Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1987 Schwinn High Sierra

I said I would do it, and here it is; a post about my 1987 Schwinn High Sierra. This bike has gone through a couple of changes since the last full picture I put up, so I wanted give you a look at it in it's completed form. The High Sierra frame is custom butted tri-caliber tubing, finished in a gorgeous (and rare) "black chrome" color. There aren't many bikes this color out there, and this one is done very well. In fact, the process is actually illegal to do now because of the toxicity of the process. The frame was built in the Giant factory for Schwinn in 1987, and is beautifully fillet brazed.

Fillet Brazed Headtube
This bike started out originally as a frame up build when I introduced it to you, but that was on a 19" frame, which was a little small for my intended purpose. I rode it for a while and just couldn't make it fit me so I was super excited when I saw an ad (without a picture) on Craigslist for a 21" High Sierra. I raced out to Anna and picked up that pretty original (and very dirty) High Sierra and hauled it home to do a parts transfer from the 19" frame.

1987 High Sierra
I love this bike. It's equipped with Suntour rollercam brakes, Deore DX shifters and derailleurs, bullmoose bars, and a Brooks B67. The B67 is a single rail version of the classic B-66 sprung saddle, and it sits atop an alloy seatpost with black pantographed fluting.

Beefy Rollercam Brakes
As you can see in the photographs, I have attached a couple of flashlights to the front bosses on the front fork. These are actually low mount pannier bosses, but I don't carry that much stuff, and since this is my "winter" bike, I can use all of the light I can get. These are tactical high output LED lights, and they do give me visibility and visibility; I keep one pointed toward the pavement and one pointed up towards oncoming traffic.

Light detail

Obviously, since this is my winter bike, I have a set of fenders on it. These are Planet Bike poly fenders, and they work and look great. The wheels are WTB hubs laced to double wall black alloy rims. I have Forte "Gotham" model tires, and they are great winter tires, with enough tread to deal with wet leaves and dirt on the path, but not enough nubbies to slow me down like regular mountain tires would.

Bullmoose Bars and Deore DX Shifters. 
I love the bullmoose bars and think they look great. These bars are very long, because I didn't think it was necessary to cut them; I don't see myself doing a whole lot of real offroading with this bike, and the longer length gives me a few more hand positions to ease fatigue. These shifters are set up in friction mode, because I have an 8 speed cassette on the back. I like the friction shifting on this bike, and absolutely love these thumb levers. I can't tell you how many mountain bikes I end up buying cheap because the index trigger shifters have broken, or the grip shifters have broken. These thumbshifters are bombproof, and perfect for this bike. This is the bike I am going to put the Suntour brake levers on, but I haven't yet. The Suntour levers are big motorcycle style levers like these, but black rather than silver. 

Thumbshifter and Brake Lever closeup. 
This bike has just about all of the braze ons you could ask for, with two bottle mounts, the previously mentioned low rider mounts, a chain hangar on the rear stay, and a pump peg. The pump peg is interesting because the 19" frame didn't have one. I think it's awesome, and have a NOS MT Zefal pump attached. The rack on the rear is a Blackburn Mountain rack and it is strong, simple and light.

I built this bike with a lot of thought, down to the seat adjustment lever. 

Maybe I do have a problem

I'm pretty sure I could ride this bike to Patagonia, should I choose to. The bike is a nice ride, and does provide all day comfort. The rollercam brakes are very powerful, and stop me on a dime. I have used it to pull my daughter's trailer, but it's really built for my nighttime rides home in the winter. When it gets darker in North Texas I like to avoid the few parts of my commute that are on the road, so I ride through fields and on some sidewalks, and it's nice to have the big wide tires that allow me to do that. I don't feel that I can have enough light to make me feel safe riding with rush hour traffic at night. 

You may have thought to yourself that perhaps the front chainrings are bigger than those on a standard mountain bike crankset, and you would be right. I mostly ride this on the road, so the gearing is set up to facilitate "faster" riding. Not that any riding I do is fast, but this is a better gearing setup for the kind of riding that I do. 

If you are looking for a good bike to build up as a nice city bomber or long haul cruiser, look closely at some of these old rigid mountain bikes from the mid eighties. They are very versatile bikes and can be made into anything you want them to be with a little thought, from a path cruiser to a cross country touring rig. 

This is the hundredth post on this blog; it's been interesting getting here, and I'm feeling like I have just hit my stride. In January of 2010, I commemorated 800 views when I had put up 27 entries/posts/typing exercises, whatever you call these things. I'm now over 6200 views, and this blog has helped me meet new friends, raise money to fight cancer, and explore Dallas a little more. Thanks for supposting me in every way, and here is to the next hundred entries. I have stepped it up this year in hopes of really growing my readership. Things are happening, and my hundredth post is a small milestone on the way to blog dominance. 


  1. That's a beautiful bike, and of course I agree that those old rigid frame mountain bikes are great. Tomorrow I should have my 1991 Bianchi Sika commuter back on the road. We truly have the two coolest mountain bikes in Dallas.

  2. I am actually building a bigger badder bike - this one might roll its way into Mr Curnutt's garage to facilitate that.

  3. Love your choices for parts in the custom build. The bars predate the frame a couple years to tge earliest ATB/mtb rigs, right? Love 'em! And the roller cams are sweet as can be.! I believe only the Cimarron has the filet brazed headtube. From what I've read, yours and my several High Sierras were built using Schwinn's trusty electroforging prcoess. Regardless, the black chrome beauties are uniquely classy. Nice work!