The De Rosa Milanino Training is more than a winter bike.
The Italian firm’s handbuilt, aluminium steed offers an engaging, lively ride – and it looks stunning, too.
The Milanino Training arrived at RoadCyclingUK at the start of November, when winter was in its infancy, and has been a willing partner for many happy miles since.
The Milanino has been in De Rosa’s range for some time but the Milanino Training is a new model, introduced last winter, with a few subtle but important tweaks to weatherproof the frame. The addition of mudguard and rack eyelets, and the ability to accept 28mm tyres and full mudguards with long drop brakes, give it its Training moniker.
Those changes ensure the Milanino Training is a willing companion through winter when guards and fat tyres (though it comes with neither in this build) help soften the blow of the UK’s wet and windy weather. There’s more to it than that, however, and the Milanino Training’s ride quality is at the heart of its success.
The spec is also very good in this build (aside from the tyres), with plenty of third-party, quality kit, though if it’s not to your liking then De Rosa’s UK distributor, i-ride, also offer the Milanino Training as a frameset only for £799.99 and it’d make the basis of an excellent build project for a rider who wants a classic frame with a thoroughly modern ride.
The Milanino Training is the cheapest (or, rather, most affordable) bike in the De Rosa range but the frame, made from custom-drawn, triple-butted aluminium tubing, is beautifully finished. The smooth welds are particularly easy on the eye.
It’s handmade in De Rosa’s Cussano Milanino factory (which gives the frame its name), in northern Italy, and while that’s not neccessarily a reflection of its quality, good or otherwise, there’s some ‘right’ about a metal frame from an established marque like De Rosa having ‘Made in Italy’ stamped on the chainstay.
It’s a classic-looking frame, with round tubes, save for the box-section chainstays, and clean angles. The predominantly white paint scheme may not be the most sensible choice for winter but it cleans up easy enough and the contrast with azure blue panels (which in turn are lined with red, white and green bands to continue the Italian theme) on the downtube, seattube and chainstays is stunning. It’s fair to say the Milanino Training drew many admiring comments – and glances – on the club run.
Up front, there’s a fork with carbon blades and an aluminium steerer slots into a straight-through 1-1/8″ headtube.
De Rosa describe the geometry as ‘semi-compact’ but the toptube was horizontal to the eye on our 56cm test bike. The key angles and measurements – a 56cm toptube, 40.3cm chainstays, 16.5cm headtube and 73 degree seattube angle – point to a fairly traditional geometry which promised a lively ride and the Milanino Training didn’t disappoint in that regard.
We’re big believers in the value of quality aluminium over budget carbon fibre and the Milanino Training is another fine example to add weight to our argument. It’s not the most sophisticated frameset on the face of it, it doesn’t have the tapered headtube of an aluminium rival like the Kinesis Racelight TK3 and carries more a little more weight (a claimed 1,400g for a small frame) than lightweight alloy options like the Canyon Ultimate AL SLX, but ultimately it’s a really fun bike to ride.
The Milanino Training has a lively, sharp ride quality. It’s round tubes may lack the bulk of more oversized offerings but the frame responds extremely well to pressure on the pedals. It’s a responsive machine which gives plenty back when riding fast and that’s thanks in part to the reasonably racy geometry, and not least the short 40.3cm chainstays, which contribute to the De Rosa’s willingness to accelerate. The compact 16cm headtube also strikes a good balance between low-end race bike and all-day comfort. We’ve ridden the Milanino Training on long club runs, short blasts around a local training loop and on the commute through London’s urban sprawl and it’s felt at home throughout.
It rides like a race bike, however, and the handling contributes significantly to that. The Milanino Training is sharp under hand but never feels twitchy and it responds confidently to changes in direction – it’s a superbly balanced ride. The days of bone-shaking aluminium frames are, by and large, behind us and the Milanino Training is further evidence of that. It feels as aluminium should: connected with the road but by no means harsh. It doesn’t have the plush ride of some carbon fibre frames but neither is it uncomfortable.
The frame’s inherent stiffness means it climbs well, but steady gradients are seen off with greater ease than steep pitches. The Milanino Training’s 8.5kg overall weight is good given the aluminium frame and winter build, but a significant amount of weight is in the entry-level Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels. They’re absolutely fine for winter but, as ever, you’ll get more out of the rest of the bike with an upgrade.
That brings us on to the build. The Milanino Training’s Italian flavour continues with the Campagnolo Veloce groupset. The 10-speed setup is the Vicenza-based firm’s cheapest collection and some riders may be miffed at an entry-level group on a £1,699.99 bike, but it performs better than the phrase ‘entry-level’ suggests. Campagnolo’s one-function-per-lever shifting provides a firm clunk as you move down the cassette and we like its positive response. Whether it works for you is down to personal taste.
The combination of a compact 50-34t chainset and 12-25t cassette provides a decent spread of gears but some riders might appreciate a bigger sprocket if they live in a particularly hilly area or, like me, really like to spin the legs on climbs. That’s as easy as changing the cassette, however. Veloce is used throughout, except for the Tektro R539 long drop brakes, which leave room for mudguards and 28mm tyres. We’ve been impressed by the power and modulation offered by Tektro’s stoppers.
The quality build kit continues with the aluminium 3T Ergosum Pro and Arx Pro stem, which provide a good balance of stiffness and comfort. The Ergosum’s shallow drop suited this reviewer’s small hands, while the Prologo Zero II TiroX saddle is also a good choice, though it’s flat profile and firm feel may not suit everyone.
We were less impressed with the Continental Ultra Sport tyres, however. Our relationship got off to a reasonable start during the dry early days of winter and they roll reasonably well as an entry level rubber, but the lack of puncture protection means the tyre is prone to cuts and flatting as a result of the flints, thorns and other debris washed on to the road through winter.
There is, of course, an element of luck when it comes to punctures, but four in a couple of weeks was enough to convince us to change the tyres for the remainder of the test period. We’d recommend an early upgrade, particularly given the Milanino Training’s capacity to take wider tyres than the 23mm rubber specced.
There is no shortage of quality aluminium frames on the market and the Milanino Training is another that proves that metal is a viable alternative to entry-level carbon fibre – it’s a stunning frame with a ride quality to match. It’s not cheap for an aluminium frame with an entry-level groupset, but you’re getting plenty for your money besides Italian flair.
The Milanino Training is dressed in plenty of quality kit in this build but we’d like to see better tyres, and if it were sold with mudguards off-the-shelf then it’d be the real deal as a winter bike.
They’re two hurdles easily overcome, however, and the Milanino Training has more than enough about it to hold its own come spring and summer. It’s a versatile bike, with mudguard mounts for winter and a lively, sprightly ride ready for the rest of the year, and it’s availability as a frameset will appeal to riders looking to embark on a build project.