The Urbana is certainly the thoroughbred of the three bikes on test here. The origins of the Italian firm go back to 1927, the year in which Natale Milani, with his racing cyclist’s legs and his craftsman’s hands, started building made-to-measure frames in his workshop in Gallarate, Lombardy.
That’s why the Velocita owes its looks more to a vintage track bike than anything else. The decals suggest the 1940s, Coppi and the Vigorelli velodome, and the
uncommonly big gap between the rear wheel and seat tube completes the look.
The Velocita’s frame is lugged and made of Columbus SL tubing. It has horizontal track dropouts spaced at 120mm. As you would expect, it’s the lightest of the three bikes on test. The maroon paint is a gorgeous deep colour — it’s always gutting when it flakes away at the dropouts when you tighten the track nuts, but that’s life.
Unlike the other two bikes, the Milani Velocita has cable stops on the top tube
for a back brake — which is somewhat unexpected, as the Milani, with its historic racing pedigree, is the bike that’s just begging for fast-and-loose brakeless fixed cycling. Riding it with the back brake, the cable rattles annoyingly underneath the down tube going over bumps.
The geometry is not quite what you’d expect for street riding, either. The head angle is steep and there’s considerable toe overlap. It’s the same as the seat tube angle but feels steeper. The bottom bracket at 26.5cm (with 23mm tyres) is really too low for fixed riding. We ground a few millimetres of aluminium off a pedal on the first ride.
So, while it’s patently not a track bike, the build was keeping up appearances. Cinelli track bar and downward-sloping stem with no spacers made for a very low track sprinter’s position, and our Velocita came with a biggish gear of almost 80in (47×16) which makes it great fun to wind up on the flat, but a bit of a handful on a hill. And you certainly won’t beat the Bromptons away from the lights, unless you get working on your Chris Hoy starts right now.
Generally component specs are good quality, but the black anodised bar, stem and seatpost don’t look right — we would have preferred polished alloy. However, Mosquito bikes, the UK distributor for Milano, will happily build the frame up with your choice of parts.
If you’re a racing man, the Milani is the most rewarding ride. It looks and feels like a classic Italian steel frame — it is whippy and fast and doesn’t fall into the trap of being too stiff. But there is a sense that its wings have been clipped for fixed street fashion. Its low bottom bracket and toe overlap mean it isn’t ideal for city riding. Still, it is the classiest of the three and the one we got the most pleasure out of riding for riding’s sake.