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If you change all the parts . . . is it still the same bike?

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If you change all the parts . . . is it still the same bike?

Old 02-14-22, 02:18 PM
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That depends. If it's the bike you ride, call it whatever you want. If you're selling it, you'd best be as clear as possible. Case in point: I once bought a 1992 Trek 5500 stripped down to the frame/bottom bracket/headset and built it up with Ultegra components. When I went to sell it, it would have been dishonest of me to call it a Trek 5500 (which came with Campy Record), so I listed it as a Trek OCLV frame with Ultegra parts.
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Old 02-14-22, 02:30 PM
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A similar argument is often had in race car and classic car restoration/preservation circles. There are generally 3 categories for cars: Original, Restored and Modified (or "Resto-mod").

Original = untouched, all original parts. The only "new" parts would be wear items like brake pads, tires, etc. This is extremely rare.
Restored = car has new or refurbished parts that meet original specifications.
Modified or Resto-mod = old car modified for higher performance or modern comfort. In extreme cases like race cars, this might even include rebuilding the frame with a modified design, which starts to blur the line between "is it or isn't it a XXX car".

I think bikes generally fall into these same categories. In most cases, we are just altering spec, so it would be a resto-mod and still the same bike, although with different characteristics.






Is a Miata with a Chevy small block LS1 motor, new transmission, modified exhaust, carbon fiber body parts, a custom race interior and modified suspension still a Miata?

Is a classic Corvette that was previously wrecked and has since undergone a total frame-off restoration where nearly every part was repaired or replaced to bring it back to factory show room condition still considered "original"?
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Old 02-14-22, 02:57 PM
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I have an example where the only original parts are the front quick release and the headset. The frame cracked in 1988 and it was warrantied in 1989, but it is from the same year as the original bike (1987) and the parts were swapped over. Eventually most of those were replaced or upgraded. So is it still the same bike? If not, what is it?
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Old 02-14-22, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
So is it still the same bike? If not, what is it?
...we need more hints to identify the bike.
Pics appreciated. Drive side, close ups of components, and don't forget the drop-outs and bb underside. . Only then can we give one an accurate answer.



The only good answer to the Thread's question.
BF Members need a Before and After pic to determine. Why? I've seen a really nice bike become a really ugly bike with only a change of bar tape, bottle holders and cable colors. Totally different impressions - a bike to ride, a bike to hide - so not the same.
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Old 02-14-22, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
are you keeping the original frame? yes, it's the same. no, it's not.
Nailed it! To me the frame is the "bike". The rest are just components. That's how bike manufacturers do it anyway. They don't change the model name just because one spec has completely different wheels, groupset, etc to another. It's still basically the same bike, just upgraded with better or different components.
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Old 02-14-22, 03:42 PM
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Steel wheels to carbon wheels would make it a totally different animal.
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Old 02-14-22, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood
...we need more hints to identify the bike.
Pics appreciated. Drive side, close ups of components, and don't forget the drop-outs and bb underside. . Only then can we give one an accurate answer.



The only good answer to the Thread's question.
BF Members need a Before and After pic to determine. Why? I've seen a really nice bike become a really ugly bike with only a change of bar tape, bottle holders and cable colors. Totally different impressions - a bike to ride, a bike to hide - so not the same.
Well, that day in late 1989 or early 1990 when I finally got the replacement frame from Bianchi and put all of the original parts on it, by most people's definition here, it wasn't the same bike any more. The frame was actually an upgrade from SL to SLX, so it handled and felt a bit different (possibly stiffer), and more importantly, didn't crack.

A few years ago I finally updated it to modern silver 11-speed Athena components. It looks nice, but nothing like the original, nor the original with replacement frame. So is it a third new bike now? (I felt justified with the upgrade, vs. a restore, since the bike was no longer an original. I still have the original sales receipt and the warranty paperwork.)
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Old 02-14-22, 05:21 PM
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My Calfee is such a good frame (for me), that it has been: A triple chainring 9sp with clinchers, converted to compact double 10speed with tubulars, then switched 1"threaded quill for 1" threadless w/ full CF fork+steerer.

My terrain changed with 2 cross country moves. I got faster. The riding experiences different. The bike morphed well. Different? You're darned tootin......i ride with fig nutans.
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Old 02-14-22, 06:43 PM
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It's all about the bar tape.
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Old 02-14-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
It's all about the bar tape.
wax vs grease/oil tho...
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Old 02-15-22, 03:26 AM
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Definitely makes a difference if you build the bike up from parts in the first place or if it is purchased as a complete bike. With a bike built up from scratch, it has no form defined by someone else to start with. It emerges in relation to me, so even if I am continually changing bits, maybe even the frame, that relationship remains.

I imagine there are people who restore bikes who, like some who restore cars, insist that every bit must be original in order for the artifact to be true to itself--or rather to the original design or whatever. I imagine for some even a $22 reproduction RH M6 bolt https://www.renehersecycles.com/shop...eatpost-bolts/ would be "inauthentic." but I think this is a mistake, since a bike is not first and foremost a piece of fine art, it is something to be used, for which wearing out is not inauthentic but rather evidence it has fulfilled its purpose.

I read somewhere that at one time in dem ol'en dayz, that almost every little bike store in Italy sold a house brand bike, and people were fiercely loyal to that brand. But most stores bought frames from a few "big" frame builders, so the frames were often the same. But it was the meaning that was attached to the thing that mattered. Today's equivalent might be people who swear by VO when you can get most of the same stuff with a different high-quality-laser-engraved-logo from a different brand.
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Old 02-15-22, 09:02 AM
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some will try to claim they put x miles on a frame, but fail to tell anyone that the frame was replaced y years ago. That would not be the same frame with all those miles on it. The hang on (wear items) parts are not something I'd care to be a stickler about.
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Old 02-15-22, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
Definitely makes a difference if you build the bike up from parts in the first place or if it is purchased as a complete bike. With a bike built up from scratch, it has no form defined by someone else to start with. It emerges in relation to me, so even if I am continually changing bits, maybe even the frame, that relationship remains.

I imagine there are people who restore bikes who, like some who restore cars, insist that every bit must be original in order for the artifact to be true to itself--or rather to the original design or whatever. I imagine for some even a $22 reproduction RH M6 bolt https://www.renehersecycles.com/shop...eatpost-bolts/ would be "inauthentic." but I think this is a mistake, since a bike is not first and foremost a piece of fine art, it is something to be used, for which wearing out is not inauthentic but rather evidence it has fulfilled its purpose.

I read somewhere that at one time in dem ol'en dayz, that almost every little bike store in Italy sold a house brand bike, and people were fiercely loyal to that brand. But most stores bought frames from a few "big" frame builders, so the frames were often the same. But it was the meaning that was attached to the thing that mattered. Today's equivalent might be people who swear by VO when you can get most of the same stuff with a different high-quality-laser-engraved-logo from a different brand.
The bike you buy is still defined/identified by its frame though. Nobody says their bike is a Zipp just because it has Zipp wheels. Or a Shimano Ultegra or whatever. They name it by what frame it has, custom or off-shelf spec. Doesn't really matter. The spec itself obviously matters, but the bike is still named by its frame.

My local UK bike shop used to have "House" branded frames, both custom build and off-the-peg. They had an in-house frame builder for a while, but I believe they used several reputable frame builders. This was in the mid-80s when everything was steel.
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Old 02-15-22, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
There's the old joke about the woodsman who brags that he's had the same axe for twenty years. "Yep," he says, "and I've only replaced the head twice and the handle three times."
We have an axe that's been in our family since revolutionary times. Same story
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Old 02-15-22, 10:07 AM
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Over time, every cell in my body is replaced. Am I the same person? Especially as I grow older and change in so many ways.

Is an object that is composed of multiple parts , say a bicycle, a unified whole, or does our human consciousness merely perceive it as unfied and whole for our own purposes?

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Old 02-15-22, 10:17 AM
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I had this same question about a pocket watch my Grandfather owned as a young man. It came into my possession, and the movement was so worn out that it would have been very expensive to repair, whereas replacing it with an identical movement in better condition was very affordable. So I did, while still using the case, dial, and hands of the original. So, is it still Pap's watch? Where does the identity of the watch reside? The case? The movement? Some combination of the two? I asked my siblings, and they all said, yes, it's still Pap's watch. They're less neurotic than I, I suppose.

Originally Posted by bocobiking
Over time, every cell in my body is replaced. Am I the same person?
Not actually true. See above.
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Old 02-15-22, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris
The quickest check would have shown that this is a myth.

Some cell types are replaced faster, others aren't replaced period.
So are those that aren't replaced our true, enduring selves? Are there enough of them to ensure that?
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Old 02-15-22, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
The bike you buy is still defined/identified by its frame though.
To the extent that there's information encoded in the geometry, small degree of flexibility, and of course branding.

But if you replaced the frame with the exact same thing moving all components over (say a warranty repair) then apart from the formality of the serial number would that really be a different bike?

Last edited by UniChris; 02-15-22 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 02-15-22, 10:43 AM
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I've always looked at a tool as: a base starting point, altered by whatever modifications or adjustments I deem necessary. And I've generally viewed that as a different thing, even if it once began with a few "name" parts here and there (which most everything does).

Like a custom-tweaked Miata car or Harley Davidson motorcycle. It can become something else entirely, if sufficient changes are made.

In my own case, a Trek 970 was altered to a more-upright riding position and suspension/sprung saddle and post arrangement, with a custom bomb-proof wheelset, after-market fork (Surly Troll), plus fenders. Not really what Trek had in mind when they designed the thing. But it's turned out quite well. A far better match for my own riding style and needs than anything Trek (or nearly every other maker) had created. Easiest way for me to get what I needed and preferred. Sure, it's a Trek frame. Nothing else is, on the thing. (Which is more like, say, acquiring a frameset from a maker then installing a unique range of parts for the thing.)
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Old 02-15-22, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Nailed it! To me the frame is the "bike". The rest are just components. That's how bike manufacturers do it anyway. They don't change the model name just because one spec has completely different wheels, groupset, etc to another. It's still basically the same bike, just upgraded with better or different components.
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Old 02-15-22, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
Do you consider it the same bike, or a different one?
One irony is that many various brands are manufactured in the same plants.

While they may have subtle differences, many bikes are pretty much the same as every other bike at a particular level. Remove any identifying logos and many are indistinguishable from each other. Long standing advice on selecting between different brands is to get the bike with the best components in a price range.

Maybe the question should be when is a bike no longer the same as every other bike out there?

This is not just current design. Except for specific/high end models, or unique embellishments, most steel frames from the 70’s and 80’s can only be identified by weight, serial number, or dropouts if the markings and head badge are gone.

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Old 02-15-22, 11:13 AM
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I'd argue that the frame is what makes it the same. I had a bike that I built up from the frameset and eventually swapped out all the parts except the frame (fork and headset got swapped for various reasons). I'd call that still the same bike. Then, that bike got hit by a car and wrecked. If I had swapped any parts over to a new frame (I didn't for insurance reasons), I wouldn't have considered that to be the same bike (even if I'd built it up with all the same parts except the frame - couldn't because some non-frame parts were wrecked too and insurance claims).
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Old 02-15-22, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by base2
Schwinn Varsity
Schwinn Continental
Well that's a bit of an exception. What happens if you bought a Varsity and then changed over all the components to replicate a Continental? Would it then become a Continental even though it still said Varsity on the frame? Also what happens if you change just a few of the components over? Does it then become a Varsinental?
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Old 02-15-22, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Well that's a bit of an exception. What happens if you bought a Varsity and then changed over all the components to replicate a Continental? Would it then become a Continental even though it still said Varsity on the frame? Also what happens if you change just a few of the components over? Does it then become a Varsinental?
if you plan on putting some sort of coverage on the entire bicycle, you would likely only be covered to what the frame is, without itemizing the down-parts.
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Old 02-15-22, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris
To the extent that there's information encoded in the geometry, small degree of flexibility, and of course branding.

But if you replaced the frame with the exact same thing moving all components over (say a warranty repair) then apart from the formality of the serial number would that really be a different bike?
I would consider it to be a different bike. The fact that it's identical doesn't really matter. Now if you changed out all the components on the original frame, I would say that is still the same bike, just highly modified. If the frame isn't the defining "soul" of the bike, then what exactly is? If you say the bike is defined by the sum of all its parts together, then fitting a new chain or cassette would make it a different bike - which is of course nonsense. If you change say the wheels, does that make it a different bike, or the same bike with different wheels? I say the latter. Otherwise what do you do when you have a couple of different wheelsets in rotation on a single frame? Are you riding 2 different bikes? I don't think so.
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