With the Highland Trail 550 this weekend, MASON Supported Riders Philippa, Angus, Naomi, and friend of MASON Jim, will be riding this self-supported mountain bike event over the Scottish Highlands. 

The 550 miles bike packing route has over 16000m of climbing, so we asked our riders about their bike setup, preparation, and their must-have item for the ride.  


Bike setup:

  • Fork: SID Ultimate 35
  • Wheels: Hunt Trailwide V2
  • Tyres: Scwhalbe Racing Ralph 29x2.35 with inserts
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT 12 speed
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 203 front rotor/180 rear
  • Seatpost: PNW Loam dropper
  • Cockpit: Pro Koryak bars and stem with Profile Design aero extensions
  • Saddle: Specialized Phenom

So for HT550 I'll be using an almost identical setup to the Dales Divide as that seemed to go well but with a few key changes. The custom bags are all from Straightcut, which is handmade in Edinburgh and they will be filled with the usual things; spares, warm kit, electronics, and sleeping kit. For this, I’ll be taking a hooped bivvy with a matt and puffy trousers and jacket. One alteration from DD is that I’ll be taking a Salomon hydration pack instead of putting a bladder in the frame pack. This allows for a bit more space for extra clothing and food!

Any special preparation for HT550? I've been preparing as I would normally, DD was great to test kit and legs but to be honest the last couple of weeks I've felt pretty burned out so we will see how it goes on Saturday. 

Must have item for this ride? One essential for HT550 is a set of shoes that you can walk for miles in :)


Bike setup:

  • Fork: SID Ultimate 35 (custom painted sliders and decals)
  • Wheels: Hunt Trailwide V2
  • Tyres: Vittoria Barzo 29x4
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 12 speed
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 
  • Seatpost: X Fusion Manic dropper
  • Cockpit: Pro Koryak bars and stem 

I’m using Straight Cut Design’s new prototype small frame bag, large top tube bag, and food pouches alongside their production front sling. I’ll also be carrying a backpack. The prototype bags are really going to help me go light and carry weight over the middle of the bike for optimum handling. 

Any special preparation for HT550? I’ve had a crazy month in the run-up to HT550, starting a new job with Ieso, a digital health company looking at using digital therapeutics, AI, and mobile devices to treat mental illness. It’s been all-consuming and so the preparation has had to fit in around this. Hopefully, I’ve remembered everything!!

Must have item for this ride? It’s Scotland folks… bring your midge net!!


BREAKING NEWS: P has had to pull out of the race due to catching Covid just 2 days before the start. But we thought you would still like to see her HT550 setup...

Bike setup:

  • Fork: X-Fusion McQueen
  • Wheels: Hunt Trailwide V2
  • Tyres: Maxxis Ardent 29x2.35
  • Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 12 speed
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 
  • Seatpost: X Fusion Manic dropper
  • Cockpit: Pro Koryak bars and stem 
  • Saddle: Fizik Terra Argo
  • Bags: Apidura bags. Tools and spare on the downtube.
  • Gear highlights: OR helium bivy, down trousers + jacket and Thermarest neoair. Albion waterproof. Cut off cheap waterproof trousers.

Any special preparation for HT550? I did attempt to recce some of the route but too much snow for my liking!

Must have item for this ride? A sense of perspective!


Bike setup:

  • Mason RAW frame (medium) in sensor blue
  • Rockshox SID Ultimate fork
  • Sram Eagle AXS electronic shifter and derailleur
  • Sram Eagle XO1 10-50t cassette
  • Shimano XT brakes (2 pot)
  • Shimano XT crank (170mm)
  • Absolute Black oval chainring (32t)
  • Shimano XTR Trail pedals
  • One-up dropper post
  • Renthal fat-bar lite bars (760mm)
  • Renthal Apex stem (50mm)
  • Ergon GA3 grips
  • Specialised Phenom saddle
  • DT Swiss XMC 1501 wheelset
  • Maxxis Ardent Race tyres 29 x 2.35 (front and rear)

I'm planning to take as little as possible, though the beauty of my RAW is that I actually have more space in the frame triangle than last year when I was on my full-suss! My frame bag is custom made by Straightcut Design (absolutely the best in the business and based in Scotland!) and this will hold my waterproofs (it will be wet at some point!), toiletries (need some hygiene!), and bits n bobs including a poo trowel (act responsibly!). My revelate bar bag and holster will contain my sleep kit which is an OR helium bivi, Sea to Summit SP1 sleeping bag, and NeoAir mat. A maintenance kit and batteries are in the tool caddy under the down tube and in the Straightcut Design top tube bags. Food will be in the Straightcut Design stem bag and a small amount of clothing in the Apidura dropper saddlebag. Lighting is courtesy of an Exposure maxx-d and Joystick (helmet-mounted). I'm still wondering where to attach my spot tracker!!

Any special preparation for HT550? I'm an enthusiast rather than a sponsored athlete, so I don't work to a training plan. I'm very fortunate to live in the Scottish Highlands, so I've just been enjoying getting out as often as possible for weekend overnighters before the wee beasties (the evil midge) makes our lives a misery! I've also done a few big days (24 hours in a day = plenty of miles) to build a bit of endurance and pain tolerance!

Must have item for this ride? Washing up gloves! THE only truly waterproof glove and my saviour during last year's event. You can read about my experience in last year's biblical rain HERE.

Best of luck to everyone riding the Highland Trail 550.