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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 02-15-22, 12:07 PM
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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?
Oh, I know. I was just pokin' a bit o' fun

I have 2 Varsinentals that were reborn in 2016-2017-ish. When they came to me they were in such poor shape as they could not be identified. It could be accurately said that they had existed with out form. Now that they are reborn, I think of them as my 50 year-old-5 year old bikes. That's practically brand new!

One is simply "Vernon" & the other is "Pink Sparkle Bike" even though it is target red.


I think the point of the Theseus philosophy paradox is to establish that identity is a construct. That things often exist in a duality of forms. The name I tell people a thing is, & the name I think of a thing as...Then, there is the true name which will never be known.

It is the true name that this thread is dancing around.

Who's bike is Cats?
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Old 02-15-22, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers
At some point in time, all the atoms of your body will be gone and replaced with new ones. Whether some cells die out faster than others is not the point.
Never mind the atoms and cells of of an individual organism. Does life itself still happen in the same way it originally did? Here's an article about the puzzle that biologists are working on regarding RNA, and the fact that its current structure must differ from how it first developed: LINK. (It's pretty technical, but even non-scientists should be able to get a rough idea of the interesting concepts involved.)
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Old 02-15-22, 12:32 PM
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I have a Bike of Theseus, actually maybe a little beyond that as it actually has the identical replacement frame as the SECOND frame the bike had. First was a steel road racing frame w/matching fork, fork replaced with carbon, then frame replaced with aluminum & aluminum fork, then aluminum frame cracked and replaced with identical one. Moving parts replaced over the years as required, sometimes to upgrade. Literally every part has been replaced as of 2019 when I replaced the original (1991!) F wheel because the axle broke.

I think it's questionable to say it's the same bike as the one that was built in 1991 with a steel road racing frame, but replacing the aluminum frame (c. 2008) with an identical one did not change the nature or character of the bike.
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Old 02-15-22, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
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.
No but that's exactly the point of this possibly/probably apocryphal story about local Italian bike shops and their house brands. It wasn't the frame that people were identifying with because the frame was essentially a commodity--they were all the same. Just like saying, I like to eat wheat, but I don't care if it's this grain or that, they are all interchangeable.

But everyone felt the same commodity frames were totally different. So they created an identity that was the bike with what? i don't know, the decal, or the after the fact head badge, or the painted on stripes, or, most likely, the store, its owner, and their relationship.
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Old 02-15-22, 01:28 PM
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I think also that components could play a more important role in the identity of a bike than people so far have said. I mean, if I took a bike that came originally with Sun Tour components from the 80s and put on a Shimano Di2 system, I think I would have to parse the situation again.

Or, I can recall a TdF picture of Lemond with a TT bike, Mavic derailleur, and Simplex Retrofriction downtubers. Or Armstrong with a rear brifter and a front downtuber. Change those things and the iconic set up is no more.

Or, the XO-1 was defined 1) as a Grant Petersen bike but 2) that bike with mustache handlebars. A lot changed between year 1 and year last on the XO-1 but the bars defined the bike. If I had the chance to get my hands on an XO-1 today, the last thing I would change would be the bars.
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Old 02-15-22, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Broctoon
Here's an article
I know some of those guys.
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Old 02-15-22, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
I think also that components could play a more important role in the identity of a bike than people so far have said. I mean, if I took a bike that came originally with Sun Tour components from the 80s and put on a Shimano Di2 system, I think I would have to parse the situation again.

Or, I can recall a TdF picture of Lemond with a TT bike, Mavic derailleur, and Simplex Retrofriction downtubers. Or Armstrong with a rear brifter and a front downtuber. Change those things and the iconic set up is no more.

Or, the XO-1 was defined 1) as a Grant Petersen bike but 2) that bike with mustache handlebars. A lot changed between year 1 and year last on the XO-1 but the bars defined the bike. If I had the chance to get my hands on an XO-1 today, the last thing I would change would be the bars.
It would still ride the same, just shift better. I wouldn't call that a different bike. Just a modded whatever it was in the first place. Certain components can certainly be iconic if they are unique and associated with one specific bike or use case. Shimano Di2 certainly doesn't define a bike simply because it's standard fitment across many different bikes. Cannondale's Lefty fork is an example of a bike defining iconic component. But even that doesn't warrant it's own bike model name.
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Old 02-15-22, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
It would still ride the same, just shift better.
Until it ran out of batteries.
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Old 02-15-22, 02:01 PM
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This is for Frkl
I've posted these before. If not Vernon & Pink Sparkle, then what? I fail to see how the identity "Schwinn" even still applies even if the biggest component still bears the name plate.

Make your case.

Varsinental project

Touring Geometry frame modification
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Old 02-15-22, 02:19 PM
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You're all effectively describing how to sneak a bike upgrade past your spouse.
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Old 02-15-22, 03:15 PM
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I had a bike frame that cracked, I bought a similar frame and moved all of the gear to that frame. Everything is essentially the same but a different frame, so it is a different bike.
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Old 02-15-22, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
This is for Frkl
I've posted these before. If not Vernon & Pink Sparkle, then what? I fail to see how the identity "Schwinn" even still applies even if the biggest component still bears the name plate.

Make your case.

Varsinental project

Touring Geometry frame modification
Sorry, I am not sure what case I should make?

I don't know the answer to the question, I posed it as a sincere question for discussion. I am fine with everyone thinking different things, actually I would expect that everyone feels different things. I would be somewhat uncomfortable if there was actually no disagreement on this topic.

I think the very fact that the identity of a bike is so multifaceted is a case, if one must be made, in itself.

Who or what our bikes are? Why try to make a case to convince others that they are right/wrong?
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Old 02-15-22, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
Sorry, I am not sure what case I should make?

I don't know the answer to the question, I posed it as a sincere question for discussion. I am fine with everyone thinking different things, actually I would expect that everyone feels different things. I would be somewhat uncomfortable if there was actually no disagreement on this topic.

I think the very fact that the identity of a bike is so multifaceted is a case, if one must be made, in itself.

Who or what our bikes are? Why try to make a case to convince others that they are right/wrong?
Fair enough. I guess that's why the Ship of Theseus is in every first year philosophy class syllabus.

I appreciate the humility.
Good thread.

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Old 02-15-22, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep
You're all effectively describing how to sneak a bike upgrade past your spouse.
Just has to be the same colour bike to avoid raising suspicion. Same colour = same bike.
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Old 02-16-22, 07:00 AM
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Would definitely say that the frame is the main part of the bike and most other parts are consumables or will need replaced after enough use or misuse.

Foe example, lets say you had two bikes bought new and with all original parts still intact... a Trek and a Bianchi. You moved all the components from one, onto the other and vice versa. You would surely still identify each bike by the frame... the Trek is still the Trek even with all but 1 part from the other bike.
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Old 02-16-22, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by maglia_grigia
You would surely still identify each bike by the frame... the Trek is still the Trek even with all but 1 part from the other bike.
My Scott got done in when construction debris got caught in my rear derailleur which took out the seat stay.

Got a deal on a Cannondale frameset, moved everything over except the headset, seatpost, and the destroyed rear derailleur.

I call my bike Frankndale.

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Old 02-17-22, 02:10 AM
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I ride vintage steel road bikes and a few of my bikes have been modified or upgraded. The latest build is maybe my most modified build yet, is it the same bike? I have no idea because when I got it , the wheels were missing, the cranks were not matching, the derailleurs were not original, and the brake levers were not correct. I took it to the next level only in a good way. The paint was starting to bubble around the top tube cable guides so I had the frame media blasted and powder painted to close to original color but put seventies style graphics from the same manufacturer (Motobecane) . I then built it up with seventies Campy NR components and a nice Brooks saddle. I never rode the bike before I got it but I would venture to say it ain’t nothing like it was.
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Old 02-17-22, 09:28 AM
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For me, the frame (and sometimes fork) define what makes "a bike". Sure, changing the wheels, cockpit and drivetrain can make it feel different from the way it was previously configured, but the geometry and character of the frame is what forms the basis of "the ride"
Maybe it's because I tend to gravitate to bikes that are a little outside the normal.

My Cannondale and Softride bikes, I chose because they don't ride or handle like more common bikes. They've both been updated over the years (especially the Softride) but that just enhances what makes them stand out in the first place
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Old 02-18-22, 07:36 AM
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I'm also tempted to say that the frame is the crucial part. But then I thought about full suspension mountain bikes where the frame consists of several individual parts... is the front triangle or the rear one more important?
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Old 02-18-22, 12:06 PM
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I ride a lot of boring black bikes, if I were to put different components on my boring black bikes they're still boring black bikes
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Old 02-19-22, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by subgrade
I'm also tempted to say that the frame is the crucial part. But then I thought about full suspension mountain bikes where the frame consists of several individual parts... is the front triangle or the rear one more important?
Other than the old Cannondale Super V / Ultra V / Raven, which were really just aluminum and carbon versions of the same bike (same geometry) you really can't swap the swingarm between different f/s bikes. The linkage, geometry and hard points are designed together, it's not an assembly that's added on after the fact.

You can change the shock, but that would be like putting upgraded shocks on your VW and calling it an Audi.
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Old 02-19-22, 11:11 PM
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Mine's pretty much a bike of Theseus at this stage, as only the frame, fork, headset, and seat tube are original. And I will be changing the fork as well in the spring, as I want to convert to disc brakes (frame has a disc brake mount, but fork does not). I'll also be changing to my fourth set of wheels so I can mount the discs.
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Old 02-20-22, 12:07 AM
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I'm not sure it really matters. My old Colnago has had a lot of parts wear out and get replaced over the years. Generally one or two parts at a time.

It still has the original seatpost, but the seatpost binder bolt broke a while ago. The headset and bottom bracket are both worn, and will be eventually replaced.

Oh, I think it still has the original Universal brake calipers. But, I might eventually get tired of those.

The "New" Colnago, on the other hand, was bought as a bare frame, and assembled as I saw fit. I won't call it the same bike as it was before the previous owner parted it out.
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Old 02-20-22, 09:51 AM
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Old 02-20-22, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Frkl
I think also that components could play a more important role in the identity of a bike than people so far have said. I mean, if I took a bike that came originally with Sun Tour components from the 80s and put on a Shimano Di2 system, I think I would have to parse the situation again.
I am not underestimating this at all, it is just not relevant to the question being asked..

The question was not “what parts of the bike make the most difference in ride characteristics?”

The question was “when is it a new bike”.

And my answer to that (entirely subjective question) is “when you change the frame.

In your example above, in my book I would say that I changed the components, but it is still the same bike. The fact that it rides differently is beside the point IMO.
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