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  1. #1
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    New old stock Lotus frame dillemma? What size wheels? Calipers? Headset?

    I bought two new old stock Lotus frames a while back.
    One from eBay, the other from a bike shop.
    Both appear to be the same frame, one in dark blue, the other in green. Both with LOTUS script on the tops of the seat stays, both have sloping crown forks, and both have Lotus decal headbadges, but both came with a metal headbadge and two rivets?
    Both use a recessed seat clamp bolts, both use recessed caliper nuts. Both have Champion #1 decals. Both have Shimano forged dropouts and are 63cm, with 126mm rear spacing. Both frames have down tube shifter bosses and both use a 27.2mm seat posts. Each frameset weighs just under 5lb.

    The shop owner that I bought the one from seemed to think it had been ordered to replace a customer's wrecked Supreme frame but they sent the wrong size and it never got returned. The one from eBay came from a guy that said he bought it at a bankruptcy sale in a lot of items, and knew nothing more about it.

    Now here's the kicker, the rear brake bridge is mounted so far up the seat stays that even with a 27" wheel that the caliper needs to be about 60cm reach or so. Of I use a 700C, a set of long Dia Comp Center pulls would work but there's no way to mount a cable hanger with a recessed seat bolt.
    The fork had the opposite problem, a 27" wheel with a 1 1/8" tire only clears the top of the fork by about .040", a larger tire wouldn't fit. Plus, I can't find a short enough reach brake caliper? I've got a super short set of Shimano 105 calipers, but even they won't adjust up far enough to match the rim. With a 700C wheel, it looks normal and I can run a normal 49mm reach caliper, like the Dia Compe 500s I was planning on using.

    I'd rather run 700C wheels, but I have both sizes here I can use.

    I need to figure out the brake caliper vs. rim size deal.
    If the rear brake bridge was lower, I'd be fine, but it's even mounted high for a 27" rim, and out of reach for a 700C. There’s not much difference between the two rims but the braking surfaces are about 15mm different overall, or about half the width of a brake shoe. I don’t mind running two different length calipers, but I want them to be the same type and series.

    If I run 700C wheels, I won't be able to find a long enough rear caliper, unless I find a way to mount a cable hanger. It looks to me like the rear is made with 27" in mind, and the fork is made for only 700C.

    Also, installing a 27" wheel with tire requires deflating the tire, it hits both the seat post and the front bar between the chainstays, a 700C bare fits in but will clear with a 25mm tire. Was there some type of caliper that I don't know about that would fit something like this?

    Second, does anyone know what was a super low stack height headset from the 80's? I was going to use a Shimano 105 or 600EX headset and there's not enough fork threads. I have an old steel headset from an old Trek that works, but just barely, but I'd prefer to use something lighter.

    I was also wondering if just using a different fork would solve my wheel size problem? I need a steer tube about 244mm long to use the better headset. (As well as allow me to use a 27" wheel and still run my Dia Compe 500 brakes.) I have one Champion #2 all chrome fork here, but its a plain stamped type crown, which would look odd on this bike. But it may be my only option?

    (Sorry for the long first post but I wanted to keep it all in one place).

  2. #2
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Post pictures with the offending areas.

    Google: posting pictures bikeforums.net

    I would hate to change out the fork. My Lotus Classique (Tange Champion 1), has a beautifully crafted front fork.

  3. #3
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    I'm still trying to figure out the picture thing, I took a few pics and tried scanning them but they came out real tiny and it took a half hour to scan?

    I've got the one frame sitting here with a 700C rear wheel mounted, the brake bridge is almost a full three inches above the 700x25 tire. It looks like a normal brake bridge, but there's no way they intended this to hold a brake caliper that far away? Its about a half inch better with a 27" wheel, but even then, if I put a Dia Compe 750 reach CP caliper on there, I'd have to file the brake shoe slots a bit to get proper brake shoe alignment.

    In the front, a 27" really don't fit, but a 700C works perfect with a Dia Compe 500 caliper with the shoes nearly all the way at the top of the slots.

    I agree, the original forks are nice looking, the crown is cast with nice forged dropouts.
    Even if the frame was intended for 27" wheels, what about the front?
    If the bike was meant to be 700C, and even if I could make a CP caliper work, how on earth do I hang the cable? I have a Raleigh Grand Prix that has a welded on brake cable hanger, if this had one I'd already be riding.
    Did they make a brake cable hanger that didn't use the seat clamp bolt?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by junkpile View Post
    how on earth do I hang the cable?
    TA made one that clamped around the seatpost. Universals went to one side of the bolt only. There were some l o n g Weinmann sidepulls for the rear.

    Maybe try and find a catalog pic of the original to see how it was set up? I'm not familiar with Lotus.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by junkpile View Post
    Did they make a brake cable hanger that didn't use the seat clamp bolt?
    yes there's a style that fits in the slot of the seat lug's backside...but this whole thing sounds very odd: a road frame of this era and quality would 90% have come with 700C wheels, and the F&R would match...same with the brake calipers.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Senior Member TugaDude's Avatar
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    Post photos asap. Something sounds a little strange. I doubt very much that you will require anything special in the way of calipers. The bike can probably be made to work with either 27" or 700c, but we can tell a lot more with photos. Of course it is possible that 27" will not work, and that sounds possible given what you say about the front fork. I don't see any advantage in 27" unless that is all you have available, so let's try to make the 700c work.

  7. #7
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    Many bikes used mismatched caliper sizes, several of my Raleigh bikes use long/short CP calipers.
    I had a Lotus frame a number of years ago that was built like that, I still have the fork here. I swapped it for a fork from another bike, I think the fork I used came from a similarly sized Nishiki International or something. In my case, the rear brake reach issue was what made me go to 27" as I felt that the amount of metal I'd need to remove to make even the longest reach side pull work wasn't safe. I ended up using a set of 57mm reach Shimano Side pull brakes. They worked out fine but I still had to remove about 2mm from the bottom of the slot. Do a search on the web, there's a number of posts on various forums about bare frames. I've never been able to tell whether they were selling bare frames or if they were all just replacement frames in dealer stock, or if they dumped frames in their final days?
    It seems that every one that I've seen with the high rear brake bridge issue was dark blue, I've not seen any in Green with that issue. The frame I bought came from a dealer near Wilkesbarre, PA, I was passing through and stopped there while killing some time in the area on business one day. I had noticed a few older bikes in the window and went in. It turned out the shop was closing, or had been closed and I had just happened to find someone there.
    My frame was dark metallic blue, with a non metallic blue headtube. The Fork was all metallic blue, and both my fork and frame had Shimano forged dropouts.

    I had searched all over back then to find an explanation but got nowhere. Mine came with 'TANGE #1" decals, and a headbadge in an envelope with two push rivets and a drill bit. There was no decals at all. My seat stays had LOTUS on them. Mine also had issues with wheel removal, it was a very short frame. It was also very light, I think the frame weighed in at about 2.9lbs and it too was a 63mm frame.

    I even considered the possibility that the rear brake bridge was miswelded but after seeing several frames built and how they use a jig, that's not likely. I did find a CP hanger that went between the seat post ears but I sold the bike before ever doing the conversion. After I got mine together I realized that I hated the feel of the bike. It had a long top tube and short wheelbase. It wasn't much good for general road riding.
    The completed bike was light, at least I thought it was light as being under 24lbs for a 63" frame steel bike fell well below anything else I owned at the time.

    I listed it on eBay back in 07 or so with just the frame and fork, I still have the original fork.
    The original fork that came with mine was short too, the only headset I could find that fit the combo was an old Tange Levin steel headset.

    I doubt if yours was a Supreme as I believe all of those were Columbus tubed, maybe a Classique, as they came in Tange #1, but I was also told that Tange never supplied a #1 tubeset long enough to build a 63cm frame. I have no idea if that was or wasn't actually the case or not, if so I think that a few companies may have taken a few liberties in advertising back then.

  8. #8
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    I think both Rivendell and Velo-Orange sell the seat post bolt cable hangers for the rear brake cable. I am sure others do as well.
    Be the person your dog thinks you are.
    T.J.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
    Post photos asap. Something sounds a little strange. I doubt very much that you will require anything special in the way of calipers. The bike can probably be made to work with either 27" or 700c, but we can tell a lot more with photos. Of course it is possible that 27" will not work, and that sounds possible given what you say about the front fork. I don't see any advantage in 27" unless that is all you have available, so let's try to make the 700c work.
    I've been working on some pics but I think I need to buy a digital camera, this polaroid and scanner thing just isn't working.

    I'm starting to think that the 700C idea is too much trouble, they work up front but if I use the 20A rims I wanted to use, I need to file out the brake slot on the Dia Compe 750 CP about half way to the edge of the aluminum just to get the pads onto the rim, and that doesn't give me an ideal bite on the rim. With a 27" rim, it works. With a 1 1/8" tire on the 27" rim, there's 2 1/8" between the tire and brake bridge, I can improve that ever so slightly by moving the axle up a bit in the dropout but that may not be where it needs to be depending on the derailleur and all.
    On every other bike I've owned, the brake bridge is only half as far away from the tire. This one is set way high for some unknown reason.
    I don't doubt they somehow intended this to use 700C wheels but who knows what they intended for a rear brake. I think the easiest way out is to go 27", use an older side pull caliper, then use another fork, even if I have to take it from another bike. I really wanted to use a better headset too, and I need more threads to do so. Right now it's barely enough for an extra low stack height headset.

  10. #10
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    What brand is this hanger? It looks simpler than what I saw at Velo Orange.

    The whole thing that gets me is that they had to have something in mind when the designed this frame, its not a fluke, I have two of these here from different sources both the same. Was there ever a super long caliper? The longest I can recall would be a Dia Compe 750 reach which is about 78mm. I need about 85mm or more to make 700c wheels work. Then the up front, what CP would I use, I'm not sure if a matching CP, even in a 610 reach would be short enough even with the 700C wheels?
    Did they make an offset bolt for a CP caliper? If not I may be stuck using an old set of 1080 side pulls or a set of MX brakes from a mountain bike or BMX.

  11. #11
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    I had a frame only Lotus that had a super high brake bridge, I went with 27" wheels and changed the fork, I still have the original fork for the 700C wheels. I kept it hoping I'd find a set of brakes I was told would work.
    Apparently some of the AX series and Tourney series center pull brakes have an attached hanger and they drop the caliper a bit compared to a standard caliper mount. Check out these: http://www.velobase.com/ViewComponen...=117&AbsPos=49

    Of course, in the years I've had mine, I've yet to lay hands on a set. There's been a few here and there on eBay but they went for more than I paid for the frame.

    Considering the era those frames seem to be from, its possible they made a frame set up for an odd brake like that I guess. There's no other explanation other than they screwed up a whole bunch of frames? I've paid close attention to every Lotus I've seen, and I've never seen a complete bike that was factory built with the frame I have, all have had either no decals or no model name. Tubing decals all vary but all were Tange #1 or Champion #1, or Tange Prestige, but if like on mine, the tubing decal was missing, only the spec sheet stated the tubing and measurements. The measurements matched so I really never doubted the tubing which was stated Tange #1. The closest factory model I've seen is the Classique but that's not a dead on match. I've compared things like brake bridge placement, braze ons, drop out type, fork crowns, lug type, seat post diameter, and angles, none match. I've had two of these over the years, the one I bought as a bare frame, and one I bought at an auction built up with all older Campy components. I've since sold both.
    Seat post sizes only seem to match the Supreme models, the one Classique I measured had a 26.8mm seat post. I've measured three Supreme models or got specs from other owners and found all to be 27.2 so far.
    The short rear triangle don't match either model. Nor does the rather long top tube and short wheelbase which is partly due to the angle of the headtube, which is greater than the seat post tube angle. This makes for a very twitchy ride. It's not a fun bike to ride due to the angles. I'm not sure what they were trying to achieve, unless the whole mess of them was a big mistake? In other words, it was never a bike that could be ridden with no hands. The tall frame and thin tubing also made for a very flexible frame, I could watch mine flex side to side as I pedaled. There was very little rigidity in the frame under my weight. In comparison, I've got a Raleigh with 531 tubing in the same size that's far more rigid and it handles like a dream. I'm not sure what it was built to do, but it wasn't day to day street riding. I felt more comfortable on my old Varsity than on the Lotus.

  12. #12
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    these frames sound like drum brake candidates

    -rob

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    I didn't think of that, but I can't picture such a light frame running a drum brake?
    I think what I'll do is keep my eye out for a donor bike with a more suitable fork, rather than using a stamped steel chrome fork or something. The issue will be length, these things need a steer tube around 244 or so long. The head tube on these is taller than most 63cm frames I've seen.
    I'm in no hurry, I'll just wait and see what turns up.
    I'd also sort of prefer to go 27" since I have a better selection of 27" rims to build on. I'd have to find something current to go 700C. I have several pair of Rigida 1320, Araya, and Weinman 27" rims to choose from.

  14. #14
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    drum brakes are heavy, but they're kind of neat, and they'll allow you to run your original fork with pretty much whatever rim/tire combo you want. I think it'd be a shame to separate the frame from the fork, even if there's pretty strong evidence that lotus had a pile of frame "A" and a pile of fork "B", and combined 'em haphazardly.

    How light is this build gonna be, really?
    -rob

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    I originally bought these to build one as a road bike and the other as an internal hub cruiser. I gave up on the internal hub idea after realizing how heavy those Nexus 7 speed hubs are.
    I sort of figured that the complete bike would fall in the 25lb range if I use all Shimano 600 or early 105 components, or maybe Suntour Cyclone? I've got one cut to fit aftermarket fork here, it's marked Champion Chromoly tubing but doesn't say what grade of tubing, it's all chrome with a stamped crown. That fork is 2.3lbs, the original fork is 1.9lbs. The next thing would be find suitable rims, I've got one set of new old stock Araya 18 rims laced to Shimano 600 hubs from back in the day, and I've got a new old set of Suntour Cyclone hubs to build on too.
    If I could find front and rear drum hubs to match, that might me neat but again, there's the weight issue, and don't front drum brakes require a braze on to lock the backing plate in place?
    I thought about a roller brake hub but the brake lever issue ended that idea as they require a special lever.
    Also, I'm not looking to dump a ton of cash here in these, I've got a pretty decent assortment of older components I'd like to use, which is why I jumped on these frames in the first place. That and I prefer older bikes, set up the way they were back then, pre index shifting and such.

  16. #16
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    I'm assuming 60 cm brake reach is a typo for 6 cm or 60 mm, correct?

    Last I checked, Hilary Stone's website had a Campy drop center bolt, which might solve your problem.

  17. #17
    WNG
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    The last thread regarding this Lotus bridge anomaly, I brought up the suggestion to simply fabricate a custom 'drop mount'. If the gap is so great, there's enough space to machine a piece of aluminum stock to bolt to the bridge and provide a lowered through hole to mount a short reach caliper.
    Then use 700C wheels and no tire clearance problems.
    Swapping forks for 27" wheels, trying to locate a rare unknown caliper, deflating tires, seem as much trouble and not a satisfactory solution in the end. Toss in limited headset choice, and this frame sounds like one is trying to beat a C&V dead horse.
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    Going 700C will mean using a very short stack headset, and coming up with an odd rear caliper arrangement.
    With 27" wheels, I can use a normal caliper in the rear and but I'd have to change the fork but changing just the fork solves the headset and brake issue, along with any clearance issues with 27" wheels.
    Call me lazy but a $20 fork swap solves everything?

    My big question is what on earth were they thinking when they made these frames?
    Was there some oddball caliper that I'm not aware off? I highly doubt they screwed up two frames, and two that are numbered a pretty good distance apart too. These are numbered on the side of the seat post, and neigther number is really even close to one another.

    I bought several forks for this, one is from a Trek, which looks nearly identical to the original, even in color, but for a 27" wheel, I believe its from a 412, or at least that's what the bike shop said where I found it, the other is tagged Nishiki Olympic. The Nishiki fork looks like a longer version of the original, even a dead ringer color wise. However the Nishiki fork isn't any longer steer tube wise, but it came with a Tange headset that's even shorter than the one I had. But again, the Tange headset is all steel.

  19. #19
    WNG
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    If you have a working solution, then by all means. It's just that I recall another buyer pulling his hair out over the same situation....trying to solve this mystery of the unknown caliper.
    It is an oddball set up. And I'm sure it wasn't by error too. I guess we'll never find out unless we find one of the former Lotus management. There was a recent Lotus thread with a post of a Lotus catalog. (1st I've seen here)
    Maybe your eye can spot the corresponding model to your frame? There was a parts list for each model too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WNG View Post
    If you have a working solution, then by all means. It's just that I recall another buyer pulling his hair out over the same situation....trying to solve this mystery of the unknown caliper.
    It is an oddball set up. And I'm sure it wasn't by error too. I guess we'll never find out unless we find one of the former Lotus management. There was a recent Lotus thread with a post of a Lotus catalog. (1st I've seen here)
    Maybe your eye can spot the corresponding model to your frame? There was a parts list for each model too.
    It's tough tell by the pics of that catalog, I can't make out most of the specs.
    Going by color, rear triangle shape, and seat stay style at the seat post lug I'd say it's closest to the supreme.
    The seat stays taper off and begin to wrap around the seat lug slightly, and the space between the wheel and seat post is less than a finger's width. The Supreme appears the only one that has a short triangle which comes in dark blue, they call it Navy. Of course, a different year might not apply?

    However it does list all models in 63cm came only in Tange #2, and Tange #1 was only used on those under 57cm tall. I heard that before, that even though its advertised as Tange #1, they built most big bikes in Tange #2?
    That part don't bother me either way. It's a super light bike compared to any other framesets I've got here.
    I'm thinking Shimano 600 or early 105 hubs and Araya 27" wheels, the Nishiki 27" fork, the Tange headset and a pair of long reach 600 side pull calipers, or a Dia Compe CP combo and order a custom rear hanger online.

    I really have no idea what year this thing was made either, I'm just guessing right now.
    The Champion decal tells me it's early 80's since most newer bikes had Tange decals later on.
    Any idea when they stopped using the Champion name?

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