MILAN, Italy (BRAIN)—Celeste Milani thinks a global market exists for premium, handcrafted bikes, where the Made in Italy heritage trumps high-volume production.
He and wife Paola Di Domenico (pictured) are re-energizing the Milani brand, which his father, Natali Milani, a racer, started with brazed steel frames back in 1927.
Two years ago, Milani Cycles started producing carbon frames. And now the family-owned and operated business is ready to go global.
“My father was more concentrated locally here in Italy, but I want to take the company to the international market,” Milani said, pointing to black and white photos of Natali, his father, adorning his booth. Old racing photos and the first frame Natali crafted help tell the story.
He quickly points out that all Milani frames are handmade in Gallarate, Italy, 30 kilometers northwest of Milan, where his father had his workshop. No decals or stickers, all frames are hand-painted. And nothing from China or Taiwan, he adds.
Currently, his factory produces between 300 and 350 frames per year. But Milani hopes to expand production to a maximum of 1,000 to 1,500 frames within the next three years.
The company’s design philosophy centers on materials and aerodynamic tube shapes, more so than trying to limit weight, he said.
In addition to carbon road-racing models and steel-lugged offerings, Milani now is targeting the cyclocross and track racing markets with aluminum alloy and carbon fiber models.
“There is a market for Italian-made bikes. It’s a very much boutique, niche market,” Milani said. “We believe we have classical product, similar to Ducati and Masserati.”
Milani said he’s searching for a U.S. distributor.