The Schwinn Phocus 1600 is a bike that on paper delivers more than other bicycles on the market - how true is that?
I found out!
I started my cycling life on an inexpensive drop bar road bike. Similar to the Schwinn Phocus 1600, it had pivot caliper road brakes. It was perfect for the beginner. It taught me what makes a good starter bicycle so I knew what I was looking for when I checked out the Schwinn Phocus 1600.
So does the Schwinn Phocus 1600 deliver more than just on paper? Let's give it a review!
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There are a lot of good points about this Schwinn Phocus 1600 bicycle so let's review the main features.
We all know that a frame is important to any part of a bicycle (road bike or not) and Schwinn is fantastic at developing frames designed for a positive riding experience and performance.
Similar to a lot of other Schwinn bikes, the Phocus 1600 road frame is available in two sizes; 22-inch or 16-inch.
Whichever road frame size you need, it will be of aluminum construction.
What does that mean for me?
Aluminum is a great way of providing the rider with strong frames, whilst no adding extra weight. It's an extremely popular material for bike frames, especially road bikes.
One feature that I really like about an aluminum frame is that it isn't prone to rust. Some frames are made out of steel and over time, rust can become an issue - obviously not ideal on a bike!
When compared with steel, aluminum is lighter too, meaning you lose less energy when pedaling. Aluminum frames can also be molded into a more aerodynamic position, this allows the rider to benefit from less drag and achieve greater speeds with less effort...sounds ideal to me!
Overall, I think opting for an aluminum frame for the Phocus 1600 was a smart move on Schwinns' part, from a performance and price point of view, it ticks a lot of boxes.
The handlebars are another feature, which is quite unique to this bike.
You get a set of comfortable drops. A lot of reviews have found them to be durable too.
If you haven't ridden a bike with dropbars, it will take a little while to get used to. In fact, you might find that you don't use the drop part of them for some time.
What I can tell you is that once you start to, you will find them to be a game-changer. For starters, it changes your position, which if you're out on a long ride, can be welcomed. Just that simple change of position can stop certain parts of your body from aching.
Being on the drops will also put you in a more aerodynamic position. Depending on a few factors, I've found this to get me an extra 1-2mph compared to when I'm sitting normally. Might not seem a lot but when you're on the flat and want to beat your mates, it can make all the difference! It's also just less effort so it's all good by me!
Another thing you will notice over time is that having drop handlebars allows you to get more power into the pedals. I've noticed this, particularly when climbing (and on the flat to be honest).
The handlebars on the Schwinn can be adjusted to find the optimum position and that's worth a lot. You want to feel comfortable in the saddle and being able to do that is invaluable in my book!
Speaking of the saddle...I'm impressed with the saddle on this road bicycle.
It's comfortable and that is largely down to the soft springs and the seat post.
It has to be said that Schwinn is good at delivering comfort at every level and this range isn't any different.
A good seat is a valuable asset...you'll know when you haven't got a good one. I like the fact that they've gone to the extra step of adding an extra foam filling to increase comfort levels, something which riders will notice, especially when the surface isn't smooth.
Adjustments on the go are a doddle as the seat post uses a quick-release lever. It sounds good and sure it is nice to know you can make adjustments when you need to but I can't say I adjust my saddle once I've got the right position, I never touch it but nevertheless, it's a handy feature when you're in the tweaking stages.
I think sometimes it can be easy to underestimate how much the wheels and tires can impact the comfort levels of a bike. Something, I have to say, Schwinn never underestimates and they certainly haven't with the Phocus 1600.
These tires are there to stand up to the imperfections you naturally encounter on the roads.
The alloy rims are double and do have extra spokes, this adds to the overall durability.
Not only that...
The spokes are actually designed with aerodynamics in mind, this means they provide extra speed. The rear wheel even has extra spokes to increase the stability of the bike and softening the impacts along the way.
The Schwinn Phocus 1600 is kitted out with a Shimano Claris drivetrain, with a 16-speed gear system. As a result, shifting is quick and easy, not to mention smooth!
A 16-speed system is going to be enough for a lot of riders, especially for a cyclist who is just starting out on a bike. In many ways, this future proofs your purchase. you shouldn't outgrow this drivetrain quickly.
You can get better gearing but without spending some serious cash, you won't get such a difference that it's noticeable.
Onto the brake system for this bicycle.
You get a tidy Promax alloy dual pivot caliper brakes.
Sounds fancy, doesn't it?
It is! Stopping shouldn't be much of an issue with these Promax rim brakes.
There is a debate about whether rim brake pads or a disc system are better and if you've read any of my previous reviews, you may have noticed that I'm a firm disc brake fan.
I do appreciate that calipers have their place...if they're good enough for the Pros, they must have their place!
There are some huge upsides to rims, they're inexpensive to replace and easy to maintain. The same cannot be said for discs.
Stopping power wise, the Promax is good. It's direct and responsive. Exactly what you want when you're traveling downhill so you're going to feel like you're in control of this bike.
Featured on the Phocus 1600 is a SR Suntour alloy crank. Overall, this goes a long way in assisting the gear system to move smoothly, making shifting through the gears a straightforward exercise.
The crank is also one of the big reasons why the chain doesn't come off whilst you're out riding.
An absolute standout feature of the Schwinn Phocus 1600 road bike is the suspension fork.
Schwinn didn't just stick any old fork on this road bicycle. They went with a carbon fiber road fork.
Why is that good?
It's lighter in weight then almost any other material available. It adds stability and gives that extra element of comfort.
The huge benefit of using carbon fiber for forks is that it's a flexible material so it works well to absorb the vibrations and bumps as you're riding. This also makes it unlikely to bend in any permanent way should you go over any significant bump.
This Schwinn bike weighs around 14kg (depending on the frame size. That's a pretty respectable weight, especially when you consider how many features you're getting with this ride.
When you look at the overall quality of the Schwinn Phocus 1600, it's hard not to be impressed.
The quick-release system, the alloy double wall rims, the impressive gear range. It seems to have it all.
If you're looking for a let down, I would say it lies with the brakes, in the odd review, they have found the dual pivot cliper road brakes to be somewhat plastic-y.
Is that a problem?
Pads are inexpensive to change. If it is something that you find irriates you, then swap 'em out! It's certainly not a reason not to consider this bike.
When you take delivery of the Schwinn Phocus 1600, you find that it arrives more or less assembled, with only a few parts to put together.
The best bit?
The instructions are well detailed and include a step-by-step guide.
Personally, I do feel that if you're not totally confident with how bicycles work, it could be worth getting a professional to do it for you.
The set up of a bike is important and ultimately it can affect your enjoyment so it's good to get it right.
For a bike in its price range, it performs well, impressively so.
As with so many Schwinn bikes, a lot of components have been thought about how to give the best level of comfort to the rider, without compromising on performance.
Gear changes on this ride should be easy with the Shimano Claris derailleurs. The gear range should see that you can take on steep hills when you're out cycling, with enough gears to use.
With this bike you do also get caliper road brakes to give you that stopping power. Each brake lever is nicely fitted into the handlebars for easy use and grip, allowing you to remain in control and prevent any handling issues.
Whilst the tires are said to be good, it seems that not everybody agrees with this sentiment. Some reviews of the Schwinn Phocus 1600 have claimed that they don't perform brilliantly on terrain that is rougher.
I have to say, that I wouldn't expect to be using a bike that is designed for tarmac use for anything other than just that so I wouldn't expect to achieve a good performance otherwise.
However, as the surface on tarmac can be uneven, I wouldn't be surprised to feel that whilst riding.
The Schwinn Phocus 1600 ticks a lot of boxes. It scores highly when you consider durability and overall riding experience.
If you're after an affordable alloy bike, with plenty of features, including a Shimano drivetrain, then you've struck gold with the Schwinn Phocus 1600.
It's a bike that you can ride for many years to come as your skills develop and for a bike in that price range, that's saying something.
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