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black chrome finish & derailleur questions

Old 09-20-14, 09:10 PM
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black chrome finish & derailleur questions

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We* just became the proud owners of a very low mileage 1986 Schwinn Sierra!



I have few a couple of questions for the collective wisdom:


1) What's the best way to go about attempting to clean up the few blemishes in the paint? The black chrome finish is somewhat unique...

2) If I'm running the shifters in friction, can I run a 7 or 8 speed rear cassette with the original derailleurs and shifters? (AT-50's)

3) Will a 7 speed freewheel fit without spreading the rear triangle?



I'll keep the initial post short and sweet. In a few minutes I'll add another post to it with all the nitty gritty details for those of you that enjoy that.



* I say we, because I found it (after a long search) and I'll be wrenching on it, but it'll be my girlfriends touring bike.


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Old 09-20-14, 09:31 PM
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No questions for anyone in this post, just geeking out on the hunt for a particular frame and the spec's and pics for those interested:


So after at least six months watching Craigslist daily in both Seattle and also in PDX, (where I could count on my dad to pick the right bike up for us if it turned up), finally a black chrome Schwinn with cantilever brakes in what we hoped was the right size finally turned up. I say we, as although it was I who was watching Craigslist like a hawk for the past half a year or so, and I who paid for it and will be doing all the work on it, this vintage "all terrain" bike will be my girlfriends new touring bike, replacing her much hated Novarra Safari.

Virtually brand new, only a little bit of pad and rim wear belying any use at all. Came with an early set of SKS fenders mounted, with a mix of flat head and Phillips screws and cheap nuts and bolts for hardware, which was a little surprising. Original everything, the Viscount Terra saddle, tires, grips, all of it. Slingshot stem is still nearly black (these will often fade to a nice bronze color). Just a few blemishes on the paint, most likely from things banging into the bike or the bike being knocked over, during the past 28 years while it lived in a garage.





Wasn't expecting this nice surprise, it's got a built-in chainstay protector, a nice industrial looking chrome one:



That line down the middle of the seat stay is actually a reflection, not any damage to the finish. So shiny! And I haven't even washed, much less waxed it yet!



I need to take another photo of these shifters from the side, they are really nice looking! Some of what looks like tiny blemishes here is actually a little bit of small rain drops. Other than oxidization on cheap hardware, 99% of this bike looks brand new!


For anyone interested in the components and specs, I've detailed them below with a few notes.

During our e-mail exchange negotiating when to meet, the seller pointed out that his copy of the 1986 catalog lists 18" as the smallest size for that year, which surprised me. Luckily, my lady says that if anything, it feels a touch on the small side from her impression on the very short little spin she took it on in front of the sellers house. He had not only an original 1986 Schwinn catalog that the sales rep had scribbled pre-tax and out the door prices next to the Sierra, but he had the original sales receipt and Schwinn manual!

The bike also struck us both as being surprisingly light. After pulling off the fenders, going with perhaps lighter pedals, most likely a lighter handlebar, probably a lighter seat and lighter seatpost, as well as perhaps lighter tires and tubes, I think it won't really gain any weight when I add a rear rack, a bell, water bottle cages, and an aftermarket mount for one of the cages. Unlike my usual builds where I add a lot of accessories, I think I will manage to restrain myself and limit this one to two water bottle cages, no fenders, no horn, and just a rear rack except on the rare occasion when she is actually going to use a front rack (when we're on a bike-camping trip).

I had expected to replace the brakes and levers along with the wheels, saddle, handlebars, grips, and possibly the rear derailleur and seatpost, but from what little information I can find about these brakes on the web, they are quite good and suitable for loaded tourers, so it looks like the brakes will be staying after getting polished and getting new straddle carriers, cables and housings. She wants the same type of housings, which I've already found for the brakes, but I'm not having any luck finding the same derailleur housing (metal coiled style, with the clear plastic outer).

I thought I was actually going to recoup the initial outlay for the bike by reselling the stem, brakes, saddle, wheels, shifters, and the rear derailleur, but when my girlfriend saw how beautiful the shifters are, she decided that she would try out friction shifting! Between that, and her liking the stem, I'm going to end up changing a lot less than I originally expected to, but I'm very pleased she's going to learn and try friction shifting, so it's all good! I'll still end up with a pile for the swap meet; high flange wheels, original grips, original saddle, probably the crankset too.

It wasn't a surprise that she likes the aesthetics of the friction shifters*, but I am surprised that not only does she like them so much she's willing to try friction shifting, but she likes most of the older styling on the bike and wants to keep it original looking in some ways that are surprising to me.

* We haven't had a chance to take the bike out for a proper spin, I'm not sure, but I think these shifters may be partially indexed ("ratcheted"?), with a friction option.


1986 Schwinn Sierra, "black chrome" finish:

- double butted 4130 main tubes, 4130 chrome-moly stays
- unicrown 4130 chrome-moly fork, with oversized blades and forged double eyelet dropouts
- 70 degree head angle
- 70 degree seat angle
- AT-50 cantilever brakes
- AT-50 brake levers
- AT-50 shifter levers
- Shimano 204 GS front derailleur
- Shimano 523 SGS rear derailleur
- black anodized Slingshot stem
- high flange Sansin hubs, model AX-10A
- original Viscount Terra saddle


I need to double check the freewheel and see if it is actually the 14-32. Everything else is as listed in the catalog, but you never know what you have for sure until you check. From what I've read, a year or two later and Schwinn seemed to be spec'ing their bikes with whatever seemed to be handy rather than sticking to the catalog description. I don't know why, but I was surprised at the range of that freewheel, somehow I had assumed that the older freewheels had a narrower range and was expecting its lowest gear to be a 28 tooth cog.


The only downsides I'm seeing for this bike, for what we want to do with it are:
* bosses for only one water bottle cage
* no mid-fork braze-ons
* no upper rear rack mount bosses

All of which I can deal with rather easily, although a little less elegantly than if the bike came equipped with them. From my experience with other converted older MTB's I expect the geometry to be quite good for touring and handle a load well. Both of our around town and light touring bikes are converted 90's MTB's and my tourer is a converted 80's MTB, so I came into this expecting to replace everything on the frame except the front derailleur, so I'm tickled that the brakes are great, the headset and the BB probably only need new grease, and the shifters, levers, and derailleurs may well end staying.


As far as the upsides go, on top of it being pretty much perfect for our needs (once I put different grips, saddle, handlebars, and wheels on it), it was a whopping 80 dollars! On top of all that, my lady really likes the color and is enamored with the bike already.

So much win!


(I'll take some more detail photos when I get a chance in a couple of days. All the above pics taken by my partner.)
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Old 09-20-14, 09:55 PM
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I would just clean and polish the black chrome up as is looks like you have already done this. It tend to clean up exceptionally well usually only needing a bit of TLC. Personnely I wouldn't change anything on this bike other than basic maintence it looks great almost like new these are just great examples of very nice riding old school semi cruiser type ATB's that ride exceptionaly great as is.
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Old 09-21-14, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
I would just clean and polish the black chrome up as is looks like you have already done this. It tend to clean up exceptionally well usually only needing a bit of TLC.

Personnely I wouldn't change anything on this bike other than basic maintence it looks great almost like new these are just great examples of very nice riding old school semi cruiser type ATB's that ride exceptionaly great as is.
The only cleaning the bike has had so far, was while I had the rear wheel out, I went ahead and wiped down the inside of the stays with a wet rag. That's it. Hard to see, but it's actually a little dusty and dirty. I'll be washing it in the next few days and I'll take some close up pics of the components and pics of the little bit of blemishes/damage in the finish and post those here. Eventually I'll end up waxing it too, but before I do that, I'd like to take a crack at polishing out the blemishes, assuming that is possible with the black chrome finish. This finish is pretty unique and so I'm not going to attempt anything other than washing and waxing until another black chrome bike owner chimes in on what worked for them, but I would like to correct the little bit of damage to the finish if possible.

My girlfriend got a chance to take the bike out for a ride while I was at work, this is what she messaged me:

"I took the bikes* out around the block. Verdict:- The Sierra fits great as far as I can tell. Like, really great. The handlebars are too wide and low, but that's an easy fix. The friction shifters will definitely take some getting used to, but I'm up to putting some effort in. "

So, as you can see, I'll be changing out the handlebars and getting her different grips. It also needs new cables, and new housing will probably help braking and shifting, although she wants to replace the housing with identical stuff if I can find it. We're hoping to keep the original slingshot stem, but if I can't find bars that have enough rise (it's already pretty much all the way up), that may have to go. I'll probably replace the cheap oxidized mounting hardware on the shifters, levers, and brake units as well.

We're also not into restoring things to exactly the way they were for whatever reasons people do that. We're going to set this bike up to get ridden, it'll be her tourer and will be getting a rear rack, a ladies specific saddle, and touring 1.5" tires. The wheels aren't great and they are going to have to stand up to the abuse of an Athena, with a load of camping gear front and rear, sometimes off-road, so I'm going to replace the wheels, with something stouter and with quick releases.

America is full of garages that each have an 15-25 year old MTB that is sitting there waiting to be restored. I'll leave it to others to keep things original on their finds. After 28 years of sleeping, this old bike is going to be hitting the road!

We're probably going to ruffle a few feathers with this build, as she really wants as much of the bike as possible to be black, so in addition to the handlebars, tires, seat, and cages, it most likely is going to end up with black spokes, hubs, rims and maybe seatpost. Personally, I think it'd look better with all shiny components, but it's going to be her bike, so I'm going to build it up the way she wants. I will mock it up with a black front wheel I've got in my build pile and see how she feels about that. Maybe she'll change her mind once she sees it together, but that is for her to decide.

For the moment, I'm completely baffled by our options with the rear wheel. Spread the triangle and go cassette? Squeeze a 130mm in there? She probably wouldn't appreciate that if she has to change a flat on the side of the road. Build up a 126mm hub? I think she's going to hate having a freewheel...Hmmm, maybe my choice is becoming clearer, now that I write it out...



* I just put a different set of handlebars on her '96 GT Pantera, so she was giving that one a spin as well.


.
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Old 09-21-14, 02:08 AM
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Schwinn black chrome is what is great nearly indestructiable I have had it on a couple of bikes no way to realy change or fix it. Just basically clean and leave as is. You will be surprised just how good it can look with a nice cleaning and light polish.
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Old 09-21-14, 02:28 AM
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Nice. Maybe change the saddle. I like the wheels.
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Old 09-21-14, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
Schwinn black chrome is what is great nearly indestructiable I have had it on a couple of bikes no way to realy change or fix it. Just basically clean and leave as is. You will be surprised just how good it can look with a nice cleaning and light polish.
I'm a little worried about polishing it, my understanding is that the black part of the finish is a very thin layer on top of the chrome and easily worn away with aggressive polishing. Any recommendations? I've already got bottles of Meguiars Ultimate Polish, Ultimate Compound, and Clear Coat Liquid wax...

I agree with you though, I expect it to look fantastic once I clean it and polish. I can totally live with the imperfections, I was just hopeful that with a little effort and some sort of product that I might be able to make it virtually perfect. Heck, as it is, it already looks great, and that is in not the best lighting conditions, and before I've even washed it!
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Old 09-21-14, 02:57 AM
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To be honest I only cleaned mostley H20 and lightly hand polished with a clean rag no extras.
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Old 09-21-14, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Nice. Maybe change the saddle. I like the wheels.
Thanks! I do like the looks of the high flange hubs, which surprised me. If they were quick-release, I might have new wheels built around them, but I don't see my lady putting up with nutted wheels and the pre-lawyer lip arm things, whatever those are called. I've already got a Schwinn branded quick release for the new front wheel on the way, she really likes the Schwinn branded, old-school, fancy QR on the seatpost, so I'm looking to match it for both wheels.

The wheels it came with aren't the greatest though, and I don't expect they'll quite be up to what we are going to do with the bike, so the wheels are going to have to find a home with someone else who can appreciate them. They're very low mileage, so should only need some new grease I would expect. Saddle is definitely coming off, she needs a ladies specific saddle. That original Viscount Terra saddle should make someone very happy as it has only the tiniest nick, half under the edge of the saddle, other than that, it appears to be mint, you have to inspect it really closely to see that one tiny tear, so it should help someone complete their vintage restoration.
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Old 09-21-14, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
To be honest I only cleaned mostley H20 and lightly hand polished with a clean rag no extras.
Fair enough! Thanks!
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Old 09-21-14, 03:36 AM
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Looks great, what I use on all the bike I purchased is car wax. First I give it a good wash hot water with some detergent, then I start the wax on wax off. For the chrome that show surface rust, I use aluminium foil with water. Works a dream!
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Old 09-21-14, 04:50 AM
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If you like the wheels, change the axles and make them quick release.
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Old 09-21-14, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
If you like the wheels, change the axles and make them quick release.
My girlfriend wants the bike as "murdered out" (all black) as possible, so it's most likely going to get black hubs, spokes, and rims. Although I think the high flange hubs are attractive, the rims aren't up to what we're going to be doing with the bike anyway, might as well pass the wheels on to someone who wants them for a restoration build, especially since I don't think she's interested in listening to a freewheel, so the rear hub is probably going to go either way.

I didn't know that the axle itself was replaceable with a QR one though, that is interesting and I'm sure will pay some dividends somewhere down the line with another build. Thanks!
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Old 09-27-14, 06:29 AM
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A couple of updates and some more pics.

Although most of the component specs line up with the catalog listing for this model and this year, I did spot that the the rear derailleur is a Suntour Mountech (not the Shimano 523 SGS). My understanding is that these have a reputation for going into the spokes, so I'm on now the hunt for a nice chrome or aluminum pie plate dork disk. Maybe this means it's got the spread to cover 7 or 8 gears?

I haven't taken a look at the bottom of the BB yet, if the serial number isn't there, where should I look? I did notice a handful (four?) of numbers stamped on the headbadge, but I could only make out the last two.



I did a very cursory wash and light wax job on the frame, basically just to see if any of the blemishes were superficial enough for this to take care of (nope!), and went ahead and Armor-All-ed the front tire to see what that did for it. The sidewalls aren't badly dry rotted at all, but they do show some discoloration from age. I was surprised at how much of a difference the Armor All made in the appearance of the front tire. I actually applied it the night before these pics were taken. The bike'll be getting touring tires (Vittoria Randoneur Pros, 26 x 1.5"), but I was curious to see how well these cleaned up.




A little hard to make out, but these pics are after I've washed and waxed it, so anything that you can see here is imperfections (damage) in the finish. That white line along the fork I suspect is paint transfer, normally I wouldn't be too concerned about that, but I'm afraid of being too aggressive polishing and waxing it, as my understanding is that the black part of the finish is a super thin coating on top of the regular chrome, and easily removed. Which is line with at least one of the spots of damage I saw on it. I used the gentlest wax I have, normally I'd start out with one of my more abrasive ones...





My girlfriend really likes the design of this cable stop. At first I didn't think this bike had any provision for upper rear rack mounts, but I just noticed those two holes on the sides of this structure while I was going through my photos. I'm thinking that those just might be designed for the rear rack struts to attach there. If that doesn't work, or we don't like the way it looks, I've got an adapter plate that will bolt into that hole in the seatstay bridge. Is it fair to assume this is up to mounting a loaded touring rack here, or would we be risking a weld failure?




My girlfriend really digs the look of these shifters, so much so that she's going to try out friction shifting for the first time and see if it suits her! I am going to polish them a little and see if I can't replace the mounting hardware with something that will stay shiny.




I assumed that I'd be replacing the grips, but after giving it a short test ride, my lady surprised me and said she'd give the grips a try as well. She said they felt "cushy". Hopefully they'll come off easily and without any damage! (We're putting on different bars) I thought they were a little funky looking, but if she likes them, it'd be cool to keep another original component. These are totally mint looking, and the material they are made out of (latex rubber?) is still soft, it hasn't hardened or stiffened over the past 28 years.




She's asked me to remove or black out any of the logos on the components that we are going to add to it, and I'll be removing to the two lawyer stickers (near the headtube and rear drop out), but I'll be leaving the chromoly sticker. I did a really half-assed job of washing and waxing the bike, I just wanted to get a closer look at most of the finish. Once I'm done photo-documenting it, I'll break the bike down and clean it very thoroughly and then start in on the polishing.




These nice high flange hubs will need to find a new home!




I was surprised to see that the tires not only had "Schwinn" branded on them, but they also have the bike model (Sierra) on them too. Not a great shot of the AT-50 brakes to be sure, but I was pleased to discover after poking around on the web quite a bit that these were used to outfit some high end touring bikes of this era, so I don't think these will need to be replaced. They should be up to the job, and aren't bad looking.




Mombat lists a Shimano 204 GS front derailleur on its Schwinn specs page, but all I'm seeing on the unit so far is "Shimano". I forgot to take a pic of the 1986 Schwinn catalog that came with the bike. I'll have to do that tomorrow.


She wants all black components, the 175 cranks are probably a bit long for her, the gearing is too high for her for loaded touring (48/38/28) and I can't for the life of me remove the pedals, so this crankset is going to get replaced with something black, and either 170 or 172.5mm cranks and I'll set it up with black chainrings (probably 22/34-ish/44).


Sorry about some of the pics being blurry. I cleaned the lens on my phones camera beforehand, I don't know what's up with that, I might have been a little shaky. I'll probably try reshoot a couple of these photos tomorrow.


I'm feeling like I hit a home run with this one. Seems to be a sweet and solid ship, looks good, well suited to what we are going to use it for, and just the right size for her. It feels light, and it feels like it has spirit. We're pretty stoked.


.

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Old 09-27-14, 04:28 PM
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There is a NOS one (still in the box) on eBay: New with Box 1986 Schwinn Sierra Mountain Bicycle 23" Frame Black Chrome | eBay

Like yours it seems to have some '87 components such as the stem (non-slingshot black).
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Old 09-27-14, 09:10 PM
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Beware using Armor All on your tires, it can make them quite slick.
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Old 09-27-14, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
There is a NOS one (still in the box) on eBay: New with Box 1986 Schwinn Sierra Mountain Bicycle 23" Frame Black Chrome | eBay

Like yours it seems to have some '87 components such as the stem (non-slingshot black).
I'm not seeing any '87 components on mine. IIRC, you could special order the black stem (or the Slingshot, depending), and one other stem for any Schwinn MTB for several years there. I've seen both the Slingshot and the black one on 86 and 87 Sierras and High Sierra's and IIRC, at least one lower-end '88 Schwinn MTB, so much so, that I don't think Schwinn cared which stem they put on the bikes, it seems more random than the occasional special order. The Mombat specs page for '87 lists the black stem as issue for the High Sierra, but just a plain "alloy stem" for the Sierra that year, so this isn't an '87 Sierra stem, at least as far as the official specs goes. The Mountech rear derailleur last appears in the Schwinn line-up (officially anyway) on the 1985 High Sierra, most likely they had some left over at the end of the model year and passed them on down to the '86 Sierra's. The rest of its components matches the catalog specs perfectly, assuming the front derailleur is actually a 204 GS, I haven't spotted anything other than "Shimano" on yet, I think it is just a little unassuming.

I haven't found, much less deciphered the serial number to determine when the bike was made. The original owner gave us the sales receipts, I'll have to look at when in the year he bought it.
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Old 09-27-14, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
Beware using Armor All on your tires, it can make them quite slick.
Generally good advice. Unless someone PM's me wanting these tires, and is immediately going to mount and ride them, I expect them to sit in storage until the bike swap in February. In my experience, Armor All doesn't stay slippery for too long.
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Old 09-28-14, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Medic Zero View Post
I'm not seeing any '87 components on mine.
Your bike appears to have at least an '87 stem. It also appears to have alloy handlebars with Tange "Supple Grip" anatomic grips which were only used on the Cimarron and High Sierra those years. There were no "special orders" from the factory back then, however a dealer could have easily changed those parts out at a customer's request.

The Mombat specs page for '87 lists the black stem as issue for the High Sierra, but just a plain "alloy stem" for the Sierra that year, so this isn't an '87 Sierra stem, at least as far as the official specs goes.
I have the '87 ATB catalog and it shows the same black stem as seen on your bike (which the specs indicate as: MTS106, Alloy w/Cable Stop) for the High Sierra and Sierra in '87. As it seems with the NOS eBay bike it appears that some later '86 models may have received those stems.

I'd be interested to know the frame build date on the bottom bracket as well as if there is a 4-digit bike build date code on the headbadge. From looking at the NOS bike on eBay it appears they may not have stamped the badges on these but instead only included that information on a sticker that unfortunately could have easily been removed.
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Old 09-28-14, 06:53 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Metacortex View Post
Your bike appears to have at least an '87 stem. It also appears to have alloy handlebars with Tange "Supple Grip" anatomic grips which were only used on the Cimarron and High Sierra those years. There were no "special orders" from the factory back then, however a dealer could have easily changed those parts out at a customer's request.



I have the '87 ATB catalog and it shows the same black stem as seen on your bike (which the specs indicate as: MTS106, Alloy w/Cable Stop) for the High Sierra and Sierra in '87. As it seems with the NOS eBay bike it appears that some later '86 models may have received those stems.

I'd be interested to know the frame build date on the bottom bracket as well as if there is a 4-digit bike build date code on the headbadge. From looking at the NOS bike on eBay it appears they may not have stamped the badges on these but instead only included that information on a sticker that unfortunately could have easily been removed.
There is a four digit code on the headbadge. When I glanced at it, I could only make out the last two digits though. When I re-shoot a couple of the pics I'll take some of the serial numbers too and post them up here.
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