Words by William Henderson
An ancient Greek allegory has it that each year Theseus, hero of Athens, replaced a plank on his ship. Eventually, after decades of hard sailing, Theseus had replaced every plank of the ship at least once. Theseus was perplexed – was this still his old ship though everything was new? And if not, when did the old ship become a new one?
I’m asked the same question about my bike so often that I’ve taken to calling it the Ship of Theseus. Back in 2008, I rescued a Rivendell Atlantis frame from a California garage and built it up. Since then, I’ve worn out just about every part besides the bell. Though on second thought, I did replace the bell’s striker. Even the frame has changed. A couple of years ago, we collided with a car at speed. The bike absorbed most of the force and likely saved me from serious injury – the wheel tacoed, the fork slammed back, both down and top tubes buckled. The insurance agent said it was totaled, but I decided to take the money and save the bike anyway. For about the cost of new Rivendell, Dave Levy at Ti Cycles masterfully rebuilt the frame with a custom fork on the original crown. What’s more, he made some small improvements I requested: internal routing for dynamo wiring, new rack mounts, and tabs for disc brakes instead of the old canti posts.
- Frame Customized Rivendell Atlantis (61cm)
- Rims Velocity Blunt 650B
- Hubs Velo Orange Grand Cru Disc Touring Rear, Shutter Precision PD-8 Front
- Tires Thunderburt 2.25″
- Handlebar Nitto Noodle
- Crankset Sugino XD2 converted to 26/42 double
- Cassette Shimano 11-34, cheapo 9-speed
- Brakes Paul Klampers, TRP RRL SL levers
- Shifter(s) Mix of Rivendell Silver & Dura Ace
- Saddle Brooks B-17
- Seatpost Nitto S65
- Stem Nitto Technomic
- Rear Bag(s) Rivendell Baggins
- Rack Nitto Hub Area, Nitto 32F
Resurrected, the Ship is more versatile than ever. It’ll probably see more miles than most cars do. It’s been my year-round transportation in Portland, Oregon. It’s been a slick-tired randonneur through the hills of Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino. It’s hauled groceries, kids, and lumber. Last summer, I converted it to 650B knobbies for the Oregon Outback and I liked it so much it has stayed that way since. And to answer your question, it’s definitely the same bike I fell in love with over a decade ago.
Photos provided by John Cranford.
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