Riding the Oregon Outback on the Ren Cycles Ivan – Gabe Tiller

Riding the Oregon Outback on the Ren Cycles Ivan
Photos and words by Gabe Tiller

Earlier this summer I set out for my fourth journey on the Oregon Outback. Each time I had ridden a different steed ranging from touring bike to plus bike and this round was no exception: I had the chance to borrow REN’s titanium cyclocross race machine: the Ivan. It’s an adaptable beast, perfect for those masochists who like to race singlespeed as well as Cat A/B. Luckily I was doing neither, and instead going on a 360 mile jaunt through Oregon’s famous Outback.

REN Ivan on the Oregon Outback

It’s a powerful bike and begs to go fast. I’m used to a playful bike and come from a MTB background but the Ivan isn’t having any of that. It is stable, confident, comfortable in the drops and wanted me to pedal—faster. And so I did, leapfrogging from shade splotch to shade splotch, through thousands of fresh cow pies, past the Sycan Marsh, through the Red Sauce, down the Trout Creek descent, over Horse Heaven’s pastel double track, and through the undulating grasslands of Wasco County.

REN Ivan on the Oregon Outback

The Ivan bore me—no, egged me—forward through it all. Its no-nonsense, aggressive geometry transferred power efficiently, and the Ti frame carried me comfortably all the way from California to the banks of the Columbia River.

Bike reviews like this are the best! But if you’d like more specs, pricing, build options and other tech jargon, hit up the fine folks at Ren!

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  • charlesojones

    Not to detract from the appreciation of this beautiful bike, but which of the bikes mentioned worked out best for you on that particular route?

    • It depends. This bike was great for riding fast, but my krampus with lightweight super motos was very awesome to get rowdy on.

  • Ben Hoffman

    You really think the bikes geo is to explain the power transfer and the frame is to explain the comfort? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

    • I think the material is more comfortable and yes, a bike’s geometry can aid in / detract from power transfer. Longer stays for example = longer chain.

      • Ben Hoffman

        True enough, it just seems to me that frame material and stiffness have a lot more to do with a bikes performance, and how you sit on it has a lot more to do with comfort. Especially with 40mm tires, any frame material can be comfortable.

        • I dunno. I still hate the ride quality of aluminum even with a 2.2″ tire.

          • pedroTFP

            C’dale Slate too? :-)

          • The slate is for sure a more rigid ride than Ti or Steel – but that fork helps. I get “aluminum rattle” a lot at the bars, regardless of bar material, on aluminum bikes.

        • Yeah, last year I rode my alu Specialized cross bike with 38c tires and it was meh. I found this bike to transfer power better than most, and I attribute that to the geo.

          • Ben Hoffman

            Idk, planing is real, BQ for life.

          • Jan is much more of a bike nerd than I. Not familiar with what you’re referring to, but I’ll defer to him.

    • There is a lot of interplay between the two but geometry (chainstay length, seat tube angle, seat stay configuration) does greatly impact power transfer. For instance, controlling for other variables (tires etc), a beach cruiser geometry in any material will be much less efficient than a CX or crit bike in that same material.

      All other things (tires, cockpit, etc) being equal, frame material has a substantial impact on comfort, primarily as a function of how the material transfers or dissipates vibration. Every material has different properties.

  • James

    I thought the Oregon Outback was…dead?!

    • Brian Richard Walbergh

      Nothing stopping folks from riding the route….

    • Gabe said things have cooled down a bit and he’s been talking to the locals.

    • charlesojones

      I think the originators disassociated themselves from the annual event due to some crappy behavior from a few bad apples. The route still exists for anyone to ride. Just respect those who live on the route.

    • Yes, the event is no more but the route is still there and many people ride it each year. I’ve chatted with the locals in Silver Lake and they’re excited to have us roll through and spend money there. The uproar around the cancellation was much more amplified on the internet than it actually was on the frontlines.

  • Don Gouda

    Can anyone fill me in on what brand gas tank bag that is?

  • Alex Cogger

    Can you elaborate on your strategy for riding 370 MI with nothing but a tangle bag and a gas tank??? I am astounded.

    • charlesojones

      SAG?

      • I’d say no Sag. Gabe travels ultra lightweight. You could wear your same clothes and have a tarp / shelter with a camp stove in that frame bag, along with a few necessities easy. Doing that for three days is possible.

        • Silent Majority

          was he wearing a backpack? Enduro fanny?

    • Ha, I do prefer to go ultralight, yes, but this was with some friends that wanted the comforts a stocked van provides in camp each night.

  • What are those extra housing guides for?

    • In which photo?

      • The second one. They’re on the non-drive seat stay.

    • This particular bike was the first Ivan prototype, converted from an Omen which has a high disc mount and the associated seat stay routing. (The two REN CX frames are identical save for the rear dropouts and routing.) Before going into production on the Ivan we wanted to test putting the rockers on the outside of the stays rather than the inside as traditionally done and while we were in that prototyping process we had a couple of PDX TI racers sign up for SSCX at Sea Otter (they won) and in the time crunch we did not remove the now superfluous high disc routing.

      Production Ivan frames do not have the high disc routing.

      • Oh ok, rad. Personally, I’d leave them just because they have a bit of history.

        • Haha yeah, at this point it’s been 18 months and we haven’t gotten around to it.
          The bike is always on the go… John Walrod is SSCX racing it this season. After that it’ll get a refinish and they might come off.