Road bikes are the best way to get around. There is nothing as liberating as flying down some back country road, counting hay bales and enjoying the wind in your hair (through a helmet, of course.)
For decades, Schwinn has been the brand that people know and trust. You’ve found a model that you think might fit the bill.
But you want to check. Is it a good buy?
In this review, we cover both the 1400 and the 1600 models.
For a first-time road bike, you want something that is not going to break the bank but is also a quality product that you can enjoy riding (and, more importantly, keep up with your friends’ road bikes!).
The Schwinn Phocus is a more entry level model designed for that athlete who has no plans of competing but wants a quality bike for getting out and challenging their cardio with.
There are two Phocus Road Bike models, the 1400 and the 1600. (They also make the 1500 which is a flat handlebar road bike.)
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The Schwinn Phocus 1600
In summary, this is a surprising bicycle. Marketed as a beginner’s bike, it has a lot of great features that you typically only see on more expensive models.
The frame is a pretty standard 6061 aluminum setup. It’s a pretty traditional frame size, so there is nothing funky going on with the sizing. Our standard sizing charts should work pretty well for you on picking the right size.
They also make this in both a Men’s and a Women’s specific model.
The front fork (the two bars that hold the front wheel) is carbon fiber.
This is every exciting to see on a beginner’s bike since carbon fiber is known for driving the price up and not normally available at this level.
The beautiful thing about carbon fiber is that it helps absorb road vibrations, creating a smoother, more comfortable ride.
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The shifting mechanisms are the Shimano Claris level. At this level, the shifters are fully integrated with the brakes which means all of your bike’s controls are in one place.
You don’t have to take your hands off the brakes to shift, which means you are in control at all time.
I’m a big fan of integrated shifters. While these are Shimano’s lower-end integrated, they have been on the market for several years, and we see good longevity with them.
There are eight gears on the rear and two on the front (commonly called “16-speed”). It appears to be a “compact” crankset which means it is geared with plenty of low-end gears for hill climbing. (Don’t worry, cruising at 16-20 miles per hour on the flats will be completely do-able if your legs have the “engine” for it)
The wheels are another solid selling point. They use the double-walled wheels which give you extra strength in the wheels.
If you have spent any time on my blog, you already know that double-walled wheels are non-negotiable for me. I’ve seen too many customers ruined by junk, single-walled wheels.
I’m not a big fan of the funky spoke spacing. Sure, you can get away with it, but it weakens the wheel. I do wish that these wheels had more spokes. As with all road bikes, be careful going over bumps and potholes, and you should be just fine.
The tires are cheap, so save up and grab some Serfas tires when you get a chance. You can also fit a 28c tire in which is a little wider and van give you more confidence, especially if you occasionally ride on gravel.
Here’s the downside, the Phocus model does not appear to be part of the Schwinn Signature series. Which means they only make one size that they call “700c”.
Screw that, Schwinn. 700c is a tire size. Not a bike size. It’s like calling an SUV and a sports car both the “20-inch model” because of their tire size.
Frame size is everything. Without the correct frame size, you can screw up your back, neck, and knees.
I dug around, and best I can tell, this one is a “Medium” (56 cm frame). So if you are between 5’8″ to 5’11”, I’m confident that you can ride this bike with no problems.
There’s always that 6-foot bloke who wants to know if he can ride it. I’m going to say “please don’t,” only because I’m tired of seeing frustrated Giants with neck pain.
Read Also: Bike Sizing Made Simple
Based on the reviews I’ve read and the spec list, the Schwinn Phocus 1600 is an under-recognized value. We have challenges with the sizing since it only comes in one size, but if you happen to be a human of a specific height, it is likely to be an excellent choice for entering the sport of cycling. Grab this bike and then sign up for your first MS150!
Schwinn Phocus 1400 Review
For the budget-conscious, this bike is a bare-bones version of its older brother, the 1600.
While this model is a solid value, it does not “blow my socks off” like the 1600 does.
Best I can tell the frames are very similar. The fork is going to be either aluminum or steel. It’s built to last but doesn’t have the vibration-dampening characteristics of carbon fiber.
This frame setup is a trusted design that I’ve seen in the industry for close to 15 years now, and it is most likely outlast any riding career you’ll throw at it. I’ve watched this frame design handle thousands of miles.
This bike follows a pretty traditional trend of using Shimano A050 shifters. This moves the shifters to the middle of the handlebar with a thumb lever.
I completely understand why they do it. Integrated shifters are hella expensive.
For the rider, it is frustrating to have to change position every time you want to shift. But if you look at cycling history, we’ve been shifting this way for decades.
The quality of this shifter is good. So as long as you can get past the inconvenience of moving your hand from the brakes every time you need to shift, you’ll be just fine.
This model is called a 14-speed because of the 7 rear gears and the double chainring on the front.
Best I can tell, we lose the reinforced, double-walled wheels with this model. Which means you will want to be extra careful about avoiding those potholes and bumps.
They also try using that funky aero spoke design that has fewer spokes. Fewer spokes = less strength. And then they increase the rim depth so they can sell it as an “aerodynamic” wheel.
The gear on the rear is the freewheel model. I have seen these fail more often than the Freehub models I’m getting technical, I know). The upside is that replacement freewheels are dirt cheap.
The result is a cumbersome wheel that you don’t want to abuse.
As with the 1600, the tires are cheap. Carry an extra tube and ride the heck out of them. When they start getting a lot of flats, you can upgrade so one of my favorite tires.
One of the aspects that sell me on this bike are the ProMax brake calipers. I’ve worked with these a lot, and while you might have to coax them a little, I’ve always — knock on wood — gotten them dialed in.
Braking is one of those areas you don’t want to skimp on, and all too often these bike manufacturers use brakes that are barely passable.
When you are working with a machine that will frequently exceed 20 miles per hour, you want brakes you can depend on. In my experience, the Promax calipers always come through.
Just as with the 1600, this bike only comes in the 18-inch model. So if you are in that medium height of about 5’7″ to 5’11”, you should be able to ride this bike with no problems. If you are taller or shorter than this range, you might want to check out our list of the best cheap road bikes.
If you are under 300 pounds with a height between 5′ 8″ and 5′ 11″, (and you are careful about not hitting bumps) this bike is a trusted choice for getting in shape and riding with friends.
I have a hard time hiding my bike snobbery since I know that you can likely find a better used ride on your local Craigslist. But, for this bike’s specific audience, it is a good choice.