Cake has come to New Zealand – Stuff
There’s a new electric bike in town, and it’s the real deal, regardless of its tasty name.
Cake is a Swedish manufacturer, distributed here by Ride Elec. There are two models on offer at the moment – the Kalk and the Osa.
Both come in two variants. The Kalk Ink& (pronounced Kalk Ink And) represents Cake’s entry-level trail bike/full-size motorbike, while the Kalk& takes the same base and upgrades the suspension to Ohlins and tweaks the colours a bit.
The Osa is your commuter. You can get the Osa in Lite or + forms. The Lite is the moped version – and here I mean the Waka Kotahi NZTA definition of a moped, which means a motor vehicle (other than a power-assisted pedal cycle) that can’t exceed 50kmh under its own steam and, in this case, a power source that isn’t a piston engine. Same as the Ubco 2×2.
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Thankfully, the speed limit is done via the computer without reducing power or torque outputs. That means the Osa Lite still produces a healthy 151Nm of torque at the rear wheel (up from 42Nm of motor torque thanks to laws of physics I don’t understand and that large rear sprocket).
Meanwhile, the Osa+ uses the same basic model but features a speed limit of 90kmh.
Both the Osa and Kalk have three ride modes: 1, 2, and 3. The first limits top speed to improve range, the second balances the two, and the third leans towards speed and power at the expense of range.
Speaking of range, the Osa Lite will travel a claimed 92km of mixed city riding, the faster Osa+ will do 84km and the Kalk twins offer 83km. That range on the Osa Lite is more than most other electric mopeds on the market and comparable to combustion mopeds as well. Of course, the range will vary depending on your riding style.
They’re light too, the Osa weighing just 89kg and the Kalks coming in at 83kg (including the 17kg battery).
But enough specs. Ride Elec invited Stuff up to its headquarters in Warkworth to check out and experience the range in person, and have a chat with boss Daniel Stump.
Stump said that while the initial shipments were delayed slightly due to Covid-related issues, the vehicles on the ground now are ready to go. On display were a trio of Osas and three Kalks, in differing specifications.
Cake’s design philosophy means their bikes are not only attractive to look at, but also incredibly easy to modify to your liking. For example, the Osa’s thick central bar uses a clamp-on system that supports an extra seat for two-up riding, a basket mounted on the back, or a side-mounted cradle for surfboards.
Similarly, the Kalk can come with all the stuff needed for road usage, like indicators, mirrors and lights, or be totally stripped back, with higher fenders and a larger rear sprocket, as a proper freeriding machine. It’s easy enough to change the bikes around too – Stump said it only takes about half an hour to put the lights and mirrors back on a Kalk.
Anyway, on to what they actually feel like to ride. Keeping things short and sweet, they’re brilliant. As good on the road as they are to look at.
I started on the Oso Lite, and the 151Nm of rear-wheel torque is pretty incredible, despite offering just 4kW of power. It’ll blast up to the 45kmh limit in ride mode 3 without any trouble, and even hill starts don’t trouble it. I weigh around 95kg, and it hauled me around just fine.
Handles nicely too, although I found the two-seat-plus-basket configuration had me quite cramped, if I used the front seat as I would if there were another person on the back. The basket also makes getting on and off the bike a bit difficult. Ubco’s step-through design is better in this regard.
Moving on to the Kalk, this is the big kid of the range. I first rode the Ink&, the one with in-house suspension and a bit more weight, but it felt totally fine on gravel and tarmac roads. Despite offering a healthy 252Nm of rear-wheel torque, it didn’t feel unwieldy or out of control at all. It builds a head of steam nicely, with a soft torque curve, and tops out at 90kmh.
Be nice if it hit 100, but range would take a big hit at that point, and stability becomes an issue. After all, this is essentially a trail bike, and you’re not often belting through a forest at 100kmh…
I also have to amend an older mindset – if you subscribe to the Quick Charge newsletter (which you should, because it’s fantastic), you may have read my recent intro where I lament the lack of sound from electric motorbikes. It’s an outdated view, even though not really incorrect, like how people say electric cars will never sound like a V8. True, but the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT sound brilliant in a different way.
Same goes for electric bikes, it turns out. At 60kmh or so, the Kalk Ink&’s chain drive starts screaming like a supercharger, getting louder and higher the faster you go. It sounds absolutely fantastic.
After belting around the back roads of Warkworth for a bit, I had a small go on the fully kitted Kalk OR, which is the Ink& without any road-going gubbins, added Ohlins suspension, chunky off-road tyres and a larger 80-tooth rear sprocket (versus 72 teeth on the Ink&). This is the real deal when it comes to trail riding, particularly as that larger sprocket means rear-wheel torque bumps to 280Nm.
The OR will eat up pretty much anything you can throw at it, and vastly outperformed my own meagre trail-riding skills. Just be careful, if the throttle is wide open when you crest a hill, you definitely will wheelie out of it, and the twitchiness of electric motors means it’s easy to bounce into another one if you’re not careful.
About the only real negative about the Cake range is something that affects all EVs to an extent, and that’s price. The Osa Lite starts at $12,500; the Osa + at $14,898; the Kalk Ink& $16,600; and the Kalk& $20,538. All those are excluding GST.
Those are big figures, particularly with the Osa Lite, and mean the barrier for entry is quite high. But you have to remember how much you save after that, without paying for fuel or servicing. And you get a supremely high-quality machine to make all your friends jealous as well.
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