". . . the LEGEND is a cycling enthusiast's dream come true."
~~ Catalog Text ~~

"For years the LOTUS LEGEND has symbolized something special for us.
In many ways it personifies the Super Sport Concept."
~~ 1987 Lotus Catalog ~~

Indeed, we agree with those quotes and if we were asked to choose one model Lotus to accurately represent what Lotus is all about, we'd pick the Lotus Legend. Always the top-of-the-line sport bicycle, the Lotus Legend offered the best of what a sport bike should be at a reasonable price. The only sport models better than the Legend in the Lotus fleet were considered racing bicycles and they all came with sew-up tires.

First-generation Lotus Legends (1980-1982) offered Tange Champion tubing, 700 x 25c alloy wheels, half- chromed stays and fork and the complete Shimano 600 Arabesque group. All first-generation Legend models feature a fully sloping integrated fork crown and full wrap seat stays at the seat lug.

Our first example below is an early first-generation 1980 Lotus Legend in Ice Blue.  Of note on the early (1980) models are the lack of brazed-on bottle bosses and quite often, missing seat tube decals.  The water-slide decals were prone to failure on the 1980 model bicycles and are frequently missing or damaged.  We know from personal experience that when we purchased our new Lotus Legend in 1980 the bike arrived with the seat tube decals already peeling off.  The dealer ordered us a new set and they all came on one water-slide decal sheet.  It is also possible that some early bikes were shipped without seat tube decals, or when they arrived damaged the bike shops just removed them and sold the bike without.  We've also seen enough early bikes without the plastic rear spoke protectors to believe the bikes may have been shipped without them. 

The Ice Blue Legend here is also sporting the original Kashimax Super-Pro Saddle, Shimano 600 chain guard on the crank, silver-grey brake cable housing, and gum rubber brake hoods. These items are the most common details missing or changed on the vintage Lotus Legend.  The Legend was supplied with KKT toe clips and straps.

1980 Lotus Legend in Ice Blue

Below, a 1981 Lotus Legend in Sky Yellow, probably the least common of the three available colors on the first-generation Legends (Ice Blue, Sky Yellow, and Black).  Note the addition of the brazed-on bottle bosses and Mylar-type seat tube decals for 1981. Also commonly seen on the 1981 and later bikes is a riveted head badge, replacing the decal on the early models. While the bicycle in the photo is in relatively poor condition with quite a few non original parts, we think the Sky Yellow is still quite stunning. 
 Sky Yellow was exclusive to the first-generation Legend.  
1981 Lotus Legend in Sky yellow 

Black was also available and a popular color for the first-generation Legend. The model shown below has black seat tube decals, red decals were also used and both complimented the gold lettering and lug accents on the bicycle.
This particular example looks very original with the exception of the rear derailleur and the missing gum brake lever hoods. Note the correct Kashimax Super-Pro saddle and the chain guard on the crank.

1981 Lotus Legend in Black

Also in Black, with red seat tube decals this time, this Legend is perhaps one of the most striking and tastefully personalized  bikes we have seen in quite some time.  While completely original in it's mechanical components, the addition of the fenders, bags, rack, red detailing, and Brooks saddle really highlights this particular vintage Lotus. All lotus Legends came equipped with eyelets for racks and fenders, here they are being put to good use. Outstanding bicycle and photography by Larry W.

1981 Lotus Legend

Second-generation Legends, beginning in 1983:

1983 saw many changes in the Lotus line and the Lotus Legend received many upgrades from the very popular previous model. Gone was the Japanese Tange Champion tubing, now replaced with Italian Columbus SL or SP tubing (depending on frame size). The 1983 Legend models were the first traditional frame (non-aero) Lotus to use the aero-style brake levers with cables under the handlebar tape. The addition of the drilled Sugino chain rings and the elimination of the chain guard also enhanced the sporty appearance of the second-generation Legend.

1983 Lotus Legend in Tan

Early second-generation Lotus legends use the Edwardian script style font for the Legend decal on the top tube in the same style as the first-generation bikes.  We estimate that the bike shown above is circa 1983 vintage.  Note the Columbus tubing decals, the LOTUS decal on the seat tube and the Edwardian script on the top tube. The full wrap seat stay caps were also carried over from the 1980-1982 bikes.

1983 Legend models still use the same Ukai 700 x 25c rims as the first-generation bikes, by 1984 the rims were made by Araya. Both featured Suntour sealed bearing hubs, another first for Lotus.

As with many of the 1983 model Lotus bicycles, the 1983 Legend seems less common than the 1984 versions. One possible reason for this is that the 1983 model year was a transition year from the first-generation bikes that started ending in 1982 and continued into 1983. 1983 model production may have lasted less than 12 months in some cases. The 1984 introductions were carried through from 1984 until quite possibly almost 1986, with few changes. The 1983 transitional models still use components and styling ques from the first- generation bikes, by 1984 many of those carried over nuances were gone.

The Legend Compe was available at the same time as the standard second-generation Legend models, early (1983) Legend Compe and Legends share many components, the only significant differences we've noted are frame geometry, gearing, and short vs. long cage Suntour Cyclone II rear derailleurs (short cage on the Compe). The Lotus Legend carries a more relaxed frame geometry than the Legend Compe. The Lotus Legend came equipped with eyelets on the fork and rear dropouts for accessories like fenders or racks, the Legend Compe does not have these fittings. Possibly, the Legend Compe came equipped with sew-up tires, for racing. 1983 sales literature only vaguely specifies two Legend variants, a Sport and a Racing (Compe) model.

We have the factory 1983 Legend Specification sheet on the Legend Compe page here.

The late style second-generation Lotus Legend, circa 1984, shown below, was also built using Columbus tubing.  The Legend decal on the top tube was changed to an outline block letter font. The frame  was enhanced with a LOTUS engraved fork crown and LOTUS engraved seat stays. The rims are now Araya instead of Ukai. Most components remain unchanged from the 1983 Legend.

The 1984 Legend is now a much different bicycle than the 1984 Legend Compe, which was now equipped with Campagnolo Nuovo Gran Sport components and slightly different frame details, such as seat stays and shifter bosses.
1984 Lotus Legend and Details
1984 Lotus Legend in Tan

The third-generation Lotus Legend (with the stylized LOTUS down tube decal) became part of the Super Sport Triathlon Series. Once again, Lotus made many changes and improvements to the popular Legend.  This time the frame was made from Tange #1 or #2 tubing (depending on the frame size) and featured a fastback seat stay design. The seat stays and chain stays were almost completely chromed as well as a completely chromed fork. The frame design is very similar to the second-generation Classique, but it is not the same frame. The Legend rode on Araya SS-40 Super Hard black anodized rims.

1986 models featured the Shimano 600 EX SIS (Shimano Index Shifting) group while the 1987 models used the Suntour Sprint 9000 Accu-shift components.

1986 models do not have the Triathlon Series decal on the top tube.

The image below is a scan from the 1986 Lotus catalog.  The Legend is shown in Pearl Coral.
1986 Catalog Scan Pearl Coral Lotus Legend

Our second example of a 1986 Legend is this Electric Blue model.  Also exclusive to 1986 was the color Charcoal Grey. The Legend continued to be the top-of-the-line Lotus sport bicycle and was followed by the Cyclone, Classique and Unique. The next model up the line from the Legend in 1986 was the Lotus
Design Cinelli Triomphe, an Italian made racing bicycle with tubular tires.  There was no Legend Compe in 1986.
1986 lotus Legend in Electric Blue

The Emerald Green on the legend in the photo below identifies it as a 1987 model, the only other color available for the 1987 Legend was Coral. If you look carefully you can see the
Triathlon Series decal on the front of the top tube.  Minor changes from original on the bicycle pictured are the saddle, bottle cages and missing black brake lever hoods.  The 1987 Legend used Suntour Sprint 9000 components as shown. 

Changed from the 1986 models were the handlebar, stem, and seat post, from SR to Nitto and Sugino.  The tires were also changed to a narrower 700 x 20c IRC Triathlon.

Lotus expanded the Triathlon Series  for 1987 and included the Legend, Esprit, Elite 600, Leger, Classique and Unique. The next model above the Legend was the Racing Series  Elan 75 with tubular tires. 

For more photos and information on the 1987 Lotus Legend, please visit our Featured Bicycles page.
1987 Lotus Legend in Emerald Green
1980-82 Lotus Legend
Frame Details 1980 - Suntour forged dropouts w/ micro adjusters, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, down tube shift lever support bracket, full wrap seat stays at seat lug, 1/2 chrome seat and chain stays.
1981-82 - Add brazed on bottle bosses.
Frame Tubing 19 - 23 inch: Tange Champion #1 DB Cro-Mo 
25, 27 inch: Tange Champion #2 DB Cro-Mo
Headset Shimano 600EX, Alloy
Fork Tange Champion, Cinelli-Type Full-Sloping Forged Crown, 1/2 Chrome Handlebar SR Custom Road Champion, Alloy
Colors Black, Sky Yellow, Ice Blue Stem SR Apex, Forged Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches Brakes Shimano 600EX Arabesque
Crank Shimano 600EX Arabesque W/ Chain Guard Seatpost SR CT-P3 Custom, Alloy 
Pedals KKT Pro Vic II, KKT Clips and Straps Saddle Kashimax Super-Pro, Black
Shift Levers Shimano 600EX Arabesque on Down Tube Rims Ukai 700 x 25c Alloy
Front Derailleur Shimano 600EX Arabesque Hubs Shimano 600EX Arabesque QR
Rear Derailleur Shimano 600EX Arabesque Long Cage Spokes
Freewheel Shimano 6-Speed 14-32 Gold Tires IRC Roadlite 700 x 25c, Presta
Chain Shimano Uniglide Gold/Black Weight 23 lbs.
Notes 1980 (or "early") Models have been noted to have fragile water-slide seat tube decals.
1981-82 (or "later") Models have been noted to have more durable Mylar-type seat tube decals.
1980-82 model specifications overlap and variations do occur.
1983-84 Lotus Legend
Frame Details Fork and stays reinforced, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, brazed on bottle bosses, single brazed on shifter boss on top of down tube, full-wrap seat stays at seat lug, 1/2 chrome chain stays and seat stays, 1/2 chrome fork blades, recessed brake bolts, chain peg.
1984: Add LOTUS engraved seat stay caps 
Frame Tubing Columbus Double Butted Cro-Mo, SL on 50-58 cm, SP on 60-64 cm Headset Shimano 600 EX
Fork Columbus Tubing, Forged Semi-Sloping Crown w/ Cut-Outs, 1/2 Chrome Blades, Reinforced
1984: Add LOTUS flower Engraved Crown
Handlebar SR Custom Alloy w/ Cotton Tape
Colors Tan, Navy and Oxide Green Stem SR Apex, Forged Alloy
Frame Sizes 50-64 cm Brakes Dia Compe Gran Compe Aero w/Slotted Aero Levers
Crank Sugino Super Mighty Comp w/ Drilled Chainrings 42-52 Seatpost SR Laprade CT-P5
Pedals KKT Pro Vic w/ Clips and Straps Saddle Kashimax Super-Pro
Shift Levers Suntour Cyclone II Braze-On Top Mount Rims 1983: Ukai 700 x 25c
1984: Araya 700 x 25c
Front Derailleur Suntour Cyclone II Hubs Suntour Sealed Bearing QR Front and rear
Rear Derailleur Suntour Cyclone II Spokes
Freewheel Suntour Winner Tires IRC Roadlite 700 x 25c 90psi
Chain Suntour Ultra 6 Weight 22 lbs.
Notes Included LOTUS water bottle and alloy cage.
1983: Edwardian script top tube decal
1984: Block letter top tube decal
1986-87 Lotus Legend
Super Sport Triathlon Series
Frame Details Pump peg on the head tube, chain peg hanger, recessed brake bolts, bottom bracket cable guides,  two sets of bottle bosses, top tube cable guides, high-chromed seat stays, chromed chain stays, brazed on shift lever bosses, fastback seat stays.
Frame Tubing Tange #1 or #2 Double Butted Chrome Moly Headset 1986: Shimano 600 EX
1987: Suntour Sprint
Fork Tange Chrome Moly, Full Chrome
1987: Integrated Smooth Crown
Handlebar 1986: SR CTD, Alloy
1987: Nitto B-115F, Alloy
Colors 1986: Charcoal Grey, Electric Blue, Pearl Coral
1987: Emerald Green, Coral  
Stem 1986: SR, Alloy
1987: Nitto Technomic-A
Frame Sizes 48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 60, 63 cm  Brakes 1986: Shimano 600 EX
1987: Suntour Sprint
Crank 1986: Shimano Biopace 42/52
1987: Suntour Sprint 42/52
Seatpost 1986: SR Micro Adjust
1987: Sugino KC-230 w/ Scale 
Pedals 1986: Shimano 600 EX w/ Clips and Straps
1987: Suntour Sprint w/ MKS Clips and LOTUS Straps
Saddle Vetta Anatomic Leather 
Shift Levers 1986: Shimano 600 EX SIS
1987: Suntour Sprint IPC 9000 Accu-shift
Rims Araya SS-40 Hard Anodized Black
700 x 25c, 36 Spokes 
Front Derailleur 1986: Shimano 600 EX SIS
1987: Suntour Sprint
Hubs 1986: Shimano 600 EX, QR
1987: Suntour Sprint Sealed, QR 
Rear Derailleur 1986: Shimano 600 EX SIS
1987: Suntour Sprint IPC 9000 Accu-shift
Spokes 14-15 Guage Stainless
Freewheel 1986: Shimano 600 EX, Silver 
1987: Suntour Winner Pro*, Silver, 6 Cogs, 13-21
Tires 1986: IRC Roadlite EX 700 x 25c Skin
1987: IRC Triathalon 700 x 20c Skin 
Chain 1986: Shimano 600 EX, Silver
1987: Suntour Pro Silver/Black 
Weight 22 lbs. for 54cm
Notes The 1986 catalog references Shimano 600 EX as "New" 600 EX.
The 1987 catalog references Suntour Sprint as "New" Sprint.
1986-87: LOTUS water bottle and bracket.
*1987 catalog also references Superbe Pro freewheel as being original equipment.
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