Jay Crooks beautiful new RAW just left us, and we thought we'd highlight some key points on this incredibly versatile build.

Obviously a man with taste, he needed something to complement his Aspect - the RAW fit the bill perfectly. As with all of our bikes, a little bit of extra customisation is available, and we thought this would be a great place to start by offering up the SRAM GX EagleAXS groupset. A perfect mix of reliability and simplicity, this was augmented with the top of the range XX1 10-52 cassette for even smoother shifting and lighter weight, and copper for style points. Jay provided the Reverb AXS dropper, and we topped it with the Fizik Terra Argo X3 saddle.

This left the frame with just two visible hoses, for the Hope Tech3 E4 brakes and Hope180/160mm rotors. The finishing kit was the usual Ritchey Trail stem and Renthal FatBars, along with Ergon GA2 grips.

The custom wheelset is another example of how we can take a 'stock' build and make it into a dream build. These are the ENVE M635 rims, ideal for the bigger tyre capacity of the RAW and amazingly light and well finished. The build requirements were for something light, but serviceable and versatile, so we went for the Hope Pro4 rear hub and a SON28 Dynamo front hub.

We caught up with Jay to chat to him about his RAW...

"I think it’s fair to say that I’m rather obsessed with bikes and riding them - they mean a lot to me, from their capability and performance through to their provenance and the ethos of the maker, their relationship with the bikepacking and ultra racing community and flexibility in customising builds to individual preferences. 

I was looking for a bike that would excel at the rougher end of off-road endurance riding - exceeding the capability of most XC and “monster gravel” bikes while retaining a focus on ultra endurance considerations. The RAW seemed custom built for this purpose with trail bike bias but staying true to the Mason “fast far” DNA. The build quality and attention to small details is second to none. On top of that, as a company, Mason ticks all the boxes in terms of the factors I value and that make the bike and the experience around owning it special - South East England based (as am I), the frame for the RAW is made in Scotland (I’m Scottish) and they are active in and support many elite and community riders in the UK/international bike packing/ultra racing scene. 

In terms of customisation and speccing, the team at Mason is great to work with and unsurprisingly brings a huge amount of experience to the table given their close links with racers. It’s exciting to look at the range of technology available and figure out what elements will come together to optimise the bike for its intended purpose, drawing on my own experience from other bikes and what delivers real value for the way I ride. The ENVE rims are undoubtedly a considerable investment but their performance levels are off the charts being freakishly light while delivering great ride feel and dependability. For drive train components, I now personally favour SRAM for ultras as the technology has so far proven to be bombproof on my other bikes and spare batteries can be easily carried with the charger weighing next to nothing and charging from anything with a basic USB cable. Speaking of electrics, the bike is SON dynamo equipped and will power a klite setup when adventuring.  

As for what’s next for me and the RAW, having been almost exclusively riding my Aspect in training for and just completing the Pan Celtic Race, I’m looking forward to getting back out on the trails and putting the bike through its paces on the rough stuff. In the short term that will involve a lot of time out on the local bridleways and the South Downs Way but I also hope to make it up to Scotland to ride the Cairngorms Loop before the year is out. Longer term, I hold a deferred entry for the Atlas Mountain Race and hope to take on the Great British Divide at some point. The RAW promises to be an outstanding choice for both of these extreme races and will no doubt vastly exceed the capability limits of its rider!" 

For Mason, it was great to spend the time getting the build exactly as he wanted, with as many details as possible discussed and refined until it was just the case of putting the pedals on and him taking it for the first shakedown run at the MASON Barn.