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.
|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|
|italics – non-stock item|
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.