By Bardy the Action Scribe

Three-time champion David George is riding the 2008 MTN Giro del Capo on a bike that’s somewhat different to that of his MTN Energade teammates. While Malcolm Lange, Nicholas White, Jay Thomson, Ian McLeod and Waylon Woolcock straddle the bold yellow and blue Raleigh RC Limited 2008 machines, George is perched on a plain black carbon-fibre 2009 Raleigh RC Limited Prototype bike.

The Commonwealth Games silver medallist is hoping the bike, which in cycling terms is considerably lighter than those of his teammates, will help him improve his power-to-weight ratio fractionally in his quest to win a stage, or possibly his fourth Giro title.

On Tuesday, George finished Stage 1 in 9th place, 2min24sec behind the winner, but says the time loss wasn’t as a result of his bike.

“The bike was awesome! My own condition is at a peak. I was just outnumbered six-to-one by Barloworld riders which obviously wasn’t good odds,” grimaced George.

“While the 2008 model is really good, as can be seen by the success our men’s and women’s teams have already had this year, the 2009 model is an improvement for sure. It’s lighter, more responsive and it descends superbly.”

The 2009 Prototype that George is riding is unique in that it’s the first carbon-fibre Raleigh race bike that’s been designed according to the MTN Energade team’s rider requirements. Until now, all Raleigh race bikes have been sourced as existing designs through reputable carbon-fibre frame manufacturers abroad.

But in 2007, Probike, which owns the Raleigh brand in South Africa, hired Jan Begemann, a leading German high-end bicycle product developer, to raise the standard of the brand – this despite the fact that it’s been most prolific race-winning brand in South Africa over the past few years.

“Last October I spoke to the team about what they wanted to improve on the bikes,” explained Begeman. “They all wanted a lighter bike with more aggressive angles. So that became my first project. The bike David is riding at the Giro is only factory tested and not completely road tested yet. But what better place to road test it than at the country’s most important stage race!”

The frame on George’s prototype Raleigh is 250 grams lighter than the current team frame of the same size. A quarter of a kilogramme is a lot of weight to shed when you consider that the total weight of the new frame is 940g (size Small).

“The bike weighs 7.1kg in total,” confirmed George. “But that includes the 300 grams the SRM power monitoring system weighs. For me, the SRM information after each ride is critical and worth the extra bit of weight.”

The International Cycling Union’s minimum weight limit for road racing bikes is 6.8kg.

“It’s taken companies like Scott and Specialized years to achieve what they have in carbon-fibre frame design so our expectations are tempered at this stage,” said Begemann. “But in theory this is a very good frame. The real test will be in the racing of it this week.”

David George’s 2009 Raleigh RC Limited Prototype
Frame and fork: Monococque carbon fibre, 940g. Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace with carbon deep section rims and Continental tubular tyres. Crankset and pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace. Brakes and Gears: Shimano Dura-Ace. Seatpost, stem and handlebar: Ritchey WCS. Saddle: Fizik Arione carbon. Seatpost clamp: KCMC. Bottle cages: Elite carbon. Probolt titanium bolt kit.