Update: I’ve created a new page with general information about Schwinn Voyageurs.
|Model||1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP|
|Tubing||Columbus SL & SP|
|Size||58.5 cm (c-c)|
|Handlebar||SR World Custom (390mm )|
|Stem||SR Custom Alloy (95mm)|
|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 LeTech long cage|
|Shifters||Suntour Superbe Pro(down tube)|
|Brakes||Dia-Compe 981 cantilever|
|Hub, Front||Suntour Rh-4600, low flange sealed (36 hole)|
|Hub, Rear||Suntour Rh-4600, low flange sealed (40 hole)|
|Rims||Wolber Super Champion 58 27×1.25|
|italics – non-stock item|
You can find a bit of background on my epic search for the perfect touring bike on the 1983 Schwinn Voyageur page. Briefly, I’ve been looking for a 1984 or 1985 Schwinn Voyageur for the last several years. I came across a very good condition 1983, that I had planned on touring with, but just last fall I turned up this 1984. Since then I’ve been in the hospital for a couple of well documented surgeries, so I haven’t had a chance to try out the “new” bike.
My interest in the 1980’s Schwinn Voyageur is completely a result of my background. Born in the early 1970’s almost all of the “quality” bikes that I came across where from the local Schwinn shop. In 1985 when I finally talked my parents into letting me get a “grown-up” bicycle, I went straight to Wheaton Schwinn and picked out a light-blue Traveler. By all accounts, It was an expensive purchase, so there was no chance I would have been allowed to get a Voyageur at the time–even if I had somehow decided that long-distance bicycling would be an interest of mine. Over the next five or six years I rode that Traveler several hundreds (if not thousands) of miles, tearing down the bike for repairs, upgrades, and 2 different paint jobs. By the time I went to college at the University of Maryland, College Park, my mother splurged to get a new Trek 400 to take with me.
I never rode that Trek as much as I rode my old Traveler, and I still think it had a more comfortable ride than the (admittedly) sportier 400. These days I still have a (somewhat newer) Trek I ride for exercise and sport, but my original Schwinn Traveler is still doing service on an indoor bike trainer (I haven’t serviced the brakes in a while, and don’t trust them at the moment). So, it only seems appropriate that almost 25 years later I find myself acquiring a close cousin to that Traveler as a touring bike. Touring bikes haven’t improved all that much in the intervening time, and I have a familiarity and tool set adjusted to those older bikes. Besides they cost much less.
Some differences between the 1984 Schwinn Voyageur and current touring bikes:
- Frame: Steel. The 1984 Columbus SL/SP steel versus whatever people are using today, which is mostly the same stuff. The vintage Schwinns were all lugged and braze, today cheaper tourers ($750) are Tig welded, while the expensive ones ($2500) are lugged. Did I mention the Schwinn’s are cheap ($250)?
- Rear Dropouts: In 1984 it was all 120mm these days 135mm is the standard for touring bikes. I don’t know if I can stretch the Voyageur all the way out to 135mm, but I can probably make it to 130, which would let me use Phil Wood touring hubs, and what more could a boy want in a drivetrain?
- Wheels: In 1984 700c rims weren’t common among recreational riders, and I’m told that’s still true in more rural parts of the world. Most touring bikes stuck with 27″ rims longer than other road bikes. Today touring bikes use either 700c, 650c, or 26″ rims. It appears that I might be able to just swap the 27″ rims straight out for 700c rims, without requiring the cantilever bosses to move (there’s only a 4mm difference in boss location). If so, the Voyageur could be upgraded to modern wheelsets pretty easily.
- Shifting: Today we depend on indexed shifting for smooth, accurate shifting, in 1984 we depended on a bit of practice for smooth, accurate shifting. I have these skills, and they’re not hard to acquire. Friction shifting has one serious advantage over index shifting–more fault tolerance. Index shifting systems are notoriously finicky and if they get bumped or otherwise mis-aligned, you’re left with partial or no shifting. Friction shifting works pretty much in all conditions, so much so, that some index systems used to include a friction mode. Don’t even get me started about S.I.S., and how much that sucks when it’s not in perfect tune. On the other hand, having the shifters on the down-tube–a la 1984–doesn’t make sense on a touring bicycle. Handlebar mounted shifters (specifically bar-end shifters) make more sense, luckily it’s easy (and cheap) to change the location of the shifters.
- Braze-ons: The Schwinn doesn’t have the spare spoke holder or rear brake housing stop you can find on some more modern frames. Of course neither of these are particularly necessary.
- Brakes: These days top of the line touring bikes sometimes come with disc brakes. While that would be a fabulous addition (which a frame builder could add to almost any bike), it’s a feature that’s still rare enough on touring bikes that the difference with vintage bikes is not worth mentioning. On the other hand, modern linear-pull or cantilever brakes work just fine on the 1984 frame.
- All the rest: I don’t think there’s really any other difference in a bike made in 1984 and those made today. Every other component is replaceable with current technology as replacements are needed. Many components recently are actively recalling the parts made when the Voyageur first rolled off the assembly line; and some of the original companies–like Brooks and Nitto–still making parts today.