Just a thought or two, upon reading the varied responses on this thread: probably the only time one might reasonbly question someone else's decision to make a change to an original bike is if they're about to do something that cannot be undone. This is why repaints are subject to so much discussion. Because, once you repaint, the story of the bike is gone, never to return. You can create a new story by riding the repainted bike a lot, and leaving the usual marks and wear in the finish, but the original story has been erased.
and there is power in the original story. look at any well-preserved original, and compare to a perfectly re-painted twin, and the difference is obvious, or, at least, has become so to me, over time.
Over time on this list we've talked about the *mojo* of an original bike that's been well-used. Well-preserved, but well-used. At some point, well-used fades into thorough mess (although I have at least one friend who loves thorough messes and rides them--no accounting for taste, cf below!)..that line being different for each of us, and thus, that's always the big question: is this bike no longer enjoyable because its finish is too far gone? That line is never the same twice.
All other changes to a bike, short of things that cannot be reversed, are a matter of personal taste, and we all know how effective it is to argue that particular issue!
Although I will say that I am rather crazy about original parts...as in the parts that actually came on the bicycle. I've gone to great lengths in a couple of cases to round up the actual, original parts for frames that were parted out. And how many times do we ask a seller "do you have the original this or the original that?"? And not just because we don't want to go look for the part. Rather, the original stuff that came on the frame is part of the bike's story, just as the original finish is. Short of that, matching up the condition and vintage of parts to the condition of the frame is a bare minimum for a harmonious whole.
On the, shall I say? Technical side, reproduction graphics are seldom as-original. They can come really, really close, but they're never quite the same. And even if they were...they're still not the originals, from the day, as applied by the maker. Original graphics are almost always a bit cleaner, a bit clearer, a bit better proportioned. To some, this sort of thing may seem altogether unimportant. But, for me, at least, it's a crucial detail. I had a 3Rensho repainted recently, in Joe Bell's spectacular variation of the team blue, and he had some original down-tube decals left. And he used them on this frame. It's a touch that adds a bit more authenticity to the job that's impossible to get any other way.
As another example of this subject, the chain-stay graphics that are used on virtually all early-to-mid-70s colnago Super repaints, are always the same: the *S* in Super is too thin, the black outline almost touching in places.. It's an infelicity that increasingly bugs the hell outta me. You can always tell a repaint by that detail alone, excepting the unlikely possibility that you're looking at an original that had that run of infelicitous chainstay graphics! When you compare to an original, it's clear that the duplicate graphic was either done not-quite-right, or was taken from a run of graphics that were not-quite-right.
I have a lot of respect for all the people who work to restore frames, either to an owner's taste, or to some vision of the original. I'm also aware, increasingly, that it's very, very tough for me to get a repaint I'm happy with. I have a couple of frames left in the queue that will get repainted at some point, and it'll be an adventure, as always. More an adventure now than it used to be, that's for sure.
Charles Andrews Los Angeles
"everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time."
--Joseph Schumpeter, via Simon Johnson