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Schwinn High Sierra?

Old 09-11-19, 07:47 AM
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Schwinn High Sierra?

I'm looking to build up a winter bike and came across this one. I'm not sure what the different years offered, but is this one worth spending the time and money to refurb? What size does it appear to be? Thanks!

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Old 09-11-19, 08:04 AM
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That's an interesting one. U-brakes front and rear but not on the chainstays (they look like Deore or perhaps Dia Compe brakes). Fillet-brazed headtube but TIG-welded rear end. Lugged unicrown fork. Black chrome.

I would guess it's a 1987.

As to whether it's worth getting/restoring, yes these are great bikes. The High Sierra was Schwinn's top of the line mountain bike until 1985, when the Cimarron was introduced, after which it was the 2nd best until Schwinn revamped it's MTB models a few years later. Yours was most likely made by Giant of Taiwan under contract, and the build quality and weight on these is pretty good for a production MTB of this period. The one you found has some wear but would clean up well.

I have an '86 High Sierra that I use for touring and gravel riding and it's a pretty dang good bike. Mine was built from the frame so no stock parts, but the OEM parts on these were pretty much always very good. One thing to note is I think the '87 would have come with Suntour XC Sport Roller Cam brakes, so yours might have been switched out for those U-brakes at some point.

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Old 09-11-19, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
That's an interesting one. U-brakes front and rear but not on the chainstays (they look like Deore or perhaps Dia Compe brakes). Fillet-brazed headtube but TIG-welded rear end. Lugged unicrown fork. Black chrome.

I would guess it's a 1987.

As to whether it's worth getting/restoring, yes these are great bikes. The High Sierra was Schwinn's top of the line mountain bike until 1985, when the Cimarron was introduced, after which it was the 2nd best until Schwinn revamped it's MTB models a few years later. Yours was most likely made by Giant of Taiwan under contract, and the build quality and weight on these is pretty good for a production MTB of this period. The one you found has some wear but would clean up well.

I have an '86 High Sierra that I use for touring and gravel riding and it's a pretty dang good bike. Mine was built from the frame so no stock parts, but the OEM parts on these were pretty much always very good. One thing to note is I think the '87 would have come with Suntour XC Sport Roller Cam brakes, so yours might have been switched out for those U-brakes at some point.
Thanks for the info! Can you tell from that headtube photo, what size it is? It looks to me like it must be pretty small. Like everything in my part of the country, it's an hour drive or more to check it out.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Thanks for the info! Can you tell from that headtube photo, what size it is? It looks to me like it must be pretty small. Like everything in my part of the country, it's an hour drive or more to check it out.
Oh yes, sorry I was going to comment on size but forgot. It does look like one of the smaller sizes. I think the smallest sizes these came in were 18" and 20". I would guess this one is one of those sizes, probably an 18". You can always ask the seller to measure the seat tube from the middle of the crank fixing bolt to the middle of the top tube.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:46 AM
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Just some info about the bike for your knowledge, if you do end up picking it up:
  • From the pictures, the wheels look pretty new. I don't see much in the way of brake track wear and the rims and hubs look clean. This could either mean they are the stock wheels and the bike hasn't been ridden much, or that the wheels were replaced recently. I would ask if they are the original wheels when meeting the seller. If they are replacement wheels, ask if the bike has been in an accident, and check the fork and front end of the frame for crash damage.
  • The stem is the stock stem, but was originally black-anodized and now that anodizing has faded to bronze, which is common for certain black anodizing solutions used on bicycle parts over the last 30 years. The fading is a result of sun exposure. So I would guess that bike has seen some time outside, perhaps stored on a porch or against a tree, which means it might have seen some rain. Be prepared with allen keys when you meet the seller to test that the stem and seatpost are not stuck. If they are, you can reconsider purchasing or at least use these points to negotiate the price down.
  • If you ever need to replace the headset for some reason, I believe these bikes had JIS forks/frames, not the more common ISO standard. Meaning the headset cup size and crown race are slightly different than normal. JIS headsets are available.
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Old 09-11-19, 08:55 AM
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The rim.

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Old 09-11-19, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
That's an interesting one. U-brakes front and rear but not on the chainstays (they look like Deore or perhaps Dia Compe brakes). Fillet-brazed headtube but TIG-welded rear end. Lugged unicrown fork. Black chrome.

I would guess it's a 1987.

As to whether it's worth getting/restoring, yes these are great bikes. The High Sierra was Schwinn's top of the line mountain bike until 1985, when the Cimarron was introduced, after which it was the 2nd best until Schwinn revamped it's MTB models a few years later. Yours was most likely made by Giant of Taiwan under contract, and the build quality and weight on these is pretty good for a production MTB of this period. The one you found has some wear but would clean up well.

I have an '86 High Sierra that I use for touring and gravel riding and it's a pretty dang good bike. Mine was built from the frame so no stock parts, but the OEM parts on these were pretty much always very good. One thing to note is I think the '87 would have come with Suntour XC Sport Roller Cam brakes, so yours might have been switched out for those U-brakes at some point.
I agree on the High Sierra. This one appears to be the much coveted "black chrome" color. Great frame, mid fork mounts, excellent components. Andy, yes, this one probably did have roller cam brakes (difficult to dial in, but once dialed they were as good or better than linear pull). In fact, the nuts on the U brakes appear to be the nuts that were used with the roller cams.
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Old 09-11-19, 10:42 AM
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Agree '86 or '87 and great bikes IMO (I have an earlier but very similar model with cantilever brakes). AFAIK, made in Japan which is a big plus to me (mine had a sticker stating that, but was a "barn find" and threw away everything but the frame, had it dipped and powder-coated).
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Old 09-11-19, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
AFAIK, made in Japan which is a big plus to me
This model is almost certainly made by Giant in Taiwan. But there's always exceptions. If the OP picks up the bike he can confirm the manufacturer using the serial number on the bottom bracket and T-Mar's serial number guide.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:33 AM
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For those saying it might be an '86, it is most likely not. In 1986, the High Sierra frame was TIG-welded. Only the Cimarron that year featured fillet-brazing. Also, this bike is finished in black chrome and in 1986 only the regular Sierra had the black chrome option.

If anyone has a scan of the 1987 ATB catalog spec, that would be greatly appreciated. Below is 1986.

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Old 09-12-19, 05:28 AM
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Thanks for the input guys. I didn't make it there in time last night and someone else grabbed it!
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Old 09-12-19, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Thanks for the input guys. I didn't make it there in time last night and someone else grabbed it!
That's a bummer. Keep your eyes open for another. I'm happy to facilitate if one shows up in the Twin Cities area. Let me know.
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Old 09-12-19, 11:03 AM
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That one was an 87-

The 87 High Sierras are really cool, unique and intriguing bikes.

These are from are from the time when MTBs were All Terrain Bikes. Rough Stuff Tourers.

Dual rack/fender mounts on dropouts/fork ends, rack mounts on chain stays and mid-fork, pump peg behind the seat tube, dual bottle eyelets.

This was the 2nd from the top ATB from Schwinn that year (3rd down if you consider the Paramountain frameset TOTL). The High Sierra had full CrMo frame/fork, fillet brazed front end, TIG welded back end and BB, the cool lugged unicrown fork (back then they didn’t trust TIG welding to be strong enough to hold the fork legs together!!!), the outrageously cool black chrome finish, Suntour roller cam brakes, Suntour XC Sport levers, a Shimano Deore (MT-60) drivetrain (when Deore was 2nd from the top under XT) and Joytech sealed bearing hubs with Araya rims. Top it off with the Schwinn “High Sierra” headbadge.

It it was a really really cool and good bike.
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Old 09-12-19, 11:15 AM
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Total bummer! Guess I should've jumped fast. It sold for $20!
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Old 09-12-19, 12:51 PM
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https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...4705549708348/

Here's one listed in excellent condition in Kansas for $350.
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Old 09-12-19, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Total bummer! Guess I should've jumped fast. It sold for $20!
$20? Grab now, study later.
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Old 09-12-19, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
$20? Grab now, study later.
I know right?! It was an hour and a half drive though, and I'm just not that familiar with Schwinn, that's my excuse. Now I know!
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Old 09-12-19, 04:48 PM
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I need to take more pix of my High Sierra-


High Sierra Fillet Brazed by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


1987 Schwinn High Sierra by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


1987 Schwinn High Sierra by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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