While discussing bicycles someone will occasionally make a statement to the effect of, “A frame is just something to hang parts on.” I’ve never quite understood this thinking. In my mind, a frame determines the character of a bike by having the greatest influence on fit, ride quality, appearance, and longevity. Modern materials and manufacturing techniques have done much to lower our expectations regarding craftsmanship and frame longevity, but a well-crafted frame has the potential to last decades. Over a span of 20 years or more, one can expect to replace every component on a bike multiple times. So while components (even wheels) are essentially consumables, I believe a well-designed, finely-crafted frame is the heart and soul of a bike.
What do you think? Is the essence of a bike its frame, or is a frame simply a collection of tubes that holds together the more important collection of parts?