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 frustrated with 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 speeds averaging 35-45 MPH to an OFF ROAD area I just don’t have enough juice. Off road owners of the Kalk OR bikes don’t generally maintain speeds of 35-45 MPH as they are modulating the throttle much more than I do on road. Of course once I get to off road areas my battery usage is exactly the same as OR users. Consistent high speed sucks down battery life like an alcoholic at an open bar. My post “Why Are They SO Expensive” links to a video that clearly explains the reasons electric motorcycles are not nearly as efficient in range as electric cars.
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.
December 6 2020 – EVSE Test results
The short story. THE TUSCON EV J1772 plug works with the Cake Kalk& to charge at EVSE Level 2 stations!!! Here’s how I tested it today. I fully charged my bike and then went one way for 12.4 miles at level 3 for power and 3 for regen riding with no consideration for conserving power. Accelerated how I wished and went as fast as I wanted both ways.
As the battery level light began blinking the bike limited itself to 35 MPH and acceleration was more on par with level 2 rather than level 3. When I made it into my driveway and removed the seat the indicator on the battery showed 13% charge remaining even though the indicator on the dash indicated none. This gives me a better idea of how much charge is left when the dash battery level goes down to no bars.
I removed the battery and took it along with my charger and the Tucson EV J1772 cable adapter to a nearby ChargePoint station. I won’t be pulling the battery out to charge it at stations like I did in this instance. I did this the first time to examine the battery level indicator in comparison to the display bars. The procedure I followed was to plug the Cake 1000 charge cable into the battery, plug the J1772 adapter C-13 plug into the Cake 1000 charger, and then plug the ChargePoint cable into the adapter. After the system verified something compatible was connected charging began at 6.1Kw.
After 1 hour and 29 minutes the battery level had increased from 13% to 61%. I should note that while the charger was still connected to the battery it indicated 66% but when disconnected it immediately went down to 61%. Not sure why this happens as I have not monitored it while charging at home.
When I returned home and reinstalled the battery to see how many bars were indicated on the display where it showed 3 of 5 bars. My final test will be to ride the bike to determine how many miles I can obtain from 3 bars while not trying to conserve power. My plan was to charge to 80% during this test, but I was getting cold and called it at 61%. I don’t plan to run my battery down to zero bars, but plan to stop with one bar remaining to charge along my ride.
My EVSE Charge Test Summary
At this point I will simply say having the ability to charge my bike while on the road at EVSE Level 2 stations is incredible. The length of time it takes to charge the bike is not dependent on the EVSE station, but the Cake 1000 charger itself. Of course I would like faster recharging or more range out of my battery. Having said that this new option offers me places to charge my bike other than just at home. Imagine using an ICE vehicle that can only be filled up at home with no gas stations along the road! Now you get my point. Prior to discovering Tucson EV’s EVSE adapter I researched and searched for available 110v outlets even referencing “The Anarchist’s Guide To Guerilla Ebike Charging.” Sure there are some at coffee shops and gas stations, and those are fine for cell phones, laptops or small ebike batteries. But bikes like a Cake or Sur Ron have much larger batteries and chargers that have fans which create noise. And in the era of Covid19 the thought of sitting inside while my battery charges is not appealing. Asking permission from gas stations or other businesses/venues with 110 outlets doesn’t appeal to me either. So EVSE level 2 charge stations are so much easier and more convenient. Some are free, some cost a whopping $1.00 an hour. BFD. And for the whiners who bitch about “lack of range” now you have options. Still don’t like that? Then wait until battery tech improves or use your energy to figure out a solution.
For the Kalk OR owners who use other vehicles to transport their bikes to off road areas or live next to off road areas EVSEs ‘may’ have benefits for you as well. Charging from a vehicle with an inverter or an ICE generator uses fuel and takes the same amount of charging time as at an EVSE station. Using a solar generator is not really practical at this point in time since the large (2000Wh+) units are heavy and take a long time to recharge themselves. The next big leap will be if Cake and other PEV (Personal Electronic Vehicle) makers develop a charger that can do DC TO DC fast charging. But like ALL THINGS you never get something for nothing. Fewer EVSE fast charging stations (Tesla Supercharger stations excluded) and potential battery cell damage due to fast charging. This is all emerging tech so for now this is the best option I’ve found for my needs. Until I made myself aware of EVSE charging stations I had no idea how many exist. I now know that there are more EVSE stations than gas stations! In places I’d never expect and in many cases more convenient too. Office park parking lots, hotel/motel locations, the list goes on and on. The J1772 AC to DC charging infrastructure exists TODAY, I was just not aware of it prior to realizing my need for away from home recharging. And had it not been for COVID19 I actually think I would have just used coffee shops or restaurants to charge my bike via 110v outlets, noise to others be damned. Ah necessity is the motherhood of invention….or motivation! LOL
I have mentioned that I also own a Sur Ron Light Bee and have purchased an EU charger whose input is 220v rather than the USA 110v only model. Some have suggested I purchase a Cycle Satiator but the output for those is lower than an OEM Sur Ron charger. Unfortunately Sur Ron’s charger is not currently capable of both 110/220 like the Cake’s charger. I wrote to Luna Cycle to ask if they knew if SR has plans to move to the more current type of dual voltage charger. On December 7th their tech Tony replied “Hello there, The ones we sell are only the 110V version. Sorry.” That’s a shame since most of today’s chargers are dual voltage chargers.
The Backstory Leading to Level 2 Cake Charging
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. I also wrote to Cake USA to ask if the J1772 connector would work with the Cake 1000 charger that shipped with my bike. On November 24 2020 this was their response:
“Hey Mark I heard back overnight from the product guys who heard back from our supplier:
The connector shown in the picture below is a US Type 1 AC connector (230V AC, max. 32A). So in general he can use the shown adapter to power the Cake 1000 charger.
They are more used to European systems and were wondering if the adapter you have contains additional pins in the holes pictured below. This is normally the place where the CP and PP pins are located. These should be needed to tell the EV charge station that a car is connected and which power the car is able to handle. For European systems, this would be mandatory. They are not 100% sure whether it is for the US. If you want me to double-check any other info with them let me know.”
Tucson EV let me know that their J1772 plug does in fact contain the pins which are connected to a chip that notifies the EVSE charger of the voltage and amperage of the battery/charger connected, so it’s all good to go.
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.
Scouting out my route – November 28 2020
Today was such a glorious day I decided to check out one of the key EVSE stations I’ll use going to/from off road trails in both Half Moon Bay and Woodside. So I saddled up and with my trusty Google Maps rode to San Mateo County 32 Tower Rd one of the many locations where the county keeps its highway repair equipment. There are two separate ChargePoint stations there, one that is only for the use of SM county employees and the other open to the public. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend there was no one there. But I’m sure not many people use this stop since it’s pretty remote and County specific.
It was only 7.0 miles from my home to this EVSE station. When I arrived I had three of five bars remaining for battery life. Even though it was short mileage and I traveled through neighborhood streets my average speed was around 38 MPH, levels 3 for both performance/regen and the topography traveling there included loads of hills. I determined that to get to Half Moon Bay from this location was an additional 10.2 miles, of which half of that distance is uphill and averages 50 MPH to keep up with the flow of traffic. Since I have comfortably gotten 20-25 miles on levels 3/3 during my ownership I could try to just go straight to Half Moon Bay but….I’ll test it this way first.
So my plan would be to charge here for 20 to 30 minutes and then continue onto Half Moon Bay. There I will charge up to 80% and hit the coastal off road trails. More to follow, but like I’ve said the J1772 cable is a total game changer for me.
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
In April 2018 Top Speed ran an article titled, “Cake Will Introduce Portable Solar Charging Units for Its Motorcycles”
“Although the idea of a portable solar charger isn’t new, there aren’t much being developed for explicitly charging electric motorcycles. There are however solar-powered charging stations for the same, but having a portable unit is where the folks at Utellus come into the picture….How portable it is going to be is as good as anybody’s guess, but it will have to be small enough to be carried on the motorcycle. Currently, Cake will be releasing this service only in Sweden and will soon roll over to other markets.” Obviously that was a lofty goal back in 2018 that did not transpire.
I get irritated about Cake’s press releases focusing their marketing an EV track in Sweden. How does that help me as an owner outside of Sweden? Or even within that country. Researching companies like Tucson EV who already produce an off home base charging solution 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.
The ability to charge the bike at EVSE stations opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the & series of Cake bikes. I really like that they talk about sustainability and exploring with respect. 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 investigating realistic alternatives like so often happens in forums then yes I’d be a total bitch. But to find solutions to real world limitations I and other owners experience helps not only other owners, but if considered and implemented by Cake then 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 very disappointed 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!