Trek 630 • Jamis Quest • Bilenky Tourlite and various others
I have a ('83?) Lotus Eclair in my possession right now and it's a well thought out tourer. Angles are slack, outfitted with the then, new, complete Deore gruppo and very nice front and rear racks that also came stock. Tubes are Tange, butted, Mangaloy(?- not sure of the spelling). 27" wheels might be the only rub.
Not familiar with Panasonic's in general, but from what I've read, folks love their Lotus's. Which, incidentally, was a U.S. designed bike made in China with limited distributorship. Do a web search and you'll find out quite a bit.
I, too, have an 83ish Lotus Eclair which I bought new for about $400. Today, it's my daily commuter and a wonderfully comfortable ride. I believe the Odyssey was their top-of-the-line offering. At one point, a riding buddy rode a Panasonic (not sure of the model) but it couldn't hold a candle to my Lotus.
I have an early Panasonic PT 5000, which is a step up from the 3500... very nice whip, with a great ride. Dunno about the lotus. My Panasonic is more of a sport tourer though... perhaps not the best for a full load, but just a thought? The Panasonic is my 'fast road bike' given that my campstuff haulers have 26 inch wheels and are much more overbuilt...
Thanks to everyone.
The funny thing is that I picked neither Lotus nor Panasonic. Instead I've got Miyata 1000LT from the guy from this forum.
Miyata 1000 is the top touring bike from Miyata. According to Sheldon Brown it is The Best!