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Competition

1984 Lotus Competition Fork Detail


"A hand crafted professional bike with tubular wheels, racing frame and gearing."

~~ 1981 Catalog Quote ~~


"Our LOTUS  COMPETITION, equipped with Suntour's Superbe Professional Groupo from headset to bottom bracket and our LOTUS SUPREME, with full Shimano Dura-Ace groupo are two jewels you won't need a rich uncle to afford"
~~ 1983 Lotus Catalog ~~


". . . attention to detail you'd expect on a bicycles well over a thousand dollars. But for well under a thousand dollars, you can get this finely crafted frame equipped with a full Campagnolo Nuovo Record Groupo and black hardened tubular rims.
 An exceptional value."

~~ 1984 Lotus Catalog ~~

The Lotus competition was produced from 1980 to 1984 and came in four similar yet distinct versions during that time.

From 1980 to 1982 Lotus brought three high-end professional-quality racing bikes to the table. 
All three of the top Lotus models came equipped with sew-up tires on tubular rims, as would be expected on a true professional-quality racing bicycle of the time.
  • The lowest priced of the Lotus racing bikes from 1980-1982 was the Lotus Competition. 
  • The next model up was the conventional frame Lotus Supreme equipped with the Dura-Ace EX group. 
  • Then there was the top-of-the-line aerodynamic oval-tubed frame Lotus Super Pro equipped with the Dura-Ace AX group. 
The first-generation Lotus Competition (1980-82) featured a Tange Champion double-butted frame, chromed head lugs and chromed fork crown (with LOTUS engraving on some frames).

The first-generation Competition was available in two colors, Ice Blue and Red.

The first-generation Competition was available with two component packages. The earliest version was an eclectic mix of parts designed to offer the higest-quality professional performing components at the best price.  That bicycle featured Suntour derailleurs, Shimano 600 cranks and brakes, Sunshine hubs, SR bar and stem, and KKT pedals.

The other package available used the Suntour Superbe-Pro group or at least the majority of the group.

It is believed that the Competition began with the eclectic mix of parts in 1980 and evolved into a complete Suntour Superbe-Pro bike by 1982.  However, both bikes may have been available simultaneously.  Generally, the later first-generation bikes seem to have more Superbe-Pro components than the earlier bikes. 
Early Model Lotus Competition in Ice Blue

The early Ice Blue Competition pictured above features the eclectic mix of factory components. Note the Shimano 600 EX crank with the open style chainrings, Suntour Cyclone derailleurs, Shimano 600 EX brakes and KKT pedals.  Also featured on all of the first-generation Competition models is the Kashimax Super-Pro saddle.

As with many of the early Lotus racing bikes, the original Ukai or Araya tubular rims are long gone on this bike and have been substituted with clincher rims.  This was very common with Lotus bicycles, some bike shops even swapped out the tubular wheels with clinchers for their customers before the bike ever left the showroom floor.  This makes the original rims very hard to find.

It has also been observed that earlier first-generation Competition frames used clamp-on shifters and front derailleurs, later first-generation models came with braze-ons. 

Just to further the confusion, given that the top-end Lotus models were more than likely purchased by cycling enthusiasts, it's not uncommon to find bicycles with even further mixed components, as the bicycle were often upgraded and modified over the years. 

The scan above is from the 1981 Lotus catalog and shows the Superbe-Pro equipped Competition in Ice Blue. Note the double seat tube stripes, these may be a catalog-only photo as no Competition bikes have been found yet with double seat tube stripes.  The Red Competition on the inset photo is equipped with the eclectic mix of parts.

Note the low-profile appearance of the tubular rims, this adds a lightness to the look of the bicycle  that is generally lost when clincher rims are substituted. 

Note the blue coordinating handlebar tape installed, the Competition was one of the first Lotus models to do so.

The photo below shows a one-owner first-generation Competition in Red.  This bike also features the eclectic mix of parts, the original Araya tubular rims and Kashimax Super-Pro saddle.  It is becoming exceedingly difficult to find, buy, or build a bicycle in this original condition.

The photos below show a later first-generation Competition equipped with the Superbe-Pro group in as-found condition, it's probably a 1982 model according to component dating and the braze-on shift levers, not seen on the two models shown above, they use the clamp-on levers.

While the 1982 Competiton shown below still has the original Araya tubular rims, it is missing the Kashimax Super-Pro Saddle, the bar tape, and brake hoods.  Still, an excellent candidate to ride or restore.

The second-generation Lotus Competition, 1983-1984.

1983 was a year of change for Lotus as they revamped and upgraded almost their entire model line. But rather than a drastic change, it was more of a polishing and evolution of the line.

The 1983 Lotus Competition continued the use of the Suntour Superbe-Pro group while a version of the previously available eclectic mix of parts was featured on the new Lotus Legend Compe racing bicycle. All of the Lotus racing bicycles, were now classified as
"Racing Series"  to help differentiate the models into easier to understand groups. All of the Racing Series  bicycles were built using the famous Italian Columbus SL or SP tubing and continued to use sew-up tires on tubular rims.

The Lotus Racing Series  for 1983 includes:
  • The new for 1983 entry-level racing bike, the Lotus Legend Compe with an eclectic mix of Sugino, Suntour, Dia Compe, SR, and KKT parts.
  • The mid-level Suntour Superbe-Pro equipped Lotus Competition 
  • The deluxe Shimano Dura-Ace EX equipped Lotus Supreme
  • The top-of-the-line Shimano Dura-Ace AX equipped aerodynamic Lotus Super Pro, now available in Raspberry Pink as well as Metallic Gold
The 1983 Lotus Competition was available in Ice Blue and Oxide Green. The frame is still similar to the first-generation models, but in addition to the chrome head lugs and smooth fork crown, there is additional chrome on the rear seat stay and a full compliment of braze-ons including two sets of bottle bosses.  The 1983 Competition maintains the spoon seat stay cap design from the first-generation models. 

The 1983 Competition models seem to be the most difficult to find of all the Competition editions. We believe the first-generation bikes cover three years of production (1980-82) and the 1984 Competition bikes were made for two years during 1984-1985.  Thus, 1983 bikes were only made for one year, or possibly less. In general, most 1983 Lotus bikes seem less common than other year models.

The 1984 Lotus catalog is not actually dated 1984 anywhere in the catalog.  We assigned the bikes in the catalog as 1984 models based on component dating of known bikes that matched photos in the catalog. We assume the 1984 catalog actually extended production through 1985.  The next known catalog of Lotus bikes is dated 1986.  So far no 1985 catalog has surfaced.

After 1983, the Tsunoda labels would begin to disappear from almost all the Lotus models.  The 1983 Competition still carries a Tsunoda label, but the majority of 1984 models do not.

The photo below is the best photo we have of a 1983 Lotus Competition.  Note the Suntour Superbe-Pro crank and the Kashimax Super-Pro saddle. One can barely see the gold Columbus labels on the frame and fork, but they are there.

We're hoping a generous Lotus fan with a relatively original 1983 Lotus Competition can help us out with some better photos.  If you are the fortunate owner of a 1983 Competition and would like to help us in that quest, please contact us here.
Lotus Competition Stays and Bottle BossesLotus Competition Plain Fork Crown


The 1984 Competition was now part of the "Team Lotus Racing Series" which included:

  • The inexpensive training/track/messenger bike, the Lotus Sprint, made in Taiwan by Pacific Cycles. The Sprint was the only Team Lotus Racing Series  model to use clincher rims and tires.
  • The entry-level Lotus Legend Compe equipped with the Campagnolo Gran Sport groupo with Nuovo Record derailleurs and Araya RED label tubular rims.
  • The mid-level Lotus Competition equipped with the Campagnolo Nuovo Record groupo and Araya 16B Super Hard black anodized tubular rims.
  • The top-of-the-line Lotus Supreme equipped with the Campagnolo Super Record groupo and Araya 16B Super Hard black anodized tubular rims. 
  • The Lotus Super Pro was discontinued and not available in 1984. 
The 1984 Lotus Competition was available in Ice Blue and Oxide Green, same as 1983. The frame is still similar to the 1983 models continuing the spoon seat stay cap, but the fork crown now has Lotus logo engravings.  Most frames are not marked Tsunoda, but now carry a small "Made in Japan" label.

Components not included in the Campagnolo groupo were made by Japanese companies (SR, Suntour, KKT, and Kashimax, for the bar, stem, saddle, chain, freewheel, toe clips and straps), probably to help keep the price down.

We believe the 1984 Campagnolo bikes (and other 1984 Lotus models) were made by a company other than Tsunoda. We've discussed with people in the industry at the time, that is was possible that Lotus exceeded the production capacity of Tsunoda, or perhaps the small family company of Tsunoda did not want to install Italian components on their Japanese bikes.  This is all conjecture, of course, there could be other reasons for the change. 
The photo above shows a 1984 Lotus Competition in Ice Blue.  The saddle, rims, and brake hoods are all replacements.  If you're lucky, the replacement clincher rims were laced to the original Campagnolo hubs, but more often than not, if the rims aren't original, the hubs aren't either.  It's usually less expensive to find a set of complete replacement wheels than it is to purchase new rims and spokes and then pay to have them laced onto the original hubs. Sometimes even the freewheel is not the original model after a wheel change.

Note how think, chunky, and heavy the clincher rims look on the Ice Blue Competition in comparison to the tubular rims on the Oxide Green Competition shown below.  The Ice Blue bike looks more like an Excelle than a streamlined vintage Lotus racing bike.

The photo below shows a 1984 Competition in Oxide Green.  Except for the missing pedals, the bike looks all original, including the correct Araya black anodized tubular rims and Kashimax saddle.  The Kashimax saddle should have a reflective LOTUS plate under the rear of the saddle.  This is a very nice bicycle and is becoming increasingly rare as the 1984 Lotus racing bikes are frequently stripped for their valuable Campagnolo components.  This is a disturbing and common practice fueled entirely by ignorance and greed.  

1980-1982 Lotus Competition
              
Frame Details Fork stiffeners, diamond bridge lugs, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, brazed on bottle bosses, shifter support bracket, brazed on front derailleur boss, extra long spoon seat stays at seat lug, 1/2 chrome chain stay, recessed brake bolts, chrome head lugs with diamond cut outs.

Late 1981 and 1982: Add brazed on shifter bosses.
Frame Tubing Tange Champion Double Butted Cro-Mo 50-56 #1, 58-63 #2
Headset Suntour Superbe Pro or
*Shimano 600 EX
Fork Tange Champion, Forged and Engraved Crome Crown w/ Cut Outs Handlebar SR Royal Alloy
Colors Ice Blue, Red Stem Suntour Superbe-Pro or
*SR Royal Alloy
Frame Sizes 50-63 cm
Brakes Suntour Superbe-Pro or Dia Compe Gran Compe 400 or
*Shimano 600 EX
Crank Suntour Superbe-Pro 42-52 or
*Shimano 600 EX
Seatpost Suntour Superbe-Pro or
* SR Laprade 
Pedals Suntour Superbe-Pro or
*KKT Pro-Ace 
Saddle Kashimax Super-Pro
Shift Levers Suntour Superbe-Pro or
*Suntour Cyclone
Rims Ukai or Araya (bowtie label) Tubular
Front Derailleur Suntour Superbe-Pro or
*Suntour Cyclone 
Hubs Suntour Superbe-Pro or
*SunShine Pro-Am
Rear Derailleur Suntour Superbe-Pro or
*Suntour Cyclone
Spokes
Freewheel Suntour Winner 6 Tires Soyo 240g Sew-Up
Chain Suntour Ultra Weight 21 lbs
Notes * 1980 production and Available eclectic component group for 1981 (approximate).
1983 Lotus Competition
Racing Series
Frame Details Fork stiffeners, diamond bridge lugs, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, two sets brazed on bottle bosses, brazed on shifter bosses, extra long spoon seat stays at seat lug, 1/2 chrome chain stay, recessed brake bolts, chrome head lugs with diamond cut outs, chain peg, micro-adjusting dropouts.
Frame Tubing Columbus Double Butted Cro-mo throughout
50-58 cm Columbus SL
60-64 cm Columbus SP
Headset Suntour Superbe Pro
Fork Columbus, Forged  Chrome Fork Crown w/ drilled tangs Handlebar SR Royal Alloy w/ cotton tape
Colors Ice Blue, Oxide Green Stem Suntour Superbe-Pro
Frame Sizes 50-64 cm
Brakes Suntour Superbe-Pro
Crank Suntour Superbe-Pro 42-52 Seatpost Suntour Superbe-Pro
Pedals Suntour Superbe-Pro Saddle Kashimax Super-Pro
Shift Levers Suntour Superbe-Pro Rims Ukai or possibly Araya tubular
Front Derailleur Suntour Superbe-Pro Hubs Suntour Superbe
Rear Derailleur Suntour Superbe-Pro Spokes
Freewheel Suntour Winner 6 Tires Soyo 240g Sew-Up
Chain Suntour Ultra Weight 20 lbs for 21" 
Notes Toe clips and straps, Primus pump
1984 Lotus Competition
Team Lotus Racing Series
Frame Details Fork stiffeners, diamond bridge lugs, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, two sets brazed on bottle bosses, brazed on shifter bosses, extra long spoon seat stays at seat lug, 1/2 chrome chain stay, recessed brake bolts, chrome head lugs with diamond cut outs, chain peg, Campagnolo dropouts.
Frame Tubing Columbus Double Butted Cro-mo throughout
50-58 cm Columbus SL
60-64 cm Columbus SP
Headset Campagnolo Nuovo Record

Fork Columbus, Forged Engraved Chrome Fork Crown w/ drilled tangs Handlebar SR Royal alloy w/ cotton tape
Colors Ice Blue, Oxide Green Stem SR Royal 2
Frame Sizes 50-64 cm
Brakes Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Crank Campagnolo Nuovo Record 42-52 Seatpost Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Pedals Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Saddle Kashimax Aero Lotus 
Shift Levers Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Rims Araya 16B Super Hard black anodized Tubular
Front Derailleur Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Hubs Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Rear Derailleur Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Spokes
Freewheel Suntour New Winner 13-21 Ultra Tires Soyo 240g Sew-Up
Chain Suntour Ultra Weight 20 lbs for 21" 
Notes KKT Toe clips and straps, Primus pump w/ basket weave pattern handles
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