Introduction

I wanted to state my primary reason for writing this article. As much as I searched, I could find little to nothing about the actual ownership of CAKE bikes. Sure, there are tons of videos produced by CAKE or created by those who have done demo rides. I’m wise enough to know that ownership is completely different than a test ride or demo. It’s akin to living with someone versus dating them. All of the little things you never really knew reveal themselves, both good and bad.

So even though I’ve only owned the bike for six weeks, I’m hoping to give insight into actual ownership. This article is not to persuade or dissuade a purchase; it just covers one man’s view.Kalk& bike next to grass field

Before I begin talking about ownership of a Kalk&, I’m going to address the two elephants in the room regarding my Kalk&: the name and the price. My ancient heritage is from Japan. I’m a third-generation Japanese-American and get just as confused as anyone about the weird translated sayings that come from Asian countries.

In 1973 when Datsun (now Nissan) brought over the first 240Z, it was known in Japan as the “Fair Lady Z.” It was a domestic name that would surely not have fared well in the USA. Yet the car was a huge success. I know little to nothing about the culture in Sweden other than IKEA branded items. So, I had to look up where the name Kalk came from and found it on the Ridecake website under the FAQ section:

What the Hell Does KALK Mean?

“The name KALK for CAKEs first model and platform has its reason because of KALK or Limestone, being the bedrock of Gotland.

The Gotland bedrock was largely made up of coral reefs, created in the tropical sea four hundred million years ago. The continental drift, took Gotland on a ride from the tropical waters, made a few turns and placed it in the Baltic Sea, where the rest of the surroundings are mostly granite.

That white limestone gives Gotland a special light and flight, which is unique. And that same white limestone is what we use and will be using for CAKE tracks. It’s perfect for building jumps, curves, banks, and rollers. Add a little water and it becomes beautifully solid.

KALK it is.”

So there you have it. But I will say that in the six weeks I’ve owned the bike, my friends and those I meet while I’m out have given me a good ribbing about the name. I have decided to list some of the most popular questions and comments I’ve received:

  • Mark, can you say Kalk ten times fast without giggling?
  • Is it ok if I sit on your Kalk?
  • My GF, Get that damn Kalk away from me right now!
  • My friend Carisa, Can you send me a picture of your Kalk?
  • Wow, what a pretty Kalk you have!
  • Do people ever ask if they can borrow your Kalk?
  • Your Kalk looks weird, like not normal. I prefer a normal-looking one.
  • My kids say they are afraid of your Kalk
  • When my daughter gets older she wants to ride your Kalk.
  • Is your Kalk fun to ride?
  • Do you have to plug your Kalk in after you’re done?
  • Your Kalk is bigger in person than how it looks in pictures I’ve seen.
  • Wow, your Kalk is so white!
  • How long does it take to recover before you can use your Kalk again?
  • IKEA sells a Kalk like yours!? I searched online but could not find one.
  • Your Kalk is too expensive for me. Can I get a cheaper Kalk?
  • I can tell you really love your Kalk
  • How often do other people ride your Kalk?
  • How long does your Kalk last? Will I be disappointed if it runs out before I’m finished?
  • Wow, I love the size and look of your Kalk. Some are so big that it’s hard for me to straddle them. And so then I don’t feel safe since I’m on the smaller side.

Well, there you have it; the Kalk is all out in the open now. The brand CAKE is from the founder’s other company POC, which stands for Piece of CAKE – a very successful and highly regarded safety gear company in the EU. And so CAKE’s logo which looks like PacMan is actually a full cake with a “piece” removed. Very clever! I just hope it was a chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate ganache frosting. Mmmmm!

CAKE logo

I told my girlfriend about this and guess what! She made me a CAKE on the very day! Chocolate with dark chocolate ganache frosting too! Yum!

Chocolate cake with ganache frosting

Oh, The Price!

$14,000 USD. Man, that’s a slug of cash. SO MANY PEOPLE ask me if it’s worth it too because many are aware I have owned a Sur Ron Light Bee for over two years. I actually wrote an article for WebBikeWorld about my Sur Ron. As a point of reference, I have spent around $7200.00 to date bringing my SR to the level of performance that I enjoy for what and how I ride. That amount is literally double the current Luna asking price of a stock X Sur Ron and almost exactly half the cost of my Kalk&.

So my short answer is yes, it’s so worth it that I decided to buy it during COVID-19, being a full time unemployed commercial photographer. More on why I pulled the trigger later in this article.

I recently watched a YouTube interview of Stefan Ytterhorn the CEO of CAKE conducted by Ben of unearned confidence on April 17, 2020, titled “UC Show #7 | Badass Electric Dirt Bike – CAKE CEO” It was very interesting when Ytterhorn stated that as of the date of the interview CAKE has sold ‘close to 100 bikes…’ in the USA. Now I know why there are no CAKE user groups or information about ownership. Even doubling or tripling the number of his estimated sales from April to 200-300 bikes, that number is extremely low. You can hear his comment at 22:50 in the video.

The Purchasing Process

I was intrigued at the CAKE line of EVs for quite some time. But never having seen one and at a $14,000 price point, I put them out of my mind. In my entire motorcycle lifetime, I always regretted not purchasing a dual sport motorcycle. The Suzuki DZR 400 or a street converted Honda 250 were my choices back in the day. My bikes were either full motocross or later, road racers. For me, the thought of riding to an off-road area and getting into the dirt would be heaven. No truck or trailer needed, no ramps, no tie downs – just riding to an unexplored off-road spot to ride or camp.

Like all things in life, dual sport motorcycles are a compromise. Not a full on street bike and not a hard core off-road bike, yet just good enough at both. I have raced most of my life. I’ve crashed at 140 MPH in turn 10 at Thunderhill Raceway and competed in the Barstow to Vegas run twice. Raced motocross at Saddleback Park (RIP) but now I just want to enjoy my ride for how/where I ride.

Nowadays I’m not much of a group rider either. I loved being on a team and street riding with friends before I discovered the juice of the track. The solitude of being alone while riding and without the ICE sounds or smells is my jam. Don’t get me wrong, in the past I LOVED the sounds of my V-twin liter bike, 2 stroke dirt bikes revving. Oh, and the smell of two stroke premixed gas still brings a smile to my face.

Mark Kitaoka riding on motorcycle

My experience owning a Sur Ron for over two years and 4600+ miles has shown me just how much I DON’T miss the sounds or smells of ICE motors. Or the weight and the lack of maintenance; I bought my bikes to ride them, not to work on them more than riding. I do love wrenching and the SR showed me the balance of wrenching versus riding. EV LEOs (Light Electric Off-road) requires just enough wrenching to keep me satisfied. The aspect of a bike weighing less than ME is amazing and transformed how I felt about motorized two wheelers.

Researching CAKE Kalks

Like everyone, I searched far and wide to find out information about the bikes. In almost all cases they were either YouTube videos produced by CAKE, sponsored by CAKE, or created by demo riders but primarily on the streets, NYC, or other urban places. In most of those cases, they were ridden by men who are younger, in their twenties or thirties and used in situations that would not really fit how, what, or where I want to use the bike.

The other curious element that made me wonder –“Do young people who have enormous student debt really want to spend $14k on an emerging EV motorcycle? I live in the heart of Silicon Valley and that given home prices AVERAGE $1.6 million and rent for one bedroom apartments average $3500.00, it seems unlikely. Hum….”

How Durable are the CAKE Line of Bikes?

I felt pretty crummy at searching YouTube videos until I found Max Fredriksson’s videos on CAKE bikes. Holy crap man where have I been?! It opened up a whole new world to me of CAKE videos. Obviously I would NOT have purchased a $14k bike without first seeing it, examining the build quality, etc. to determine if I felt it is well-built and engineered. And in my opinion, it has that in spades.

Kalk motorcycle rider doing a flip

This insane scene can be viewed at 10:10 in the video. Oh and by the way, to all of you haters out there, let’s see how your bike fares after something like this. Maybe your fender will break!

Rider falling off Kalk motorcycle

Skate Park Fun…and crashing! Oh and much more.

At 5:09, they get to ride on CAKE’s off road track. Yeah, these bikes can take a lot of brutal abuse. I’ll find out myself soon enough.

Make no mistake I have no intention, nor do I possess the skills to do what Max and his buddies do in his videos. But what it did illustrate to me is the incredible build quality of the bike. They literally beat the shit out of those demo bikes. And anyone who has a brain larger than an amoeba knows how demo bikes are treated…CRUMMY. All I had read from the usual haters of anything new; “Oh it’s all plastic.” “The fenders snapped off in mud.” “I don’t like shit that is new or different from what I know.” The usual crowd who have never ridden one, seen one, or would buy one.

My First Experience with CAKE

So, in this new online world, I was happy yet very skeptical to see CAKE offer a Try and Buy program.

CAKE main website

Skeptical for two reasons; first off, CAKE is made in Sweden and has just a few retail partnerships in the USA. The likelihood of me being located in an area where they are holding demo rides would be slim to none, especially in the time of COVID-19 in which we are in as I write this article. Secondly, I’m not a big fan of waiting in line with a bunch of other potential buyers to ride a bike in a controlled area which for me is akin to driving Autopia Cars at Disneyland….yawn.

I filled out the form and didn’t give it much thought. I had done so six months before and received a standard reply stating CAKE would be happy to notify me when demonstrations are in my area. But in about a week I received a response from Zack Bailey. He mentioned that he would be happy to bring a bike to MY HOUSE if I knew which model I would like to try. REALLY?!

Is this like the Instacart of EV motorcycles!? Holy crap! One on One? REALLY? I wrote back to him stating I was looking for a dual sport EV. We set up a time where he would bring a CAKE Kalk& for me to try. This from the guy who has never demo ridden a bike before in his entire lifetime before buying one!

We arranged a date and time that worked out for both of us. On the day of, Zack and the CAKE Sprinter Van arrived exactly on time. Before exiting his vehicle, he donned his face mask and said if we could shake hands, he would. Alas, these are pandemic times with COVID-19…

I set up my garage before Zack’s arrival, arranged, and accounted for appropriate social distancing so we could talk before he unloaded the bike.

Mark's Kitaoka's garage

I had quite a few questions about CAKE, the bike, and the Splitit financing offered on the CAKE site. I have not had a vehicle payment in over 40 years since I pay cash for my vehicles. And although I could do that if I bought a CAKE, I’d prefer to keep more of my money in these uncertain times and finance just a little.

I made Zack aware that the bike I was most interested in is the CAKE INK SL. It’s $3500 less expensive than the CAKE Kalk& and would fit in the budget amount of what I want to spend on this bike.

My First Ride

So after answering all of my questions, Zack rolled the Kalk& out of the van. Since the INK SL had not yet been released, this was the dual sport to try.

Kake motorcycle in front of van

I have no idea if he had planned to let me take the bike out on my own, but I asked him if he would like to ride my Sur Ron as I rode the Kalk&. He mentioned that he has ridden several Sur Rons.

CAKE Kalk and Sur Ron motorcycle

I told him how to pretend pedal and gave him the following rules:

  • No Wheelies
  • No Jumping
  • No Crashing

His rules:

  • No Crashing

So, off we went where I tested two of the three different power and regen levels.

For power:

  • Level 1 is limited to 28 MPH
  • Level 2 is unlimited top end and moderate power
  • Level 3 is unlimited top end and max power

For regen:

  • Level 1 is freewheeling
  • Level 2 is like a 2 stroke engine braking
  • Level 3 is like a 4 stroke engine braking

I was not interested in Level 1 for either power or regen so I didn’t even bother trying them. Level 2 power really reminded me of my Sur Ron. Keep in mind that I have one of the first 50 X controllers offered by Luna which are no longer available. The braking regen in Level 2 on the CAKE feels almost exactly like the X controller on my bike. Like third gear engine braking on a 125 two stroke.

The CAKE’s power was smooth, no smoother than my SR but since the CAKE has a higher top speed, it’s apparent that the CAKE has more top end. I was able to take the CAKE (god that sounds so odd!) off road to an area where I like to ride. I wanted to ascertain how the suspension felt compared to my modified SR with the Manitou Dorado front fork and the Ohlins TTX22 rear shock.

I noticed that the CAKE was set up for someone about 20-30 pounds heavier than me. I determined that before we began riding which is just my normal protocol. And I did not want to adjust the suspension because Zack had to go to another appointment after mine. The CAKE felt very planted and the rebound for both high and low speed felt very good, but not better than my own SR with its modifications.

The CAKE is not my personal bike so I did NOT go WFO on my dirt run. I was around 80% throttle. I was surprised to see Zack right behind me. When I told him that he kept up with me, I believe he thought I was saying I thought he is a slow rider! LOL. He’s not, but I was pleased that my bike was right there with me and the CAKE.

Zack Bailey standing next to CAKE Kalk motorcycle

The front brake is excellent, powerful with excellent modulation, and progressive in feel, not like wooden feeling brakes. I had to become accustomed to a rear foot brake after adjusting to a rear hand brake on my Sur Ron. Zack was right; I got used to it again right away. The rear brake locks up the rear wheel easily which is something I did not like, more about that later. I did not use Level 3 power or regen in the dirt and left that for my street riding.

We headed out of Bump City and hit Beach Park Blvd and it was there that I switched to Level 3 for both power and regen. I held the throttle WFO and that’s when I noticed something. The bike would accelerate up to a point, then plateau and then pick up again before flattening out. My speed on the odometer was 52 MPH. I also let off the throttle completely and the regen braking was much more pronounced than in Level 2. Regen braking in Level 3 felt like a four stroke 250 in third gear. I actually like the feeling and can imagine using Level 3 regen quite often, especially on long downhill sections.

Zack mentioned that Level 3 regen puts a 20% charge back into the pack. Although CAKE lists Level 2 power allowing maximum top end, I found that Level 2 power limited the top end to around 43 MPH as measured on the Kalk&’s display whereas Level 3 yielded 52 MPH.

The riding position of the bike is different from my SR. I have 3″ riser bars and a 1/2″ shim stack under the bar riser. So it’s more upright than the CAKE. Zack mentioned he too noticed the difference in body position between the two bikes. Since the bike is much taller (I’m 5-8 with a 30″ inseam. I can straddle the bike with both feet on the ground as long as I’m on the balls of my feet- the seat to peg room feels like riding a horse with a Western saddle whereas my bike feels like I’m riding with an English saddle. Translation – more legroom on the CAKE.

I was not thrilled with the display. I’m not a big fan of loads of information since I can get that from my phone and an app. Plus, I don’t really look at my display when I’m riding. I’m not insinuating that the display is cluttered, it was just hard to see in bright sunlight and I didn’t find out if the display can be set at different angles.

I have a feeling I just missed that adjustment. But the sun did tend to overpower the brightness of the display. The buttons that control the power and regen levels are on the display itself. They are rather small and I would prefer it if CAKE offered a separate button toggle near the left handlebar grip. Doing so would prevent having to lift your left hand off of the grip to change the power or regen levels.

When I mentioned the double plateau of the power band, Zack explained that since the Kalk& is a dual sport model, the engineers have programmed the controller to optimize battery range which he says explains that phenomenon. Since I’m a complete dunce in the world of electronics I have no idea if that is good or bad. I just know that it felt strange to plateau twice in the upper power band.

Pulling the Trigger on a Kalk&

Instead of buying the INK SL I was looking at, after selling my beloved RC51 I decided that since she (Ashley was my name for the RC51…after Ashley Judd) wore all Ohlins suspension I should replace her with another mistress who wore the same shoes…Ohlins. So Sofia (Vergara) it is for the win!

I paid for her on June 25 2020 and Emily explained that FedEx Freight would call me the day before delivery to set up a time/date. Sure enough on July 1, 2020, they called and said the bike would be delivered to my home on July 2, 2020. When the FedEx driver pulled up I was like a kid waiting for his birthday present! It was damn hot that day so I offered the driver a bottle of Mexican Coca Cola, the kind with real sugar! He wanted to know about the bike so I cut off the shipping straps and opened the box to his WOW reaction. Nice fella.

FedEx delivery man with boxed Kalk motorcycle

CAKE’s Customer Service

Prior to becoming a commercial photographer I spent the majority of my career in corporate leadership roles. I’ve always had a keen sense for employees who are stellar in terms of customer demeanor and product understanding. I’m very happy to report that my experience both in-person and online with CAKE employees is the benchmark for how companies, regardless of industry, should be selected and trained.

Zack Bailey – West Coast Sales

In the good old motorcycle days when shops were on every street corner and sales were through the roof, I bought my bikes where the sales and support staff were stellar. When I’d go to buy parts or fluids, I would always stop to talk to the sales and service folks. They became friends I’d see out at motocross or desert races, people I truly enjoyed talking with and sharing stories.

If someone forgot their plug wrench or other tool all of us loaned each other whatever was needed. Without question, Zack could have worked in that era. His level of customer service along with his general demeanor and engagement is excellent. For a young fella, there was no incessantly checking of his mobile phone (those I call belly browsers since they are always looking down), no listening just for his turn to talk. He was what I consider “old school” in the best way.

Emily Miller – Salt Lake City Support

After purchasing my Kalk&, Emily was the person who took care of the shipping and paperwork. Not only is she on point for timeliness but like Zack, her demeanor over email is both engaging and helpful. She carefully explained the FedEx Freight delivery system which was much easier than my prior Sur Ron experience, how my payment to CAKE and SplitIT would work, answering all of my questions.

Subsequent to my purchase, Emily has answered any and all questions I’ve had about the bike. And in those instances where she didn’t have the answer, she would ask the appropriate CAKE personnel and get back to me in a timely manner.

I would gladly hire either of these CAKE employees at any time, past or present for my own business. And that’s no sunshine-up-your ass statement, but simply my truth.

CAKE’s SplitIt Payment Option

I have not had a vehicle payment in over 40 years. I pay cash for my vehicles because I hate payments and interest. I tend to be frugal (despite what you may think about buying a $14k plus tax and license vehicle during COVID-19 and currently being self-unemployed…)

When I noticed the SplitIt payment option on the CAKE site I was suspicious. I researched the company through the BBB and other review sites. No real complaints. The way it works is you get to decide how long you want to ‘finance’ the amount of the bike, 12, 24, or 36 months. The ‘fee’ depends on the length of time you wish to make payments. The longer the payment time the higher the flat fee percentage. The fee is not annual, it’s a one time charge. You charge the amount you want to defer to a credit card.

The amount you choose reduces your available credit on that card, but no interest is charged against the amount. Each month, SplitIt bills you a monthly payment amount based on how much you’ve financed and unless you don’t pay that amount off in full you don’t get charged any interest. And each month the amount held against your credit line is proportionally reduced.

To use someone else’s money interest-free for three years is a win/win to me. If I want to pay off the entire amount I can do that as well. Although I had saved enough to pay for the bike in its entirety, I felt more secure keeping money in my savings account during COVID-19 times. The balance of the bike was paid in cash to CAKE along with the flat fee.

Evaluating the Kalk& Build Quality

In the past, I have measured the quality of engineering and manufacturing of motorcycles by saying “It’s Honda Quality” as my highest compliment. The only bikes I have no experience working on are KTM, Husqvarna, and Suzuki. I’m both sad and excited to have changed my saying to “It’s CAKE quality.”

Yep, it’s really that good. But unfortunately, now people will say “Mark, food is not love.” Oh well. Here are my reasons for changing to CAKE quality as my new standard.

At first, I examined the brakes and spokes. Spokes are straight pull, not bent, which are much stronger than bent spoke pulls. Hubs are of a superior quality to what I’m accustomed to on my Sur Ron and are obviously custom designed and made.

Kalk motorcycle straight pull spokesCloseup of Kalk spokes and brake disc

Steel braided lines on both the front and rear brakes. I rode my bike in my neighborhood to bed in the pads. The front brakes have the same feeling, power, and modulation as my former Brembo racing brakes. Incredible!

I do feel that the rear brake is too strong for the bike. It’s very easy to lock up the rear wheel with just slight pressure on the foot pedal. I adjusted the rear foot pedal to give me the maximum amount of play, but it did not help with the power of the brake.

I then decided to remove the plastic panels on the bike. One of the things people bitch about is “Oh there’s too much plastic on that IKEA bike thingy.” Always from people who never intend to buy one, ride one, or have even seen one in person. Too much plastic? Have you looked at an ICE motocross bike lately? Get real.

Photo of ICE motorcycle

Hum…who has more plastic?

Kalk motorcycle on pavement

“I don’t like it because it’s not what I have.” Haters gonna hate.

I removed the plastic panels that protect the actual frame rails…

Side view of Kalk battery

Since I have never seen welds like this before I asked a friend who is a metal fabricator to look at them. Here is what he said – “Those are crazy huge welds. Looks like many passes of tig welds on alum. And then sanded down. I have not seen welds this large; probably using larger fill rods too.”

He was impressed, to say the least. Me too!

Welds on Kalk motorcycle frame

I also wanted to see the battery and the area where it resides.

Kalk battery slot

Removing the battery is easy. I disconnected a small pigtail wire at the top and then took off the two top bolts and lifted it out. Not too heavy at around 40 pounds. The bitch is putting it back in. Getting those two rods aligned through the holes in the battery took some doing. About a 6/10 on my cussing scale.

Subsequent to this, CAKE sent out to all Kalk& owners these threaded guide rods to make reinstalling the battery MUCH EASIER. Cussing scale went down to 1/10. This is just one of the several aspects I like about CAKE as a company. They are proactive in assessing an issue and developing a solution.

Kalk battery alignment rodsKalk battery alignment rods installed in slotKalk battery installed in slot

Here is what the battery seats into when it is lowered into the battery bay. I’m way out of my depth with electronics, but this looks good. Once the rods are lined up, the battery is easily seated down onto these connections.

Kalk battery connection

Next, I took a look at the engine and surrounding area.

Kalk engine closeup

The triangular support area which supports the motor is beefy, to say the least! The swing arm is centered with the engine and countershaft sprocket, but the load is carried by the main struts of the frame on each side. As the swing arm makes its arc, the chain does not tighten or loosen like on ICE bikes. So so good! OH and my IKEA sticker? I put it on there for haters or when people ask me where I bought it. IKEA!

Kalk button to sync components after update

I was informed by CAKE that the red button on the engine is used when a firmware update is done on the bike. It syncs all related components. Those attachment points are quarter turn fasteners, very slick!

Kalk 6.2mm skid plate

The bash/skid plate is 6.22mm in thickness. Very stout, well done, and covers the entire motor.

Kalk angle view skid plate

I read somewhere that someone was bitching that the cover for the rear Ohlins shock was attached with ‘cheap Velcro’ and they lost theirs. Well, the type used is the 3M industrial type, no fuzzy side, instead with interlocking channels. I’ve used this for other projects.

Pressing down on the cover makes a positive connection with an audible ‘snap.’ And believe me, once it’s connected it’s tough to remove. The ONLY way it would come off would be the adhesive that holds it to the plastic cover, but I’ve never had it happen with 3M products.

Kalk rear shock cover

Kalk rear shock without cover

A friend mentioned that his rims were a weird size so I panicked and checked mine. Whew, yep, mine are 19”. I think mine are the older type like the 24″ KALK OR rims. On the CAKE site the Kalk& show different rims, more like moto style with raised sides and centers. In speaking to Zack, he informed me that the rims I have are the new updated versions. He conveyed that they are lighter than the ones on his demo bike and more durable and are on all new Kalk& models.

Kalk 19 inch tires

Kalk tool kit included with motorcycle

I always appreciate a quality tool kit included with my bike. CAKE’s is the best I’ve seen for the bikes I’ve purchased. Ever had the situation that the closer you look, the better it gets?! (conversely why do you think bars are dimly lit by candlelight…..don’t look TOO CLOSE) Well, the closer I examine my Kalk& the more impressive it gets.

As I was examining my front rotor, I noticed this small ‘disk thing’ on the inner portion of the rotor. I felt it and it spun. As I wondered what this was, I noticed an electronic sensor on the caliper mounting point. AH HA, I thought to myself, this must be the speedometer sensor!

In my entire two wheel life whenever I changed the sprockets on my bikes, it messed up the speedometer. Zack told me it is indeed the speedometer sensor. And my friend Josh told me KTMs have the same setup. My only question now is, if I change to a 21” wheel in the future, how much will it affect the speedometer setting?

Kalk bike sprocketsFront sensor on caliper mount

The front sensor is located on the caliper mount.

My protocol (and track rules) from racing days is to safety wire critical bolts and when that isn’t possible, to mark them. Well guess what? I didn’t do that myself, CAKE did it here which is just another example of attention to detail.

Critical bolts marked with black highlighter

A small but nice item is to have a steering lock which the Kalk& includes.

Kalk motorcycle steering lock

Battery Charging

I have owned my Kalk& for just over a month. In that time, the charging times have come much more in line with CAKE’s marketing materials, 0-80% in 1.5 hours and 81-100% in 2.5 hours. In speaking with those who are more knowledgeable than me about battery charging and BMS systems (like 98% of the population), it appears that the BMS’ overall balancing of cells has reduced or eliminated my prior issues. Same range, just a much improved charging experience.

There are three places to check the level of charge on the battery. The first is the bike’s display which is limited to just five bars indicating full. Not the most granular method of determining the percentage of charge. The second is actually on the battery but the seat must be removed to view the digital readout. The third is the charger itself. Once the battery reaches 100%, the charger’s light changes to the Full LED. CAKE states that the battery level indicator is NOT accurate and they are actually investigating removing the battery’s display.

Kalk battery at 27% charge CAKE battery charger

According to CAKE this is the most current charger. It differs from the one on their website.

I recently (as of September 1 2020) was able to take my bike down to no bars remaining on the new PIN display. Please excuse my cross out. I had ridden my Sur Ron that morning and neglected to reset my GPS app.

Mark's GPS tracker

I had asked one of CAKE’s support staff just how far I could expect to go on the bike before I’d have to push the thing home. His response:

“From testing here in SLC on an osa with the same screen I still find the screen battery display to be very conservative.  for example, when the battery showed 0 bars I was still able to ride over 5 miles in ride mode 2 avg. speed of 20-30 mph before the battery started blinking and the bike went into a limited performance setting while doing some range testing.  I would continue to experiment on the range for your terrain and riding style.”

And his response to my asking how far I could continue to go after the display shows no bars:

“From experience, it feels like it goes to ride mode one for a little bit and then begins to limit lower and lower.  When I pulled into the warehouse at mile 32.9 it would not go over 9 miles an hour.  I think if you can do a bunch of short rides near your house or if you have a friend come pick you up you will get a better idea of the range instead of relying on the dash.”

My test ride to deplete the battery to no bars showing.

Kalk motorcycle parked on dirt ground

When I first started riding and charging the bike, I had what I consider to be inconsistent charging times/levels compared to CAKE’s marketing materials. I have found that the alleged charging time of 0 to 80% listed at 1.5 hours and to reach 100% from 80% adds another one hour for a total of 2.5 hours to NOT be what I experienced during my first three weeks of ownership.

CAKE’s Marketing: Charging 0-100% takes 2.5h to charge in a standard outlet. I had been doing some range/battery charging testing for the first three weeks and was scratching my head a bit. Many times when I went on a ride this is what would be common.

  1. Average miles ridden: 18.7
  2. Maximum speed during ride: 45.8 MPH
  3. Average Moving speed: 25.6 MPH
  4. Total moving time: 43:56 minutes
  5. Ambient temp 71 degrees F
  6. I rode in Level 3 power and regen the entire time during the trips.
  7. My weight in gear is 180 pounds.

The route was on road only, varying terrain with uphill, downhill, and flat sections, about equal for all three. Upon returning home, I showed 2 bars on my display. I did NOT remove the seat to check the voltage or percentage of charge. I hooked up the charger and went inside. After dinner I went to check the bike and the fan on the charger was off and the second light was blinking, indicating the charger was completing a full 100% charge. About six hours later just before going to bed, I went back out and the bike was still charging on the blinking second light. So I shut everything down and went to bed.

This morning the battery level indicated 95% so I powered up the charger. After almost six hours, the second light was still blinking and in seven hours the charger showed full.

How I Use My Kalk&

I specifically purchased the Kalk& as a dual sport bike. I am fortunate to have access to simple off road areas near my home where I can ride to and from rather than using a pickup or trailer. I am currently investigating where/how I can carry a charger to hook up when needed for longer rides. Due to COVID-19, there are very few places where I can stop, have a meal or beverage, and wait 1.5 hours to get an 80% charge.

City riding, trail riding, and general fun riding is the primary purpose of my bike. I have raced ICE bikes both off road and closed course throughout my life. I’ve never owned a bike that not only weighs the same as me but is also silent. So this is a new era for me, one that is just emerging and very exciting all at once.

I had mentioned that the majority of videos I have found on the Kalks are either CAKE marketing, short city rides, or crazy ass Max Fredriksson flipping/jumping videos. A friend of mine, Tucker Neary, is not only an EV motorcycle enthusiast, but someone I consider to be level-headed and fair in his assessment of bikes. Tucker recently released a ride video of the CAKE Kalk OR and although it’s the off-road only model of the Kalk, the only real differences between the OR and the & are the wheel diameters, 22 pound weight difference (the & is heavier), the sprocket size, tires, and the display. Obviously the Kalk& has lights and turn signals to make it street legal.

Tucker’s video puts the Kalk through what I consider to be a more realistic version of how a dual sport bike would actually be used off road. Since Tucker is an off road racer, his testing of the bike ‘may be’ more aggressive than the average Joe or Jane who decides to purchase an & but then again, maybe not. Since I have yet to ride my Kalk& in a wide open single track area, I wanted to include his video for the reasons I’ve stated above and to illustrate how the bike handles in an actual off road environment.

Having a background in vintage (1969-1973) dirt bike riding/racing, I’m not nearly as qualified as Tucker is to compare the Kalk to modern dirt bikes. In his video, he mentions the ‘triangle’ of the bike feeling ‘different.’ Basically the triangle is the seat, pegs, and handlebar relationship to one another. I had mentioned that the Kalk& feels like riding a Western saddle versus an English saddle, meaning more leg room.

I resolved the ‘different’ aspect he refers to by swapping out my handlebars for ProTaper 3” risers. On the street I tend to ‘hang off’ the bike when cornering at speed. It’s just a habit from road racing, lowering my center of gravity when cornering. As a side note, the bike handles extremely well on pavement.

A cool off road area that is literally 0.8 miles from my driveway that includes jumps, berms, and a view of the San Francisco Bay.

Kalk motorcycle on off road beach Kalk motorcycle on off road path

Then around 9 miles from my home are these areas too.

Kalk motorcycle on dirt path Kalk motorcycle next to ocean

Hooligan night riding is a blast! At 10pm there was not a soul out so I took the opportunity to ride up and down stairs along with other places where you’re not supposed to be. No arrests, no citations, no property, or body damage so it was a very fun first night ride! In the COVID-19 times, it’s literally like having the entire world all to myself at night.

Kalk motorcycle in front of bridge Kalk motorcycle at nightKalk motorcycle on pavement Kalk motorcycle in front of stores

Obviously I have ridden my bike off road. Keep in mind that I have never planned to race motocross, desert, or things of that nature using this bike. It’s not what it’s made to do. Fire roads, trails, and vacant lots near my home are how I plan to use the Kalk&. Street riding too and it’s been amazing how my street senses came back after not riding on the street for damn near 20 years. After racetrack riding, the streets just seemed too dangerous and that was before cell phones!

The bike handles surprisingly well on the pavement. Sure, it’s not a sport bike, but that’s not its purpose. The tires hold fine and the geometry of the bike is relaxed so it turns in well. Not twitchy off road and reacts quickly enough in tight trails as well. Overall, a very well balanced combination; throw in the lack of weight and it’s an awesome combination.

Of course as time goes on and I become more familiar with the nuances of the bike, I’ll have more to report. But up to this point it’s been fun, well balanced and powerful. Range off road is not something I have been able to fully explore. I can say that my street riding at speeds which average 42 MPH with a top speed of 59 MPH for about two miles taxes the battery. On a single trip, without being range conscious, I got 28 miles with one bar remaining on the display which indicates 20% charge remaining.

I was in Level 3 for both power and regen throughout that ride. I believe that off road trail riding will yield even better range since it is not constant high speed cruising. A visitor to my Sur Ron site mentioned that he had searched for 15 hours to determine any down sides of the CAKE. He felt that the range would be his deal breaker. He also asked my view of “hard trail riding range.” That’s so tough to say because everyone’s view of ‘hard riding’ differs greatly.

My view of hard riding is a 28 minute road race course where I’m ‘on’ the entire time or the Barstow to Vegas run or a motocross race. Racing for me is ‘hard riding.’ I will say that once I am able to do consistent hard trail riding my way, I will know more.

The NEOWISE comet only appears from Earth every 7000 years so I wanted Sofia to see it with me. Ah romance is wonderful, isn’t it?!

Kalk motorcycle next to ocean at night

CAKE Resolves a Display Malfunction, but Creates a New One

While visiting my auto mechanic, I left my bike outside of his shop for approximately one hour. It was 71 degrees with 51% humidity.

Kalk motorcycle in front of auto repair shop

When I activated the key, instead of the normal boot up screen I received a firmware screen:

Kalk firmware screen

No matter which button I pressed, the screen would not go away and more importantly, the system would not boot so I could not start the bike. Normally the CAKE logo appears and a line crosses along the bottom of the screen from left to right. At which point the leftmost button is pressed to activate the bike.

My mechanic suggested I push the bike into his service bay so that I could call to arrange to have someone pick me up and he was willing to store the bike overnight until I could arrange to pick it up. I do not own a pickup truck so the plan was to rent one to take the bike home. Not a fun thought. After chatting about EVs for ten minutes (He owns a Tesla S AND LOVES IT), I decided to try it once more and the bike’s screen went through its normal boot screens. I was able to start the bike and ride it home.

CAKE was made aware of this situation and hopes to resolve it with the next Kalk& display release which will be sent to all current owners. My concern is what happens until then….well, guess what?

CAKE sent me their new display and I’m not certain if I’m the first person to receive it, so some of the things I see may or may not be indicative of other displays. I’m going to assume that this is what is being sent to all Kalk& owners. But we all know what assumptions mean…

I want to state that I have no idea who purchases Kalk& bikes. From my experience when meeting people on the street who are interested, it appears to be people of all ages but primarily those in the 45+ age bracket who have previously owned ICE motorcycles.

I bring this up because most of the people I know in that demographic work on their own bikes. In this example of having to change the display, although it’s a relatively easy job, it does take some patience, skill, and know how. Oh, and the right tools too. The bike is marketed as something that doesn’t require tinkering so instead of having a local dealer network to handle labor, it’s up to each owner to do so themselves. Most of those who have owned ICE bikes will be comfortable performing the swap. The new demographic may not be accustomed to DIY projects. I could be all wet too in that assumption.

Here is where I have found CAKE, like my former employer, lacks execution in clear and vetted instructions. I’m going to start off with the installation and later move onto the instructions CAKE supplies (or does not) to change the display.

This is the video they recommend you follow to replace the keyed display panel with the new PIN code display.

The replacement procedure is straightforward and has a cussing scale of 5/10. The reason is difficulty in running the wires out through the very small panel located just behind the steering stem. It’s the same opening that houses the new on/off button. I removed the battery which the video recommends giving me more room to work. If I had not done so, my cussing rating would be an 8/10.

Kalk old and new display

Old display removed along with the battery.

Kalk battery connectors

New display and power button installed and ready to test.

New Kalk display installed on bike frame

Speedometer Accuracy

I took my bike out for test rides to determine how the old display differs from the new one. Right off the bat, the speedometer is much more accurate than the keyed display. GPS measured 40 MPH while the new CAKE display indicated 43 MPH. Previously, my old display would show 48 MPH as a GPS measured 40 MPH. Even as the speed increases or decreases, the percentage of the CAKE’s speedometer error remains around 7.5% which in my view is very good. Most speedometers increase in error percentage as the speed increases. Kudos to CAKE!

Battery Life Indicator

When I began my test, I was THRILLED thinking “Wow somehow just by replacing the display I have way more battery life/range! Yahoo!!!” Well, not so and stupid of me to think so! The battery indicator on my former keyed display went from five bars to four in just three miles. Last night during my test I had five full bars even at 8 miles. It went down to four bars at 10 miles. And down to two bars after 18 miles when I returned home.

I did do a top speed run last night to 61 MPH GPS-measured for about 100 yards. So the quick drop of bars appears to happen between three and two bars instead of the former five to four bars.

I prefer the new battery meter; it’s smaller than just the bars that march across the top of the display on the keyed unit.

Angle and Illumination

I was disappointed with the keyed display’s position and viewing angle as well as the lack of illumination in moderate to bright sunlight. I’m really happy to state that I feel all of those issues have been resolved with the new display.

I chuckled a bit when I asked one of the CAKE employees if the illumination had improved on the new unit prior to receiving my display and he stated he had ‘not done any lumen testing’ so he could not say. Wow, I must seem like a real stickler to have a guy mention lumen measurements! Or maybe he knows I’m a commercial photographer. Besides, lumens numbers don’t mean as much as how the display actually performs in sunlight.

As you can see in direct sunlight the display is well illuminated and easily legible.

Kalk LED screen display

Issues I Have Found

I mentioned at the beginning of this post how I view CAKE’s instructions to be less than what I’d personally like to see. The instructions of the new PIN display/power button combo that is incorrect in their explanation on how to turn off the bike. The CAKE video (which I believe is lifted from their OSA display instructions) instructs us to hold down the top button on the display (the one with the white box outline) for two seconds to turn off the bike. THAT DOES NOT WORK as explained in their video.

Holding down the Kalk on/off button

In order to actually turn off the bike, you MUST turn off the power button. The power button has two positions. The first is the “off” position where the button is flush with the outer bezel.

Kalk power button in "off" positionIn the “on” position the button is below the outer bezel.

Kalk power button in "on" position

It is here where I discovered an error in this system. After turning off the system by depressing the button, I then pressed it on at which time the headlight and tail light illuminated. The display asked for my PIN code (only when the kill magnet is attached), but I didn’t enter it just to see if the system would shut down. IT DOES NOT. Which means if I forget to turn off the bike, especially in bright daylight when I cannot see the headlight is illuminated, or someone walks by and just presses the button to see what it does, I could possibly return to a dead bike/battery.

I let the lights stay on for five minutes hoping that the system would sense no PIN code had been entered and shut the bike down. It did not and remained on.

I then tried removing the magnet from the kill switch in hopes that I can simply take the magnet with me when leaving the bike to prevent someone from turning on the switch. The lights still illuminate and stay that way regardless of if the magnetic kill switch is on or off the bike.

On the Kalk OR there are three steps to start the bike:

  1. Ensure the battery is connected
  2. The master switch is on
  3. The kill switch magnet is attached.

On a dirt bike, it’s unusual to leave it unattended out of sight for an extended period of time but for a dual sport street bike, it can be a common practice. With the Kalk OR there are no lights to remain illuminated when the bike’s magnet is removed. Not so with the Kalk&.

My personal view is CAKE did not fully vet this system before sending it out to me or other Kalk& owners. I’m hoping some sort of firmware update can correct this oversight rather than having the hassle of changing out the system.

Insufficient Instructions

I have mentioned that I find CAKE’s documentation lacking and the video of the new display installation is a classic example. They state how to change the PIN is in the ‘documentation.’ Yet no documentation was shipped with my display nor was a link to the instructions given. The instructions are actually in the OSA support section, not in the Kalk& sections.

New Kalk display installed

From the OSA manual

2.3 How to change the PIN

We advise you to change the PIN to personalize your bike and avoid it from getting stolen. Once the PIN has been changed, write it down and don’t lose it. If you would lose or forget your PIN code has to be reset by the CAKE service team.

Your PIN can consist of either 3 or 6 digits. The available digits are 1, 2, or 3. A PIN can, for example, be “131”, “113”, “132212” or “123321”.

  • In the “ENTER YOUR PIN” screen, hold button 2 and 3 (middle and lower) simultaneously for 5 seconds.
  • Enter the current PIN (factory default = “123”).
  • Enter your new PIN.
  • Enter your new PIN again to confirm.
  • Your new PIN is now set, please restart the bike to make sure it works.

My Summary About the PIN display

I very much like not having a key for my bike. The PIN feature is great even though it’s limited to numbers 1,2, and 3. Additionally, having the choice of three or six digits is better than just three. The display is brighter, the speedometer is more accurate, and the battery indicator is smaller. Placing the display above the handlebars just makes sense to me.

My primary concern is the power button function allowing power to remain on regardless of anything other than pressing it ‘off.’ Would not be a big deal if it would shut down after a time or if I can disable it by removing the magnet. Not ideal but better than returning to a potentially dead bike.

Regarding the instructions or the lack of ease in finding them, I’m not gonna nag. I’ve said enough.

My Nightmare at the California DMV

Short story, I finally got my valid California DMV registration. But OMG the incredible hassle made me decide that if I did not get registered I’d sell the bike. Below is the sorted story that ended well.

HALLELUYAH!!!!!

On August 17, 2020, I finally received notification from the dreaded California DMV that my CAKE Kalk& is LEGALLY REGISTERED in California! After an incredible amount of hassle, I got the letter verifying it is so! The bike will not have to be returned to her former husband, but can instead stay with me. I’m much more handsome and a way better lover anyway!

DMV letter for Kalk bike

The California DMV sent me this notification on the very same day I received my license plate:

DMV registration letter

DMV letter asking for Kalk emissions specifications

Even though the bike is COMPLETELY ELECTRIC, the great state of California wanted to know where the EPA sticker was on the bike. Long story short, the California DMV is the most restrictive in the USA for documentation on a new EV.

I’m not quite certain if I’m the first person who has purchased a Kalk& in California. Evolution Motorcycles in Santa Clara, California is a CAKE dealer, but I purchased mine directly through CAKE. They are working with me to provide a letter stating that the bike meets the guidelines for CA and US emissions.

For me personally not being able to obtain verification would mean I’d sell the Kalk& and look at another brand or upcoming brand of dual sport EV. Yeah, that would suck, but why own a ‘dual sport’ EV that I cannot use legally on the road? It would be better to upgrade my Sur Ron with the hot rod ASI controller and battery but even then the bike would not be legal on the road.

Fingers crossed that the documentation comes through and the California DMV is satisfied. CAKE really needs to prepare for this when selling the bike online directly to consumers in CA. Why? It’s a total hassle.

As I was writing this section, the FedEx delivery person left this at my door. A letter from Willie Ford, the president of CAKE North America!

Letter from CAKE President Willie Ford

So NO, I’m not going to the effing DMV for THE THIRD TIME, especially during COVID-19, so I sent this letter to them via Priority Mail.

Letter sent to DMV with emissions specifications

I will wait another week and if I hear nothing, I will write to Nina Gill AGAIN asking for a status update.

I pay for AAA Membership for two reasons. First and foremost so I never have to go to the DMV and the other is for roadside assistance. For a new vehicle plate and first time registration, those MUST BE DONE AT THE DMV.

The worst aspect of purchasing my CAKE was obtaining a California license plate and registration. If you think back any time you purchase a new vehicle, the dealership arranges all of the DMV paperwork, issues you a temporary registration which you show on your windshield. If you buy a used car, a temporary registration is issued if you purchase it from a dealer. A private party sale requires the title and registration along with a bill of sale. There is already a plate on the vehicle. Easy.

On January 1, 2019, the state of California passed AB-516 making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle without a license plate. So to comply with the law, I drove my car to the DMV office with the paperwork supplied to me by CAKE along with my prefilled DMV forms. When I arrived in line outside of the door the greeter asked me what I was doing there and if I had a reservation. I told her I did not since the DMV website alerted me that reservations were not being taken.

DMV appointment scheduling website

At that point, she told me that to register a new vehicle purchased from a dealer I could do that online. I told her that the site said I could not and had to visit the DMV: (strike number two…)

DMV website registration instructions

She then went to another woman at the table near the entrance and asked her if I was correct. She came back and said, “OK, here is your number B012. Go in, find a seat, and wait until your number is called.”

B012 was called and I presented my driver’s license and all the necessary paperwork I had prepared in advance. She informed me that their credit card service was down and they were only accepting cash or checks that day. I brought my checkbook for this exact scenario.

Once I paid the sales tax and registration fee, they asked to inspect my bike and I told them it was illegal to ride it there without a license plate. The woman sighed and told me to go sit down and she would have a temporary plate created for me to use when I brought the bike back for VIN verification. After 30 minutes, I was given a temporary plate and was told to return to the DMV to have my VIN number physically verified.

Mark riding to the DMV on the Kalk bike

The lamb as he heads to the DMV slaughterhouse.

Here are the instructions printed on the back of my Temporary Operating Permit:

Temporary Operating Permit instructions

Really? (i.e. license plate frame). Imagine taking two squares of toilet paper, folding them in half along the perforation, and somehow placing those into a license plate frame. Then bolting it onto your vehicle and going 35 MPH. Effing idiocracy at its absolute finest.

Temporary license plate sticker

Yeah, that won’t rip in wind will it?

My solution. Waterproof and windproof.

Temporary operating permit attached to back of bike

The clerk who helped me said to place my paperwork into the “Drop Slot” when I returned and park my bike in the inspection area. Upon returning with my bike, that’s what I did. I had to wait for quite a while before anyone came out to inspect my bike, 40 minutes. A woman came out and asked if I was waiting for an inspection to which I replied yes. She asked where my paperwork was and I told her I placed it into the Drop Slot like I was instructed to do. She said, “That box is all the way on the other side of the building, why did you do that?!”

I’m going to interject a TMI here. Both of my adult kids say “Our Dad is always only 5 seconds away from telling someone to fuck off.” Now that I’m older they have changed the metric to 10 seconds. Dealing with the DMV means that each of us is subject to the mood/personality/incompetence of the individual who ‘assists us.’ It can vary from person to person and has in every encounter I’ve had with the DMV. The level of self-assured incompetence is just astounding. If the person I’m dealing with decided to screw me by denying my vehicle’s approval then I’ve just spent $15k (sales tax and registration fees) for a doorstop….get my point? A dual sport motorcycle that I could not use on the street makes no sense.

I then walked to the other side of the building and told the very same woman I met before outside of the front door what had happened. She said I could not go into the building to get the paperwork due to COVID-19. At that point, she went to talk to the woman WHO TOLD ME TO PUT IT INTO THE DROP SLOT and then came back to ask my name. I told her and she went to the Drop Slot and came back and handed me the paperwork. She then instructed me to go back to the inspection area and wait for an inspector.

It was at that point things got really confusing. I was told by three different DMV employees three different things. One inspector told me that a vehicle has two VINs, not just one. I had shown him where the VIN number was etched into the frame along with the label, but he then insisted that there has to be another. He asked, “Is that a hybrid?” “No, it’s an all-electric motorcycle” was my reply. “I’ve never known a vehicle has two VINs. Are you certain?” “YES! Tesla has two VINs and they are all electric.”

He then asked for the engine number which I didn’t have with me. I called both my girlfriend and Emily at CAKE to ask. On one of the forms, I had written down the Family Engine Model number but left that form at home. Both sent me the engine number. He then said he had to physically verify that number and asked where he could find the engine number. I had no idea so I called Emily and she told me that she’d check with service to find out and call me back ASAP. I’m certain she could hear the irritation in my voice for which I am so sorry. It was not her who I was irritated with for sure!

So glad I had the tool kit mounted to my bike prior to going to the DMV since I was able to remove the motor covers and finally the rear shock cover. I could see a sticker on the motor but it didn’t wasn’t completely visible from that angle and the last two characters did NOT match the Family Engine Model CAKE had supplied.

The DMV employee wrote it down and then went inside to verify other information. He came out and stated that the bike may not be able to be registered in California since it was purchased from Utah and he could not find the second VIN. Emily called me back just as I had found the motor sticker and confirmed that the engine number was on that sticker.

I could see the sticker that could be the ‘engine number’ on this label when I removed the shock protective cover.

While I had Emily on the phone I held the phone to the inspector and said: “Here you can ask her any questions you want.” Of course, he could not hold my phone due to COVID-19 so I put Emily on speakerphone. “Are there any questions you want to ask the manufacturer?” was my question. Nope, he had no other questions….of course!

In the end, the inspector (the third) handed me some paperwork and told me to leave it in their Drop Slot. I asked if the bike passed and he simply said they would notify me in ten days. My gut gave me the same feeling as when I’d ask my mom something as a young boy and her response was “We’ll see…”

At that point, I began to doubt whether I would keep the bike if it could not be registered as a street vehicle in California. When I went to drop the paperwork into the Drop Slot of Death, guess what?! There was TONS OF TRASH in the blue recycle bin since people inside must think that it was a trash can. I dropped the envelope into the slot, watched it go into the recycle AKA trash bin, and walked to my bike. In ten days I will know if I sell my bike out of state (who wants a CA ‘dual sport’ bike that cannot be registered!) or receive a license plate. I’m trying to be optimistic and not tell someone off.

When I got home that day I was going to remove the bash plate to see the entire engine number but I did not have to do that since crawling completely under the bike made the label visible. Yet, the number on my engine does not match the Family Engine Model sent to me by CAKE.

Kalk bike engine number

Is that engine number unique to my bike? If not, does an actual engine number exist? Where would someone find the Family Engine Model number supplied by CAKE ACTUALLY ON THE BIKE?

I was informed that CAKE has sold ‘several’ Kalk& models in California and they have not heard from anyone (except for me of course) of any issues with registration. Maybe I’m just the unlucky one. I’d certainly love to hear from other California Kalk& owners who have obtained their California license plate. I know that Zack was meeting with the California DMV to get this sorted out.

The DMV’s decision on whether they will issue me a license plate and registration remains to be seen. If not, then I have wasted time, money, and hope.

37 Days of Ownership

The bike remains amazing in terms of suspension, brakes, build quality, and performance. I have been riding primarily on the street to test the range and battery life mixing in some off road riding.

Suspension – it is important to note that ALL suspension adjustments for both front and rear should be done with the wheels unweighted.

Front Fork Suspension

  1. I adjusted both the Ohlins front and rear suspension to my taste and current riding environment which has been primarily street with some trail riding thrown in. The service manual states that the Lower Valve (Ramp up chamber) should be at 250 PSI. When I checked it the pressure was at 230 PSI so I set it at 250 PSI.
  2. The Top Air Cap (main chamber is recommended at 140 PSI, but after measuring a 20% static sag I decided on 130 PSI. Low Speed compression as well as rebound suggestion is 7 clicks which I kept. The high speed compression is suggested at position 2, but I opted for position 1.

My bike’s settings were different from the service manuals suggested settings. Keep in mind I OFTEN change my suspension settings based on where/how I plan to ride.

Rear TTX22 shock

Suggested settings:
• Low Speed compression 7 clicks
• High speed compression position 2
• Rebound 3 clicks

My settings:
• Low Speed compression 5 clicks
• High speed compression position 1
• Rebound 2 clicks

The performance of the Ohlins system is superb in my experience comparing it to Ohlins road race suspension and my Sur Ron’s Dorado Manitou/Ohlins TTX22 suspension.

Headset Loosened

At 75 miles indicated on the CAKE display (which tends to be optimistic compared to my GPS app. It’s the same with my Sur Ron too), I noticed a bit of play as I was heading out for a range test as I came to a stop. Just a slight bit of play but I noticed it. So instead of continuing, I turned around and went back home. Sure enough, the headset had loosened even though I had checked and cinched it down when I was assembling the bike. It was no big deal, but I was glad to be in tune with the bike to notice it right away. The manual mentions paying attention to the headset:

CAKE manual for bike display

Brakes

The Formula braking system is very powerful. The front brake suits me very well. As I had mentioned earlier, the rear brake is too powerful/touchy and lacks enough modulation for my taste. It is very easy to lock up the rear wheel even after adjusting the pedal for maximum slack. I may switch the pads to full metallic in hopes of calming down the power of the rear caliper. My personal view is a dual piston design rather than a quad may solve the issue in the rear. With two levels of regen braking, I don’t believe the rear caliper needs to be as robust as installed.

37 Day Conclusion

After 37 days of ownership, I can only say that the ONLY reason I’ll sell this bike is the DMV issue. I’ve stated why. The build quality is incredible. The power is both linear and strong, especially in Level 3 where I live most of the time. Street handling is great, off road for the limited time I’ve been there is great.

CAKE’s staff in the US (and my limited experience with Sweden) has been stellar.

Making the Bike Mine

All of us make our bikes our own. I’m no exception. So here’s what I’ve changed so far based on where, what, and how I plan to use my bike which is to ride from my home to forest trails along the coast.

I was not a fan of the ant type antenna rear view mirrors so I just installed under bar rear view mirrors. Instead of seeing my elbows in them, I can actually see who is behind and beside me. I also added 1.5″ blind side mirrors. Oh, and safety wire is just an old habit that has served me well. I was going to buy Scott grips but I do like the CAKE OEM grips so I am using them.

Front shot of the KALK bike

I have installed the new display onto my bike.

Because I will avoid freeways (due to the 60 MPH or less speed and range penalty at that speed) I need Google Maps to tell me how to get to the trails I plan to ride. I use a Quadlock on my Sur Ron and it has served me well. The black pouch on the front of the handlebars is a Giant Loop ZigZag Handlebar bag. It holds my tool kit and spare tube.

Giant Loop ZigZag Handlebar bag

I also prefer handlebars that are higher than the OEM bars that come on the bike. So I replaced mine with ProTaper 3″ rise 800mm wide bars. They place me in a comfortable position whether I’m seated or standing on the pegs. I also added a clock since I’m horrible keeping track of time. The bar is a USB battery housing for an 18650 cell so that I have a USB charging station for my phone. I simply unscrew the end cap on the right to remove the battery and its electronic parts when I wash my bike or change the battery. It’s just as easy to charge the battery on my bike with the micro USB port as well.

Apparently CAKE felt that the Kalk line of bikes is ‘too performance oriented’ to warrant a USB charge plug, so I just figured out my own.

DIY USB charging port

And yes, since I ride alone I always have a first aid kit, ALWAYS. It’s waterproof and muck proof too. No matter how muddy or dirty it gets on the outside, what’s on the inside is what counts. And yes, I’ve had to use them in the past for not only myself but others too.

First aid kit on back of Kalk bike

I also like the ability to carry snacks or other stuff on my bike. I’m not a fan of backpacks since having raced I know the hazards of having anything on my back other than a quality back protector. So I use a small dual sport ‘tank bag’ that lashes to the frame and is waterproof.

Rigg Gear waterproof bag attached to bike frame

Emily from CAKE sent me photos of a lockable license plate holder another owner uses to hold small items. I installed one and I keep my registration, insurance paperwork, some cash, and a mask in it. Very handy, thanks Em!

Kalk lockable license plate holder License plate attached to Kalk bike

Because the rear brake is so sensitive, I loosened my foot brake lever to its maximum slack. Because the spring is not strong enough the pedal was rattling against the limiting screw and it drove me nuts. I just fabricated a rubber grommet to stop the racket. (Tinkering and fabricating puts me into a happy place)

Rear brake lever

What I Would Like to See Added, Improved, or Changed

Kickstand

Really CAKE, a self-retracting kick stand? First off it’s the ONLY motorcycle kickstand I’ve ever owned that self-retracts AND has no lever extension to use to lower the kickstand. Then again, none of my dirt bikes even had a kickstand.

So I made my own solution. I’m 5’8” with a 30” inseam and when I dismount my bikes I have always used my left foot to lower the kickstand before getting off the bike. The issue with the CAKE is the kickstand is really close to the swing arm and in motorcycle boots, it’s damn near impossible to ‘feel’ the kickstand to lower it.

I resolved the self-retracting issue thanks to Josh Fisher of FFH lights. He has a KTM that has/had the same self-retracting kickstand so he sent me a YouTube link on how others have resolved the issue. The configuration on the KTM is the same as on the Kalk&.

The kickstand has a curved bracket that is tensioned by a collar attached to the kickstand pivot. When the kickstand is extended, tension is placed on the spring by the bracket which makes the kickstand self-retract when it is lifted off of the ground.

You can see the arm that wraps around the kickstand pivot point collar in the following photos.

Kalk bike kickstand bracket Kalk kickstand bracket released

The very simple solution is to remove the pivot collar, bypassing the spring tension which self retracts the kickstand.

Kalk kickstand pivot collar Kalk kickstand with pivot collar removed

Here is a link to how the kickstand now functions without auto retract.

Adding a Kickstand lever

On my street bikes, the kickstands always had a little ball or lever attached to the kickstand shaft so that you could use your foot while seated to extend the kickstand down without having to actually place your foot on the rod of the kickstand. Since the Kalk& does not have one of those, I fabricated my own. Using flat aluminum bar stock I simply measured how much of a ‘nib’ I wanted to rest my foot on and cut an appropriate piece of ½” x 5mm flat bar, bent it 90 degrees and cut a slot into it with my Dremel for a hose clamp strap.

Using a 1” stainless steel hose clamp I then attached it to my kickstand at a point that suited my position preference.

DIY kickstand lever

Now the kickstand no longer auto retracts and I have a small nib I use to lower the kickstand too. Problem solved!

DIY kickstand lever installed

EV Station Charging Cable

Because this bike is used on road, to get to off road areas I really hope that CAKE devises an EV charging cable that can be utilized to charge the bike at EV charge stations! There are numerous EV charging stations here in the Bay Area with more on the way. Sure, I’d love 200 miles of range without charging, but come on, I’m pragmatic too. Not having to use guerrilla warfare tactics searching for a public 110v outlet and lugging my charger around is kinda realistic for a dual sport don’t you think? I can wish…

To me, ALL EV street legal bikes should come with EV station charging cables or the ability to plug directly into EV charging stations. I understand that off road only bikes are ‘trucked or trailered’ to off road areas. But the Kalk& and INK SL are dual sport bikes, those that ‘should have’ the ability to be ridden to off road trails and then used on the trail. I didn’t purchase the bike as a street only vehicle or an off road only vehicle. Had I planned on doing that, Zero and KTM make those ‘only’ types of bikes.

When I worked for Sony Playstation we had brilliant hardware, but I always felt our documentation was sub par. To me CAKE falls into that same category. Here are a few of the issues I have found during initial ownership.

  • During a recent range test ride I noticed that the yellow engine light was occasionally blinking. No error codes, and the bike was not acting unusual. Just the lower third light filling and then going dim. Nowhere in the documentation is the indicator explained.

CAKE manual for controls and power modesCAKE Kalk LED display

I understand what the directional light and high beam light is for. But not the engine light or what it indicates if it illuminates.

CAKE manual with display and power mode instructions

  • While actually riding, if I change the power mode by pressing the button the bike loses all power until I turn off the key or remove the kill switch magnet and restart the bike. In order to get the bike moving again, you must be completely stopped. Zack had explained this to me when I rode the demo bike. But be aware that this can be very disconcerting if you are not aware that this happens. It may be a safety ‘feature’ but to me the inability to switch between power modes is more of a safety issue. I have been riding on Level 2 mode most of the time on the street. But there are times when the speed limit is above the bike’s ability in Level 2 to keep up with traffic. Side note, Level 2 does NOT allow full top speed. That can only be accomplished in power mode 3.
  • There is some confusion between what is on their website and what exists on the bike. One example is the rear shock of the Kalk& which is an Ohlins TTX22. I have installed that shock on my Sur Ron Light Bee and it has high and low speed compression damping and rebound adjustments in addition to the spring itself. Yet on their site, no mention of adjustments is listed.

CAKE Kalk specification sheetKalk rear shock - Ohlins TTX22

High and low speed compression adjustments. Ohlins high speed compression (the black lever) only has 3 adjustments on the TTX22 line. I have found that a great feature as it gives the right amount of adjustment levels for me.

Close up of Ohlins adjustment knob

Rebound adjustment

I have written to Ohlins regarding the pressures in the upper and lower chambers on the front forks. Once I receive their answer, I will post them here. Although I have not yet received an answer from Ohlins, I asked my former race tuner who happens to be the USA’s largest Ohlins dealer about the ramp up chamber. Here is how he explained it to me:

“There is a 165 MP video Ohlins has, it is too large to email. It is a service video, not an explanation on how they work. Based on watching the video, it looks like the forks are a “Shock” with an airspring.

The lower chamber is filling the fork with nitrogen pressure, just as a shock is pressurized this would make it an emulsion type “shock” or in this case fork. The upper chamber look to use the air pressure as an air spring, as there is no steel spring.“

Based on his advice I adjusted my forks and now they are exactly how I prefer my suspension. Nothing like having a former racing Pit Chief in your corner!

Ohlins Contact Us page

  • Countries outside of the US must have vertical motorcycle plates. I fabricated my own bracket anticipating my California license plate. CAKE may want to consider doing something similar since it is now illegal to drill into a California license plate other than the holes that exist in the official plates.

DIY license plate bracket

  • I noticed a curious sticker on the back fender of my bike “Recco” Advanced Rescue Technology with what appears to be a WiFi logo.

Recco sticker on back of Kalk bike

  • I looked it up on the web since there is no mention of this in the CAKE literature. Turns out Recco makes non-battery powered SAR (search and rescue) devices to find skiers buried in an avalanche among other applications! The device is advertised to last the entire life of the bike. I will be asking CAKE about this feature.  While I’m on that subject, I am a bit disappointed in CAKE’s documentation of the bike. I’m accustomed to a shop manual that details every bit of my bike. To date, most of the material is what I consider to be cursory rather than very detailed. I hope they produce a true shop manual in the future.

In Summary

I know we’ve pounded the whole Kalk name to death so no need to rehash old news. I guess what remains is the answer to the question: is it worth $14k hard-earned dollars? Well, to me it is and not because I’m some rich guy. I’m just a great saver who keeps his expenses low, something my parents pounded into me as a kid. When I find something that I know will bring me so much enjoyment for many years, I snap it up.

I also know that most people seldom consider the OVERALL cost of non-essential items purchased like a snowmobile, Jet Ski, quad runner, etc. How many times a year is it used? How much was the trailer or truck needed to haul the thing? How much maintenance cost do you have? Fuel cost, insurance, tie downs, etc.? Ah, it’s so easy to forget or discount those things even I do that to justify a purchase.

I’d love to have 400 miles of range on one charge. The reality is battery tech is changing and one day I am certain battery tech will evolve to a level that rivals or exceeds gas engine range. At that point, I hope CAKE offers a battery pack that I can buy to give me way more range than I need or can use because beyond the battery pack, I don’t see much else that is needed to improve this bike.

When I count up the amount of time I invested in making my Sur Ron close to the level of handling of the CAKE, there is no contest. In truth, the CAKE forces me to find things to tinker with, to improve upon. But what I’ve found is the LEO EV world has made me lazy. I don’t want to continue to work on my bike. I improved some of the things to make it more convenient or comfortable but to others, those improvements would not mean squat or even be necessary. When people ask me what I’ve changed on my Sur Ron I tell them it’s easier to say what is still stock; the frame, the swing arm, the rear subframe, the battery, the motor, and the controller.

The Kalk, the Sur Ron, and other EVs are not two wheelers I feel should be compared to traditional motorcycles. It’s just my personal view since this class of two wheel lightweight EV is a brand new segment. As humans, we force ourselves to compare what we don’t know to something we do know, otherwise we panic or freak out! Sure, they have two wheels and a motor like ICE bikes, but I don’t believe that the Kalks are meant to compete with an ICE dual sport, motocross, or adventure bikes. But those are the only things we know that come close to this new segment.

Could I have ever imagined a motorized two wheel motorcycle with 186 foot pounds of INSTANT torque that weighs the same as me or less?! For those old enough to remember life before ATM cards, we used checks, cash, or actual credit cards. ATM Debit cards were never meant to replace credit cards but created a new means of payment and a way to get cash or deposit checks AT ANY TIME. If you don’t understand my metaphor, nevermind.

To have a motorcycle that is truly street legal, weighs the same as me in riding gear, is damn quiet (not silent), requires no fuel, oil, valve adjustments, radiator, ring replacement, air cleaners, gaskets, fuel filters, fuel injectors, a clutch, or transmission is…well heaven. Do I ride it almost every single day? Yep. Do I ride it wherever I feel like riding? Yep. Any trailer needed? Nope. Truck to haul it? Nope. But it WILL ride in my Tesla Cybertruck next year sitting right next to Jackson as I cruise down to San Diego to visit my pal Carisa to watch her drool. I MIGHT even let her touch my Kalk& if she’s nice!

All those things make it so worth it to me. Not to mention, I love just looking at Sofia in my garage. To me, she’s so damn sexy!

I built and maintain a website for owners of the Kalk& (https://cakekalk.com/)

(Hey, I’m a full time unemployed commercial photographer!)

2 Comments

  1. September 21, 2020
    Reply

    COLOSSAL WASTE OF TIME ….

    Just change the GD name to begin with .

    Someone failed Simple Sales & Marketing 101 here big time .

    Will not be surprised to see this fail.
    People simply live fast .
    Tell me plain and clear or You just lost a sale .

    The price is just stupid …. And you lost a sale at the Name already
    Glad I did not waste my time reading the whole article.

  2. Ric Caley
    September 21, 2020
    Reply

    What a colossal waste of time and money – sell that POS and get a Zero – while not Ohlins equipped, I’ve test ridden them and they are OK – they’re almost good enough to be considered “REAL” motorcycles, and don’t have any registration issues, decent dealer support and an actual warranty.

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