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Opinions on '01 Bianchi Pista fixed gear?(19 posts)

Opinions on '01 Bianchi Pista fixed gear?SS_MB-7
Jan 19, 2002 8:53 AM
I am fully rigid singlespeed cross-country MTB racer (Expert/Elite) and I am intrigued by the fixed gear concept. I love road riding and get out several times a week to train for MTB racing -- no road racing, though. My geared road bike has vertical dropouts and I am not planning on converting it to a single/fixed. Sheldon Brown has a complete, ready-to-go '01 Bianchi Pista SE available at a discounted price ($599). Here's a pic of the '00 model.

Since I'm new to fixed gears, I'd like your opinion on this bike or any others that I should be considering.

Ride Hard,
Mike B.
things to considerJack S
Jan 19, 2002 9:45 AM
-geometry for real track bikes is pretty steep, and can translate into a harsher ride on the road (is that what you need/want?)
-tight geometry might not allow fatter tires for that plush ride
-track bikes have much higher gearing than fixeds and you may end up changing it (ask Sloan)
-wheels can be stiff (36-hole, high flange hubs)
-track forks are usually round profile- stiffer
-can brakes be mounted? what about brake cable routing?
-check crankarm length- trackies use short ones

You can often build up a fixed much cheaper than $600, and like road/mtn bikes it is often much easier to get the complete bike but you have to deal with some quality trade-offs. So also consider if you want to have fun searching and building the exact bike you want, or need something right now and can live with the Bianchi.
get a Sevengtx
Jan 19, 2002 11:08 AM
hahahaha, I know you want one. Hey, I didn't know they had an expert field for singlespeeders--thought you either rode singlespeed OR expert (all the races I've been too, anyway). Or do you start with the expert field on your singlespeed?

Anyway, I think Dog on this board has that bike and likes it. Personally, I think track geometry, as the other poster mentioned, is a bit steep for street. I also like silver bike parts, but that's me. Obviously, the price is good. I'd also check out the Gunnar Street Dog and the Surley Steamroller, or just find a nice bike from the 80s/early 90s with horizontal dropouts and convert it. My $.02.

-Hank from
Converting Vintage Harry QuinnDISS_MAN
Jan 19, 2002 12:26 PM
I'm in the process of converting a '73 vintage road frame into a fixed gear. For the cost of an 18T gear, lock ring and chain ring bolts I'll have a new bike. Those vintage Campy parts look way-cool, too.
I'd love another one...SS_MB-7
Jan 19, 2002 4:35 PM
Hey Hank,

I'd love another Seven, unfortunately, my wife doesn't! ;)

They don't have an expert field singlespeeders - heck, they don't even have a singlespeed division where I race (Ontario and Quebec, Canada). I have an expert license and I race my singlespeed against the gearies. I love passing 'em! ;)

Ya, I searched through the archives and read a couple of Dog's Pista comments. He seems very happy with his.

I'm trying to keep this fixed gear project simple and cheap, hence, the Sheldon Brown Bianchi Pista SE. It's a complete bike, ready-to-go at a reasonable price. I'd love to get a frame and build it up from scratch, but that would easily surpass the Pista's price. Sure, the Pista's components/frame/fork may not be up to my usual high standards, but I want this as a winter/spring training bike.

I'm going to check with a couple LBS' tomorrow to see if they have any old 80s/90s frames in stock that they'd let me have dirt cheap.

Ride Hard,
Mike B.
local--ish optionJack S
Jan 19, 2002 5:20 PM
Contact Polly at Cycles Canada (Toronto?)... she was selling a roadfixed frameset for about $200 last year.
you could do a lot worse for $45naff geezer
Jan 19, 2002 11:27 PM

that is if it fits you.

scrounge around for parts on sale and discouted and it could be ok.
if you want to throw away your $$$naff clueless
Jan 20, 2002 8:04 AM
it doesn't have horizontal dropouts- DUHHHH!!!!!
two words baby - offset linksnaff geezer
Jan 20, 2002 8:28 AM
i helped fix my riding partners vertical dropout frame for winter riding as a fixed-gear. offset links for around $5 made chain tension easy. be really sure of your stuff before you post stupid comments.

from harris cyclery:

If you are having trouble fitting the desired gears onto a bike with vertical dropouts, this link will let you add or subtract 1/2 a link (1/2 inch) from your chain, allowing you to move the axle 1/4" forward or backward. Different brands of chain have different diameter rivets; these links do not fit all 1/8" chains, but they do fit the models listed above.
Jan 20, 2002 11:04 AM
I'd love another one...gtx
Jan 20, 2002 11:08 AM
cool, yeah I think the Bianchi would be hard to beat for the money. I bought a Merckx frame two years ago used on the internet intending to set it up as a fixed but it was just too nice and I also decided the bb was perhaps a bit low--that I might be whacking the pedals on the pavement in corners. Good luck with you search.
I like itDog
Jan 19, 2002 7:40 PM
I have had one since November, and have logged about 1,500 miles on it. It works fine. I have changed the gearing, tires, saddle, and pedals, and added a front brake and lever. I got it for $450 locally. It came with 48x16 gears; this was too tall for me; I went to 42x18, then 42x16, and have settled on 41x16.

Funny thing about 41x16 gearing. You'll always know your crank rpms if you have a speedo. 50 rpms = 10 mph, 75=15, 100=20, 125=25; 150=30; 175=35 (yes, I've done it!); it works out perfectly mathematically (at least with 700cx23mm tires).

The fear of the track geometry is unfounded, I believe. The frame, wheels, fork, all are fine. It rides pretty much the same as my C40 (maybe I have dull senses). The fork is drilled for a brake; can't install a rear, though.

If you want to get a quick, dense, workout, working your spin and your power (down and up), go for it. I like not having to mess with the mechanicals nearly at all -- just jump on and go.

Best $450 I ever spent.

agree with the money its hard to beatnaff geezer
Jan 19, 2002 10:56 PM
harris cyclery has some larger single gears if you want to keep the chainring. the only thing i would advise is nice track bolts for the axles as the standard ones are a great way to f*** up your dropouts fast.

rather than fitting brake levers and such i would find a good short reach caliper and a cheap bmx lever (black) mounted close to where the bar meets the stem for a low key look. pretty effective and much more pleasing to the eye. unless of course you like riding on the hoods.

i found that the geometry actually had me down in the drops more than any bike i have ridden in a long while even though i had a 57cm when i should have had a 55cm.

the frame is built pretty good and the matte paint does a great job of hiding chips and scratches.

and you can find a good price on a '01 haggle with them to change the seat (the original model is crap). the frame geometry is not crazy like some suggest and feels pretty comfortable straight away.

i have since built up my own on a road frame. dont really now why but i always seem to sell bikes that are fine for me. on the pista the standard tires are ok, not great, just ok.

if you dont have any spare parts lying around to build your own it is wiser to go for a pista. there are a few older KHS models to be found on sale as well.

if you can find a good old frame cheap, have a short length crankset and front wheel lying around then build your own. dont think that you will save much money though. bar, stem, headset, seatpost, seat etc etc can add up. and you also need to use your brain a bit to get a good chainline. long dropouts and someone with a bit of experience helps a lot. make a decision whether to go 1/8 or 3/32 for the chain and chain parts. 3/32 is easier if you want to use it for road/derailleur use later. its not the greatest sin to use a 1/8 chain on a 3/32 chainring if you want to save a few bucks. rocket rings are a great buy as well if you have a small bcd donor crank.

generally when choosing a bike with track geometry go for a size smaller than you would normally ride on the road. that way you can keep in the drops and set the seat back a touch so you can pound on that only gear you have. ive yet to meet someone who didnt find it immediately addictive.

its also a great way to sneak up on other riders and fly past them... well at least till the next hill anyway.

hey dog ... i never changed my chainring and ended up trading mine... what is the chainring BCD on the pista?

it may help some people if they need to swap theirs.
Thanks! And some more questions for you....SS_MB-7
Jan 20, 2002 10:04 AM
Thanks Doug for your opinion.

If you don't mind me asking, where did you get yours for $450? Sheldon is offering me the '01 Pista SE (with front brake and dummy rear) for a $600 -- a $100 discount. That is still $150 more than yours for only a front brake. Would this deal be available to non-locals?

Also, is yours a '01 or '02 Pista? Judging by your pictures, it appears to be a '02.

With regards to sizing, my current road bike is 50.5cm (center-center) [approximately 54cm measured center to top of seattube clamp or 52cm measured center to top of toptube/seattube intersection] with a 54cm top tube (center-center). It would appear that a 53cm (measured center to top of seattube clamp) with a slightly shorter toptube @ 53.5cm might be perfect for me. However, some have suggested buying 1-size smaller, i.e., a 51cm. This would have a really short toptube @ 52.5cm. What do you think?

Ride Hard,
Mike B.
more infoDog
Jan 20, 2002 10:40 AM
Not certain which year mine it; I bought it new in November 2001; can't always judge Bianchi's by the components, as they are a bit notorious for providing whatever they want ("specfications may be changed without notice") from time to time.

I paid $450, but that is with a shop owner in Fresno with whom I have a 22 year history, and probably have paid for his kids' braces a few times over. I did add a front brake and lever, which you could get for around $60, I imagine (I did Dura Ace, which I had already, but 105 would be just fine). The track nuts are worth a few bucks. I just added washers. My shop owner does have another one in his store with a $575 price tag on it, so $600 isn't that bad for the street edition.

I'd suggest this: offer $600 if he'll change to the ring and/or cog that you want, maybe even a different saddle. That's worth $50 right there, easily. I'd suggest keeping the 16 cog and putting on a 41 tooth ring.

The bolt circle diameter is about 106mm I think, the same as BMX and some touring triples. Plenty of ring options.

Mine is a 55cm. It has a 55cm top and seat tube. I ride it 99% in the drops, even climbing. The fit feels pretty much the same as my 55cm Bianchi EV2, but then I'm not one of those who obsesses with fit - I get it close and then just ride the darn thing. You might keep this in mind, though -- you can always make a frame effectively a little bigger with stems and saddle position; it's harder to make them smaller, after a point.

re: Opinions on '01 Bianchi Pista fixed gear?David FEldman
Jan 19, 2002 8:41 PM
Maybe a little too tracky for general use; look at Soma Smoothie and/or Surly Steamroller. Also check ebay and used bike sources for significantly older (1950's or 60's) track iron, especially British bikes; the Brits have liked "path racers"--road-specific single speed bikes--for decades.
for only a few hours morenaff geezer
Jan 20, 2002 5:55 AM
on ebay

looks like a nice buy if it fits.
few other optionsJs Haiku Shop
Jan 22, 2002 12:13 PM
the surly steamroller ss is affordable, if a little above your stated price range. $834, fully built as an SS with a flip-flop rear hub, shipped...from excel sports in boulder, co/usa.

fellow board member MB1 had a pista (i think it was a pista) at home collecting dust. he's moved to a gunnar, i think. might call him out to see if he's offering it for sale. i think it's a 56 or 57 cm frame. it was bought from harris cyclery.

urbane cycles' urbanite fixie...these guys are canadian (EH!?!). right in your back yard, you hose-head. ;-)

click bikes, then select "urbanite fixed". these are WAY affordable, word on the streets (on the 'net) is good, and they are a consideration for my next one. e-mail me and i'll refer you to one of their satisfied customers.
unique optionbn
Jan 22, 2002 1:06 PM
Country Road Bob.. no idea on price