The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles

Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Corvallis, Oregon

1984 Schwinn Traveler

What would he have wanted for his Traveler?


1984 Schwinn Traveler1984 Schwinn Traveler

He was a simple man with basic needs for travel in a small town. Just a handful of miles to and from the job on a straightforward, flat route. He drove a bus for a living, purchased a house and built a family on those modest wages. A simple world created and this was his bike. Sadly, I met my friend in the twilight of his years. He contacted me as he heard I “tinkered” with vintage bikes. We created a friendship but soon after, health problems began with his wife, then, ultimately him.

We had connections on a number of levels but mostly because he rebuilt bikes in his spare time. For decades he did this. Mostly low to mid-level bikes. Nothing showy, just machines built for purpose. He kept pictures, made from a film camera, in a shoebox showcasing his past work. He did a lot with very little and was proud of everything he rebuilt usually giving it away to someone with a need or selling it for next to nothing. Indeed a respectable man that made the world a better place.

His bicycle rebuilding ethos reminded me of a sticker I frequently saw as a regular customer at City Bikes during my 15 years in Portland. Perfectly placed at eye level, I used it as a quiet reminder at the power of simplicity bicycles bring mankind. This bike is everything this sticker describes.

Bikes came and went but his trusty Schwinn Traveler rode, day after day, to and from work. Rain or shine. Over the years, parts wore but never broke. This was clear to me the day the frame was given to me as I slowly visually poured over the frame, fully intrigued by all of the different wear patterns that allowed a the story of the rider to unfold.

This bike, a few wheel sets and a handful of cardboard boxes full of unpretentious, mostly well-loved bike parts from donors over the decades came my way before he went to his new life in a home for aging adults.

I receive bikes in all conditions and distribute those bikes back to people in all conditions. Many times, I don’t restore or rebuild them but simply pass them along. There are just too many bicycles and my time is already filled with a backlog of builds, along with a 3-year old son, who takes precedent over any two-wheeled machine. This bike wouldn’t typically find its way into my traditional rotation of what I would normally select for a full rebuild, especially not one to broadcast on this platform—but this bike is different. It came to me rough after years of gentle, yet consistent riding in numerous types of weather conditions. And it looked like it had been shifted very little with the rear freewheel worn heavily on one cog. It needed the works. A full rebuild from the frame up. And that is exactly what I gave it because that is what he would have wanted.

This is a simple, hard working bicycle. It has no exceptional cycling provenance, no extraordinary features (although the downtube cable stops are nifty) nor is it incredibly valuable. Why I’m featuring it here is because it’s more about the person than the pedigree of the machine. Rough from simple, all-weather use yet beautiful from doing exactly what it was created to do. And now it will see another chapter of use being built up with numerous parts better than what was originally equipped. 

Overall, I’m pleased at my interpretation of the build. My only sadness is that he did not get to see nor ride it. I didn’t get a look at his smile and eyes twinkle as he hit the tiny curb bump in front of my driveway coming back up after finishing his test ride. A look that would prove to me, through facial expressions, that he felt the familiarity, yet drastic change of its characteristics. The tightness of the cables, the tink-tink-tink sound of the spokes settling in after adjusting, the secure seating of a new chain on the crisp chainrings or the bright, soft, grippy Fizik tape under his hands during his maiden voyage. I feel sadness that his time has expired, like all of ours eventually will, but thankfully, this Traveler’s time has not. I am pleased to see it reborn and even more delighted to pass it along to live, thrive and be as useful as a well-built, properly functioning bicycle is. It is the enduring and lasting heritage of steel framed bicycles—they simply live on and on and on.

1984 Schwinn Product Catalog

1984 Schwinn Product Catalog

Color: Ice blue metallic
Frame Size: 63cm (C-T) seat post & 58cm (C-C) top tube
Frame/Drop-outs: 4130 double butted CroMo
Fork: Hi-Tensile steel with forged dropouts
Bars: SR Sakae Custom Road Champion
Bar Tape: Fizik Vento Solocush
Stem: SR
Headset: Tange Levin CDS
Saddle: Schwinn branded
Seat Post: Unbranded aluminum stock
Sugino; 48/40; 170mm
Front Derailleur: SunTour ARX
Rear Derailleur: SunTour ARX-GTs
Shifting: SunTour bar end shifters
Brake Levers: Tektro RL341; Debadged
Brake Calipers: Shimano BR-Z64; Shimano pads
Cable Housing: Clarks; Silver
Freewheel: SunTour 8.8.8 Perfect 5-Speed (14/17/20/24/28)
Wheels: Araya; 27″ x 1-1/4″; 36h; Sunshine skewers
Tires: Vittoria Zaffiro; Black; 27″ x 1-1/8″
Pedals: SR-SP100
Special Features: Single eyelets front/rear; Brazed bottle mounts and downtube cable stops; Machine faced rear dropouts; Shimano bottom bracket cable guides; Kickstand plate; Chain rest

© Josh Capps and The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Josh Capps and The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 comments on “1984 Schwinn Traveler

  1. ryansubike
    April 9, 2021

    Sweet ride -love the color scheme and the simplicity and usefulness of old steel right down to the bullet proof Suntour Barcons. Well done.

    • Josh Capps
      April 9, 2021

      Thank you for the kind remarks, Ryan!

      It really is just a poster child for an indestructible workhorse, isn’t it!?

      The paint is actually quite nice considering where it is in the Schwinn hierarchy. The milky blue metallic is quite striking and, as you can see, I really pulled from the yellow. A perfect color pop by Schwinn!

  2. Rj
    August 6, 2021

    Great writing. Maybe if we all got back to a little appreciation for the simple, nice things in life, like a fun bike….

    ….we could get off our high-horses regarding things like moronic politics & politicians. Humanity, decency, civility, respect, we could care for all creatures in our environment other than thy self.

    Pretty nifty writing, and I’ve had one of these bikes, for over 40 years, same color, great shape, virtually untouched-original. Always in house. I think light and nimble.

    • Rj
      August 6, 2021

      I didn’t mean to be sappy, but I believe in those concepts, not that hard to do. I grew up with them, now 57, and spent 25 years weight-lifting so one may not see me as a rider.

      But bicycles are the worms-eye view of getting around, in a hustle world where we pass by without noticing much. I admire the guy, his life, the writer…not some Hollywood ego smuck-types that people fawn over, pretty pathetic actually.

      I’m now beat up and incapable of much…wondered just yesterday how much longer I can safely ride, enjoy. The article is simple beauty, thank goodness some still recognize such pleasures, that are really privileges in this country.

      • Josh Capps
        August 6, 2021

        It’s a tough world out there, RJ. I get it. We all get beat down as the years go by. Politics. Climate change. Pandemics. The list seems to go on and on. But, thankfully, we have simple pleasures in life that can help, heal and distract. I’m lucky I have three big ones: Getting a laugh out of my (very) young son, wrenching on bikes and riding them. It sounds like we share at least one of them.

        Enjoy the ride and the wind in your hair, sir!

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