Say Bianchi and most of us think of the celeste-green machines ridden by Coppi, Gimondi, Pantani and most recently the Brits at Barloworld, not flat-bar town bikes. But the Bianchi has proved to be a versatile utility bike for comfy, casual commuting in style.
- Frame & forks: Nothing lightweight about the aluminium frame and fork combo, but tough enough for the rigours of city riding (7/10)
- Handling: Steady as she goes, Cap'n! Enjoy life in the slow lane with the Milano's leisurely ride (7/10)
- Equipment: Rack, mudguard reliable Shimano gears, chainguard, stand – everything you need for everyday city cycling (8/10)
- Wheels: Alex rims and Kenda rubber aren't the most inspiring combo, but 26in wheels are a good choice for urban riding and there's a huge range of tyres available (6/10)
The ﬁrst time we saw a Milano we were smitten. It helped that it was in the famous celeste colour which, matched with a swooping top-tube, 1930s graphics and red tyres, looked super-cool.
Sadly, when we called Bianchi UK the celeste model had sold out. Perhaps for the best we were furnished with a more understated black version. We opted for the eight-speed Shimano Alivio rear derailleur, but there are also three-speed Nexus and eight-speed Alﬁne hub gear models available.
While not as overtly Italianly stylish as its green sibling, the black Milano is a good-looking machine. The only thing spoiling its elegant lines is the fat Viscount saddle which, while comfortable, we'd be looking to swap for something like a leather Brooks.
The Milano is a bike that will make you ride slowly. This sounds like a negative but it isn’t – the swept-back bars put us in mind of the mega-retro Pashley Guv’nor tested last year, provoking a proper old-school sit-up-and-beg riding style.
The Alivio gears are operated with a right-hand twist grip. Those eight sprockets are just about enough for slight undulations but live anywhere with signiﬁcant hills and you'll run out of spin.
Top gear is okay for the ﬂat stuff, and while you aren’t going to be breaking speed limits, you can barrel along at a pleasant, scenery-viewing pace – think groovy vicar though, not boy racer.
The Milano is a bike that you simply cannot ride in Lycra – you look idiotic. In fact, even baggy mountain bike shorts don’t go. Nope, the Milano is best suited to riding in a suit. And though we always wear helmets, if there’s a bike that would make us consider ditching them, then this is it. You just don’t feel right.
Don’t even think about adding clipless pedals either – stick with ﬂats. The Milano is a bike you should be able to hop on without thinking. As soon as you put on clipless shoes, you’re going cycling and the Milano is for riding – I reckon there’s a difference.
It’s the perfect bike for sticking the child seat on and taking the youngster for a spin around the block – you can’t do that with a carbon lightweight.
The Milano is also for propping on its stand as you sip a coffee on a cafe terrace. Again, forget the Café Race sticker on the down tube – it’s a bike that just begs to be ridden slowly.
Some of that might be down to a ﬁrmish ride – aluminium frame and forks aren’t the most forgiving. Even with the plush saddle and 26in wheels, rougher roads make themselves known. That said, it all felt perfectly acceptable on longer towpath rides.
It always feels stable, though steering is still reasonably sharp and direct – good for nipping in and out of trafﬁc.
The chain guard is perfect for the Bianchi too, as you don’t need to tuck the suit trousers in, and combined with mudguards makes for a decent all-weather, all-year-round commuter. The rack will easily take a couple of decent sized panniers too – but surely this is a man-bag bike anyway!