Schwinn High Plains ~ 1991

My second touring bike was not a touring bike at all. I wanted the upright position of a mountain bike since I was living in Providence RI and riding a lot in the city. This was also going to be my primary means of transportation. The Lotus was showing it’s age and had been disassembled, I just wanted a different bike for city riding. Having remembered the service I received and the great delight I got from my Lotus Eclair I returned to East Providence Cycles and asked for Rob to personally help me again. I left with a Schwinn High Plains aluminium mountain bike and a smile.

Schwinn High Plains Bicycle
1989 +/- Schwinn High Plains Aluminium

I swapped out the off road tires for┬ásome city slickers, 2″ wide smooth tread tires. A Blackburn rear rack and trunk bag gave me some carrying space in the back for groceries , flat kit etc.. This was a great setup for a year or so until spring came.

At this point in early spring I was unemployed, but had some fast dwindling reserve cash being eaten up by pesky things like rent and electricity bills. The logical thing to do was to cut expenses and take advantage of all the free time I had. The Lotus had been disassembled and only the frame set and core components remained, it was truly a basket case. It was time to retrofit the Schwinn for some serious touring.

Schwinn Catalog PageI needed some additional hand positions so a set of bull horns were added to simulate riding on the hoods.

I added the front low rider rack from the Lotus to the Schwinn. This was not as easy as it might sound. Having no mid-fork brazeons I needed a way to secure the top half of the rack, the bottom had eyelets so no problem there. I took a small metal hose clamp like you would find on a radiator hose and drilled a hole through the band. From the inside I inserted a 6mm bolt through and clamped it onto the fork leg. This gave me a threaded stud sticking out from the fork. Perfect. Almost. I cut off the excess band that was sticking out and painted the entire clamp with 2 part clear epoxy. Several coats on the clamp and 3/4″ above and below on the fork and I was set! Apart from the epoxy yellowing and looking like a hose clamp trapped in prehistoric amber, this worked for many years and thousands of miles , it was still on the bike when I sold it.

The front panniers fit great but the rears could not be positioned far enough back to get rid of heel strike. Remember this was born a hard tail mountain bike so it has relatively short chain stays. A little surgery to perform a “pocketectomy” on the long thin pockets of the front of the panniers and Viola’.

Transition complete as shown above, this photo is from about 5 years after that tour. In this photo this bike has over 10,000 miles on it. Note the condition of the Rhode Gear panniers, they leaked like a seive and the zipper jammed if you looked at them funny, everything has to be in plastic bags all the time but they were bomb proof. When the tour was over just take them off, throw them in a tub of laundry soap with some OxyClean in it scrub with a brush (no need to be concerned with ruining the waterproofness) and they came out bright and new. I do this with my Ortlieb Sport Packers and Sport Packer Plus bags now.

Oh , I was living with a woman who had never camped without a carload of equipment and had only ridden a bike about 3 miles total in her entire life…she wanted to come along. We did 5,000 miles in the next 6 months.

Bicycle Touring as a lifestyle