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  1. #1
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    80's Lotus, Uniqe

    I just picked this up on CL. A 56cm and in very nice all original condition. From sometime in the 80's "the guy said" was selling for his sister who was afraid of dealing with people through CL.

    IMG_0306.jpgIMG_0308.jpgIMG_0310.jpgIMG_0311.jpgIMG_0312.jpgIMG_0313.jpgIMG_0314.jpgIMG_0316.jpgIMG_0318.JPG

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    Looks good, I am biased towards the 80s japanese steel as I think they are great riders but generally undervalued. Unique was mid level, comparable to fuji clubs or teams of the era. Do not know my lotus years but that cromed fork w/ lotus engraved was mid 80s. Lotus does not seem as common as some, so perhaps 250+- in local sale? Many fine japanese models of the era can be found for 200 or less though.

  3. #3
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    I agree. My market would be lower due to sheer ignorance of the Lotus brand, but $250 kind of goes here for a clean, rideable bike that has decent components and will be a casual rider or a steppingstone.

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻
    Perhaps you didn't really hear what you thought I said...

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies (and any other comments that might also follow).

    Then I did good... or at least OK.. on price. I am not a flipper or even a collector. I do like to have a bicycle or two to wrench on in the cold months. I scrubbed it clean (enough) and hung it on the wall in my basement cave. It replaced an old Univega (also Japanize made) that had hung on the wall. And the Univega became the back-up/wet weather bike that hangs in the garage. I had sold the back-up bike/mountain bike in the spring... when I decided it didn't fit my needs.

    The Lotus doesn't really need any actual work or repair. But I will find it a nicer/lighter saddle... polish it some more and replace its bar tape. Now... according to the N+1 rule (and a negotiated agreement with the wife) I have one more bicycle position I can fill.

  5. #5
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    That's a beauty, a 1984 model. Actually, the 1984 Lotus catalog doesn't say "1984" on it, we believe the 1984 style bikes were made for two years 1984-1985. The only way to tell so far is to date the components on the bike. We haven't found any significant differences in the 1984-85 bikes, so we just call them all 1984 models to keep it simple. This also explains why 1984 models are more common than 1983 bikes as the 1983 models were probably only made for a year.

    The color is just called Violet-Blue, it's one of my favorite Lotus colors, it seems to change hue depending on the light. Photos don't usually do it justice.

    Your bike looks very original, including what appears to be IRC Roadlite tires and a complete Cat Eye RR-250 reflector set. Lotus was using foam grips on some models in the mid 1980s, so they could be correct. The extension levers were added and the seat was changed.

    The Unique was a sportier version of the Lotus Excelle, I like to think Lotus added all the things onto the Unique that they couldn't put on the Excelle and still keep the Excelle under the $300.00 price point.

    The Excelle was Lotus' best selling model, so we often use that bike as a point of comparison.

    Those green label Ukai rims are unique to the Unique and difficult to find. Those rims with the Suntour sealed bearing hubs make for a very durable combination. Lotus usually didn't skimp on wheels.

    The bike is crammed full of great vintage details with the engraving on the seat stay caps, chrome engraved fork crown, chrome stays, chrome fork ends, and contrasting head tube. Even the saddle was a Lotus branded Kashimax.

    That's also the original style water bottle cage with the plastic base, the bike came with a Lotus water bottle back in the day. It was the first model in the line up that came with the bottle.

    Definitely a cool Lotus bike that I'd be proud to own, congratulations on your find.
    Last edited by Snydermann; 06-04-14 at 06:09 AM.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  6. #6
    Senior Member daf1009's Avatar
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    Sounds like you found this for a very nice price...and, having just had a Unique in my stable for a while, I can tell you that they ride pretty nice...finally, this one looks pretty good in the pics...so...congrats and GREAT job!
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  7. #7
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    That bike may be mid-range but it is beautiful with lots of great details. I'm a big fan of vintage Japanese bikes and own several of them (Miyata, Bridgestone, and Specialized). Your bike is a keeper.

  8. #8
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    I lived for a few years up in PA where Lotus did a lot of importing. During that time I picked up quite a few bikes in the Lotus line. The Unique was definitely the best of the lot that I scored. Sadly it was hugely out of my size range so I let it go. Robbie's estimated price is probably what the bike would sell for in the marketplace, but I think it's "worth" far more.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
    ........... Your bike looks very original, including what appears to be IRC Roadlite tires and a complete Cat Eye RR-250 reflector set.

    Definitely a cool Lotus bike that I'd be proud to own, congratulations on your find.
    Yes... as I understand it... it was used regularly for the first three seasons (maybe) then carefully stored away. The bicycle is very much original and in excellent condition. The tires are the original IRC Roadlite [27 X 1] and show no actual wear. But they do have some fine little crack lines in them. If I was to ride it any to speak of... I'd need to find new/replacement tires. I haven't located a source for those yet.

    The bicycle is currently clean... but not yet fully polished and primped. It hangs on the wall looking pretty. Winter should provide me with the time to make it even prettier. What I will do with her after that... I don't know. I'll gladly accept suggestions.

    Thank you and everyone for the feed back.

  10. #10
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I think there was more jealousy than feedback on this thread,

  11. #11
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    What I will do with her after that... I don't know. I'll gladly accept suggestions.
    I know if it were my bike I'd try to bring her back to 100% original, the correct saddle and water bottle aren't easy to find, but they are out there.

    In general, the average Lotus bike may not be as common as some makes, but they aren't particularly rare. However, completely (100%) original Lotus bikes, any models, are EXTREMELY rare.

    You're most of the way there with this bike and it has a lot of winning attributes . . . condition, color, size, and model. I'd make it a museum quality display bike and you may end up with the only one out there left of it's kind.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
    I know if it were my bike I'd try to bring her back to 100% original, the correct saddle and water bottle aren't easy to find, but they are out there.
    I like that idea!

  13. #13
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    I like that idea!
    I'm glad to hear that, originality in 1980s bikes still seems under-appreciated. I've been recommending to folks that they stay ahead of the curve and keep their bikes original. Collector demand is clearly heading in that direction. The rarity of original examples, even now, makes them a scarce commodity.

    I've stopped buying any Lotus bikes that are too far deviated from original, it's just too expensive and time consuming to locate the correct parts if too many are missing. I've given up on trying to build original wheel sets. Prices are also going crazy for original saddles, tires, and rims compared to 5 or 10 years ago. Even original details like toe clips, straps, and reflectors are getting expensive. I've found it's worth paying more for an original bike in good condition.

    The foam grips could be original on that bike, Lotus seemed to use them intermittently on many of the entry to mid level models from 1983 to 1985. Most notably the Lotus Eclair has been observed with original tape and original foam grips. The Eclair is shown in the 1984 catalog with foam, the Unique with tape. Checking any makers marks on the end plugs could provide a clue, OGK was a common supplier. Many of the water bottle cages are marked OGK, but that changed as the bikes aged through the 1980s.

    I'm a big fan of reflectors, as they tend to show the bike wasn't used much, and I think they make the bike appear showroom new. Plus, the reflector sets used changed along with the period of the Lotus bikes. The Cat Eye round black and clear wheel reflectors are very indicative of the year of the bike, Lotus only used that style on the 1983-85 models. 1986 reflectors were different as well as 1987 reflectors. The Lotus first-generation bikes (1980-82) used the larger RR-280 wheel reflectors in red and yellow.

    "It's the details that make the job." My grandfather told me that when I was a kid and it's stuck with me ever since.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  14. #14
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
    .... The foam grips could be original on that bike, Lotus seemed to use them intermittently on many of the entry to mid level models from 1983 to 1985. ....... Checking any makers marks on the end plugs could provide a clue, OGK was a common supplier. Many of the water bottle cages are marked OGK, but that changed as the bikes aged through the 1980s..
    I thought the foam was factory.... merely because I never met anyone who would have install the foam (I never liked it much). The only marking I could see on the bottle cage is a raised word in the plastic that says "Japan".

    The end-plugs are plain, with no marking.... with a Phillip's head screw. I am familiar with plugs like that... but thought they were older... used in earlier years.

    IMG_0319.jpg

  15. #15
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    I thought the foam was factory.... merely because I never met anyone who would have install the foam (I never liked it much). The only marking I could see on the bottle cage is a raised word in the plastic that says "Japan".

    The end-plugs are plain, with no marking.... with a Phillip's head screw. I am familiar with plugs like that... but thought they were older... used in earlier years.

    IMG_0319.jpg
    Foam was all the rage, particularly in the mid to late 1970s. It was the first "upgrade" many riders did to their bikes. Realize it did not start out "rock hard".

  16. #16
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    I went ahead and purchased a '84 vintage Kashimax saddle. It is not branded (in the back with LOTUS). But it does appear to be the same or very similar to many of the old pictures I reviewed. In any case.... it is much better than the clunky fat saddle on the bicycle now. I will continue to keep an eye out for the exact lotus branded saddle. As I study-up on and learn about the Lotus brand and models.

    I think I might just go ahead and order a couple water bottles from the good folks at: www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.comas well.

    These little touches will give me the time it could take to locate the actual... and properly branded items. And to be honest... I hated the look of that saddle that's on the bicycle. The Lotus will look much prettier hanging on my (basement office) wall with the proper style/era/manufactures saddle. I've already got to show it off to a friend that stopped by.

    Thank you all so much for the kind words, encouragement, and knowledgeable advice.


  17. #17
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    I thought the foam was factory.... merely because I never met anyone who would have install the foam (I never liked it much). The only marking I could see on the bottle cage is a raised word in the plastic that says "Japan".

    The end-plugs are plain, with no marking.... with a Phillip's head screw. I am familiar with plugs like that... but thought they were older... used in earlier years.

    IMG_0319.jpg
    The expander type OGK plugs aren't all marked. I have some NOS OGK plugs in the package and if it wasn't for the package you'd never know they were OGK. If you remove one and get a better photo I may be able to tell you for sure. No markings is actually better than the wrong markings for originality, as so far we haven't seen any common brands like Velox or Cat Eye plugs used as original equipment on Lotus bikes.

    The 1983 bikes used OGK branded water bottle cages but as time went on they switched to just Japan branded. If you look at the two side-by-side, the OGK bottle holders are nicer quality. I suspect the Japan branded cages were used to lower costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    I went ahead and purchased a '84 vintage Kashimax saddle. It is not branded (in the back with LOTUS). But it does appear to be the same or very similar to many of the old pictures I reviewed. In any case.... it is much better than the clunky fat saddle on the bicycle now. I will continue to keep an eye out for the exact lotus branded saddle. As I study-up on and learn about the Lotus brand and models.

    I think I might just go ahead and order a couple water bottles from the good folks at: www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com as well.

    These little touches will give me the time it could take to locate the actual... and properly branded items. And to be honest... I hated the look of that saddle that's on the bicycle. The Lotus will look much prettier hanging on my (basement office) wall with the proper style/era/manufactures saddle. I've already got to show it off to a friend that stopped by.

    Thank you all so much for the kind words, encouragement, and knowledgeable advice.

    It's only taken three years, but we're almost sold out of the Lotus water bottles, I think we have about a dozen of the original 200 left. We're working on a new design for the next batch. All the funds from the water bottle sales go to support the hosting costs for the Lotus website (which GoDaddy tripled this year), so we appreciate the support. We're also considering having t-shirts printed, there doesn't seem to be any Lotus shirts out there. I know I'd like to have one to wear to bike events and such. We don't have any advertising on the site, so we have to hawk stuff like bottles and decals to cut the costs.

    Luckily, the Unique and the Excelle both used the same saddle in 1984, so they are out there. For a while, the Lotus branded saddles were worth less than the Kashimax branded, but now that's changing. The saddle has a unique profile and sporty appearance, so the correct saddle just looks "right" on the bike. Plus the Lotus nameplate is just cool. I've approached craigslist sellers with a nice replacement saddle (used) and $20.00 and purchased an original saddle. Sometimes you have to be creative. Vintage Kashimax saddles were also used on BMX bikes and those guys really pay top dollar for nice stuff.

    I'm thrilled with your enthusiasm for correctly restoring your Lotus, I'm sure it will make for a great project.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  18. #18
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    While a mid level Japanes bike this one does have a lot of nice detail and great paint. I would say $300 give or take in a good market.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
    The expander type OGK plugs aren't all marked. I have some NOS OGK plugs in the package and if it wasn't for the package you'd never know they were OGK. If you remove one and get a better photo I may be able to tell you for sure. No markings is actually better than the wrong markings for originality, as so far we haven't seen any common brands like Velox or Cat Eye plugs used as original equipment on Lotus bikes.
    I pulled one of the end plugs out... and still no markings. A hard plastic end-plate "button" recessed for the screw. A separate soft squishy rubber inside piece with a thin metal bolt-like part on the inner-most part.

    endplug.JPG

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    My first wife was an antique collector... so I have an understanding of “keeping an item correct”. And... I know I can at least... keep from screwing it up.

    I believe I can get the seller to speak with the original owner and actually inquire about the original saddle and water bottle..... and any other parts and/or pieces. He already knows I pay cash.

    I will also speak with the local bicycle co-op (they know me there) and ask them to assist me in my parts search. They've helped me previously find parts and I think I was generous enough with my appreciation that they will help again. If I have to buy and later flip a “parts bike” to get what I need... that wouldn't bother me. I like a good project.

  21. #21
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    I pulled one of the end plugs out... and still no markings. A hard plastic end-plate "button" recessed for the screw. A separate soft squishy rubber inside piece with a thin metal bolt-like part on the inner-most part.

    endplug.JPG
    Yes, that's an OGK plug. I've attached a photo of my NOS plugs. When taking it apart I noticed that it is marked OGK (in lettering smaller than my eyesight can comprehend) on the back of the plastic cap.

    Learn something new every day.

    OGK-Plugs.jpg

    Interesting that OGK is Osaka Grip Mfg Co. I think that was their main product in the 1980s then they added to their product line as time went on. I think they are better known for BMX parts than road bike parts. Earlier and some later Lotus bikes with tape used OGK caps that fit over the outside of the bar and were held in place by the bar tape (starting at the bottom and winding to the top, fixed with a spot of glue), so it makes sense that foam grips would use an internal expanding plug.

    OGK still makes foam grips, I tried to buy some from Japan but couldn't find anyone that would ship them to me.

    I enjoy restoring a bike to original. There are no choices to make for parts selection, only one item is correct on the bike. It's like following a blueprint. There is only one answer. For example, If I had to choose a new replacement saddle for a bike, there are hundreds of choices. But if I'm restoring a bike, only one saddle is correct.

    I guess I like the discipline of it. Too many choices drive me crazy making a decision.
    Last edited by Snydermann; 06-06-14 at 08:36 PM. Reason: I added stuff . . .
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  22. #22
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
    Yes, that's an OGK plug................
    ................I guess I like the discipline of it. Too many choices drive me crazy making a decision.
    Well I am glad my "parts list" isn't growing.

    I had planned on waiting till the cold winter months before cleaning and polishing the Lotus much more. But that's harder to do than it sounds. For now.... I begin my search for the branded saddle and the water bottle. I'll call the seller today [and ask about any parts] and visit the bicycle co-op tomorrow.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
    ...... When taking it apart I noticed that it is marked OGK (in lettering smaller than my eyesight can comprehend) on the back of the plastic cap.
    I would have sworn there was nothing there [on the inside of the cap] other than marks/scratches from the handle bars. But I got out the big magnifying glass and could just make out a: JAPAN. I think something else was also there... obscured by wear.

    Thanks again.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    The period/era correct-ish saddle arrived today. I looks much better on the bicycle than the old clunky one. So now it looks pretty while the parts search goes on. It may take a while but hopefully I will get the Lotus in proper shape soon enough for photographs and submittal to vintagelotusbicycles.com.

    Thanks again everyone!

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