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Book excerpt: Italian Racing Bicycles on Milani

Editor’s note: VeloPress is pleased to announce the release of the new book, VeloNews is posting excerpts from Italian Racing Bicycles this week. Check back in daily for more.

Italian Racing Bicycles
An unpainted frame built by Natale Milani. Under the patina of the file marks, the brass brazing material is visible at the edges of the lugs and fork crown. Photo: Italian Racing Bicycles

Milani can be said to have been born twice. The first time was in 1927, when Natale Milani and his sons began making frames for racing bikes in a workshop in Gallarate; the second time came 80 years later when Natale’s son Celeste gave new prestige to the family brand.

During World War II, Natale made use of his outstanding artisanal skills while serving as a mechanic in Italy’s air force. Given the great hardships of the war, it was often necessary to repair aircraft without access to the required spare parts. Natale managed to make what was needed himself. In some cases, he made improvements to existing designs, modifying them to make them more efficient.

This aeronautical experience gave Natale Milani his knowledge of aluminum. He immediately understood its potential and was among the first artisans to experiment with superlight alloys in the field of bicycles.

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