Monday, March 10, 2008

2007 Schwinn Voyageur GSD Review.

MSRP: $379
Price Paid: $299
8.27.08 Update: I just reached the 500 mile milestone on this bike and I couldn’t be more pleased. The components are holding up and it does a great job in getting me around. It seems like the bike has adapted to me rather than the other way around. The fenders I’ve attached have really kept the bike looking sharp. It seems like dirt and, of course, rain does not run up on the bike if the fenders weren’t there. Thus, it still looks mostly shiny like it did when I first got it. The shifting is still silky smooth and the disc brakes stop very well. At about 250 miles I degreased and lubed the chain. Before that, it was lightly squeaking when I turned the pedal. The lubing eliminated that. You can always “hear” bikes that never had this kind of basic maintenance by the sound they make when riding past you. The bike isn’t that noisy now about 250 miles later so that lube must be pretty good (maybe degreasing/lubing can a future post topic?). It could also be that my chainguard is keeping dirt off the chain and cogs.

Is that a ladies frame/girls bike? Are you wimping out? Wife’s bike, right? Those are the kind of comments I expect to hear from people (but I haven’t heard yet) from my latest commuter. It is a 2007 Schwinn Voyageur.

My counter from the responses above is: No, it’s a U-Framed bicycle. Or I could try, “It’s a unisex frame.” Will those comebacks work? Who knows. As I may have mentioned before, I am short distance commuter (6 miles round trip). And, I commute in work clothes: Nice shirt, slacks, a dress coat or blazer. Not many bikes are sold in this country to accommodate me. The stock bike and the changes I made to this Voyageur make it the perfect commuter for my purposes.

I am evolving as a bicycle commuter. A couple of things happened when I was commuting in my Fuji Crosstown. One, I tore a couple of dress pants when I straddled the Fuji and, two; I got really tired of putting an ankle strap on my pants leg or tucking my right leg pants into my sock. Thus, I had my LBS install an after-market chain guard on this bike (see the review below).

The result: it is my “go-to guy”, everyday commuter. The U-frame makes it easy on my clothing to ride this bike to work. I don’t have to pull my leg over the entire bike to straddle it. On my other bikes, lifting my leg up worried me that I could rip my pants along the crotch area. The chainguard protects my pants and, more importantly, removes my daily chore of adding an ankle strap. I’ve logged about 125 miles on it and here are my impressions:

DISC BRAKES: I really love the disc brakes on this bike (Radius mech 7.0 mechanical discs). This is my first bike with disc brakes and I am thoroughly impressed. They work great when braking in wet conditions. With the exception of the bikes of my youth, which came with coaster brakes, all my adult bikes have had traditional rim brakes. Some rim brakes have been better then others, but all had something in common: squealing. Not with these disc brakes. They stop very well and are quiet when applying them. Because of my experience with this bike, disc brakes will be one of the plus factors that will sway me when comparing features on a future bike.

FRONT FORK: The suspension front fork is not a necessity on this bike in my opinion. Since you don’t really lean into the handlebars like you do on a mountain bike, for example, I don’t think you need this suspension fork. I’ve found the fork helpful when I jump a curb, but I don’t do that too often. I should probably replace it, but since they last a few thousand miles I’m guessing it will be a while.

HANDLEBARS: The bars bend towards you, which contributes to an upright riding style. As I’ve mentioned before, being upright and seeing all around you esp. cars is a key feature in a city/urban commuting bike.

SHIFTERS: I also like the bar twist-type shifters (SRAM ESP 3.0 COMP). I have been riding this bike in the winter with gloves. With winter gloves it is hard to have any dexterity for using those trigger type shifters or the ones where you use your thumbs. The twist kind are perfect for winter riding.

SADDLE: The stock seat is a very good Schwinn comfort-tuned saddle with a dimple in the middle. The Voyageur comes with a suspension seat post, that honestly, I can’t feel it making much of a difference. It has 35mm of travel. My picture shows a Brooks B67, but I am back with the Schwinn comfort tuned one. Everyone raves about Brooks saddles, but maybe I’m too lightweight to benefit from a Brooks (maybe a future posting subject).

TIRES: I was glad to see that this bike came with 700c tires (700cx40). These are the thin type European tires that have less surface contact with the road and are faster than 26” tires that are on most MTBs.

MODIFICATIONS: As you can see I added fenders to it. The fenders are essential for riding in the rain or on just rained on, moist streets. The stock Voyageur does not come with fenders, but the frame has the necessary holes/eyelets for them. The frame has the requisite eyelets for the rear rack and I added a rack to the Voyageur. I also looped 2 hose clamps on the handlebars to hold a very good 2AA LED flashlight to the front. Of course, I have a blinky light hooked up to my back rack.

SUMMARY: All in all, I’m very happy with this Voyageur. I realize that I’ve put on some costly accessories on this bike (esp. the chain guard) and that has affected the bottom line price I paid. However, when you compare the ready-made commuter bikes that are similar to this Voyageur you can see that I’m still below those prices. These bikes are: Breezer Villager ($650 MSRP), Trek T300 ($899 MSRP), and Specialized Globe ($770 MSRP). The math on this Voyageur is like this: Bike ($299) + chainguard ($100) + fenders ($25) + hose clamps/flashlight ($12) + rack ($40) + blinky ($9) = $485.

You CAN outfit a nicely equipped NEW commuter for much less than a brand new one from someone like Breezer, Trek or Specialized.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for this great description of the bike and the add-ons! i ran across your post while googling for reviews, as i'm searching for a new bike (a beginner after 10-15 years) and am probably getting a voyageur...this sounds like it'll be a good fit for me, especially since i won't even be commuting on it and just want something to tool around town or for weekend rides.