Pros: convenient to get, GREAT looking, fun to ride, well made overall
Cons: just a wee bit heavy? CXP 21's and look pedals EW!
So I consider myself kinda lucky when it comes to fixed gear road bikes. I was out looking for one and I *just* happened to find a used converted LeMond Zurich that had exactly what I wanted. If you ride fixed gear like me, chances are this isn't going to happen to you. Chances are, you're going to have to find the components yourself and build the darn thing from the ground up unless you have the urge to cruise around town on a fancy, exclusively track bike that was designed for a track and not for the road. If you work in a bike shop, have a lot of spare time to build one, or have a rather large pocketbook that wouldn't mind taking a track bike and making it an urban assault vehicle, maybe these are options for you. not for me, though.
And then Bianchi stepped in.
Bianchi made an honest attempt, and was darn successful, in my opinion, in creating a fixed gear road bike available from the factory, at a reasonable price, so you wouldn't have to spend all that time retrofitting your dad's old 60's road bike because it's the only thing around with horizontal dropouts (except my little LeMond!). First of all, the pista just looks DAMN cool. Ever since Bianchi redid their "Bianchi green" color and started using it sparingly, they have come up with some of the best looking bikes on the market, from a purely aesthetic point of view. Yes, aesthetics are important. The flat black is also pretty durable as a color, and it won't look ugly if it gets crap on it like my poor LeMond. If you plan to use it as an urban bike (bike messenger style), scratches and dings on it will be a whole lot less noticable than on my red, white, and blue bike, as well. And the "Bianchi green"? They used just the right amount on it... you won't look like a two wheeled wintergreen breath mint box, unlike with past Bianchis, and you won't look like one of those old light green firetrucks they used to have because the color was "the most visible color in the dark".
As far as the ride is concerned, it's wonderful. Granted, you're not riding on some of those super fancy Rolf Vector Pro rims, but for what you're doing, you won't need them. I'll talk about the icky CXP 21's later. Again, if you're planning on using this bike as an urban bike, or even a training bike (tack on those saddlebags with bricks in them and hit the hills!), Bianchi really did a good job. But still, just like with other Bianchis, when you get on the thing it feels like all the components fit together perfectly. I have a good friend who is doing California AidsRide (SF to LA) on one of them.
A few things I found problems with... first the Look clips. They do look cool with the rest of the bike, I admit, but I really am not a fan of them. As a guy who bike teched at California AidsRide this year, I can tell you that I probably changed more Look cleats than anything else... and they were a BEAR to change. Plastic, as something that goes on the bottom of your feet, is going to wear down by nature, especially the soft icky Look plastic. Granted they'll last longer so long as you're not walking a marathon in them, and the clip covers help a lot, but why should you have to bother with these to begin with? I use speedplays on mine, which have minor problems, but not as bad as the Looks, and I like the "floaty" feel to them. My opinion? Unless you plan on carrying a spare pair of cleats in the back of your jersey all the time, replace your fancy Bianchi Green looks for SPD's. They don't have the floating feeling like the speedplays, but you don't walk around on them... the cleat is imbedded in the shoe itself. I never once changed a single pair of SPD's on AidsRide, but I can't count the Looks.
Also, the gear ratio was not quite what I liked. It was just a weeeeee bit too low. Unfortunately I haven't taken the time to count the teeth. Once you get more into your Pista, I would highly recommend buying a few different chainrings for different feels.
Again, as a bike tech for AidsRide, I cannot tell you how many spokes I changed on the CXP 21 rims. If you've ever changed a spoke, you probably know it's always going to be on the back, and it is NO FUN. Granted, it's probably easier on a fixed gear though, without the cassette. But the CXP 21 rims became unofficially known, in the tech pit, as the "fat guy broken spoke rims." Maybe it had to do with the combination of commonly used Ritchie hubs, but the combination between the hub, rim, and slightly underweighted spokes created a rim that was fragile like fine china if you weigh over 180 lbs. Changing spokes got so bad at AidsRide, that by the end of the ride, my crew members and I got a group of broken spokes (I think we averaged over 40 a day) and spelled out CXP 21 in them. The rim is good to ride on... but DELICATELY ride on.
And also, the Pista weighed in, I believe, at 18.5 lbs? Don't quote me, but it's pretty easy to get a fixed gear down well below that. Part of the whole reason you'd want a fixed gear, I think, is for the liveliness of it- the combination of locked hub and low weight creates a riding experience that can't quite be compared to. If the bike weighs as much as a standard road bike, then it loses a lot of the perks. I'd be interested to see what efforts people have been made to minimize the weight of the thing. I don't think it would be difficult.
All in all though, the Pista ROCKS. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to build a fixed gear from scratch, wants a darn good bike, and wants something that looks really good. For the price, you really can't get any better.