I recently hopped a flight to Thessaloniki, in the Hellenic Republic for a press camp with Evoc Sports, and I hope to return to those fantastic tracks in the near future. A gaggle of European mountain bike journalists met in the country’s second-largest city to check out some of Evoc’s sweet new bikepacking gear, and to ride trails on Mount Olympus with local guides and trail builders from Outline Adventures.
The twelve original gods of Mount Olympus likely love the way their singletracks are used today. Truth be told, I managed to fail Greek mythology class in high school, so I won’t pretend to remember any of those narratives. What I do remember is a set of well-crafted, natural trails that ribbon their way through the mountain’s beech and oak groves, swapping soil compositions numerous times along the way.
Barring ski resorts and parks, mountain bike trails in Europe are largely a collection of former footpaths that farmers, soldiers, travelers, and merchants used to move between villages. Their natural meandering surfaces were trodden into the soil by thousands of hooves and soles, sometimes over centuries of use. Mountain bikers like George Nanos from Outline Adventures have since come through and shaped those tracks to make them suitable for riding while preserving a healthy amount of their original character.
George and his talented crew are guiding the first MTB tours on the flanks of Mount Olympus, and they’re putting in the sweat alongside local builders to open more trails for Greeks and tourists alike. There is singletrack all over the mountainous southern Balkan peninsula, including trails on several Greek Islands, but riding on the country’s highest and most revered mountain is a particularly special experience. According to George, there are more tourists in Greece than there are Greek citizens during the summer months. For best results, pack your bike for an off-season trip. Don’t worry, it’s warm enough to swim in the Aegean Sea in the winter if you want it bad enough.
The tracks we rode were divided by road crossings, with distinct ecosystems after every few hundred meters of elevation. The ground toggled between loose sand, long stone slabs, grippy dirt, and rock gardens of porous baby-heads, keeping the ride dynamic and fun all of the way to the streamside cafes at the bottom. In addition, to tread variety, the trails on Mount Olympus vary in grade, exposure, and flow alike. There were occasional ass-on-tire descents, with more than enough pedaling sprinkled in between to extend the duration of each run.
Mount Olympus is home to more than a thousand avian species and over 30 endemic plant species. It’s truly a playground for nature nerds like me.
We put Evoc’s new gear to a proper test over two days of riding, and it was no surprise that their bike bag game is dialed. The handlebar, saddle, and frame bags are intended for use with a backpack for light touring and bikepacking adventures. The company may move toward larger volume bikepacking gear in the future, but they wanted to start with a line that embodies their love for minimalist movement through the forest.
As I mentioned in a prior review, the handlebar and saddlebags are properly waterproof, keeping your warm sleeping gear dry and clean all day. The bags take seconds to mount on the bike, and the Boa system holds the bar and saddle setup stable no matter what sort of trails you are exploring. The saddlebag needs to be loaded and mounted carefully to avoid hitting the rear tire when your suspension compresses, and for some squishy bikes, it might be better to strap gear to a backpack instead.
Over the past few months, I have replaced all of the straps and tape that I was using to secure tubes and tools to my bike with Evoc’s frame bags, and I am stoked with their form and functionality. The dark grey packs not only look better than gear-straps or tape, but the zippered pouches make it far easier to access my tools when I need them, while keeping them clean.