This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Ben O’Brien, who has been slowly updating his 1986 Schwinn Voyageur and giving it a second life with modern components and bags in the decade he’s owned it. Find details, photos, and some backstory here…

Words and photos by Ben O’Brien (@fakemountains)

My name is Ben O’Brien, I’m a graphic designer and I live in Albany, NY. I moved here from Buffalo seven years ago, where a group of us were doing overnight trips to the local state forests and really getting into the Grant Petersen/Rivendell ideas regarding bikes and riding. I eventually found (converted?) a similar group of friends on the eastern side of New York State. We’ve ridden the Green Mountain Gravel Growler route, D2R2 a bunch of years, a five-day dirt road tour of the Hudson Valley this past summer, the Nutmeg Nor’easter, and whatever else gets us off the beaten paths and away from cars.

Schwinn Voyageur

We are fortunate to have a lot of great riding across the Hudson River in Columbia County–lots of dirt and killer climbs. What’s great is that this terrain draws my friends from Buffalo out this way, so we’ve extended the network of friends across the state.

I bought this bike just over 10 years ago from a friend who said it was the slightest bit too small for him. When I rode it for the first time it felt like it fit me perfectly. Back then, it was set up in more like a traditional 80s touring bike, with fenders, skinny tires, front and rear racks, and way more original components. As things would wear out, I’d learn how to replace them. So far, I’ve replaced the cranks/bottom bracket and built new wheels (replaced the 27″ wheels with 700c) to fit wider tires and add some much lower gearing than the original five-speed cassette!

  • Schwinn Voyageur
  • Schwinn Voyageur

It’s got a real Millennium Falcon feel to it, it’s pretty beat up and may not seem like it’s gonna pull through, but it always does.

Everything else has held up pretty well in the 10+ years I’ve had the bike. It’s got a real Millennium Falcon feel to it, it’s pretty beat up and may not seem like it’s gonna pull through, but it always does. The bike has been around the block a few times and has some really great stories to tell. It’s made me happy transforming it into a reliable dirt touring bike that’s so much fun to ride. I swap things out frequently, like bags, pedals, and saddles, just to see what works and what feels best depending on the ride. I bought a Crust Evasion last year and I hope that bike has as many stories and transformations in its life as well. And I’m pretty sure this frame and my Rivendell Quickbeam were both made at the Panasonic Factory in Japan, over 20 years apart.

  • Schwinn Voyageur
  • Schwinn Voyageur
  • Schwinn Voyageur
  • Frame/Fork 1986 Schwinn Voyageur
  • Rims Sun CR18
  • Hubs Panasonic/Sanyo Dynamo (front), Shimano Tiagra (rear)
  • Tires WTB Riddler 45mm (front), Continental CrossRide 42mm (rear)
  • Handlebars Nitto Noodle 44cm
  • Headset Tange Falcon
  • Crankset Sugino XD2 triple (46/36/24)
  • Cassette Shimano HG400 9-speed (12-36T)
  • Derailleur Shimano (front), Shimano Acera (rear)
  • Brakes Dia-Compe Cantilvers w/ Kool Stop pads
  • Shifter(s) SunTour barcons
  • Saddle Brooks C19
  • Seatpost Sakae CR
  • Pedals MKS RMX
  • Stem Nitto Technomic
  • Front bags Swift Industries Ozette Rando
  • Frame bags Revelate Designs Tangle
  • Rear bags Swift Industries x Ultraromance Ultraswift Wizard Sleeve
  • Accessory bags Randi Jo Fab pocket tender
  • Lights B&M D-Lumotec Headlight, Spanninga Tailight
  • Other accessories King Cages, Nitto M12 front rack

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