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Classique

1984 Classique Fastback Seatstay
"A classic lightweight sport/touring bike for those who love quick and responsive handling."
~~ 1981 Sales Catalog ~~

"More comfortable than a pure racing bike, yet quick and nimble. . . "
~~ 1984 Lotus Catalog ~~

"The CLASSIQUE is a well balanced high-performance machine and a perenial favorite."
~~ 1987 Sales Literature ~~

The first-generation Lotus Classique, circa 1980 to 1982, defines the entry-level sport-performance type bicycle in the Lotus line. The Classique was the first model in the line to feature 700 x 25c wheels and tires instead of the 27" rims and wider tires found on the Eclair, UniqueExcelle and on down through the rest of the models. While many of the first-generation Lotus bicycles use Shimano 600 EX Arabesque components, the 1982 Classique was the first model in the line-up to feature the complete group on one bicycle.

General guidelines for identifying the first-generation Classique tend to follow these patterns:

1980: water-slide double seat tube decals (frequently damaged or missing), head tube decal, Tange chrome head set,
Cr-mo Double Butted  decal on seat tube, serial number on bottom bracket may begin with the letters KY, gold foil decal on lower seat tube says; Made in Japan.

1981: Mylar-type double seat tube decals, brass head tube badge, Tange chrome head set, Tange Champion #1 or #2 decal on seat tube, serial number on bottom bracket may begin with the letters KT, gold foil decal on lower seat tube says; Made in Japan or Made By Tsunoda Japan.

1982: Mylar-type double seat tube decals, brass head tube badge, Shimano 600 EX alloy head set, Tange Champion #1 or #2 decal on seat tube, gold foil decal on lower seat tube says; Made By Tsunoda Japan

The first-generation Classique was available in Red, Ice Blue, and  Ivory. 

The well-preserved 1980 Ice Blue Classique shown below lived it's life indoors on a cycle trainer. Except for the upgraded pedals, the Classique is almost 100% original, including the tires and Kashimax Super Pro saddle. You can view a Red 1982 Classique and an Ivory 1980 Classique in our Lotus Photos section here.

1980 1/2 Classique in Ivory
The composite photo shows an interesting variation of an early Ivory Classique.

Generally the Tange Champion tubing is attributed to 1981-82 models and the head tube decal is attributed to 1980 models, but Lotus often gradually introduced changes like these, often blurring the model year line.

In this case, we'd examine the originality of the bike to check for any obvious parts or decal substitutions and try to estimate the correct year.  In this case, we'd call the bike an early-1981, or a 1980 ½ model.

The photo below is a scan from the 1981 Lotus Catalog and shows an Ice Blue Classique with all of the correct details attributed to the 1981 models.

Lotus did not mark their early catalogs with a specific model year, this way the bicycles could run for longer or shorter than a 12 month cycle.
1981 Lotus Classique Catalog Page
1983 Lotus Classique Head tube in Bronze
Second-generation Lotus Classique, 1983-1985.

1983 was an important year for Lotus and saw a complete overhaul and honing of the entire model line. The first-generation Lotus bikes are very similar to each other, perhaps too similar, so Lotus addressed that issue by 1983 and would continue to mold and perfect their bikes throughout the rest of the 1980s.

The 1983 Lotus Classique arrived with a totally new frame design for Lotus, featuring fully chromed rear stays and a fastback style seat lug. Also included in the 1983 upgrade was a chrome fork crown with half-chrome fork blades, brazed on bottle bosses and shifter mounts. The second generation Classique was the only road model in the 1983 Lotus fleet to still use Tange Champion tubing, the other top models used Columbus tubing and the models under the Classique used tange Mangaloy 2001, Ishiwata and other types of steel.

We consider the 1983 Classique as a transitional model, meaning that it still shared some history with the first-generation Classique continuing the use of the popular and attractive Shimano 600 EX Arabesque components. Also carried over from the first-generation models were the Ukai 700 x 25c silver alloy rims and the SR handlebar and stem. The Classique decal on the top tube was also in the Edwardian script of the first-generation models. Primary component changes were the seat post, saddle and pedals.

The 1983 version of the Shimano 600 EX Arabesque crank uses a more open chainring design without a chain guard, enhancing the sporty appearance of the Classique.

Lotus introduced two new colors for their model line in 1983, Burgundy and Bronze, which were also featured on the Classique.  Ice Blue was carried over from the first-generation for 1983 Classique and replaced with Electric Blue in 1984.

The photos on the right and below show a Bronze 1983 Classique with Shimano 600 Arabesque components. Just Beautiful!
1983-1984 Lotus Classiques in Bronze

By mousing over the photo above you can compare Bronze 1983 and 1984 Classiques.  The inset photos on the lower right of the images show the different appearances of the 700 x 25c Ukai rims.  1983 models were all silver in color and the 1984 models used
"black anodized shinny side"  rims, an interesting and important detail differentiating between the two years. 

The Kashimax Voco saddle used for the second-generation Classique would be branded LOTUS on the back by 1984 although we have seen regular Voco saddles on 1984 models as well.

The photo below shows a 1983 Classique in Burgundy.  Note the Kashimax Voco saddle and silver rims.  The blackwall tires and black brake hoods were added by the owner.
1983 Lotus Classique in Burgundy

1984 Classique models received a comprehensive component overhaul.  After four years of Shimano 600 Arabesque use, Lotus changed all of the components on the Classique to the Suntour ARX, Sugino RT, and Dia-Compe GX range of parts. The frame remained relatively unchanged except for the shifter boss being moved to the top of the down tube, rather than the sides of the down tube. The fork crown is now nicely engraved with Lotus flowers and the Classique font on the top tube is now in a block letter style.


The photo below shows a scan of the Classique in Electric Blue from the 1984 Lotus catalog. The 1984 catalog was not labeled "1984" and was probably used well into 1985, with the 1985 models being the same as 1984 models.  Two years of production would explain why the 1984 style Lotus bikes are more common than their 1983 counterparts. 
1984 Electric Blue Lotus Classique Catalog Page

Third-generation Lotus Classique, 1986-88.


1986 saw another huge change for Lotus and every bike in the model line received many changes.  Lotus was growing and as a result more companies were used to supply their bikes, most probably Yamaguchi and Maruishi.

The ubiquitous Tsunoda label found on so many Tsunoda-Lotus bikes in the early 1980's had begun to disappear on some models as early as 1984.

The Lotus logo was redesigned into the stylized version with the Lotus flower as the "U" in Lotus by 1986.  

The fastback high chromed seat stay design found on the second-generation Classique was promoted to the Lotus Legend in 1986, although the frames are of different manufacture.  The third-generation Classique uses conventional frame design and the chrome is limited to use on the fork ends.

The 1986 Classique was part of the Lotus Super Sport Triathlon Series and included the Legend, Cyclone, Classique and Unique.  All of the Super Sport Triathlon Series bikes shared the same frame geometry.

The 1986 Classique featured Tange #2 double butted chrome moly tubing with Shimano 600EX shifting, SR crank, and Dia-Compe GX brakes.  New for 1986, across almost the entire line, was a switch from Kashimax to Vetta saddles.

The 1986 Classique was available in Emerald Green, Red and as shown below, in Violet Blue (with Retro-Style Lotus Water Bottles from VintageLOTUSbicycles.com).
1986 Lotus Classique in Violet Blue

The 1987 Classique is described by Lotus as being "new" in 1987 but was still part of the
Super Sport Triathlon Series  that now included the Legend, Esprit, Elite 600, Leger, Classique and Unique.  

The 1987 Classique used Ishiwata triple butted chrome moly tubing and came equipped with the Shimano 105 group with SIS shifting and rode on black Araya rims with 23c tires. The brake levers were now aero-style, the first time on the Classique.  As with all 1987 Lotus models, the down tube used the stylized LOTUS decal.

The 1987 Classique was available in Emerald Green, and Violet as shown in the photos below. The 1987 Classique featured a metallic black painted fork and head tube for both Emerald Green and Violet colors.
1987 Lotus Classique Catalog Page
1987 Lotus Classique in Violet

The 1988 Classique appears similar to the 1986-87 models with different Classique decals that use a shadow design. Paint fades on the Classique appear around this time as shown on the 1988 model below. 

We're still searching for more information on the 1988 Lotus models. 
1988 Lotus Classique
1980-82 Lotus Classique
Frame Details  Suntour forged dropouts, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, down tube shift lever support bracket. 
Frame Tubing 1980: "Cr-Mo" DB
1981-82: Tange Champion #1 or #2  DB
Headset 1980-81: Tange, Chrome Steel
1982: Shimano 600 EX , Alloy 
Fork Semi-sloping Crown, 1/2 Chrome Handlebar SR Custom Road Champion, Alloy
Colors Ivory, Red, Ice Blue  Stem SR, Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25 inches  Brakes Shimano 600EX Arabesque
Crank Shimano 600EX Arabesque W/ Chain Guard Seatpost SR CT-P3 Custom, Alloy
Pedals KKT Top Run, KKT Clips and Straps Saddle Kashimax Super-Pro, Black 
Shift Levers Shimano 600EX Arabesque Clamp-on Down Tube Rims Ukai 700 x 25c Alloy
Front Derailleur Shimano 600EX Arabesque Hubs Shimano 600EX Arabesque QR
Rear Derailleur 1980: Shimano 600EX Arabesque Short Cage
1981-82: Shimano 600EX Arabesque Long Cage
Spokes  
Freewheel 1980: Shimano 6-Speed 14-28 
1981-82: Shimano 6-Speed 14-32 Gold
Tires IRC Roadlite 700 x 25c, Presta  
Chain Shimano Uniglide Gold/Black Weight 24 lbs. 
Notes  Please see model identification hints at the top of the page.
1983 Lotus Classique
Super Sport Series
Frame Details Forged micro-adjusting dropouts, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, brazed on bottle bosses, shifter bosses and chain peg, "stays chromed to within 1" of entire length", fast back seat stays. 
Frame Tubing Tange Champion Double Butted Cro Mo Throughout Headset Shimano 600EX Alloy
Fork Chrome Fork Crown, 1/2 Chrome Handlebar SR Custom Alloy
Colors Ice Blue, Bronze, Burgundy   Stem SR Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches Brakes Shimano 600EX w/ Drilled Levers
Crank Shimano 600EX 40-52 W-Cut Seatpost SR Laprade CT-P5
Pedals SR SP100-AL, SR Clips and Straps (or KKT Top Run)
Saddle Kashimax VOCO Pro Anatomic, Black
Shift Levers Shimano 600EX Brazed-on Down Tube Rims Ukai 700 x 25c Alloy (all silver)
Front Derailleur Shimano 600EX Hubs Shimano 600EX QR
Rear Derailleur Shimano 600EX Spokes
Freewheel Shimano 600EX 6-Speed Tires IRC Roadlite 700 x 25c, Presta
Chain Shimano Uniglide Weight 23 lbs. for 23 inch frame
Notes Included Lotus water bottle and alloy cage.
1984 Lotus Classique
Super Sport Series
Frame Details Forged micro-adjusting dropouts, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, brazed on bottle bosses, shifter bosses and chain peg,  fast back seat stays with "high chroming".
Frame Tubing Tange Champion Double Butted Cro Mo Throughout Headset Shimano 600EX Alloy
Fork Chrome Engraved Fork Crown, 1/2 Chrome Blades Handlebar SR Custom Alloy
Colors Electric Blue, Burgundy and Bronze Stem SR Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches Brakes Dia Compe 500 GX
Crank Sugino RT 40-52 Seatpost SR Laprade CT-P5
Pedals SR SP100-AL, SR Clips and Straps Saddle Lotus branded Kashimax Black 
Shift Levers Suntour ARX Top Mounted Symmetric Rims Ukai 700 x 25c Aluminum w/ Black
Front Derailleur Suntour ARX Hubs Suntour Sealed Bearing QR
Rear Derailleur Suntour ARX Spokes
Freewheel Suntour  Pro Comp Ultra 6-Speed Tires  700 x 25c, Presta
Chain Suntour     Weight  23 pounds
Notes Included Lotus water bottle and alloy cage.
1986 Lotus Classique
Super Sport Triathlon Series
Frame Details Pump peg on head tube, chain peg hanger, recessed brake bolts, under bottom bracket cable guides, water bottle bosses, micro adjusting screws on rear forged drop outs, top tube cable guides, shift lever bosses on down tube.
Frame Tubing Tange #2 Double Butted Chrome Moly Headset
Fork Tange Chrome Moly Handlebar SR Custom alloy
Colors Emerald Green, Violet Blue, Red Stem SR alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches
Brakes Dia-Compe GX w/ 160G Levers
Crank SR CXC-300 Forged 42-52 Seatpost SR CRE-100
Pedals KKT Pro Vic II w/ Clips and Straps  Saddle Vetta Anatomic
Shift Levers Shimano 600EX Rims Araya SS-40 700c Alloy 
Front Derailleur Shimano 600EX Hubs Suzue Sealed Tech small flange QR
Rear Derailleur Shimano 600EX Spokes
Freewheel Shimano 600EX 13-26, 6 cogs, Silver Tires IRC Roadlite EX 700 x 25c skinwall
Chain Shimano Uniglide Silver/Black Weight 23 lbs. for 21 inch 
Notes Accessories: LOTUS water bottle and alloy cage, chrome chain guard.
1987 Lotus Classique
Super Sport Triathlon Series
Frame Details Pump peg on head tube, chain peg hanger, recessed brake bolts, under bottom bracket cable guides, water bottle bosses, micro adjusting screws on rear forged drop outs, top tube cable guides, shift lever bosses on down tube.
Frame Tubing Ishiwata Triple Butted Chrome Moly Headset Shimano 105
Fork Tange Chrome Moly Handlebar LOTUS Engraved Kusuki Aero Indented Alloy
Colors Emerald Green, Violet Stem Kusuki S-Win Alloy
Frame Sizes 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches
Brakes Shimano 105 Aero Levers w/ Black Hoods 
Crank Shimano 105 Biopace 42-52 Seatpost Sugino KC 230 w/ Scale
Pedals Shimano 105 w/ Clips and LOTUS Straps Saddle Vetta Anatomic
Shift Levers Shimano 105 S.I.S. Rims Araya SS-40 700c Alloy 
Front Derailleur Shimano 105 Hubs Shimano 105
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105 S.I.S. Spokes 14 Guage Stainless Steel
Freewheel Shimano ZO12 13-26, 6 cogs, Silver Tires Panaracer Vertex 700 x 23c Skin 100psi
Chain Shimano Uniglide Silver/Black Weight 23 lbs. for 21 inch 
Notes Accessories: LOTUS water bottle and alloy cage.
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