"An excellent choice for the tourist who occasionally 
carries a full load." 
~~ 1981 Sales Literature ~~

"This is a Gran Touring bicycle with all the basics. . ."
~~ 1987  Catalog Quote ~~ 

"Pronounced (AY-Klair) . . . not like the chocolate pastry kind."
~~ ~~

The Lotus Eclair is a high-quality upper mid-level sport bicycle that evolved into a full touring model by the 1983 model year.

Most of the first-generation (1980-82) mid-level Lotus bicycles have somewhat of an identity crisis, their individual personalities had not yet been fully formed in the Lotus line up.  We believe the early Lotus bikes were designed to meet different price point intervals ($150, $200, $250, $300, $350, etc.) and as such were sometimes more similar to each other than different.  By 1983 Lotus refined all their models and each bicycle was designed and given more of an individual personality.  The early Lotus bikes were somewhat like a group of young siblings each trying to find their own identity.

What the first-generation Lotus bicycles offer, in addition to their great quality, is their ultimate classic styling. Nothing screams "vintage" like a first-generation Lotus bicycle. Styling that draws heavily from the classic bicycles of the 1960s and 1970s, with the quality and value from 1980s technology.
The 1980 Eclair offered the widest range gearing of all the 1980 models, next to the 18-speed Odyssey.  In this respect, it could be considered part of the touring group of the early Lotus bicycles. But, by 1981, most of the mid-range Lotus bicycles adopted the wider-range 32-tooth freewheel first found on the 1980 Eclair.

The first-generation Lotus Eclair fell between the Lotus Unique and the Lotus Classique in the model range.  

1980 Lotus Eclair in Light Navy Blue
1980 Lotus Eclair Seat Tube decals
The photo above shows a very early first-generation Lotus Eclair (possibly an introductory model) in Light Navy Blue. This beautiful Eclair is a one-owner bicycle, you can mouse over the photo to see the original purchase receipt from 1980.

Important differences in the Early Eclair models not found in the 1981 and later models are center-pull brakes, a chrome spoke protector, the head tube decal instead of a badge, and Suntour derailleurs.  

This is one of only a very few Eclair models we have seen with center-pull Shimano brakes.  Characteristic of the first-generation Eclair models are the large round RR-280 Cat Eye wheel reflectors in red and amber with white mounts. By 1983 the wheel reflectors would be replaced with smaller round RR-250 Cat Eye white/clear reflectors with black mounts.  

The photo on the right shows some important details on the Eclair seat tube for the 1980 models.  Please note the water slide gold seat tube band decals with the blue accents. This decal is unique to the 1980 Light Navy Blue Eclair and is not found on any other Lotus models. Also of interest is the bright gold and black MADE IN JAPAN label, 1981-83 models would say Made By Tsunoda.  It's quite possible that the introductory model Lotus bikes were made by other companies than Tsunoda as Lotus management sampled work from different manufacturers while attempting to find the best supplier for the job.

The generic silver and red Cr-Mo Tubes decal is unique for the early Lotus bikes, 1981 models would eventually use Tange Champion tubing for every Lotus model and the decal would be placed at the top of the seat tube. The Eclair was the first model in the Lotus line-up to include factory toe clips and straps.  Note the original Cat Eye pedal reflectors.

The scan below shows the Lotus Excelle in Pearl White from the 1981 Lotus Catalog. Other colors available were Silver and the Light Navy Blue shown on the 1980 model above.
1981 Eclair Lotus Catalog Scan in Pearl White

The 1981 Lotus Eclair 12-Speed was marketed as the "occasional" sport touring bicycle. Sharing much in common with the Lotus Excelle, Unique and Classique, the early Eclair offered upgraded Tange Champion single butted tubing, a hand-brazed frame, toe clips, forged adjusting drop outs, and more Shimano 600 components than the Excelle and Unique.  If you went a step up to the 1981 Classique you'd gain Tange Champion double butted tubing and 700 x 25c wheels.
The later first-generation Lotus Eclair, circa 1981-82, can be identified from the 1980 models by their Mylar double seat tube decals, head tube badge, Shimano 600 component group, and plastic spoke protector. The photo below shows a first-generation Lotus Eclair in Silver from approximately 1981. The original Shimano 600 large chainring would have had a chain guard installed from the factory. Note standard mount side-pull (Shimano 600) brakes.

Some first-generation Eclair bicycles have been observed with Shimano Deore derailleurs, these may be 1982 models.
1981 Lotus Eclair

The 1983-84 Eclair, the Odyssey Junior.

By 1983, the second-generation Lotus Eclair had finally found it's place as a truly dedicated touring bicycle.  The 1983-84 models saw the evolution to Tange Mangaloy double butted tubing for all 11 tubes, a 40 spoke rear wheel, two sets of brazed-on bottle bosses, front and rear Dia-Compe cantilever brakes, a chain holder peg, a pump peg, brazed-on mounts for a rear rack, and forged front and rear dropouts with double eyelets for racks and fenders. The bicycles also came factory equipped at some level with "Blackburn-type" alloy racks (probably made by Nagaoka), 2 water bottle cages and a tire pump. 

All of the second-generation Eclair models used 18-speed Shimano Deore touring components.

Now, when sitting on the showroom floor next to the Unique, Excelle and Classique, there was no mistaking that the Eclair was indeed a dedicated touring bicycle.

1983 models use the same Edwardian script Eclair decal on the top tube as the first-generation models. The 1983 Eclair uses a plain fork crown and plain seat stay caps, also borrowed from the earlier models.  The conventional front rack mounts on the fork crown and fork dropout eyelets.  The Bronze model below is a 1983-only color, with White and Navy Blue in common with the 1984 models. Note the 1983-style front rack.

The saddle in the photo below is a replacement and the gum hoods have been removed from the brake levers. Note the correct and original RR-250 Cat Eye white/clear wheel reflectors with black mounts.

The White and Navy Blue Elair models shown below are both 1984 versions. Note the large block letter font for the ECLAIR decal on the top tube.  If you look carefully you can see the circular brazed-on rack mounts in the chrome area of the front fork blades for mounting of low-rise front racks.  The 1984 Eclair frame also featured LOTUS engraved seat stay caps and a lotus flower engraved on each side of the fork crown.

Colors for 1984 were White, Navy Blue, and Burgundy.

For more information on the second-generation Eclair, please see our 1984 Eclair Featured Bicycle page here.
1984 Lotus Eclair in White
1984 Lotus Eclair in Navy Blue

Lotus literature tells us that the Eclair was discontinued for a while during 1985-86 and returned as a "re-introduced for 1987" model along side the Lotus Odyssey as part of the Lotus Gran Touring Series. Below is a 1987 catalog photo of the Eclair in the only color available, Navy Blue.

New features for the third-generation 1987 Eclair included the switch to Ishiwata triple butted chrome moly tubing, under the bottom bracket cable guides, and aero brake cables.

The wheelbase was 42" on a 56cm frame, the 1987 Lotus Excelle and had a 40" wheelbase for the same size frame, and the Lotus Legend was 38.5 inches.  
1987 Lotus Eclair in Navy Blue

1981 Lotus Eclair
Frame Details Top tube cable guides, down tube shift lever support bracket, Suntour forged drop outs w/ adjusting screws, hand-brazed throughout.
Frame Tubing Tange Champion Single Butted Cro-mo
Headset Tange Chrome
Fork Tange Champion Cro-mo, Semi-Sloping crown, 1/2 chrome fork Handlebar SR Custom Alloy
Colors White, Silver, Lt.Navy Stem SR Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches Brakes Shimano 600 EX Arabesque Alloy Side-Pull w/ QR, Drilled Levers
Crank Shimano 600 EX Arabesque w/ Chain Guard, 42-52 Seatpost SR CT-P3 Alloy
Pedals KKT Top Run w/ Toe Clips and Straps Saddle Kashimax Super Anatomic Black
Shift Levers Shimano 600EX Arabesque on Down Tube Rims Ukai 27" x 1.25" Alloy
Front Derailleur Shimano 600EX Arabesque Hubs Shimano 600 EX QR Front and Rear
Rear Derailleur Shimano 600EX Arabesque Long Cage Spokes
Freewheel Shimano 6-Speed 14-32 Gold Tires IRC 27" x 1 1/8" 100 psi
Chain Shimano Uniglide Gold/Black Weight 25 lbs.
Notes 1980 (or "early") Models have been noted to have fragile water-slide seat tube decals.
1981 (or "later") Models have been noted to have more durable Mylar-type seat tube decals.
1983-84 Lotus Eclair
Frame Details Forged drop outs w/ double eyelets, top tube cable guides, bottom bracket cable guides, 2 pair of brazed-on bottle bosses, shifter bosses on down tube, chain hanger peg, rack mounts and brake cable bridge support on rear seat stays, 1/2 chromed seat and chain stays. 
1984: Add braze-ons in front fork blades for low-mount rack, LOTUS engraved seat stay caps.
Frame Tubing Tange Double Butted Mangaloy all 11 Tubes Headset Tange, Chrome
Fork Tange Double Butted Mangaloy, 1/2 Chrome
1984: Add Lotus Flower Engraved Crown
Handlebar SR Custom Alloy, Cotton Tape
Colors 1983: Bronze, White, Navy 
1984: Burgundy, White, Navy
Stem SR Alloy
Frame Sizes 19, 21, 23, 25, 27 inches Brakes Dia Compe Cantileverl
Crank Shimano Deore triple 30-45-50 Seatpost SR CT-P5 Laprade Alloy, Micro-Adjusting
Pedals Shimano Deore DD Type w/ Toe Clips and Straps Saddle Kashimax Anatomic Super, Black
Shift Levers Shimano Deore Brazed On Down Tube Rims Ukai 27" x 1 1/4" Alloy, 40 Spoke Rear
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore Hubs Gyromaster Sealed Bearing QR Front and Rear Alloy
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore Spokes
Freewheel Shimano 600 EX 6-Speed Tires IRC 27" x 1 1/8" Hi-Center Ridge 100 psi
Chain Shimano Uniglide Weight 25.25 lbs. for 21", bare weight
Notes Standard Equipment 1983: "Blackburn Type" front and rear racks, water bottle and 2 cages, pump.
Standard Equipment 1984: "Blackburn Type" rear rack, water bottle and 2 cages, pump(?).
1987 Lotus Eclair
Gran Touring Series
Frame Details Pump peg on the head tube, chain peg hanger, cable guides under bottom bracket and on top tube, bottle mounts on down tube, studs on fork for low mounted front rack, brazed on fittings for shifters, rear rack, and cantilever brakes.
Frame Tubing Ishiwata Triple Butted Chrome Moly Headset Tange Sealed UQ-7 LOTUS Engraved
Fork Tange Chrome Moly, w/ Forged Drop Outs Handlebar LOTUS Engraved Kusuki Alloy
Colors Navy Stem Kusuki S-Win Alloy
Frame Sizes 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 inches  Brakes Dia Compe Cantilever #962
Levers Dia Compe Aero AC-260
Crank Sugino TVP 30-44-50 Seatpost Sugino KCL w/ Scale
Pedals SR SP-250 w/ Clips and LOTUS straps Saddle Vetta Maxi Anatomic 
Shift Levers Suntour DLW Rims Araya M-18 27" x 1 1/4" Alloy, 36 Front 40 rear Spokes
Front Derailleur Suntour Alpha 3000GT Hubs Suzue Small Flange QR Alloy Sealed
Rear Derailleur Suntour Alpha 3000GX Spokes 14 Guage Stainless
Freewheel Suntour PT-6000 6 Cogs, 14-32 Tires IRC 27" x 1 1/4" Skin 90 psi
Chain DID Black Weight 26.5 lbs. for 20 inch
Notes Accessories: LOTUS water bottle and alloy cage, alloy rear rack.
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