If you are a follower of this blog or my Instagram then you will be well aware of my enjoyment of riding impractical bikes on inappropriate terrain. I am not alone. When it comes to planning bike rides, simpleton bike lover and mile muncher Stu Allan takes an approach of choose ratio first, ask questions later. We will be riding the Highland Trail 550 together and this is his bike, a custom sparkled Genesis High Latitude SS.

Genesis seem to be one of these companies that simply churn out no nonsense, popular bikes like their adventure road bike the Croix De Fer or the commuter/SSCX Day One. Neither of which particularly rock the industry boat and spark very little excitement from me. However they do occasionally strike on some gold and the High Latitude is one of these nuggets. Fairly slack head tube, steepish seat tube, reasonably long top tube means it sits comfortably among many modern bike packing orientated mountain bikes. How did Genesis know all this in 2013.

Reynolds 853… -333 = 520

This underrated and overlooked model from 5 years ago means that they can now be picked up fairly cheap second hand which frees up many pennies and scope for upgrades and mods. Stu has not shied away and has made his mark on this frame. Hub gear cable guides have all been removed and smoothed and Anything Cage mounts have been drilled on the down tube. Gone is the original orange and has been replaced with glittery black and a missleading material sticker.

Lovely sparkles.

Build is a simple spec of Shimano hollowtech cranks, miscellaneous wide bars/70mm ish stem and a WTB Laser TCS wheelset. Gear ratio is 34×20 and a classic single speed mountain bike combination of not low enough for climbs and way too low for everything else. Tyres are fast rolling WTB Nine Line’s although this may be be changed on the day based on sidewall fears. Brakes are currently mechanical but Stu is mountain bike woke now and the bike may get some Shimano hydros ready for the HT550.

Bag setup will likely be a tweaked version of his Badger Divide setup which we rode as a shakedown test for the HT550. Snacks and stash pouch on the front, a full frame bag and a Blackburn seat pack. A couple of Alpkit gas tanks provide more handy zippy pockets for things. Bottles on fork legs are apparently the dream.

Is single speed really a great idea for a 550 mile bike packing route that takes in over 50,000 feet of climbing? Probably not but there is only one way for Stuart to find out.

To keep up with Stu’s going on’s you can follow him here on Instagram.


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