If you had $425.00 to spend on a new bicycle in 1986, you might have found yourself the proud new owner of a Lotus Unique, in this case, an outstanding bicycle for the money.
The 1986 Unique features not just single-butted, or double-butted, not even triple-butted, but Ishiwata's EXO Quad-Butted Cro-Moly tubing. Other frame details include Tange fork blades, forged dropouts and a lotus engraved fork crown, all painted in beautiful Pearlescent Coral as shown here, or you could choose from Azure Blue or Satin Black. The contrasting black head tube and multi-color LOTUS decal are quite stunning, much more attractive than just a riveted head badge, in our opinion.
By 1986, Lotus had 14 different models to choose from and the Unique was placed right in the middle of the line-up as part of the Super Sport Triathlon Series that also included the Legend, Cyclone, and Classique. 1986 models would not yet sport Triathlon Series decals, that would happen in 1987.
Lotus says, "The Lotus Super Sport Series represents the type of bicycle on which we have built our reputation. From the beginning Lotus has designed its bicycles to be light, agile and responsive - the kind of bikes that cycling enthusiasts love to ride."
We would be inclined to agree.
Fellow Lotus author and enthusiast, Travis from Chicago, owns this fine example of a third-generation Lotus Unique. His website, Lotus Bicycles is always a fun and informative read as Travis hunts the web, and the world, for all that's surfacing in the Lotus community.
"I bought the Unique from a craigslist seller...driving to Iowa in a snowstorm to pick it up. Before Iowa, the bike came from Peoria, Illinois, as it has a registration sticker on the seat tube indicating Illinois residency. I believe I am the third owner. Minus the tires and bar tape, everything else was stock when I purchased it."
~~ Travis from Chicago ~~
The photo on the right shows just a few of the beautiful details on the Unique. Note the fine lug work, recessed brake bolt, lotus flower engraving on the fork crown and the Tange Cr-Mo decal on the fork blade. The Suntour Sprint components are exquisitely finished and anodized.
The photo below shows Travis' Unique in as-purchased condition.
The stock 1986 Unique sports an eclectic mix of parts including Suntour Sprint derailleurs, Sugino GP crank and Dia-Compe G500 brakes. Travis is tastefully upgrading the bike with additional Suntour Sprint components.
Travis writes, "I exchanged the original Sugino GP crankset with a Suntour Sprint crankset to match the Sprint derailleurs. Aesthetically, the differences are minor yet pleasing and the extra tooth on the Sprint crank makes a considerable difference in the gearing. (Sugino 52/42T vs. Suntour 53/42T). The changeout required a shorter bottom bracket spindle, so now there's a Tange sealed BB in there. Of course, all of these changes are reversible."
Travis brings up a good point. It's fine to upgrade, customize or change your vintage Lotus, but it's always a good idea to save the original parts and make sure that any changes you make are reversible.
Even Travis' fine photographs don't do the Sprint components justice, you really need to see them in person to fully appreciate their quality. The finish is so fine they almost glow. Note the high-quality forged dropout with the axle adjusting screw and the threaded boss for mounting a fender or rack. The Unique also features under-the bottom-bracket cable routing so the cable stop is brazed on the under-side of the chain stay.
Thank you for sending along the photographs and history of your Unique, Travis. We're pleased to have such a fine and uncommon example represented here as a Featured Bicycle.
For more information about the Lotus Unique, please visit the Unique
All photographs courtesy of Travis from Chicago, edited by VintageLOTUSbicycles.com