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Lotus Super Pro Aero ~ Rare Find

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Lotus Super Pro Aero ~ Rare Find

Old 10-15-19, 07:01 PM
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Lotus Super Pro Aero ~ Rare Find

We've all said it in the past, "no more bikes!" Yet we all know how addictive this hobby is and how easy it is to be bitten--- again, and again, and again!

It happened to me last night when I went to NH-CL in search of something not bike related. However, my bookmark is for the "Bikes for Sale" page. Right at the top, just posted in the past 1/2 hour or so was the listing for a 60cm Lotus Super Pro Aero. That's my size so I clicked on the listing. The description was very brief and there were only two pictures, the full bike and a closeup of the drive side crank arm. Not much to go on.

So I did a bit of searching and quickly read this was a rare bike on the Vintage Lotus website. They came equipped with Shimano Dura Ace AX components and were fillet brazed Tange Aero tubing. I felt it was worth pursuing especially for the $250 listed price. A few emails later I had a time scheduled to see it this afternoon and it came home.










It is pictured as found with absolutely no cleaning, dusting nor polish. The shoes (my size) were included as well as the Cannondale tubular sock with spare Clement tubular, inner tube, unusual tire irons and spare change (dated in the late '60s to 1984). It is a beauty, yet does not match up with the specs completely.

The Turbo saddle, the rims (rear was replaced in the past 10-15 years ago) crankset, pedals and bars are not what is described in the specs listed on the Lotus site. But I believe I know the reason why.

The original owner, who sold it to me, was a professional racer (he was on the 1984 US Olympic Cycle Team, competed in the Giro, and was sponsored by Lotus and Shimano), and could probably have ordered what he wanted. He told me he won two races on this bike, including the Pine State (NC) Triathlon. He also told me he placed third in the Hawaii Ironman one year.

The owner is in his 70s and his wife is battling cancer. He was quite emotional about selling his "favorite bike" and I didn't want to press him for details such as dates, etc. He promised to share more with me later, and I'll pass this along.

However, the hubs, stem, headset, seatpost, derailleurs, shifters (friction), brake calipers and levers (wrong replacement hoods) are all Dura Ace AX! And for the most part appear to be in good to great shape.

I'm guessing at this point it is a 1983 because the rear hub is DA-AX UG 7 speed cassette. Comments, insights and other thoughts appreciated.
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Last edited by pastorbobnlnh; 10-16-19 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 10-15-19, 07:06 PM
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PB,
Just looking at the condition of the bike I can tell that it was really a cherished possession...a beautiful find but a sad story about why it was being let go.
Take good care of it!
Best, Ben
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Old 10-15-19, 07:15 PM
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Congrats on the score, and I'll remember the previous owner, at the proper time. 😉

I was actually gonna call dibs on that roller cam brake, before I finished reading that first post, lol. 😁😉 I honestly was unaware that was an AX caliper, before reading this.

EDIT: I get it now, Aero as in aero shift levers. Cool. 😎

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Old 10-15-19, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Congrats on the score, and I'll remember the previous owner, at the proper time. ��

I was actually gonna call dibs on that roller cam brake, before I finished reading that first post, lol. ���� I honestly was unaware that was an AX caliper, before reading this.

EDIT: I get it now, Aero as in aero shift levers. Cool. ��
This will be a keeper and a rider. I'll probably only change the rear sprockets by adapting HG to the UG body and include the biggest tooth count granny gear I can make work on the RD. @ScottRyder believes he still has the original set of wheels to the one he parted out. I might acquire those and mount slightly larger tubulars for these rough NH roads.

The tubing is all "aero" as well. None of it is round. Even the seatpost is not round.


Here's the rear caliper from the side.



Thank you @xiaoman1 for the kind words, especially for the original owner.
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Old 10-15-19, 07:54 PM
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Congrats on the amazing find. I'm a huge fan of that group, and I'd personally be tempted to track down more AX stuff for it. Cranks and the bottle, specifically. But I also see the value in keeping it how the original owner had it.
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Old 10-15-19, 08:02 PM
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Beautiful find, Bob. Would have never guessed for one of these to work its way into your collection (then again, it's not a bike one thinks of finding). Curious what you think of it in comparison to your Cannondale fleet.

It says something about how ahead of its time Dura-Ace AX was that the 7700 crankset looks very similar to the original Dyna Drive set - more so than the 7400 series that came in between.

-Kurt
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Old 10-15-19, 09:34 PM
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I have the AX crank and pedals; crank used, pedals new in box.
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Old 10-15-19, 10:11 PM
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Amazing bicycle. These are some of my favorite-looking brake calipers of all time.
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Old 10-16-19, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
Amazing bicycle. These are some of my favorite-looking brake calipers of all time.
Agree! And the good news is that it appears that Kool Stop still makes replacement pads. I just need to check the measurements.
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Old 10-16-19, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
I have the AX crank and pedals; crank used, pedals new in box.
I think even if I had the AX cranks, I'm not certain I'd use the pedals. I prefer clipless. However, I'd give them a try just to say I did so!
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Old 10-16-19, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Beautiful find, Bob. Would have never guessed for one of these to work its way into your collection (then again, it's not a bike one thinks of finding). Curious what you think of it in comparison to your Cannondale fleet.

It says something about how ahead of its time Dura-Ace AX was that the 7700 crankset looks very similar to the original Dyna Drive set - more so than the 7400 series that came in between.

-Kurt
The DA 7700 crankset is a wonderful substitute for the original AX. It was the one thing I could see in the CL photo (which was out of focus) that I noticed was not original. I asked the owner about this and he said it was original to the bike. However, considering that it wasn't made until 1996, makes me wonder if he had forgotten replacing it. I didn't want to press him on this in person once I saw how emotional he was about his wife and selling the bike.

I'll let you know how it compares to the Cannondales. The owner said it was his most favorite bike to ride, especially to climb on, which he said was his biggest strength.

The Dura Ace AX Group vs. the Dura Ace 7700 Group.


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Old 10-16-19, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
The DA 7700 crankset is a wonderful substitute for the original AX. It was the one thing I could see in the CL photo (which was out of focus) that I noticed was not original. I asked the owner about this and he said it was original to the bike. However, considering that it wasn't made until 1996, makes me wonder if he had forgotten replacing it. I didn't want to press him on this in person once I saw how emotional he was about his wife and selling the bike.

I'll let you know how it compares to the Cannondales. The owner said it was his most favorite bike to ride, especially to climb on, which he said was his biggest strength.

The Dura Ace AX Group vs. the Dura Ace 7700 Group.
I bet those pedal adapters available now weren't available when this crank was swapped. Incidentally, would you like a set of the AX style rings for the 7700 crankset? They're not ramped, but if you're looking to keep the AX aesthetics, they ought to do the trick.

If it both climbs and descends well, perhaps we'll convince you to dump those aluminum rattlecans you like so much (promptly ducks for cover from people chucking bikes with train stations at me).

-Kurt
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Old 10-16-19, 06:06 AM
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Awesome find, and a beautiful machine! Glad it was found by someone who appreciates it and will ride the heck out of it
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Old 10-16-19, 06:15 AM
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IMO, the Dura-Ace AX group is one of the most under-rated of all time. It's often the subject of disparaging remarks, due to the number of technical innovations it introduced. I've always found this ironic, given it's clear influence on C-Record and the fact that C-Record was even more idiosyncratic. My favourite feature was the Dyna-Drive crankarm and pedals (which had previously been introduced on 1980 Dura-Ace EX). I was disappointed that hey never became more popular, though the AX series left its marque on cycling by popularizing aero seat posts, aero brake levers, aero stems and aero styling in general.

Dura-Ace AX was 7 speed only, right back to it's introduction for the 1981 model year, so there's no dating guide other than the component date codes or frame S/N.
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Old 10-16-19, 06:33 AM
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Thank you @T-Mar for your insights. Quick question which you might know or someone else can contribute: What is the time frame for Lotus bikes? The vintage Lotus website concentrates on 1980-1990, but does not mention that they only had a 10-11 year history.
@cudak888, yes, if you have a set of the AX chainrings, shoot me an email and let's see what we can work out. BTW, I believe I'll be able to find some time during the next few days to box this for you for it's trip south. I believe this morning's 32F temp is a bit cold for its old bones!

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Old 10-16-19, 07:14 AM
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Lotus bicycles were introduced in the autumn of 1979 for the 1980 model year. The brand was owned by Alpha Cycle & Supply Corp., a NYC based bicycle distributor owned by Sidney Star and which also imported and distributed Windsor bicycles from Acer-Mex in Mexico. The end date is a bit murkier because after Sidney died, his son licensed out the brand name. The last year for Lotus bicycles under direct control of the original owners appears to be circa 1990-1991.
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Old 10-16-19, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
I bet those pedal adapters available now weren't available when this crank was swapped.
They were, but they may not have been readily available during the swap. I'll bet a lot got tossed from ignorance or the regrettable, "These will never be worth anything to anyone." I had two sets back in the '80s--one still in the package--and never used them so passed them on.

Speaking of Lotuses (Loti?) here's one on ghost duty in town. There was originally a Raleigh here but that bike was removed when the lot adjacent was built on. Mid-range Lotus with mismatched wheels.

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Old 10-16-19, 08:23 AM
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Beautiful bike, but best is it goes to someone who will use it and maybe have moments on personal best days when you touch hands with its prior owner.

Be nice if there were any pictures of the prior owner from days when he raced and won, maybe in the local paper?

If you could find such a picture you could then send him a picture when you're done with the bike of his bike with him in his prime in a picture hanging over it.

Here you have a bike that could talk through its owner, I have several that cannot, it is haunting to wonder what stories they could tell.

Enjoy, take care.
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Old 10-16-19, 08:29 AM
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Fabulous. I have a near complete set of AX if you need spares, I prefer my 7100/7400 stuff..
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Old 10-16-19, 10:08 AM
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I'll echo what everyone else is saying. That is a beauty!
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Old 10-16-19, 10:57 AM
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Thanks for sharing. A terrific find and passionately onto goods hands.

Bikes like this can be more interesting than the big chased names by collectors (especially from Europe). This was a serious attempt from Japan to break traditional tubes along with standardized components, yet with the hope to mass produce.

Its also a hint of what Shimano wanted and DID become, the dominate in component supplier. Take a look at that shift mount boss assembly. Its special only for that Tange tubing.

Ironically and only ten years earlier (1973ish), they wouldn't make a standard type yet only larger diameter band clamp shift mount to fit the oversize down tube on the Teledyne. So Teledyne resorted to crimping down to standard component size. A very ugly and poor choice!

Looking forward to a ride report.
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Old 10-16-19, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by crank_addict View Post
Thanks for sharing. A terrific find and passionately onto goods hands.

Bikes like this can be more interesting than the big chased names by collectors (especially from Europe). This was a serious attempt from Japan to break traditional tubes along with standardized components, yet with the hope to mass produce.

Its also a hint of what Shimano wanted and DID become, the dominate in component supplier. Take a look at that shift mount boss assembly. Its special only for that Tange tubing.

Ironically and only ten years earlier (1973ish), they wouldn't make a standard type yet only larger diameter band clamp shift mount to fit the oversize down tube on the Teledyne. So Teledyne resorted to crimping down to standard component size. A very ugly and poor choice!

Looking forward to a ride report.
I'm hoping to take it out for a ride on Friday or Saturday.

Along with a cleaning, it will need custom made leather hoods, new bar wrap, and new cable housing. I'm leaning towards blue to match the decals. I have a dark navy blue Brooks Professional. However, I've come across some gold bar wrap and I have a natural leather custom made @rhm saddle. Would going with gold and tan be too monotone? Any other color suggestions?
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Old 10-16-19, 07:34 PM
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This is a Bad ASS piece of RARE Bicyclage. Totally cool! You have to wonder how many of these are still on the road in the USA. Probably very few. Great bike!

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Old 10-16-19, 07:41 PM
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Nice score!
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Old 10-16-19, 08:14 PM
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I own one Lotus. Not half as cool as yours!

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