The Simplicity of Vintage Cycles

Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Corvallis, Oregon

Cycling in Print: Schwinn All Terrain Bicycles, 1985

On the heels of a Schwinn High Sierra refresh, an unearthed catalog highlights Schwinn’s finest All Terrain Bicycles for 1985, “providing vehicles to take you where a four-wheel drive can’t.”

Schwinn All Terrain Bicycles, 1985

Ahh, the All Terrain Bicycle (ATB). The marketing buzzword that just didn’t quite catch on. Unfortunately for you, ATB, the word “Mountain Bike” (MTB) stole your spotlight and it never quite came back around to you. But, in 1985, the promise of whatever you want to call mixed terrain bikes became clear and Schwinn quickly opened up their line to accommodate. This stand-alone, multi-page printed piece demonstrated the robust investment Schwinn had made to the market and was distributed throughout bike shops nationwide to promote their exciting new wares.

On the top of the food chain was the Cimarron. The only model to feature a Tange unicrown fork and SunTour dropouts, along with a sexy two-page, fold-out spread. It was clearly the pack leader and proudly sported a full Shimano groupset, sans a SunTour Superbe seat post. The Cimarron was not significantly lighter or with geometry vastly different from the High Sierra but it was clear who the alpha, and ultimate ATB was, even with the embarrassing handlebar setup found in the image above. To this day, the Cimarron is still the most coveted, and valuable, from this lineup.

Now, if riding through fields of golden wheat or bombing down some singletrack was your idea of a good time, and you were paying attention to the awards (hello “Bicycling! Magazine’s ‘Good Buy’ pick in 1984”), then the Sierra line was your bag. This was a budget Cimarron and although not the top-tier components, they were still respectable and carved a place between trail and pavement. But, fear not, marketing dictated it was clearly more trail than pavement.

Lest we forget this catalog also highlights two other models, the Mirada and the Mesa Runner, but both quite “lightweight” and more akin to dropping off curbs as an urban assault vehicle than hitting more technical terrain. But, a dirt path here and there—no problem! Build quality was hi-tensile steel frames and forks here but the catalog made it clear these models were still dressed in modest, yet classic, groupsets.

This obscure and forgotten Schwinn ATB showcase piece is offered here for download as a PDF.

Schwinn All Terrain Bicycles Catalog; 1985

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5 comments on “Cycling in Print: Schwinn All Terrain Bicycles, 1985

  1. ryansubike
    March 10, 2018

    Cool marketing spread, I know when I see the term ATB we are talking early days for Mountain bikes. I have actually rehabbed a Step through Mesa Runner (free on the side of the road) but I’ve never seen a Cimarron in person.

    • Josh C.
      March 10, 2018

      It’s a pretty fun promo piece, isn’t it? It’s clear that Schwinn saw the market shift and decided to go all in, appealing to the masses but certainly not the bleeding edge or group that would consider them selves extreme.

      Before I picked up my High Sierra, I was actually on the hunt more for a Cimarron. But, sometimes I deal comes up you just can’t pass by. Something tells me you know what that’s like. 😉

  2. SR
    November 5, 2019

    I guess the Schwinn Sidewinder was kaput by 1985?

  3. Wesley Womack
    March 12, 2022

    I bought the Sierra new from the showroom with my paper route money. I think it was $290. I rode that bike hundreds of miles, many sets of tires, a couple new crank sets and a front fork after the original bent from jumping it. Was my first mountain bike. The riser handle bars were ahead of their time, was always getting teased about how wide they were, but I always had great control on the gravel or on the trail. I’m 50 now, and still love to bike.

    • Josh Capps
      March 12, 2022

      What a way to paint a picture of a few decades of enjoying your Sierra, Wesley!
      I find it humorous how wide your bars were considered. Yet, now, it seems like the wider the better being the trend in these “superman bars” on most mountain bikes. I’ve been riding a set recently and I cannot understand the hype as they are easily the most uncomfortable bars I’ve ever ridden. I’m quite happy with the bullmoose setup I have pictured in the post.
      Enjoy the ride and thank you for sharing your story!

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