Dear Mr. Cyclofiend,

Here's my latest project bike - a 1985 Schwinn Voyageur that I purchased from a local high-school student. He had gotten the bike from his uncle, who bought it new back in 85', rode it one summer and then apparently never used it much afterwards. It was in great shape overall, apart from the paint and decals being a little beat up and a pitted headset bearing race.

This looked to be a mid-level touring bike in Schwinn's '85 line-up. It was made in Japan (either by Panasonic or possibly Bridgestone from what I have read) with Columbus Tenax main tubes, Tange front fork, a mix of decent Shimano / Dia Compe components and Wolber Super Champion 27" wheels. I think it definitely qualifies as a 'current classic'.

My goal was to turn it into a 'budget randonneur', something a bit leaner and meaner than my Surly LHT but still a comfy all day ride. The first step was to have the frame cold set from 120 to 130mm. This was not something I wanted to tackle myself, so a friend recommended I take it to a local frame-builder he knew, who turned out to be Mark Nobilette (currently the custom builder for Rivendell and Renee Herse in Boulder).

Getting to meet Mark and hang out at his shop was definitely the highlight of this project. Besides being a talented frame builder with impeccable taste in bikes he's also a super nice guy. An unfortunate side-effect of my time with him is that now I really, really want one of his bikes. After cold setting my frame he also dropped the rear canti bosses down a bit (as they were just a skosh too high for 700c wheels).

I then got the bike stripped, powder coated and clear coated at a local shop. I really liked the original color ('British Green') and was able to get something very close to it. I also found the original decals on EBay, but I've yet to try and put them on.

Beyond that I tried to re-use whatever components I could - derailleurs, shifters, brakes, stem and seat post are original. I picked up some of the Velo Orange adjustable brake shoes (very nice). The headset was shot so I replaced it with a cheap cartridge bearing style unit. I pulled the Sugino triple cranks, BB, handlebars (Nitto 115's) and brake levers off my Surly LHT. A comfy WTB Pure V saddle and Crank Bro's pedals also came out of the parts bin. Wheels were nicked off of my wife's road bike (which is currently hibernating for the winter).

Yesterday was the maiden voyage and it performed exactly as I'd expected - very comfy, very stable (an easy no hands bike). It fits like a glove - I might get a taller stem at some point, but otherwise it feels right on. The old Shimano bits work great - I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the down tube friction shifters felt and how good the shifting was overall. After a summer of riding mainly fixed gear and single speed bikes it all feels rather decadent.

The bike currently weighs in at about 25.5lbs (sans accoutrements), not bad for a burly XL touring frame. Anyway, this was another fun project and a good learning experience.

As always I had a lot of help and use of tools from my local bike shop (thanks Dan!). Thanks once again for a great site; I never get tired of checking out all the cool bikes on display here.



Schwinn Voyager - side view


Schwinn Voyager - front end detail

Schwinn Voyager - front angle view


Schwinn Voyager - running the fences
Schwinn Voyager - rigged for riding
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