I have been riding a converted road bike for the last 2 years and finally have the means to upgrade to something new and more along of the lines of a "track" bike. I want something with tighter geometry and much lighter and a more aggressive ride. I would be riding this exclusively in the city and i ride every day, rain or shine. After talking with friends and coworkers I have been trying to decide between either getting something relatively inexpensive and "okay" (KHS flight 100, or ebay Mercier), or spending a little more ($600 +) for something that I'll maybe love, is SOLID (IRO, DiBernardi, Surly) ,and will be worth the price as far as the quality of the components that it is sold with.
My only frame of reference is my beater fixie which is a little rickety and noisy but I always keep it running.
I would love to hear opinions from owners of some of the brands i mentioned, telling what they really like about their bikes and how they ride.
If uwant something t oride in the street go and ask in single gear or fixed gear section of the forums, this is the track section... here is for track riding, not street riding... but i'll asnwer your question somehow ok?...
From all the brands u named... all of them are ok because somehow are a mixed geometry between a road bike and a track bike... either one will work for what do u want. I would add a bianchi pist and a fuji pista. Surly and iro are more street fixed bikes as KHS and mercier. again.. all the brands u named are good bikes for the stuff u want to do, and all of them have brake drills, a semi road/track fork and over 40 cms rear end. So all of them will be quite fine to ride in the street. Maybe the only more real track geometry is DiBernardi. But i havent seen them in details but it should be a nice ride aswell.
People that have mercier say that r nice, iros lovers will tell u that iro its nice aswell... I think u have to take a desition based in budget, because all of them are like the same, same parts... same geometry, iro has a nice flat tubes and stuff.. Well u can add to the list the specialized Langster and the raleigh track model they started to sell this year.
My advice is go to your local bicycle shop and ride what do the guys have in there, check sizes.. figure it out "on site" and then see for how much u can get it at ebay or somewhere else, because for sure u'll save some money that way...
Custom Richie Ditta Track Bike, Eddie Merckx Corsa, Marioni Custom Pista, Dolan Cyclocross
I would go and search in the SS/FG as there is a ton of opinion on all the bikes you mentioned.
Personally I would go for something solid as it will have some resale value, as well as holding up to years of abuse.
If you're looking at DiBernardis, you may as well go for a decent second hand frame. The DiBernardis are ok but have awful paint and are IMHO overpriced. You can find quality second hand frames below this price point.
A Bianchi Pista or KHS (older models - new ones without the Sugino 75 cranks are not worth the MSRP) are excellent value for money. Can find these 2nd hand and with little use. The IRO Mark V is also a decent budget bike and IROs have great stock wheelsets.
All three (Bianchi, KHS, IRO), I've seen used on the track for training and beginners racing.
The Steamroller is a decent bike with the ability to take wider tires and fenders. Its got a more relaxed road geo, which definitely sets it apart.
You may also want to look at building up a Soma Pake. The frameset is cheap and you could invest the money where it counts: the drivetrain.
The nice thing about your dilemna is that there is no one good choice but lots of them. Look at what your budget allows and act accordingly (as well as search the SS/FG forum).
Out of the brands you list I like the DeBernardi best. It is like the other posts have said it has traditional track geometry. It's not too expensive, and how can you not love lugged steel. I would also recomemnd the Soma Rush. Its got track geometry, but its drilled for brakes and has bottle bosses brazed on. I too would recomend visiting a local bike shop if you can find one that knows about track bikes. If not I have bought stuff from www.thebikebiz.com and been happy with the service. They have a good track selection.