The Cake Kalk debuted about two years ago with the intention of transforming the fuel-burning, throttle-twisting scene. The idea was that a long-travel e-moto that weighs only 155 pounds and has a short, 55-inch wheelbase more akin to a freeride mountain bike could change the way we enjoy the backcountry. Even rock-scramblers might prefer switching to a lighter, more manageable electric option.
But the below comment was representative of most when we covered the $14,000 Kalk:
Jerry on January 24, 2018 at 10:51 pm
Eh, not cool. Human power is where it is at. I was bike touring in Europe last summer and was disappointed by all the old people on electric bikes dinging their bells at me to get out of the way as they zipped by at 25mph. I couldn’t help but think that they would have all been better off pedaling themselves. There is a lot of fun to be had by earning your own way.
Jerry and company feel like electric or not, motorized travel in the backcountry is a non-starter.
Perhaps the new Ösa will subtly pry open their minds. Founder of Cake, Stefan Ytterborn, has vowed that the Ösa is something very different from the Kalk. The Ösa is meant to be a bridge between urban commuting and getting way off the grid. “Remember, with the Kalk, people do flips or jump 80 feet. The Ösa is a vehicle with off-road capabilities, supporting a less aggressive experience, and one that allows people to bring items off-the-grid, like a surfboard, skis, snowboard, or a mountain bike, along with a tent and a sleeping bag, when not used for urban commuter needs.” That carrying capacity is all courtesy of a Lego-like attachment system to the rails of the bike to hold baskets or to snap on more complex racks or additional seats, among other things.
There are two models of Ösa. The slower one, the $6,000 Ösa Lite, can go 72 miles per charge and has a single-crown fork with adjustable travel of 90-120mm and 110mm rear travel. Think of it like a cross-country mountain bike. The $8,000 Ösa+ with a dual-crown fork and 140mm travel is the more “all-mountain” version. The Lite is strictly for the slow lane or off-road, and tops out at 30mph, while the Ösa+ can hit 60mph, the better for commuting. Range is slightly less for the Ösa+ at 62 miles. You’d need a motorcycle license to drive the Ösa+, whereas the Lite requires only an automobile license in most states.
The Ösa is meant to haul people/gear to a distant trailhead at a far lower carbon footprint than tearing up fire roads in a 4×4. Speaking of which, we asked, and yes, the Ösa takes standard, 14-inch motorcycle tires and there’s clearance for dirt-specific tread. It also has a Gates Carbon belt, rather than a chain, which readily sheds mud and muck and is easier to swap in the field. And Cake wants to make hot-swappability to another battery simple, so you could cache batteries and possibly even field-charge several of them via a solar array.
Another use case isn’t necessarily adventure-focused — it’s pragmatic. The Ösa runs on electricity and stores it. Ytterborn wanted owners to be able to use that power for more than propulsion, which is why it comes with a standard wall jack that can deliver up to 3,000 watts (par or better than a lot of portable gas generators), plus a pair of USBs, as well as a 12-volt outlet. He suggested that anything from power tools to home appliances could run off a stationary Ösa. We’re not sure about spinning out your delicates in your washer during a blackout, but you could certainly string an extension cord and juice the lights, a laptop, and maybe churn up a smoothie or two, all without the harsh and polluting whine of a gas generator.
Seriously, too, if you had to have power to run some sort of medical equipment after a natural disaster, or to fuel the batteries of an electric chainsaw, an Ösa could truly be a lifesaver.
As for handling, the 51.6-inch wheelbase is shorter than the Kalk and the weight ranges from roughly 154-176 pounds, depending on the configuration. Ytterborn says the goal was the Goldilocks happy place between agility at low speeds on dirt and stability at higher speeds on asphalt.
Haters are still gonna hate, but Cake round two looks pretty sweet.