So, it’s nearly that time again.

This weekend, I’ll be lining up in Tyndrum with many other like-minded folks for the annual Highland Trail mass start. The affectionately known “HT550” – the brainchild of ring-leader Alan Goldsmith – has developed a bit of a reputation over the years with a cult following of “returning veterans” (RVs) and new aspirants alike.

This year I’m riding as an RV!

Last year was my first. Starting with nervous trepidation, but ultimately revelling in the experience. Constant forward progress through the stunning Scottish Highlands; a part of the world I feel privileged to have made home, even when it’s as wet as it was during last year’s event!

Last year I rode my full-suss, but this year I’m on my beautiful Mason RAW hard tail. I’ve bought and ridden several Mason bikes over the last four years and they have allowed my riding to evolve over that time. But what I really wanted and needed was a capable 29er hard tail. Drop bars and rigid frames have their place but flat bars, front suspension and 29er wheels rule when it comes to seriously off-road bikepacking!

So, when Dom released the RAW I was pretty much first in line and, after 1500 miles of getting to know one-another, I can honestly say it is everything I hoped it would be! The slack geometry is spot on, remaining planted and comfortable for hours and days on end. It’s a joy to ride and a real looker too! The perfect bikepacking rig for journeying through and around the Highlands!

For those interested in the finer details here is my build specification. A premium frame really does deserve a premium build…

  • 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)

Jim Higgins

May 2022

Our full list of MASON Bikes of HT550 is coming soon.