1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP

1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP awaiting attention

1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP awaiting attention

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




Model 1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP
Color Midnight Blue
Tubing Columbus SL & SP
Fork Columbus semi-sloping
Size 58.5 cm (c-c)
Headset Tange L2
Handlebar SR World Custom (390mm )
Stem SR Custom Alloy (95mm)
Saddle Anatomic Leather
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
Weight 24 lbs.
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.

6 thoughts on “1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP

  1. Hi, really enjoyed your post!

    I know it was a few years ago but when doing a search for “1984 Schwinn Voyageur SP”, you came up. I’m planning a solo bike tour from Chicago to Costa Rica and am looking for a used bike to keep costs down. Did you ever make it on that tour?

    I found this post on craigslist: http://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/bik/2263850631.html

    What do you think? I’m relatively new to bicycles/long distance touring and can’t seem to decipher all the info out there. I know I’ll need to make some adjustments, add thicker tires for when in central america etc., but do you have any advice on this or any bike for this kind of tour?

    Much appreciated!
    The Wheaton you wrote about, was that Wheaton IL? I’m in Chicago and grew up in Schaumburg.

    Thank you,
    Graham Giovagnoli

    • I have to admit I never made it on my tour since I ended up having open-heart surgery instead. Not really the same kind of experience, and I have yet to get back into long-distance bicycling in the two years since my operation.

      That bike looks great. If it fits you (the 55cm is a somewhat small frame), then it could be a great bike for the tour you’re talking about. But I have to admit that’s a really long ride, and you’ll have some tough terrain. My intuition is that the Voyageur is a bit low on gears, and I would expect that the freewheel on that bike could use to be replaced. If you update the drivetrain before the trip, you should get good service from that bike. I would probably also have a professional true the wheels and check the spokes (tension, nipples, etc). Replacing worn and damaged spokes now will minimize the number that fail on the trip. I might go so far as recommending having new wheels made, but that’s a pretty big expense.

      Good luck, and be sure to stop by and let me know how the trip goes!


      PS: It was Wheaton, MD, so sorry not really anywhere near Schaumburg.

  2. Great post. I have rebuilt a 1987 Schwinn Prelude with Columbus Tenax tubing, a 1987 Schwinn Le Tour with Tange [#2] tubing, and a 1985 Panasonic Deluxe Tourer with Tange #2 Tubing. Each one is a great bike. The Prelude I had modified with bosses for cantilever brakes and run 700×32 Vittoria Randonneur tires–that is all the tire that narrower fork will take. I cold formed all these frames to 130mm to take a new wheelset. However, I also put a 130 hub wheelset on a late 80’s Panasonic DX4000 with 126mm spacing–no problem. You can cold form or not. I am looking for a 1984 Schwinn Voyageur to build a commuter/tourer for my daughter about to graduate from the USAF academy. Great bike with the Columbus tubing and enough fork width to take a bigger tire. If I were going to take a bike all the way to Costa Rica, I think I would want a triple crank with plenty of climbing gears and a 700×35 to 40c tire on a Velocity Dyad rim with at least a 32 hole spoke count and probably 36h on the rear-either a Shimano 105 or better a Shimano Ultegra hub. And I would make sure I had plenty of lights and even consider a dynamo front hub for perpetual power to the lights. Sandro, I hope your health improves and you riding again soon.

  3. I recently built up a 1989 Voyageur. All the material you posted really helped me when it came to identifying what it was. I put 700c wheels with 130mm Sora hubs and an 8-speed cassette on mine. The wheel is a bit of a tight squeeze but works fine. My original indexed downtube shifters have a friction option. They almost work in indexed mode but friction is a lot quieter! One of these days, I’ll switch to bar-end shifters but the downtube shifters work fine for commuting and utility biking. The canti brakes required very little adjustment to work with the 700c rims. I like this bike a lot.

    Thanks for all your articles. I hope you’re back on your bike soon.


  4. Very nice schwinn info you have here. I have been saving a schwinn voyageur sp (very early 80’s) myself. I inherited it from my stepfather. Who bought it new. It has the front and rear racks and the whole getup. It hasn’t been rode in twenty years easily. To say it is in mint condition is understating it. However, its suffering from 5 years of dust currently. It has been in its current storage bin that long. I will get some quality pics taken of it. As to share with the other Voyageur fans. I may consider selling in the future. I’ll keep you in mind…

    John (N. Va)

  5. I just had an ’84 Voyageur SP given to me. The guy got it used himself 4 years ago and rode it in RAGBRAI. But he replaced the original handlebars with mountain bike style bars and had a non-original seat as well…and got rid of originals. OY! Otherwise it’s a good solid bike! I will bring it back more to its original configuration with maybe a couple of upgrades. BTW, does anyone know where I could get NOS decals in the event I repaint?

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