Touring - Advice before buying a Lotus Odyssey
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12-04-11, 02:13 PM
Hi Forum -
I've read so many threads like this, and can't believe I'm posting one. Basically, I'm looking for a mid-80s steel frame touring bike that I can fit out for a cross-country trip. I'm interested in something used, not new, with lugged steel and the right kind of geometry, etc. After hunting for WAY overpriced Miyata 1000s on Craigslist in the Bay Area ($800-1000), I have a line on a pretty nice Lotus Odyssey (I think it's an 83 based on the paint job).
Here's the deal and some pictures.
It's $400 (I know that might seem a bit high, but prices for these kinds of bikes are all messed up in the Bay Area, which is a pain)
Some other specs from current owner:
"Like I mentioned, the price may be a tiny bit higher then the Legend, it is a full fledged touring bike with all the necessary braze on's plus some. Cantilever brakes, touring geometry, low-rider rack bosses, double eyelets in both the front and rear for fenders and racks. I also have a Lotus water bottle for it which isn't currently shown in the picture. This is by far my very favorite bike and would be hard to get rid of. I'd like to get $400 for it!"
Here is a pic, and you can get to others in the album if you're curious:
Thanks a million!
12-04-11, 05:06 PM
What is the question? Or did you buy it? I love the old lugged steel touring bikes - and the prices for them are generally messed up everywhere. However, that being said, if the bike is in the kind of condition you are looking for and can deal with, then it is not too bad. Looks like good steel from the decals! I have had several vintage touring bikes and currently have three. The ride quality and and stability cannot be beat for an all around type of bike when not touring. I would try to talk the guy down, but might buy it even if he did not come down on price. It is a beautiful bike and the components look good. Maybe just switch in some bar-end shifters if you like, or just keep it down tube. Good luck with it.
A few years ago I sold a circa 1984 Lotus Odyssey that was in mint condition for about $375 on ebay. It was a nice bike in its day, and the frame and componentry were what people were touring on back then. I believe the frame was all Columbus tubing with chrome in the dropout areas, very nice. As you mentioned, it had rack and fender mounts and a low rider rack mount on the fork. The drive train had Suntour derailleurs and a nice Sugino triple crank. I think the hubs were decent with sealed bearings. The weak link on that bike were the rims. Quality rims today are box type construction with reinforced eyelets. I don’t remember those rims having either, and seriously doubt they would have made it cross county carrying loaded panniers. However, if you had the hubs re-laced with quality touring rims, I think that bike would be as durable as any on the market today. Please note the rims are 27” (Araya 27x1 ¼), not 700c, so your rim options might be somewhat limited, and converting to 700c might not be possible due to the cantilever mounts.
12-04-11, 07:11 PM
Beautiful bike! Better close the deal before another forum reader scoops it up.....
12-04-11, 07:31 PM
I have put many a mile on my '84 Odyssey and love it (and prefer it over my '83 Expedition which many feel to be best). Mind you, it is not perfect. The biggest complaint I have is it only has 2 (not 3) bottle mounts. Some complain about the pedestrian stock rims which I admit are not the strongest, but I have not had a problem with them. The only other weirdness are the bottom bracket and hubs. They are Suntour (Sansin) sealed cartridge bearings which do last a long time (mine are still about), but require proprietary (and now rather difficult to find) tools to repair/replace. You may consider replacing at least the bottom bracket with a newer model. I have also changed to bar end shifters as I prefer them.
Pitcture loaded (after a quick overnight):
12-04-11, 08:31 PM
Guys - Thanks so much for the advice! Sorry the question was unclear before - I was actually trying to ask if you guys thought the bike was worth the price in that condition. I know that, since I live in the bay area, there seems to be a desirability tax on these bikes, so, while I didn't think it was a steal, I was hoping it just wasn't it wasn't way out of wack. So, after reading over your post and looking at the rad pictures, I called the guy and....he said he might not be ready to part with it! (Too funny, and *so* craigslist.) Anyway, I really appreciate your kind advice all!
12-04-11, 08:58 PM
<sigh>. The bike appears to be in very good original condition. You are correct that the mid-80's tourers are fetching a high price (which I think is ironic because we could not but give them away in the mid-80's...which is why they mostly disapeared after about 1985 with a few exceptions ...520, Voyager, 1000LT, and maybe 1-2 others).
I think it boils down to 1). does it fit you?...most important, 2). how long have you been looking 3). how quickly do you need it, 4) is THIS the bike you WANT.
The bottom line is that from what I can tell from the pictures, it is a fair price, IMHO. Not a screaming deal, but probably better that others you have seen. It is a solid touring bike that would also do well as basic transportation, commuting, or whatever you throw at it. The Odysseys seem to be a bit more rare than some of the other full touring rigs, so that may or may not figure into your thought process. If you intend upon touring, you will have another few hundred $$ in racks, panniers, etc.
12-04-11, 10:08 PM
Thanks so much Balinda....I appreciate the reply to the likely all-too common question. And the insight about the rise and fall of the touring rides. This bike does fit me. I've been looking for several weeks and this seems to be the sweet spot (or at least the sweetest spot) that I've found so far with it comes to the price/quality balance. Timing is not an issue, as I have a reliable ride now and won't leave for my tour for 6 months.
The fourth question: is this the bike I want....a bit trickier. I really like the classic look of the lugged frame bikes so I know I want something of this era and make, but I'm finding it tricky to actually get my hands on one that's the right price. It seems like they are either all a.) in the hands of people who know that they're kind of hot right now and have them priced too high or b.) languishing in somebody's uncle's garage somewhere and not on the market. Anyway, thanks again...I'll keep y'all posted.
12-05-11, 01:22 PM
I suppose I'm biased, but I think it's worth the $400.00. It definitely would be worth that if it had the original racks and Primus pump, in my opinion. The Lotus Odyssey is perhaps the most requested model on the "wanted" emails I get on the site (that and the Raspberry Pink Super Pro). By 1984 (I believe your bike is an 84-ish model) Lotus had really found their stride and I think were designing and importing some of their best bikes. This bike is at least equal to, if not better than the much applauded Miyata 1000, in my opinion, all due respect to Sheldon Brown.
Sell the plastic mounted water bottle holders to a collector and recoup some of your costs.
12-05-11, 04:44 PM
I admit to being biased as well. However, my wife has a Miyata 1000LT. Things I like better about the Miyata include
- 1 more bottle boss
- 40-spoke rear wheel
- better brakes
I give the same nod to the Expedition. However, I like the ride of my Lotus more. For reference, it has 10mm less trail than the Expedition and the Miyata. It feels a hair on the lively side when the front is unloaded, but settles in quite nicely with front panniers. In contrast, the Expedition flops about much more when unloaded, but locks-up and does not handle as well when loaded in the front. It is a small issue, but it is easier to change wheels and brakes on the Lotus than it is to mess about with the front end-geometery of the Expedition.
I cannot speak in the same terms for the Miyata has the bike is too small for me.
12-05-11, 05:24 PM
Interesting info on the 1000LT and Expedition balindamood, thanks. My hands-on memory of the Miyata 1000 is 25+ years old.
Lotus Odyssey and Eclair from 1983 on were spec'd with a 40 spoke rear wheel. I do agreee that 3 sets of bottle bosses would be nice, but I never had issue with other mounting options either. I think the 1984 Lotus gets bonus points for Columbus Tubing over the proprietary Miyata tubing and the Lotus alsoo had chrome fork and stay ends. Even if one doesn't care for chrome, it did add production cost and value to the frame that the Miyata is lacking.
Deservedly so, a lot of weight is given to Sheldon Brown's review of the Miyata 1000, yet I haven't seen evaluation of the other models that were used for comparison. I think the Lotus was just overlooked or the 1980-82 models were used as a comparison. The first-generation Lotus Odyssey and Eclair just weren't the touring bikes that the later models became.
12-05-11, 10:01 PM
I agree that the earlier models of the Lotus touring bikes did not do the later ones justice. In fact, the one mention that Sheldon brown does make towards the Odyssey would suggest it was an earlier model. I also like the 2nd generation ones (like the OP and mine) better than the last generation. I have not ridden one of those, and the shop I worked at dropped Lotus about 1988. The only one I have seen came in for repairs a long time ago. A good bike, but I think the 2nd generation were the top of the line available at the time, but the 3rd generation lost a step on the Voyager and the Miyata (in fact I think the Miyata got better). I feel the same for the Treks (actualy the 720 and the 620 were dropped for 1986, and the 520 remained as their only tourer).
12-06-11, 02:04 PM
You guys are sage! Thanks.
An update about the bike, if you're curious: while on the way to meet the guy to buy the bike, he wrote to tell me he was having second thoughts about parting with it. (Oh, Criagslist! You capricious little tease!) If he does end up selling, I'm buying.
Sell the plastic mounted water bottle holders to a collector and recoup some of your costs.
Until he decides, I'm still hunting!
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