Highland Trail 550 winners’ tech gallery (including prototype Mason Raw hardtail)

Three riders, three very different bikes for the UK's premier bikepacking race

Liam Glen HT550 winner's bike Stooge Cycles Scrambler

The Highland Trail 550 is the UK’s premier bikepacking race, taking in more than 16,000m of climbing across 880km on some of Scotland’s most remote and challenging terrain.

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It’s a race that combines some of Scotland’s world-class trails with long sections of hike-a-bike, at a time of year when the weather is best described as unpredictable (is Scotland’s weather ever predictable?). Bike choice is key, but there’s no perfect machine for an event like the Highland Trail 550 – as you’ll find out.

Fifty-five riders took to the start line of the 2021 event. Here we bring you an in-depth look at three very different bikes that took first, third and fourth place overall.

Who won the 2021 Highland Trail 550?

Highland Trail 550 hike-a-bike
The Highland Trail 550 is the UK’s premier bikepacking race.
James Robertson

After opening up a 50-mile lead, the race was won in impressive style on Tuesday evening by Liam Glen, riding a rigid singlespeed Stooge Cycles Scrambler and finishing in a time of 3d 10h 55m – a new singlespeed record, and a time within spitting distance of the overall record.

Second place was then taken by Andrew Hutcheson. Unfortunately, our photographer on the ground, James Robertson, was unable to catch him, with Andrew heading home shortly after his 02:14am finish.

Third place went to 2017 Transcontinental winner James Hayden aboard a Canyon Neuron CF, with Josh Ibbett, another former Transcontinental winner, taking fourth on an unreleased Mason Raw hardtail.

The women’s field is currently led by Annie Le onboard her Salsa Spearfish. We’ll be keeping our ear to the ground as this group continues towards the finish in Tyndrum and will bring you a similar gallery if at all possible.

Highland Trail 550 2021 race photos
The race is defined by savage hike-a-bikes and gruelling river crossings in spectacular terrain.
James Robertson

We’ve been following this year’s racing over on DotWatcher.cc – which is one of our favourite cycling apps – and have been equally horrified and impressed by the biblical weather the riders have faced.

This has been made all the more challenging due to covid restrictions – the route is usually served by a handful of bothies (small open-door mountain shelters), but these are currently closed due to the pandemic, leaving riders continually exposed to the elements.

Good luck to all of the riders still out on the route and thanks to Liam, James and Josh for taking some time from (we assume) lying down very still and enjoying not being on the bike to let us get these photos

Liam Glen – Stooge Cycles Scrambler