A few years back, my pal Shawn surprised me by shipping me this lovely Swiss Mondia road bike frame for my birthday. It hung on a hook in the shop for a couple of years, while I pondered how best to build it up. Finally, after riding my fully equipped Goshawk touring bike on the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage for years, I realized the Mondia might make for a fun, lighter option for those unpaved trails.
Originally intended to be a sporty/racy road bike, the frame is built from the well known Reynolds 531 double-butted manganese-molybdenum tubing, with the very pretty Nervex Professional lugs at the joints. Intended for 700C road wheels and tires, it would probably fit around a 25 or 28mm wide tire, which wouldn't be ideal for the kind of riding I wanted to do on this bike.
On the other hand, over the last 15 years or so (how time flies!), the bike world has seen the resurgence of a tire/wheel size that many had considered obsolete - 650B. Wait, what the heck is all this "700C" and "650B" stuff anyway? Well, both of those are tire/rim size labels that come from the French cycling industry. In the original scheme of things, the number (700 or 650) indicated the nominal outside diameter of the tire in millimeters. The letter was used to indicate whether the tire was narrow or wide, with A being the narrowest, D being the widest. As with so many things in the bike industry, how things started out is not where we are today, and a typical 650B tire is much, much wider than a typical 650C tire is today, and 700C tires range from 23mm to 50mm or wider, while 700A, B, and D have vanished as labels. Confused? Welcome to bicycle tire size "standards" which are anything but standard. Some good info can be found here: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html#french
Okay, what does this mean for my Mondia? Well, 650B tires and wheels are smaller in diameter than 700C by 38mm. Mounting a set of those on a frame designed for 700C wheels gives you room for wider/taller tires, which give more cushion on rough surfaces. In the case of this Mondia, I was able to easily fit 40mm wide tires on a bike that normally would have only allowed for 28mm or so. I even had room for a set of fenders to boot! I had a set of 650B wheels I'd built some some time ago, with older parts, Sansin hubs and Alesa rims with Panasonic Col de la Vie tires. I'd thought about using them on a couple of other projects, but it wasn't until the Mondia that it came together.
The rest of the parts are things I've used on a number of other builds, because they just work for me. Sugino Mighty Tour crank with 40 and 52 tooth chainrings, MKS Touring pedals, SunTour 14-30 freewheel, SunTour VX derailleurs and Power Ratchet bar end shifters, Nitto bar and stem, and of course a Brooks B17 saddle. The brakes are long reach Weinmann centerpulls, which work great. Accessories at this point include SKS Longboard fenders, a Velo Orange Randonneur front rack and handlebar bag, and Carradice Lowsaddle Longflap saddlebag.
More photos can be seen here: 1977? Mondia Super