OK OK OK I know! But I just had to use that title! After all it’s my blog, I built the thing and pay for it! Anyway…
A Level 2 Charging Solution
I’m going to start off by clearing the air, my air. After researching and then discovering a method to use a Level 2 EVSE (EVSE is an abbreviation for Electric Vehicle Service Equipment, referring to a charging station) charge station to charge my bike I got totally disgusted at Cake. As a Kalk& DUAL SPORT owner my purpose in purchasing the bike is to RIDE TO AN OFFROAD AREA not using a truck or trailer. So unless the bike has enough range to ride 10-15 miles ON ROAD at average speeds of 35-45 MPH to an OFF ROAD single track I just don’t have enough juice. Like others I have watched the ‘demo’ rides in NYC and other places with the &. Meh, not what my plan is with the bike.
I had asked Cake if they were developing a cable about a month after my purchase. Their answer “We are working on it.” This month (November 16th) I asked again about the cable, if I should consider it a pipe dream: “This certainly isn’t a pipe dream, but it will not happen anytime soon. A more likely scenario is that EV charging stations will evolve, allowing for standard 110 and/or 220 V charging.”
OK sounds reasonable, but to wait (and hope) for EV charging stations to retrofit their stations to accommodate 110/220 normal plug in chargers seems very remote. “Not anytime soon” motivated me enough to explore what can be done myself.
So I decided to ask Lee who in addition to being a friend of mine is also a long time Sur Ron owner if he knew any electricians. He mentioned that he wired his house, knew about electricity, but was technically not an electrician. But he knew a friend…
I had explained what I was trying to do and overnight his pal Jason wrote to me. He carefully explained what he knew about Level 2 charging, what the plug looks for once it’s connected to what is being charged. And more importantly he gave me links to information and companies which may be able to help me. Thanks to Jason I discovered Tucson EV. And down toward the bottom of his home page he has the EXACT CABLE I’m seeking. As a matter of fact even better than what I was seeking.
On his page he links to a Shane Hilde Unicycle/PEV video where Shane is using Rush’s (the owner of Tucson EV) to charge his electric unicycle. He also has a link to Shane’s tutorial about PEV charging at Level 2 stations. Very useful, thank you Shane.
So I ordered one of Tucson’s EV cables with two pigtails. One is the C-13 female plug that fits into the Cake 1000 charger. The other is a 5-15R which is the female receptacle of a normal USA 120v grounded plug.
This way I can use it on both my Cake and my Sur Ron. And with just one EVSE Level 2 charger I can charge both bikes concurrently. So if I have a friend riding with me he/she can charge up too.
This is Tucson EV’s multi plug with three 5-15R receptacles. The one I ordered has two pigtails.
Yep I along with anyone who wants to charge at a level 2 AC station will need to carry their charger. For me that’s a small price to pay to stay out if I wish for an entire day to ride. Here are the specifications for Cake’s 1000 charger.
The Bay Area is inundated with Level 2 chargers. Many different brands and one of the incredible advantages is Google Maps lists where they are. My EV range life is looking bright! I have found the PlugShare app incredibly useful in locating EV stations.
The areas where I wanted to do off road riding, but could not due to lack of range is both in Half Moon Bay as well as in Woodside off of highway 35. As is evident by this map you must travel on a highway to get to those areas averaging around 50 MPH. So for me the ability to use EV charging stations is a total game changer for my bike. Sure I’ll have to stop and charge but just to have this option is so welcomed. To stay out most of the day riding and exploring sounds great to me even if some of that time is sitting relaxing while the bike charges. The other day I drove around looking for 110 outlets before discovering Tucson EV’s J1772 charging plug. There were none that I could find along the route to the off road areas. At least none that I could use discreetly. Once my cable arrives I will take the battery out of my Cake and drive it to one of the halfway points to charge it. Why? Well as you can see if the charger doesn’t work I’m screwed coming back if I just ride to the EVSE assuming it will charge. I’ll report back once I’m able to test the system.
Most of the EVSE apps have much more than just location information on them. Many include things like if the station is in close proximity to food, restrooms, etc. This is INCREDIBLY useful for me, especially after COVID19 passes.
I have seen on Cake’s website the mention of using solar to charge the Cake line of bikes intimating that being renewable extends to charging. Which to me is true to an extent. Sure they sell panels and solar generators FOR YOUR HOME.
I own solar generators and panels. I use my solar panels and a solar generator when I go camping to charge my Sur Ron. I use a solar refrigerator as well. For me being able to use Level 2 charging stations is so much better than thinking that Cake or any other manufacturer will develop a portable solar solution for LEO bikes that can be carried with a rider. There is NO WAY I would haul those on my bike, so come on. For the solar uninformed they may think that strapping a solar panel to your back will charge the bike. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
I still get irritated about Cake’s press releases marketing an EV track in Sweden. How does that help me as an owner? Researching companies like Tucson EV and then working with Cake’s third party charging company in the Eastern European block so those of us who actually buy the product can recharge seems much more effective, at least in my mind.
In my mind this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the & series of Cake bikes. I really like that they talk about sustainability and exploring without disturbing. But to not actively seek out what is important to owners and find solutions is a huge mistake. Initial collectors may have purchased the original Cakes, but SUSTAINED sales ‘is true evidence of sustainability’ as Cake puts it in their About Cake section. Some ‘may‘ think that I’m bitching too much about certain aspects of Cake. I look at it this way. If I didn’t own their product, only bitched about things without offering solutions like so often happens in forums then yes I’d be a total bitch. But to find solutions to problems I and other owners experience helps not only other owners, but if considered by Cake their brand as well. Company culture arrogance can sink a company quickly no matter how incredible the product. Cake USA’s service has been excellent in both communication and response. My sense is Cake Sweden may be the hang up in working with their existing user base to improve the product. Either way in order to be ‘sustainable’ in business listening and engaging your customer base is critical. Food for thought…
I’m happy to have found a solution to my range issue. I’m pissed that Cake did not.
How I carry my charger
I was watching this guy’s video about Electric Range Anxiety is BS on YouTube. Since I’ve never owned a dual sport ICE bike I didn’t think about the issues he brings up. As a former ICE street rider I have run out of gas before 16 miles from the nearest gas station. The road I was on was remote and as I was walking toward what I ‘thought‘ was the closest town a guy stopped and gave me a ride to the local gas station. He actually waited for me to get a can of gas (which the station attendant loaned me!) and drove me all the way back to my bike. I tried to give him $20.00 for his kindness and he just smiled and said “Pay it forward friend” and took off. I rode back to the gas station which was about to close, handed the gas can to the attendant and thanked him.
So as I was watching the BS video listening to his story it dawned on me that back in my ICE street riding days when I was on a long trip I would plan out my route; for both scenery and gas stations. I really love the Zero FX he is riding and at only 70 pounds more than my Kalk& would be the bike I’d get if I decide to sell my Cake.
What the Zero FX has that no Cake currently possesses is a built in charger. I got to thinking that if I could carry a charger with me on longer rides I could charge my bike and keep going or return home. Since I have purchased several tank bags for my Sur Ron and Kalk& I checked to see if any of them would hold my charger. Guess what! My Nelson-Rigg CL-2014-ST Black Strap Mount Journey Mini Tank Bag holds the charger! I removed the two black mounting rails on the charger since I never plan to mount the thing to any bench or wall anyway.
Now I will find places where I can stop and recharge my bike to go on longer excursions. Nope this is not a long haul vehicle, but to go out for 40-70 miles having to stop once, maybe twice depending on my speed and throttle hand is fine. I won’t be trying to charge it to 100%, but only enough to get to where I need to go.
Why not carry it in a backpack? I’ve stated many times that I’m not a backpack kinda guy except for an occasional hydration pack. Road racing taught me the absolute value of NOT carrying things on my body ESPECIALLY on my back. My Held back protector saved me from a quadriplegic life when I crashed at 140 MPH, lost consciousness due to a severe concussion (number 7) and was airlifted to Enloe Trauma Center. No thanks.
I will ask businesses if I can park my bike and plug in. Some may say no, some yes. During COVID in most cases I will look for places outside of a building to plug in. Once COVID is over I can take my battery and charger into a building to charge. So my plan is to purchase a second Kalk charger, wish me luck with this plan!