Schwinn High Sierra Review: Complete Guide

If you’re looking for a reliable, versatile bike that can handle a variety of terrains, the Schwinn High Sierra might be worth considering. This classic mountain bike was first introduced over 30 years ago and has since become a favorite among cycling enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, the High Sierra offers a comfortable, stable ride that can handle everything from rough trails to city streets.

One of the standout features of the Schwinn High Sierra is its high-quality components. The bike was built to last, with a sturdy Chromoly steel frame and high-end parts from Shimano, Suntour, and Dia-Compe. Despite its age, the High Sierra still holds up well against newer models in terms of performance and durability. Plus, its classic design and retro appeal make it a unique choice for anyone looking to stand out on the road.

Schwinn High Sierra

Schwinn High Sierra
FrameSteel frame with a classic mountain bike geometry
ForkRigid fork with a steel steerer tube
Drivetrain21-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain with thumb shifters
BrakesLinear-pull brakes with alloy brake levers
Wheels27.5-inch alloy rims with knobby mountain bike tires
HandlebarSteel handlebar with a slight rise and a comfortable grip
SaddlePadded saddle with a comfortable design
PedalsResin platform pedals with a comfortable grip
WeightApproximately 35 pounds
Available sizesSmall (15-inch), medium (17-inch), large (19-inch)
ColorsMatte Black, Glossy Red

Design and Build Quality

When it comes to the design and build quality of the Schwinn High Sierra, there are a few key elements to consider. These include the frame material, suspension system, and brakes.

Frame Material

The Schwinn High Sierra features a Chromoly steel frame, which was a popular choice for mountain bikes in the 1980s. Chromoly steel is known for its durability and strength, making it an ideal material for off-road riding. The frame is also relatively lightweight, which helps with maneuverability on the trail.

Suspension System

The Schwinn High Sierra does not come with a suspension system, which is not uncommon for bikes of this era. However, the frame is designed to absorb some of the shock from rough terrain, which can help reduce fatigue and discomfort during longer rides. Additionally, the bike’s tires provide some cushioning and grip on the trail.


The Schwinn High Sierra comes with a set of V-brakes, which were a popular choice for mountain bikes in the 1980s and 1990s. V-brakes are known for their stopping power and ease of maintenance. While they may not be as powerful as disc brakes, they are still a reliable option for most riders. Overall, the design and build quality of the Schwinn High Sierra is solid, with a durable Chromoly steel frame and reliable V-brakes. While the bike may not have all the bells and whistles of modern mountain bikes, it is still a capable and reliable option for off-road riding.


When it comes to performance, the Schwinn High Sierra is a reliable and sturdy bike that can handle a variety of terrains. Here are a few sub-sections to consider:

Speed and Acceleration

The Schwinn High Sierra is not designed for speed, but it can still maintain a decent pace. The long wheelbase and chainstays provide a stable ride, but can make the bike feel a bit less nimble. However, the bike’s steel frame provides a solid foundation that can handle the demands of off-road riding.

Handling and Control

The Schwinn High Sierra’s handling and control are where it really shines. The long wheelbase and chainstays make the ride very stable and comfortable. The rear wheel is positioned further back, which is great for those who want to mount panniers. The likelihood of heel strikes is low, so you can ride with confidence. The roller cam brakes are strong and controllable, providing a firm pull and satisfying snap when you release them. With Kool Stop pads installed, they have been a delight to operate.


The Schwinn High Sierra is a comfortable bike to ride, thanks to its long wheelbase and chainstays. The steel frame also provides a smooth ride that can absorb bumps and vibrations. The saddle is comfortable, but you may want to consider upgrading to a more ergonomic option for longer rides. The bike’s geometry is designed for a more upright riding position, which is great for those who want to take it easy and enjoy the scenery.


The Schwinn High Sierra is a classic mountain bike that has been around for over 30 years. It has a reputation for being a reliable and durable bike that can handle a variety of terrain. Here are some of the key features that make the Schwinn High Sierra stand out:

Gears and Shifters

The Schwinn High Sierra comes with a 15-speed drivetrain that is controlled by a set of Shimano thumb shifters. The gears are well-spaced and allow you to tackle steep climbs and fast descents with ease. The thumb shifters are easy to use and provide precise gear changes, even when you’re wearing gloves.

Tires and Wheels

The Schwinn High Sierra comes with 26-inch wheels that are wrapped in knobby tires. The tires provide excellent traction on loose dirt and gravel, and they can handle wet and muddy conditions as well. The wheels are made from aluminum alloy, which makes them lightweight and strong.

Saddle and Handlebars

The Schwinn High Sierra comes with a comfortable saddle that is designed for long rides. It has plenty of padding and a shape that conforms to your body. The handlebars are also designed for comfort, with a swept-back shape that puts you in an upright riding position. This position is ideal for long rides, as it reduces strain on your back and neck.

Schwinn High Sierra models:

ModelYear(s) Available
Schwinn High Sierra1982-1986
Schwinn High Sierra1996-1999
Schwinn High Sierra2019-2021
Schwinn High Sierra Comp1987-1988
Schwinn High Sierra Comp1996-1999
Schwinn High Sierra Pro1987-1988
Schwinn High Sierra Pro1996-1999
Schwinn High Sierra GX1988-1991
Schwinn High Sierra GX1996-1999
Schwinn High Sierra DSX1993-1995
Schwinn High Sierra DSX1997-1998
Schwinn High Sierra LE1984
Schwinn High Sierra LE1998-1999

Price and Value

If you’re considering purchasing a Schwinn High Sierra, you’ll be pleased to know that they are generally quite affordable. Depending on the condition of the bike, you can expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a used one. This is a great value for a bike that has proven to be reliable and durable over the years.

One of the factors that makes the Schwinn High Sierra such a good value is the quality of its components. Many of the parts on the bike are made by respected manufacturers such as Shimano and SunTour. These components are known for their durability and performance, which means that you can expect your Schwinn High Sierra to last for many years with proper care and maintenance.

It’s also worth noting that the Schwinn High Sierra has a bit of a cult following among collectors. This means that if you take good care of your bike, it may actually increase in value over time. Of course, this shouldn’t be your primary motivation for purchasing a High Sierra, but it’s a nice bonus to keep in mind.

Overall, the Schwinn High Sierra is an excellent value for anyone in the market for a reliable, affordable mountain bike. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, this bike is a great choice that won’t break the bank.


If you’re looking for a reliable and comfortable bike for commuting, touring, or light off-road riding, the Schwinn High Sierra is definitely worth considering. With its classic steel frame, long wheelbase, and stable geometry, it offers a smooth and comfortable ride, even on rough roads or trails.

While the High Sierra may not be the most nimble or lightweight bike on the market, it makes up for it with its durability and versatility. Whether you’re carrying heavy loads, tackling steep hills, or just cruising around town, this bike can handle it all.

One of the standout features of the High Sierra is its retro styling, which gives it a timeless and classic look that’s sure to turn heads. But don’t let its vintage appearance fool you – this bike is packed with modern features and components that make it a reliable and practical choice for everyday use.

Overall, the Schwinn High Sierra is a great option for anyone who wants a comfortable and durable bike that can handle a variety of riding conditions. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just getting started, this bike is sure to provide you with years of reliable and enjoyable riding.

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