Monday, August 29, 2016

First Ride(S) Impressions: 1986 Schwinn Passage

Elliott Bay from Alki Point
Yes rides plural, nothing epic both were about two miles each just getting a feel for the Passage and a couple baby steps towards some semblance of fitness.  So here is what I know so far.

Definitely smooth feeling steel and with no racks or stuff its surprisingly light especially as compared to the HD.  I started with approximations for fit borrowed from my Handsome devil; saddle height, distance of saddle from stem etc but its going to need some tweaking to feel as natural as the HD does.  The good news is I am in the ball park I don't think the frame is too big or too small, which would suck,  I just need to keep fiddling with it.  

After the second ride I am fairly convinced I need a Nitto Technomic stem to get the bars higher, right now I get them just about level with the seat but I am used to a more upright position on the HD and the stem on the Passage is maxed out.  I'll need to get a longer reach as when the stem comes up it also comes back and closer.
Those tires seem so skinny! The Passage has 27 x 1 1/4 tires the standard 27" wheel size but I have ridden 700x 47c tires for the last 4 years and its noticeable how much they smooth out the ride especially over the crappy pavement we have in my neighborhood.  Long term some 27 X 1 3/8 tires are in order.  Update: Actually Kenda K40s are on order as I found a deal for $8 bucks and change a piece at bike tires direct.

The front derailleur tends to slip after a while and I believe I have a slack chain, my guess is that the chain has too many links, it was ok in the middle ring  but it felt very "floppy" in the granny ring so I will need to adjust that, and if  I do I may also replace the free wheel.  I have a wider range IRD 6 speed (14-32) that I think should work -of course you start to peel away a layer and you find more and more.
I noticed a slight rub from the front wheel so it either needs to be trued or the brakes need adjusting which could prove interesting.  I did some web searching for adjustment info on Dia Compe 960 Cantis and didn't really find anything expect a ton of ebay listings.  I am going to try the stock option first but I do have my eye on some Tektro 720's that I think wouldn't look out of place on this bike, are reasonably priced and have greater adjustment options.  We'll see.

I am not sure the WTB saddle is going to be... um ample enough for my "luggage" and I do have a nice Brooks Imperial sitting on a bike thats getting no use right now so that might be a change too.

Ample coverage

After the second ride I am not sure I am in love with the stock SR SP-250 alloy semi-platform pedals, they are probably great with toe clips but I am not going that way just yet and in the interim I might try out some MKS Sneaker pedals for a better platform for my foot.

Minor wishes; I would like a bell for safety as much as anything and I usually avoid bike paths because even though they are multi-use I find that some of the people who use them are oblivious to everything around them and it would be nice to have a bell for a polite warning rather than having to whistle or shout.  I also have some cyclo -computers about somewhere and while I don't really care about my speed or distance in an of themselves they do provide a useful benchmark so I can say "back in August I was only doing X and now I am doing Y" - progress.

So the bike is rideable especially for the short flat stuff I am going to be doing for a while but the problem with having worked on so many bikes is that I notice when little stuff isn't quite right; fit, sloppy chain, faint brake rub, slack shift cables and it bugs me so it may not be the "just ride it" experience I was thinking of but I hope I can get it satisfactorily dialed in without peeling away too much of the onion, for now I am really just concerned about the functional and not the cosmetic which I also notice but choose to ignore for now.

The Curious Case of non standard Colors

While I was waiting to go collect the passage from seller I was scrolling through images on Google of 1986 Passages and I noticed something kind of odd.   The only catalog color listed for this bike is Midnight Navy (Blue) and indeed most of the bikes I saw were that color... but not all.

My Passage in Midnight Navy
On ebay there was a 1986 Passage in Imperial Rose (Red) a color for the 1987 Voyageur.  EDIT  I found out that frames that didn't sell in 1986 were sold in 1987 in the Imperial rose color.
Passage in Imperial Rose
I also found an example in British Pine (Green) a color for the 1986 Voyageur. EDIT I looked again and British Pine is more of a dark forest green so this was a repaint and new decals but I do like this color green so Chapeau to the owner.
Pinetrest Passage in British Pine
And I even found one in Gunmetal (Grey) a color for the 1986 Prelude sport bike EDIT I found out that this was also a color for the 85 LeTour and a color Schwinn had on hand for leftover frames that needed to be painted.  Thanks to the knowledge members at Bike forums (C&V) for dropping some knowledge on me.
Passage in Gunmetal
It doesn't really matter but it does make a fellow wonder why is this?  Some ideas:
  • Like car companies back in the day you could pay extra and order a different color from the factory
  • April fools joke
  • The lines on the dot matrix printer at the factory got mixed up
  • They ran out of Midnight Navy one day and sorta improvised
Whatever the answer it did make for some interesting browsing.  Until next time..,



  1. Huh. That's weird. I guess it was, after all, the late eighties and all hell was about to break loose for Schwinn and maybe they were just using up leftover cans of paint before the foreclosures set in...but I do indeed like the gun metal, alrhough I never saw a gun that color.

    go figure

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Good theory Tim Joe and one I missed "we're going out of business use up all the PAINT!!!!!"

  2. Replies
    1. I like that one too Joe - actually I think all 4 colors are pretty good.

  3. If you're just testing a new stem position, you could cheat with an old mountain bike stem, the way I did.

    I would also check the wrap and spring of the rear derailleur - maybe it's a little underpowered for a triple.

    If you have a smartphone with GPS, there are apps that will track your ride, if you fire them up. These are good for long-term data. I like seeing that I have gone X hundred km since whenever.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions the Rear Derailleur is not stock so that could be an issue, I have used smart phone apps before although I have found them to be battery hogs.