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Schwinn Voyageur 80's model comparison/opinions for light touring

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Schwinn Voyageur 80's model comparison/opinions for light touring

Old 01-21-16, 11:22 AM
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T Stew
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Schwinn Voyageur 80's model comparison/opinions for light touring

So I've been expanding my collection of the better of the late 80's Schwinns... they have been really great bikes for the price. One thing I'd like that I don't have is a bike set up for light touring. Something that would take some front and rear panniers, fenders, a bit wider tires, etc. And the Voyageur seems to be Schwinns best touring model. I've been watching ebay and craigslist for some time, but unlike most of the other Schwinns I've got, these seem to fetch a higher price. I've yet to see a good one as cheap as my Prologue was, and the Prologue I think was probably 3x the price originally. Anyhow, I am prepared to shell out a bit more, since this will be more of a specialty bike with purpose in mind.

But there are several models with slight differences... I've used this great comparison chart: https://sandro.knot.org/wp-content/u...comparison.pdf
Based on that it seems to me the '84 & '85 SP's are the ones to get. They seem to be very rare though, and the only one or two I've come across were too large for me... I'd like a 21"-22" frame, 23" is doable but probably less ideal.

So the SP's are my #1 choice but likely unavailable (I'll still be watching for them of course). Next would be the 86-89 Tenax framed ones, versus the 90-91 Tange framed ones. There has been a few 90-91's show up on ebay, but not to many Tenax ones. The newer ones... I've never used the bar end shifters, would probably rather just have down tubes. But they do have an extra gear in the back which is nice. The concerning thing is they seem to be 2 lbs heavier... is that all in the Tange frame? Has anyone here had one and can comment? I don't want a bulky dull frame, but maybe the difference isn't that big of a deal. I like the Tenax frames that are on my Tempo and Super Sport, and to be honest the 24 lb rating for the 86-89 Tenax Voyageurs seems pretty darn light for a touring bike from the 80's to me. But so far the Tenax frames have been great to me and a good value.

The older 11.8s look nice but don't seem to be ideal... no braze ons for anything really, not even water bottles or down tube shifters let alone panniers and fenders. Nice to maybe add to the collection but what I am looking for right now is a good one to actually use, loaded up with gear. I'm also keeping an eye out for others like Miyata 1000, etc, but prices are a bit too steep for me of the ones I've seen so far.

So I'm open to any comments. I think I'm leaning towards the Tenax ones if I can find one in good shape in my size, but not sure if i should include the Tange one too or exclude them, I just have no idea what they are like.

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Old 01-21-16, 12:15 PM
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My '87 rides like a dream. It was almost unridden when I bought it over year ago but still did a complete refurbishment to ensure it would be as good as possible. Mine is a 23" and weighs 26 pounds on my scale with rear rack and Pasela's. I was looking specifically for this year because I'm partial to Deore and like the color. Have had a bunch of other Tenax framed Schwinns from this period and every one was a gem.

Honestly, these are bikes that have aged incredibly well and in good shape could easily be ridden across the country. I would not hesitate to do that on mine, that's for sure. Hence the pricing premium as you noted above.
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Old 01-21-16, 12:27 PM
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T Stew - You can't go wrong with a Voyageur for touring. I bought a 1987 model a few years ago because I had given up trying to eliminate a shimmy on my Specialized Expedition when it was fully loaded. I eventually got that worked out but do not regret buying the Voyageur. It is a great riding bike unloaded and super stable when loaded.

I also picked up a 1986 model and between the two I prefer the 1986 aesthetically. There isn't much difference but the attachment of the seat stays to the top tube has a more finished look. Also my 86 has chrome under the paint on the fork and on the rear triangle which my 1987 does not. One other difference is that the mid fork rack mounts on the 86 are a bolt on from the outside but the 87 has holes through the fork blades so an older Blackburn custom lowrider will work on it. I have the Blackburn rack and for that reason I will be keeping the 87 instead of the 86.

I think your assessment regarding the 84 and 85 SP models is probably correct and I would put the 1986 model behind them followed by any of the Tenax years. The Tange models are probably fine but falling out of the mid 80's golden years for touring bikes I just have a personal impression that they are not as nice. That is only my bias and I have not seen one up close or ridden one to compare.

I was fortunate to acquire a 1984 Miyata 1000 a year ago and am very impressed with the ride although I haven't ridden it any distance with a load. Among full bore touring bikes the Voyageur tends to slide a bit under the radar and is likely your best bang for the buck in most cases unless you stumble on a deal for some other brand.

Good luck with your hunt! You can expect to pay more for a touring bike because the popularity of bike touring has been on a rise and the vintage models are great bikes and still a bargain compared to any new production bikes. PM me if you want any more info. I may be putting my 86 on the local CL market in the spring.
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Old 01-21-16, 12:32 PM
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Here is my 1980 voyageur 11.8. True, it lacks braze ons and cantilever bosses and other features commonly included on touring bikes (it does, however, have fender, rack eyelets front and back) but many of these deficiencies you can work around. The only original parts on my voyageur are the stem, seat post, rear brake. Everything else has been moderized/ upgraded. I have taken several loaded tours on this bike and never had a problem. I briefly owned a 1987 voyageur that was set up more specifically for touring but the bike was too large for me.

Like you, for years I was looking for an older classic lugged touring bike but they are hard to find and fairly expensive especially if you upgrade to more modern components. In 2013, I finally just decided to purchase a new frame- Soma saga- and am really pleased with my decision.

Good luck on finding the bike that meets your needs.

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Old 01-21-16, 12:46 PM
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I know that for '85 at least, the Voyageur only comes in 23" out of the sizes you are looking for - the SPs come in 22". The weight says the same in my '85 catalog - 24lbs.

I think the 85 SPs are beautiful and justifiably more-sought after, but won't make a lick of difference for actual touring (except you'll need more locks on an SP). The frame will feel similar. Some components are slightly higher-end on the '85s - leather saddle instead of vinyl for example - but most are identical.

Other years vary in many ways. They are all awesome though.
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Old 01-21-16, 01:11 PM
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You can absolutely pack up an 11.8 and have a solid handling bike still. Mine is an '80 and between me and the gear in the pick below there was about 260# on the bike and its even all on the back, so it wasnt balanced as well as it could be, but still handled great.
I have loaded it down with panniers while also pulling a 35#weehoo and 40# kid and it still handled great.

With that said- the 11.8 is a sport touring bike. Caliper brakes, not as long a chainstay as later years, no bottle cage mounts, and a standard road double crank all scream 'sport touring'. I just mention the point above because it can be used for what I would consider to be fully loaded(and more) touring and perform just fine. I did switch everything over to a mix of 80s SunTour components with a Sakae triple and 7sp cassette in back though.


I have seen an 84 Voyageur and an 88 Voyageur and both looked the part of legitimate touring bikes without having to change much besides anything to fit preference. I would be more than happy to have any of the later Voyageurs in my garage as they all have good bones starting in about '83, and at this point most all bikes will need to be updated with at least something due to typical age/use, so some customizing would be expected regardless of which model I chose.
The later Tange framed bikes being so much heavier is a surprise. At the same time, 26.4# for a traditional touring bike minus racks just isnt too heavy seeming to me.

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Old 01-21-16, 01:17 PM
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The Voyageur sounds perfect, but if you don't keep your heart set on a particular model, you might find a sleeper (in another brand) for a lot less money.
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Old 01-21-16, 01:24 PM
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I've had a 23" Voyager SP since new, and I can say, especially with 27x1 3/8 tires, it rides like a cloud...I'll never get rid of it...
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Old 01-21-16, 01:31 PM
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For sure get one that fits you. Few rides are worse than long ones on an ill-fitting bike!
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Old 01-21-16, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
T Stew - You can't go wrong with a Voyageur for touring. I bought a 1987 model a few years ago because I had given up trying to eliminate a shimmy on my Specialized Expedition when it was fully loaded. I eventually got that worked out but do not regret buying the Voyageur. It is a great riding bike unloaded and super stable when loaded.

I also picked up a 1986 model and between the two I prefer the 1986 aesthetically. There isn't much difference but the attachment of the seat stays to the top tube has a more finished look. Also my 86 has chrome under the paint on the fork and on the rear triangle which my 1987 does not. One other difference is that the mid fork rack mounts on the 86 are a bolt on from the outside but the 87 has holes through the fork blades so an older Blackburn custom lowrider will work on it. I have the Blackburn rack and for that reason I will be keeping the 87 instead of the 86.

I think your assessment regarding the 84 and 85 SP models is probably correct and I would put the 1986 model behind them followed by any of the Tenax years. The Tange models are probably fine but falling out of the mid 80's golden years for touring bikes I just have a personal impression that they are not as nice. That is only my bias and I have not seen one up close or ridden one to compare.

I was fortunate to acquire a 1984 Miyata 1000 a year ago and am very impressed with the ride although I haven't ridden it any distance with a load. Among full bore touring bikes the Voyageur tends to slide a bit under the radar and is likely your best bang for the buck in most cases unless you stumble on a deal for some other brand.

Good luck with your hunt! You can expect to pay more for a touring bike because the popularity of bike touring has been on a rise and the vintage models are great bikes and still a bargain compared to any new production bikes. PM me if you want any more info. I may be putting my 86 on the local CL market in the spring.
I haven't seen many 86's. Would you post a photo or two?
Thanks!
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Old 01-21-16, 02:00 PM
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This is going to be a great thread, I picked up an '88 last month, but I have yet to start it's overhaul.
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Old 01-21-16, 02:14 PM
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This is all I have of my 86 right now but I'll try to add more later.
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Old 01-21-16, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker View Post
This is all I have of my 86 right now but I'll try to add more later.
Very nice bike!
Thanks.
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Old 01-21-16, 05:38 PM
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I'm planning to sell my 21" Voyageur when it warms up a little. It has fenders and front racks not shown in these pictures. I think it would be a pain in the chain to try to ship it with racks and fenders.

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Old 01-21-16, 05:38 PM
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Beware the 21.1 stem problem on 11.8 models. It limits fitting. Be glad you use a small frame. I have a 68cm 11.8. It is a complete noodle. They ride smooth as silk but for the wrong reason. As others noted, 11.8 is a sport tourer. I gave away a 68cm S/P to someone who is very tall. Its a completely different critter.
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Old 01-21-16, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The Voyageur sounds perfect, but if you don't keep your heart set on a particular model, you might find a sleeper (in another brand) for a lot less money.
...+1. There are plenty of swell Japanese made tourers that fly under the radar. I just bought one here (needs a little work) for $150, and when I say needs a little work, I mean very little.

Fuji made three different models alone for those early 80's years, Shogun had one or two, Sekai sold some great touring bikes (I don't know who made them). I'm sure there are others. Motobecane sold a pretty nice touring geometry frame (mine is Vitus), and they usually go cheaply because of the French factor.

When you just look for Miyata, Bridgestone, or a Voyageur (the ones that are, for some reason, more famous), you are limiting yourself unnecessarily in the Craigslist marketplace.
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Old 01-21-16, 06:48 PM
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I have a 1984 Voyageur SP; that replaced an 1986 Tenax Voyageur.

The Voyageur SP is about the Ultimate in quality and exuded class. Everything on there was the best, most top of the line, technically advanced piece equipment of its day. This is a Grand Touring bike with the might of the Schwinn Empire behind it. The Voyageur SP class really benefited from both Trek and Miyata in the development of the "grand tourer" concept. The long wheelbase, dozens of braze ons, triple crankset with wide range gearing, and cantilever brakes all in a first class quality package- and Schwinn totally delivered. Everything on this bike was well thought out- everything from the tubing choice to the little things like the quick release cable yokes for the brakes...

Mine was almost completely stock, I've changed a few things- most notably the XC Pro rear derailleur and cantilever brakes, I've also swapped out the freewheel and added Suntour Command Shifters. Lately I've been considering replacing the original LeTech rear derailleur on there and going back to downtube shifters.

I don't have enough pictures of the bike as it sits right now- I brought it into the basement today. But these are pix shortly after it was "done."












Out of all the outrageously cool stuff on this bike, I think my favorite parts are the brake levers- they're the Gran Compe dual slotted levers. I can't quite describe the satin-y soft finish on these things- it's amazing and it looks and feels like "class."





I bought this bike in December a couple of years ago- and I was totally WAITING for spring. About a month later I acquired a Trek 720. After getting both up and going (before spring), despite the "legendary" reputation of the 720- the bike I couldn't wait to get out on was the Voyageur SP.

There are a few things that are... unique to this bike. I ride 21" bikes- The VSP has a much shorter top tube than the Treks that I ride. Where the Treks usually have the top tube 3 or 4 cm longer than the seat tube- the VSP is less than 1.5cm longer. As a result the bike feels "smaller" than the respective Trek tourer. After a few miles you forget about that.

I've run into a couple of kind of goofy issues about the seat tube/seat post. I can't get a Brooks, Avocet or San Marco saddle to level out. They all seem to lean forward, even with the seatpost angled as 'nose up' as it can go. If you'll notice the stock saddle has a very unique 'banana' shape to it- that is the only saddle that works well on this bike. It's a Viscount 2200 I think, the stock one is suede and I found a leather covered one as well. I've tried a couple different Avocet Touring II, a couple San Marco Touring and a Brooks B17- all of which work well on other bikes. Additionally...I'm going to set myself up for a "put down the crack pipe" moment... I swear, the seatpost says 27.2. I seem to recall posting pix of that seatpost. When I tried swapping out the seatpost for another known 27.2 post- it wouldn't fit. Really.

One of the other things is the spacing between the canti posts. One of the conversation point about 80s tourers is that they used 27" wheels- to switch to 700c, most 80s tourers have 70 mm between the canti posts- smaller than the modern standard distance. That makes it difficult to angle the brake shoes to get a somewhat flat seat against the rim. The VSP (at least the 84) has a distance of 50 mm. That REALLY makes it difficult to change to 700c. Additionally, even just using different brakes is somewhat of a challenge.




Aside from that, or actually partially because of that, I've been unable to get a fender satisfactorily mounted to the front end. I've tried with the Velo Orange Zeppelin and Facette fenders. The Zeppelins are too wide, and the Facette are a little too wide, but they want to ride up at a goofy angle and there's really not a whole lot of room with 27 x 1 1/4" tires.

This is something I wrote about the VSP in another thread- I don't think I could state it any better:

Now as an aside- just to reinforce this- the Voyageur SP is ENTIRELY its own bike. I think possibly one of the biggest dis-services to the Voyageur SP was done by Schwinn in naming it in conjunction with the Voyageur. Yes, the "regular" Voyageur is a nice bike, and well appointed, but the Voyageur SP is not just an upgraded Voyageur, it's it's OWN frame, it's OWN geometry and entirely different tube set; in addition to the TOP of the line components available at the time. When you hear about the "greatest vintage touring bikes of all time" you'll hear about the Miyata 1000, the Trek 720, Trek 620, Specialized Expedition... but seldom is the Voyageur SP listed. And I think it's a shame. Although the Voyageur name sometimes makes the list, I think people lump them in together- either as "just a Voyageur" or as "a Voyageur with some upgrades" and that's so not what the bike is.

Good luck with the hunt- the VSP is a worthy "grail" hunt.
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Old 01-21-16, 07:06 PM
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Here is/was my 1985 Schwinn Voyageur SP. It was a bit to big for me and honestly never really fit properly. It was 22 inch center of crank to top of seatpost tube, 21.5 top tube to center to center.

I ended up getting a Specialized AWOL instead and had to sell because I was living in a condo with too many bikes.

If I could find another Voyageur in a 21" size I would totally pick it up.


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Old 01-21-16, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I have a 1984 Voyageur SP; that replaced an 1986 Tenax Voyageur.
Now as an aside- just to reinforce this- the Voyageur SP is ENTIRELY its own bike. I think possibly one of the biggest dis-services to the Voyageur SP was done by Schwinn in naming it in conjunction with the Voyageur. Yes, the "regular" Voyageur is a nice bike, and well appointed, but the Voyageur SP is not just an upgraded Voyageur, it's it's OWN frame, it's OWN geometry and entirely different tube set; in addition to the TOP of the line components available at the time. When you hear about the "greatest vintage touring bikes of all time" you'll hear about the Miyata 1000, the Trek 720, Trek 620, Specialized Expedition... but seldom is the Voyageur SP listed. And I think it's a shame. Although the Voyageur name sometimes makes the list, I think people lump them in together- either as "just a Voyageur" or as "a Voyageur with some upgrades" and that's so not what the bike is.

Good luck with the hunt- the VSP is a worthy "grail" hunt.
Beautiful bike! But we'll have to agree to disagree about the SP being so different than the regular Voyageur - - enough to justify a different name, no less.

The '85 Voyageur (and other years) is very similar to the SP. The grade of Columbus tubing is higher and many of the components are higher grade, true. But they have the same geometry, same weight, same pedals, same awesome Gran Compe 202 brake levers, same three bottle bosses, quick release cantis, etc. https://bikecatalogs.org/SCHWINN/1985...1985Ltwt30.JPG




I'm not saying this because I own a Voyageur either! l

Edit: Oh, but the SP tops the Miyata 1000, Treks, Expeditions you mentioned IMO. Except Miyata uses tougher paint and clears over their decals.
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Old 01-21-16, 11:09 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by artclone View Post
Beautiful bike! But we'll have to agree to disagree about the SP being so different than the regular Voyageur - - enough to justify a different name, no less.

The '85 Voyageur (and other years) is very similar to the SP. The grade of Columbus tubing is higher and many of the components are higher grade, true. But they have the same geometry, same weight, same pedals, same awesome Gran Compe 202 brake levers, same three bottle bosses, quick release cantis, etc. https://bikecatalogs.org/SCHWINN/1985...1985Ltwt30.JPG





I'm not saying this because I own a Voyageur either! l

Edit: Oh, but the SP tops the Miyata 1000, Treks, Expeditions you mentioned IMO. Except Miyata uses tougher paint and clears over their decals.

Not to be rude or overly pedantic- this isn't something you really can "disagree" about. Someone can only be wrong or right. It can be different or not different.

(I really enjoy the respectful discussions- and I seriously do not mean disrespectful or rude or hurtful in the discussion thereof. Unless you claim unprovable points, deliberately misinterpret information or ignore clear common sense to prove a point, then all bets are off.)

I'm willing to be proven wrong (and have been on MANY occasions), but I'm pretty confident that the verifiable information supports my assertions.

Again, the VSP is, in any case, always a different frame/fork combination than the Voyageur. The first year VSP had braze ons standard, then the 2nd year had entirely different frame sizes than the "regular" Voyageur. The difference in premiere tubing and a secondary tubing in the fork and stays is, in Trek terms, the difference between a 700 series frame and a 600 series frame- or as you get later- a 400 series frame.

To just say that 'many of the components are a higher grade' is pretty much underselling the difference in a top of the line Suntour part with a 3rd down Shimano part. IMO- it's clear that Schwinn regarded Suntour's and SR's components "better" than Shimano's. It's uncontestable that the VSP was the top of the line bike- in both the 1984 and 1985 versions- they have no Shimano components. Stating that the amount of bosses, the chain, the brakes and levers and pedals are the same speaks to how well the "regular" Voyageur was constructed and equipped- but all of the other components and specs were different. In terms of component value, you're not talking about just minor differences- Sugino vs Takagi, Cinelli vs SR, Z Series vs Superbe...

While the 1985 catalog shows the weight difference to be nil, the weight difference between the 1984 VSP and Voyageur was 2 pounds. By 1986, the VSP and Voyageur programs were rolled together.

As you go into the mid to late 80s, the concept of the "tourer" became more defined- it's going to have 3 bottle mounts, it's going to have braze ons all over, it's going to have cantis... That's what a touring bike had become. But starting with the 1985 model year, as you look across the board, the cachet of the "touring" bike had dropped. Where the 'top of the line' 1985 model year bikes had 'top of the line' components. In 1986, only Miyata was using top of the line components on their grand touring bike. As you move later into the 80s and into the 90s, the tubing and components for touring bikes all moved away from the top of the line.

Regarding paint and decals- the 1984 Schwinn decals ALL seem to be terrible; I think the 1984 decals are famous for it. I don't know about the paint- I'm used to Trek's Imron- so pretty much anything is going to be less than that- yeah, the paint chips and scuffs pretty easy.

Again, please do not take my disagreement with your premise as disrespect. We can completely disagree about opinion. However, we cannot disagree about indisputable facts.

Seriously- best wishes.
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Old 01-21-16, 11:24 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by T Stew View Post
Has anyone here had one and can comment?
I had a 90-1 Voyageur. The bike felt heavy and 'dull', looked the same, but solid like a tank. It rode low and fast, I named it Seabiscuit. For loaded touring, simply hard to beat. But I wanted a more lively frame with similar vintage characteristics, so I stripped off all the components and sold the frame to a very happy buyer.

Not right for me, but a great frame with decent components. A great value compared to a Miyata 1000.
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Old 01-22-16, 12:04 AM
  #22  
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Voyageurs and Super Sports and even the Le Tour of that era were all made by Panasonic, I believe. If you're having difficulty finding a Voyageur, open up your search to these other Schwinn Japanese bikes. Here's a Super Sport SP that I bought like this:



Turned it into this:

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Old 01-22-16, 12:27 AM
  #23  
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I have a green, 1988 Voyageur. I added fenders, Brooks B17 and Suntour barcons. It is the most comfortable, but not the lightest, bike I have.
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Old 01-22-16, 05:05 AM
  #24  
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Here is a Voyageur comparison chart.

https://sandro.knot.org/wp-content/u...comparison.pdf


I had a 90/91. Shame it was too small for me.


Last edited by cb400bill; 08-18-19 at 01:51 PM. Reason: Updated link
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Old 01-22-16, 06:16 AM
  #25  
artclone
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@The Golden Boy

I appreciate that you don't want to be rude or pedantic.

The fact is they are incredibly similar and I linked to evidence. You stated facts that were proven wrong, for instance that the geometry was totally different. You praised the SP for components and features that ended up being shared by the Voyageur.

But anyway, I didn't disagree about "facts". My disagreement was with your opinion that Schwinn shouldn't have named the two bikes similarly because they were so different. If that isn't a matter of opinion, I'm not sure what is. I

Perhaps we are both emotionally invested in our positions and it isn't helping the OP, who for his use will be likely be satisfied with either bike.

I can't beleive I'm turning into this kind of CVer! I used to scoff at the bickering here. I hereby swear I will won't be baited into replying again to this thread.

Last edited by artclone; 01-22-16 at 06:21 AM.
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