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We already reviewed the Schwinn Phocus 1600 and 1400. The 1600 did impress us, but we were frustrated that it only comes in one sizing option.
The Phocus 1400 is comparable to the competition, but we preferred the reinforced wheel and wider sizing options offered by the Vilano.
Which brings us to the Schwinn Prelude.
Comparison To Other Schwinn Models
Best I can tell, the Prelude is very similar to the Schwinn Phocus 1400. It offers the beginning rider something to pedal around for the season and see if they like the sport.
Maybe I should emphasize this more, the Phocus 1400, the Volare 1300 look identical in almost every way.
The Phocus 1400 seems to have a more updated frame, but they are using those clunky wheels with fewer spokes which make it a weaker wheelset for commuting. It does, however, offer a stronger Truvativ 3-piece crank with Suntour gears which should mean you avoid some of the complaints customers have had where the cranks strip out (read: “fall off”) and must be replaced.
The Volare 1300 is the more “updated” design for 2017, but the only two differences I could find is that the brakes do not have a brand name on them in the spec list and the shipping weight is 6 pounds heavier.
Who This Bike Is Good For
While there are some riders who brag about pedaling this bike for thousands of miles, I can’t say this would be my first pick if you plan on training or commuting excessively with it.
That said, sometimes the budget doesn’t allow for better, and this ride is, in my opinion, better than, say, the GMC Denali.
I would just be concerned about how well the cranks and the gears would hold up over large amounts of mileage.
It’s an excellent bike for getting you riding (and I firmly believe that the sooner you ride, the better) but also one where you should have a jar running for saving up for a better ride (shove a tenner in the jar every week. Should get you there).
Frameset and Sizing
The frame is a classic road bike design. It only comes in one size, the 55 cm, which is excellent for those 5’7″-5’11” customers. The Volare only comes in the next size up, so if you are on the shorter end, this would be a better bike to go with.
Schwinn is unique in how they make their bikes a slightly different size based on the model name. The Prelude and the Phocus are pretty much the same sizes. The Volare is slightly taller.
If you can figure out how to play their sizing game, it can come out in your favor.
The shipping weight on this model is around 33 pounds, as compared to the Volare and Phocus which ship at closer to 39 pounds. That could indicate that the Prelude frame is lighter.
Lighter = Faster.
The wheelset seems pretty straightforward. It is a single walled rim with 36 spokes. Nothing sexy, here. Frankly, if they made it a double-walled rim, you’d have a pretty indestructible setup. I like the 36 spokes as it means the wheel has equal support all the way around.
Be careful going over bumps, and if you are much over 250 pounds, just be careful.
I’ve seen folks in the 340 pounds range ride a single-wall rim, but, typically, the wheel doesn’t last very long.
Don’t let your bike fat shame you. Single-walled rims are really finicky and don’t take much to get bent. Avoid potholes and curbs.
And just because you bend a rim, doesn’t mean that you are fat. (Plus, your local bike shop may be able to straighten it)
We see a lot of these Shimano A050 thumb shifters on these road bikes. It seems to be a pretty decent system.
Unlike the Revo shifters that some of the competition tries to get away with, these shifters provide solid feedback in the form of “clicks.” There seems to be less slop in these shifters which translates to more reliable shifting.
I still prefer the integrated shifters, of course, but integrated is expensive.
These are a pretty good setup for getting you pedaling.
The brakes are “Dual pivot.”
If my memory serves correctly, the dual pivots are a pretty nice feature as it helps to split the braking pressure and apply it evenly to each side of the rim.
Even better, the dual pivots are much easier to adjust than the single pivots. These babies may still need some, well, “babying” to get them dialed in, but they should offer much more consistent braking than you would get out of a single pivot design.
These bikes come mostly assembled. You’ll need to put the handlebars on, and the big trick is not to get any of the wires crossed to that the bike doesn’t turn properly.
In reality, most big stores just have high schoolers putting these bikes together.
I don’t think you’ll have much problem, but there is always Youtube if you need it.
Right out of the box, you should replace the wheel liners with wheel (rim) tape. The plastic inner wheel liners tend to slice the inner tube or slip around and not protect it, leading to constant flats.
It takes an extra 20 minutes (and $15 at your local bike shop for the rim tape), but can prevent hours of frustration down the road.
The biggest challenge comes in adjusting the gears and the brakes. The cables stretch as you ride, and all bikes go “out of adjustment.” After you have gotten some miles on your ride (say about 100?) and the bike is no longer shifting right, you might consider getting the gears and brakes re-adjusted.
Most avid cyclists have this adjustment done at least once per year.
Read Also: The Top 5 Beginner Road Bikes
I know a lot of the bike blogs say that this bike is “upgradeable,” …and I’m here to give you the bad news that it isn’t.
Of course, you can swap out the seat pretty quickly. This one has a comfy seat, but if you wanted to swap it, you could.
The front cranks could be upgraded (and probably should), but the rear cogs are pretty standard. To upgrade the rear cogs, you would need to upgrade the rear wheel and the front shifters at the same time since the current ones are not compatible with the upgraded versions.
And, that gets extremely expensive.
Frankly, if you are serious about this sport, you should plan on riding the snot out this bike while simultaneously saving up for a better ride.
This bike gets you riding. For low mileage riders under 250 pounds, this bike should work extremely well for a few seasons. However, the serious, high-mileage cyclist should be conniving how they can procure an upgrade.