Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bianchi Pista: I Have to Admit I Love It

Although constantly berated as one of the most overvalued, oversold stock track bikes on the market, I will readily admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for the Bianchi Pista (cut to BikeSnobNYC shooting himself in the head, again).

I purchased a Pista after college with the hundreds of dollars I had saved up from being a barista (a.k.a washing dishes - sorry Carma). I had been drooling over Pistas on that blasted fixie porn site and fantasizing about rolling through on my new gang green machine, much like this good lookin' lady:

Unfortunately for me, Bianchi discontinued the gang green model, and I was forced to settle for the lesser INK color - my punishment for years for years of writing bad poetry in college. Roger, my ill informed bike owner at the time, shrugged his shoulders.

What ensued was long and torturous for some but mostly informative for me: a dive head-first into bike fitting for short ladies, fixed gear riding for newbies and a visit to every bike shop in the tri-state area. My Dad was not pleased.

Now, when applying to work at bike shops (ahem, ahem I'm unemployed if you need a dog sitter/baby sitter/impromptu therapist) I mention that most of my experience is wrapped up in my anal retentive bike swapping agenda: how to fit a near-midget inseam with the high profile, high price tags of track frames.

After months of visiting bike shops during my then-employed lunch break, I've discovered something I clearly didn't know before: track frames DO come in small sizes, although they are harder to find. Swobo makes a 46cm frame - the Sanchez, IRO makes a 46cm frame - the Mark V HD, Cannondale makes a 48cm and Fuji makes both a 43cm and a 49cm.

Bianchi, like any too-cool-for-school outfitter, makes a small 49cm and slaps on all stock parts, whether they are really best for that frame size or not. Despite the ubiquitous nature of this frame, I would still recommend it. It's light, sexy and if you can find it in the gang green I'll be jealous and probably offer to buy it from you.

Despite my shameful love for Bianchis, I've been thinking about the significance of buying USA-made bicycles (eek, sorry for sounding like Dubya). Why spring for an overplayed Bianchi when you can get comparable, sturdy bikes in your own backyard? With this in mind, I've become more aware of what Cannondale and IRO Cycles have got on the line - my favorite is IRO's About Us page, which chronicles their use of environmentally friendly practices while engineering quality bicycles in Pennsylvania. I love the idea: making bikes, which are clean & friendly, in a clean & friendly way.

Maybe it's time to support the good ol' US of A, exercise our desire for fun, healthy transportation and buy a bike that's made right here, at home.