Low Battery Return to Home Possible?

Update: December 1 2020 – You can read my discovery on how to charge at level 2 EV stations on this link.

One of the most asked questions I receive about the Kalk& is “How far will it go?” which is common to all EVs. My answer along with the response from any EV manufacturer is “Well that depends…” I am personally at a loss why Cake has opted for a five bar battery level display on their dash readout. Simple math means that each bar represents 20% of the battery; five bars divided into 100 equals 20. Even less on the OR with only four lights. With no good options to ‘refuel‘ my bike when on the road it is the only true downside I feel about the &.

As I was preparing my Mavic Pro Drone for an upcoming project I remembered that one of the features I love about the drone is its return to home (RTH) option that allows me to select different scenarios where the drone will return to its home starting point. One of them is a Low Battery RTH. In researching this further I found that the Low Battery RTH takes into account many factors such as wind, distance, speed the drone travels on the way out to estimate the battery life needed to return home.

I am well aware that the Cake is not a drone, but the principles of RTH should be applied not only the the Cake line of two wheel EVs but to ALL EV street motorcycles. It is especially important for this bike since charging at EV level 2 or any EV charge stations is not currently possible as of this post.

Since most EV motorcycles are currently off road only it is not as critical because a pickup truck or trailer is usually nearby to take the bike home should it run out of juice. Road bike EVs like Zero, Harley, etc have options or come with onboard charging ability at EV charging stations. I have written to Cake inquiring about the possibility of an EV level 2 charging cable owners of the & and INK SLs could use to charge our bikes rather than carrying the heavy chargers and trying to find a public 110v outlet. They are apparently “Looking into it.”

I recently had the opportunity to ride my & until the PIN display showed no bars left on the battery. Prior to this trip just to be safe I always try to return with one bar remaining. This trip was almost all street at high average speed, level 3 for both power and regen. As I approach a signal or stop sign I check my six and if no cars are behind me I simply cut the throttle and allow the level 3 regen to stop the bike. I assume this puts the maximum amount of regen charge back into the battery.

I 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.

I realize that on road two wheel EVs are an emerging market and I’m an early adopter. I’m simply hoping that Cake along with other manufacturers listen to owners about improvements we’d like to see made. At a minimum a much more granular battery gauge display is something that I know would give owners as well as potential buyers comfort and help quell ‘range anxiety.’

My Mavic Pro's control display. Having an ACCURATE percentage of battery life remaining on both the drone as well as the controller is how things should be for all battery fueled devices.

Cake I hope you along with other EV makers are listening….

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  1. Great Post. As I am predominately a trail rider, the option of getting a rescue truck anywhere near the trail I ran out of juice on would be slim. Packing in gasoline would be the best option. Packing out a battery, charging it, and packing it back in, well the bike might still be there? but maybe I would rather have someone just steal it… Yeah there are a few things that electric bikes don’t do well and this is one of them, they are a blast to ride, just don’t ride very far and always wonder if you can make it back. For me that limits my Sur-Ron to only trails at home or near home. Plus I am not going to push my electric bike very far, even downhill, with my chain primary and chain secondary drive train ~ unless I pop the secondary chain off. My Honda XR rolls when I push it, My Sur-Ron feels like it weighs as much as a Harley pushing it out of the garage door, just from drive train drag.

    1. Yeah Lee I get that. Gas bags (not that kind!) are sold now, but having to carry extra fuel even in those bags instead of cans isn’t fun either. Carrying an extra battery is not really realistic, on a Sur Ron or Cake. One day battery tech will advance, I’m really hoping it would just be a replace the pack on both bikes and not require a different controller, etc. I will say that my Cake is way easier to push than my Sur Ron. Easily a quarter the resistance of the Sur Ron. But it’s heavier too, so just like all things, you never get something for nothing.

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