Parts & Production I’ll be spending my few minutes discussing parts production, replacement, and its implications. This by its very nature will be more abstract, so please do bear with me. When we talk about Triumph, we refer to a bicycle company from the 1800s, a car company of the 1900s, and the motorcycles of today. The bike we put together had parts that hadn’t seen daylight in sixty years. Much of the bike was indeed vintage Tiger Cub, and thoroughly a part of the Triumph legacy. What does it mean to be a Triumph? The bikes are constructed in Chonburi, Thailand, Brazil, and the UK. But that’s just the initial bike. What happens when something goes wrong? What if something goes wrong sixty years after Triumph stops producing the model in question? OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. If a part is called OEM, it was made by the manufacturer to be used in your car when it was new, and can be bought later to replace a broken part. For instance, if you ride a Yamaha (God forbid), a kickstarter was built by Yamaha to be used in your bike. The kickstarter you see hanging on the rack in the auto parts store is not an OEM part, because it was manufactured by somebody else and only used to replace the assembly line piece. Here’s the tricky part, though: Sometimes Yamaha hires an outside company to produce all of their kick starters for that year. Let’s say they hire Acme Parts to make them. In this case, Acme is the OEM supplier for kickstarters, making them official Yamaha parts since they were installed on the assembly line. So they can sell Yamaha kick starters cranks, under the Acme Parts name, and still call them OEM When a group of us traveled to Pennsylvania for a motorcycle show, they were circulating a few different publications. Some were news, some were bikes for sale, and some were parts. Up until the proliferation of the internet, parts magazines were invaluable. We read in Zen, though, the challenge of these parts magazines when produced by companies other than Triumph: “If you were to go to a motorcycle- parts department and ask them for a feedback assembly they wouldn’t know what the hell you were talking about. They don’t split it up that way. No two manufacturers ever split it up quite the same way and every mechanic is familiar with the problem of the part you can’t buy because you can’t find it because the manufacturer considers it a part of something else.” Once the bikes come off the factory floor, it’s on the open market to produce the necessary replacements below the premium of factory parts. Finding reliable parts could be a challenge. Today, that’s less of an issue. The internet allows for cross-referencing parts, photographs provide easy visual confirmation, and parts providers are readily available. When seeking to replace parts in the clutch and transmission, among others, even the most obscure parts were an email inquiry away. As bikes change hands, loose parts invariably pop up, and they’re finally making their way back into our bike through these new channels. But can we not produce these parts ourselves? To a degree, yes. With 3-D printers, metalwork, and the like, there are parts we can produce ourselves. When the frame needed a specific screw, it proved easier to modify an older bolt to the right thread-length and bolt head size. This bolt was stainless steel, readily available, and free, whereas a Triumph part would have been none of the above. Certainly, we’ve had to make concessions to the originality of our bike, but that itself begs the question: what constitutes the original bike? Not to return to Phaedrus’ musings, but the essence of the bike, if we are to have any hope for the Romantic argument, must be separate of a few bolts and washers. There must be more to the whole of the bike than those parts. We’ve already discussed OEM and standards for replacement parts. We’ve purchased, produced, repurposed and restored parts. Theseus’ ship was one that, plank by plank, was renovated. At what point is that ship no longer the original? If the two halves of the ship are completed with replacement parts, are both new ships original? With the replacement process, we are not immune from this consideration, as accurate and impeccable as our finished Tiger Cub may seem. How many times can we rebuild an engine with newer and newer parts until it is itself a new engine? On its website, Triumph declares that “It’s not about what we’ve added to these iconic classic motorcycles over the years. It’s about what we haven’t taken away.” I think there’s truth in this. Perhaps it’s not the same bike with which we started, but rather a direct development. I think, in the end, what we’ve done is restore, revive, a Tiger Cub with the help of some outsourced parts. Romantic or Classicist, I’m looking forward to kickstarting it with you all soon. Thank you.