1983 Schwinn Voyageur SP


Pic of my touring bicycle from the original eBay auction where I won it.
Pic of my touring bicycle from the original eBay auction were I won it.


 

 
Update: I’ve created a new page with general information about Schwinn Voyageurs.

 

 
Details

Model 1983 Schwinn Voyageur SP
Color Champagne w/ Brown head tube
Tubing Tange Champion #2
Fork Tange Champion semi-sloping
Size 57.5 cm (c-c)
Headset Tange New Lavin
Handlebar SR World Custom (390mm )
Stem SR Aerox (95mm)
Saddle Brooks B-17 Special Honey
Seatpost SR Foursir (26.6mm)
Crankset Sugino TAT Triple 30/46/50 (170mm)
Freewheel Suntour New Winner 5 (14-16-19-23-28)
Deraillieur, Front Suntour MountainTech
Deraillieur, Rear Suntour Superbe Tech II GT sealed
Shifters Suntour Superbe (down tube)
Brakes Dia-Compe 960 cantilever
Hub, Front Sashin sealed, low flange (36 hole)
Hub, Rear Sashin sealed, low flange (40 hole)
Rims Araya 16A(3) 27×1.25
Pedals KKT Pro-Ace
Weight 27 lbs.
 
italics – non-stock item

Some background

I’ve always intended to go bicycle touring (although I’ve never actually managed to arrange a trip). Lately, I’ve been on a hunt for a good touring bicycle (which is distinct from so called sport-touring bicycles of the 1980s). In my opinion a good, long-distance touring bicycle has the following properties:

  • Relaxed geometry for more comfortable riding for extended periods
  • Longer wheelbase for a more stable ride
  • Reliable/easily maintainable parts
  • Steel frame for comfort
  • Lots of braze-on points for racks, fenders, water bottles, etc

As it so happens the vast majority of modern bicycle technology (carbon fiber, STI shifting, ultra-light wheels) are actually not the right things for a touring bicycle. A current touring cycle (with the only modern amenities that make a difference
an 8+ speed rear cogset) runs $800-$3000, since only small quantities of touring bikes seem to sell. This makes vintage (i.e. used) tourers a great idea.

After extensive research (isn’t the Internet great) and by personal preference I decided that a 1985 Schwinn Voyageur SP would suit me best. Unfortunately, that bike is/was:

  • 24 years old
  • known to be an excellent bike
  • never made in very large numbers
  • really popular with it’s owners

and therefore really hard to come by. I see them occasionally on eBay, but always in the wrong size. I was lucky enough to come across a 1983 version and that is my current touring bicycle (for now).

Some differences between the 1983 and 1984-1985 versions:

  • the 1983 uses high-mount front panniers. Some people think this is better (I don’t know yet), but the industry has standardized on low-rider front racks, this makes the setup hard to get parts for. The later years use low-rider mounts and are more standard today
  • in 1983 the SP frame was a Tange Champion #2, 1984 and 1985 feature the more luxe Columbus SL/SP tubesets.
  • the 1983 actually has a brazed-on rear brake cable hanger. The later models all used a bolt-on part there.
  • there’s a strange rear deraillieur cabling arrangement on the 1983, whereas all other years use standard cabling. This shouldn’t be an issue, and I think a replacement setup will be simple.

Except for the pannier issue, the others are not a problem, so I’m pretty happy. If I find a 1984/85 version, I’ll try it out, but until then I’ve got a great touring bike without spending the $$$ for a newer model. What exactly am I giving up?

  • the Voyageur is has 15 gears, newer bikes have 24+ gears. I can actually bend the rear-stays from 120mm to 130mm and build a new rear wheel to support more gears, but it’s expensive and somewhat dangerous. I’m going to do a little touring with what I have before I try that.
  • My bike has cantilever brakes set for 27″ wheels, instead of the now common 700c wheels. Changing this might be impossible without getting the brake bosses moved. Then again 27″ wheel parts are still available (but with less selection).
  • my bike has the shifters on the downtube, modern tourers use bar-end shifting or STI. This is an easy fix, and I’ll probably switch to bar-ends sometime soon
  • Some braze-ons that are now common aren’t included. These include: light-mounts, spare spokes, and disc-brake mount points. I think most of these aren’t important, and I could always have them added later if I think it makes a difference.

All in all, only the first two areas are worth worrying about, and I’ll burn those bridges when I come to them. For now, I’m fairly happy.

5 thoughts on “1983 Schwinn Voyageur SP

  1. Pingback: Lightly Organized Chaos » Blog Archive » Trailing-edge Geekdom

  2. I always wanted one of these bikes. It just seemed to fit perfectly. I just hope Schwinn(or whoever owns them now) would look into making this same bike again.

  3. Hi Sandro,

    Had to comment because I am in the process of putting some finishing touches on a bike with the same Araya 36/40 wheels, same hubs, same headset, same brakes and same tubing. I have suntour a-5000 accushift and I believe it is a 1986 model. It is a Nishiki Cresta GT. It is an early version of indexed shifting and it does work, but needs adjustment every now and then. I have a regular b-17 saddle. I am planning to install a new 6 speed free wheel and it should shift as well or better. This bike will be my primary transportation when in Florida, so I am excited to have a do-it-all bike I can haul a few things on. I do touring and longer rides in the Chicago area with other bikes.

    Here is what I know now – I believe tektro cr720 brakes ($40/pr) would work if you changed to 700C wheels, or wanted better brakes, but I am very happy with 27 1-1/4 panaracer pasela TG tires so I will not switch. A more comfortable handlebar and new stem for better positioning can be had at a reasonable price from velo-orange. They are very nice looking also.

    Hope you are still enjoying your bike!
    Hubie

  4. I came across a schwinn 1984 Voyageur in great condition with original book in front case. frame size is 19 and wheels 27″. Any interest in buying this call me at 408-499-5597.

  5. I have an ’83 Voyageur with a 19″ frame. It’s a great bike, both for touring and shorter rides, and fairly light as well. Unfortunately, I grew too tall to ride it comfortably…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>