Pros: Classic, smooth, fast, challenging
Cons: Lacks replaceable derailleur hanger
Updated e-opinion after 1500 miles of riding:
Frame: The 1998 Schwinn Peloton has a Reynolds 853 steel frame. The strength to weight ratio of 853 is equal to that of quality titanium frames. A normal chrome molybdenum steel will lose strength in the joints after the heat has been applied.
This material (853) INCREASES in strength as the frame cools to strengths well in excess of the values shown. This unique air hardening property of 853 provides additional stiffness through reduced micro yielding at the joints, allowing stiffer frames with excellent fatigue strength and excellent ride quality in comparison to other frame building materials. Hence, this type of bicycle frame is highly desirable if future upgrades are to be considered.
The only drawback on the 1998 frame is that the paint job is marginal. I purchased mine in yellow, which I happen to like, but the frame could have used another coat. Aside from the paint job this Schwinn frame is adequate enough to justify certain improvements.
Groupset: The 1998 Peloton uses the Shimano Ultegra gruppo, which is just one step below Dura Ace and therefore good quality for the enthusiast and competitive cyclist. The set includes derailleurs (front and rear), double crankset and STI Ultegra shifters.
The Peloton comes with a standard 1" headset, a threaded 120mm stem and generic handlebar. The geometry is fairly aggressive but a long distance ride is still relatively comfortable, but not when riding in the drops.
I ended up replacing the headset with a Chris King threadless and added a shorter 100mm stem to make riding in the drops comfortable.
The Schwinn seat is terrible and I replaced it with a Specialized Body Geometry Ti. The 1998 Peloton model has an aluminum front fork, which is acceptable. I replaced it with a Look carbon fiber fork after 1500 miles to make century rides more comfortable.
The wheelset consists of Mavic CXP 14 rims and Ultegra hubs and skewers. I did not care for the Ultegra skewers due to their relatively small size, so I replaced them with Salsa flip offs. The wheelset is absolutely bomb proof and has stayed true over the past 1500 miles, despite several encounters with pot holes. Howbeit, the rims are a bit heavy.
I replaced the stock tires with Michelin Axial Comps, which are French made and have been very reliable.
In summary the 1998 Schwinn Peloton is quality bike for the money. The Reynolds 853 frame is the heart of this machine and makes for a plush ride. The bike has a classic look to it and would probably look very cool with down tube shifters.
The Peloton is a decent climber with good control during a descent at high speed. The components have functioned well and have required only minor adjustments.
If you are planning to race this bike you can do so, and you may even consider upgrading the gruppo to Dura Ace or Campy Chorus. However I would have the bike professionally painted first.
The 1998 Schwinn Peloton is a classic road machine. If you like the latest in technology and the lightest possible bike then the Peloton is NOT for you. However, if you like the feel of Reynolds 853 steel, a stable yet aggressive riding position and the quality Ultegra gruppo then you will love this bike - provided you can find one. Schwinn no longer uses 853 frames and replaced the Peloton with the Fastback in 2001 - an aluminum framed bike (as an added side note Schwinn itself is no longer in business at the time of this update). I prefer a steel frame and thus it is unlikely I will ever sell this bike. The bike challenges the rider to go faster and work the big ring.
The Peloton is a great workout machine - no granny gears here... Further, the bike is bomb proof - and can handle terrain like Paris-Roubaix without problem - thanks to the Mavic CXP 14 wheelset with Ultegra hubs. My only concern is the fact that it lacks a replaceable derailleur hanger. In 2001 you just can't get a road machine like this for under $1,500 to $2,000. At $899 my 1998 Peloton was a real bargain.