a.m.

This aligns with my experience on Codes, 6 muddy rides and they were shot. It doesn't make me want to try again but I bet they work nicely in the dry. Coincidentally I'm thinking of Dominions for my next upgrade!

Reply

Shortyesquire
0
Andrew Collins  - June 5, 2021, 3:33 a.m.

Australia isn't exactly a Mecca for wet weather riding, but when I have had to ride in the mud I've found EBC Gold and Clarks VRX pads are excellent. I'm pretty sure they are both the same rebranded Carbonne Lorraine sintered pads. 

Re the Dominions, I just wish they had avoided the devils hydraulic fluid.

Reply

momjijimike
0
momjijimike  - June 5, 2021, 9:10 a.m.

>Re the Dominions, I just wish they had avoided the devils hydraulic fluid.

May I ask you why?

This could be your alternative:

https://www.brakeforceone.de/h2o/

:)

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
0
Tjaard Breeuwer  - June 14, 2021, 6:52 a.m.

Re: Trickstuff Power+

I bedded them in, rode a few local trails, then took them to Whistler for two days, and a day at Sliver Mtn, and they still had plenty of life. Now, it was bone dry, no wetness anywhere, so not sure what results in wet conditions would have been. 

Also, I wasn’t racking up tons of laps. But, they certainly come with a thick cake of compound on the backing, so there is that.

Reply

bushtrucker
+1 Justin White
bushtrucker  - June 3, 2021, 4:51 p.m.

Nice to see someone actually out there reviewing things. Big fan of Kool-Stop pads here. Used them for years in both rim and disc brake applications and have never been disappointed.

Reply

tashi
+1 Justin White
tashi  - June 9, 2021, 1:48 p.m.

MTX’s ordered!

Reply

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