Just a few minutes south by plane from Stockholm is Gotland, a lush green island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. At the north end of the island, there’s the wildly serene seasonal fishing village of Hallshuk, where the Swedish electric motorcycle brand Cake developed, honed and officially launched its first production model: the Kalk OR. (We rode that bike along the island’s trails and a purpose-build mini-motocross track, over a year ago.) Cake’s first road-legal production bike, the Kalk&, is now available and we rode it on the considerably less idyllic streets of Manhattan to see how it adapts to one of the busiest urban vehicular environments on the planet.
Listing the stark contrasts of Gotland and Manhattan doesn’t take much effort, but spotting the differences between the Kalk OR and the Kalk& requires a keen eye. Both bikes sit atop the same frame, have similar ergonomics and use identical batteries. Crucially, however, the Kalk& features a headlight, turn signals and a license plate holder to make it DOT-compliant.
The Kalk& is fitted with a smaller rear sprocket to achieve a higher top speed (60mph). Further, the brand upgraded the brakes and switched the rear brake-lever from the left handlebar to a right-side foot brake—more like a conventional motorcycle. The dashboard is also upgraded with a simple dial and LED light system and an LCD screen accompanied by a few buttons to cycle through the power modes and battery-regeneration levels.
One of the biggest changes Cake made for the Kalk& was shrinking the very off-road-centric 24-inch custom wheels and tires down to a more versatile set of stiffer 19-inch DOT-rated spoked rims and rubber. Luckily the suspension from the OR made it to the & unchanged.
Manhattan may be covered in concrete and asphalt, but having a suspension set-up geared toward off-road riding is underrated when it comes to dodging potholes, tackling speed-bumps and the odd cobblestone side-street. (On that note, the seat could use more commuter-friendly cushioning—especially if riders plan to commute from beyond city limits.)
In the year since Cake unveiled the Kalk OR, the landscape of the electric motorcycle changed drastically. Alta Motors is dead and gone, Harley-Davidson’s Livewire finally saw the light of day and electric scooters are seemingly everywhere. Unlike scooters, Cake’s Kalk& is meant for commuting as well as weekends of trail-rides and adventures.
The bike’s main hurdle is its price point: $14,000. For that money, you can buy an entry-level Zero, which has nearly twice the range. The Kalk&’s is about 50 miles or two to three hours of light-to-light riding.
What the Kalk& has though is a sublime design. Simple without being stark, it’s typically Swedish. Cake’s founder and CEO Stefan Ytterborn (who previously worked at IKEA and founded POC helmets) is the individual to thank for its design, which is more than just eye-catching. The bike’s entire architecture aims to bridge the gap between mountain bikes and motorcycles. And this thoughtful design follows through to its ease of use. The Kalk& is so user-friendly that somebody without any motorbike experience will feel comfortable—it’s so similar to a heavy push-bike.
The differences between Gotland and Manhattan are abundant, as are those between the Kalk& and other electric motorbikes. While the cost and range of this bike aren’t as appealing as others, its beautiful design and intuitive system are certainly alluring.
Images courtesy of Cake