CAKE KALK& My Purchase Experience

There is even less user information about CAKE bikes then the SurRon’s back in the early days other than ride or marketing videos. Those are surely great for emotion, but now that I’ve purchased the bike I want useful information on how to work on this bike. My intent is to help other owners.

Someone said I look happy. Imagine that….

I’m going to go over several aspects of my June 2020 purchase of a 2019 CAKE KALK& that includes facts I didn’t know based on Cake’s own website and the lack of information available at the time of my purchase. This is the time of COVID-19 so when this pandemic is over and a vaccine is developed things may go back to what we once considered normal. I built this site to support other owners. I’m not a CAKE dealer, nor do I derive any money from advertisers, clicks or subscriptions. (That may change depending on how long I don’t have a day job…) So it’s just to answer questions I personally had before purchasing my KALK& but could not find online. For two years I have maintained a site I built for Sur Ron Owners and the intent for this site to accomplish the same purpose as the Sur Ron site.

How I Became Interested in CAKE (I’m actually more of a pie guy)

I had looked at the Cake line of EVs for quite some time. But never having seen one and at a 14k price point I put them out of my mind. In my entire motorcycle lifetime I always wished I had purchased a dual sport motorcycle. I just never did. My bikes were either full motocross and later road racers. For me there is just something delicious about riding to an offroad area and getting into the dirt. No truck or trailer needed, just riding to my favorite offroad spot to explore or camp. Like all things in life dual sport motorcycles are a compromise. Not a full on street bike and not a hard core offroad bike, yet just good enough at both. I have raced most of my life. I’ve crashed at 140 MPH in turn 10 at Thunderhill Raceway. Competed in the Barstow to Vegas run twice. Raced motocross at Saddleback Park (RIP) Now I just want to enjoy my ride for how/where I ride. And I’m not much of a group rider nowadays either. Loved being on a team, and street riding with friends before I discovered the juice of the track. Now the solitude of being alone while riding and without the ICE sounds is my jam. Don’t get me wrong in the past I LOVED the sounds of my v twin literbike, 2 stoke dirt bikes revving. Oh and the smell of two stroke premixed gas still brings a smile to my face.

My experience owning a Sur Ron for over two years and 4000+ miles has shown me just how much I DON’T miss the sound or smells of ICE motors. Or the weight! I won’t even go into the lack of maintenance here, I bought my bikes to ride them, not to work on them more than riding. I do love wrenching and the SR showed me the balance of wrenching versus riding. Just enough wrenching. The amazing aspect of a bike weighing less than ME transformed how I felt about motorized two wheelers.

My First Hand Experience with CAKE

So in this new online world I was happy, yet very skeptical to see Cake offer a Try and Buy program.

Skeptical for two reasons; first CAKE is made in Sweden and has just a few retail partnerships in the USA. So the likelihood of me being in an area where they are holding demo rides would be slim to none, especially in the time of COVID-19 in which we are in as I write this post. Secondly I’m not a big fan of waiting in line with a bunch of other potential buyers to ride a bike in a controlled area. Akin to driving Autopia Cars at Disneyland….yawn.

So I filled out the form and didn’t give it much thought. I had done it six months before and received a standard reply stating CAKE will be happy to notify me when demonstrations are in my area. But in about a week I received a response from Zack Bailey. He mentioned that he would be happy to bring a bike to MY HOUSE if I knew which model I would like to try. REALLY?! Is this like the Instacart of EV motorcycles!? Holy shit! One on One? REALLY? So I wrote back to him and we set up a time where he would COME TO MY HOME to bring a CAKE Kalk& for me to try. I had stated that I was looking for a dual sport EV. This from the guy who has never demo ridden a bike before in his entire lifetime before buying one!

So we arranged a date and time that worked out for both of us and exactly on time Zack and the CAKE Sprinter Van arrived. Before exiting his vehicle he donned his face mask and said if we could shake hands he would. But this is COVID-19 time….

Garage all setup before Zack’s arrival.I had set up my garage so we could talk before he unloaded his bike. Our meeting was early (for me, 10am!) so I offered Zack some coffee. I was shocked when my gf brought him out a cup in my favorite donut mug! I threatened him that if he broke my favorite mug there would be yelling. LOL. I found out later that she could care less if he broke it since another gal had given it to me….oops!

I had quite a few questions about CAKE, the bike and the Splitit financing offered on the CAKE site. I have not had a vehicle payment in over 40 years since I pay cash for my vehicles. And although I can do that if I buy a CAKE I’d prefer to keep more of my money in these uncertain times and finance just a little.

I made Zack aware that the bike I’m most interested in is the CAKE INK SL. It’s 4k less expensive than the CAKE KALK& and would fit in the budget amount of what I want to spend on this bike. Oh and to my Sur Ron Brethren who say “Holy shit Mark 10.5k is WAY MORE than a Sur Ron,” – that is true. But my father taught me long ago to keep a running tally of how much I spend on recreational items. And guess what…

Without some of the Luna credits I had, I’ve spend around $8300.00 on my Sur Ron. Sure it’s less than the CAKE INK SL I’m thinking of buying, but not 2.9 times less. After all is said and done on my SR improvements the CAKE INK SL is 26% more expensive. I will finally sell the most expensive towel rack in the SF Bay Area, my beloved RC51 with full Ohlins suspension and way too much money invested. UGH I kept track of the bike’s expenses, but am too embarrassed to publish that here! I rationalize it by thinking “It was my race bike afterall….” BTW the RC was exactly the same price in 2000 that the CAKE INK SL is priced now, $10.5k.

My First Ride

So after answering all of my questions, Zack unloaded the Kalk&. I have no idea if he had planned to let me take the bike out on my own, but I asked him if he would like to ride my Sur Ron as I rode the KALK&. He mentioned that he has ridden several Sur Rons. I told him how to pretend pedal and gave him the following rules:

  • No Wheelies
  • No Jumping
  • No Crashing

His rules:

  • No Crashing

So off we went where I tested two of the three different power and regen levels.

For power:

  • 1 is limited to 28 MPH
  • 2 is unlimited top end and good power
  • 3 is unlimited top end and max power

For regen:

  • 1 is freewheeling
  • 2 is like a 2 stroke engine braking
  • 3 is like a 4 stroke engine braking

I was not interested in levels one for either power or regen so I didn’t even bother trying them. Level 2 power really reminded me of my Sur Ron. Keep in mind that I have one of the first 50 X controllers offered by Luna which are no longer offered. The braking regen in level 2 on the CAKE feels almost exactly like the X controller on my bike. Like third gear engine braking on a 125 two stroke.

The CAKE’s power was smooth, no smoother than my SR but since the CAKE has a higher top end it’s apparent that the CAKE has more top end. I was able to take the CAKE (god that sounds so odd…!) off road to an area where I like to ride. I wanted to ascertain how the suspension felt compared to my modified SR with Manitou Dorado front fork and the Ohlins TTX22 rear shock. I had to keep in mind that the CAKE was set up for someone about 20-30 pounds heavier than me. I determined that before we began riding, just my normal protocol. And I did not want to adjust the suspension because Zack had to go to another appointment after mine. The CAKE felt very planted and the rebound for both high and low speed felt very good, but not better than my own SR with its modifications.

The CAKE is not my bike so I did NOT go WFO on my dirt run. I was around 80% throttle. I was surprised to see Zack right behind me though. When I told him that he kept up with me I believe he thought I was saying I thought he is a slow rider! LOL. He’s not, so I was pleased that my bike was right there with me and the CAKE.

Side by side, my SR and the KALK& The CAKE wears 24″ rims, my SR has a 21″ front and 19″ rear. OH and Lucky Duck! Apparently Zack plans to put a duck on his bike later…..copy cat! LOL

The brakes are good, powerful and progressive in feel, not like wooden feeling brakes. I had to get use to a rear foot brake after adjusting to a rear hand brake. Zack was right, I got use to it again right away. I did not use level 3 power or regen in the dirt and left that for my street riding. So we headed out of Bump City and hit Beach Park Blvd. It was there that I switched to level 3 for both power and regen. I held the throttle WFO and that’s when I noticed something. The bike would accelerate up to a point, then plateau and then pick up again before flattening out. My speed on the odometer was 52 MPH. I also let off the throttle completely and the regen braking was much more pronounced then in level 2. Regen braking in level three felt like a four stroke 250 in third gear. I actually like the feeling and can imagine using level 3 regen quite often, especially on long downhill sections. Zack mentioned that level 3 regen puts a 20% charge back into the pack.

I cannot even remember the last time I wore my street riding motorcycle gear!
The riding position of the bike is different than my SR. I have 3″ riser bars and a 1/2″ shim stack under the bar riser. So it’s more upright than the CAKE. Zack mentioned the difference in body position. Also since the bike is much taller (I’m 5-8 with a 30″ inseam. I can straddle the bike with both feet on the ground as long as I’m on the balls of my feet.) so the seat to peg room feels like riding a horse with a Western saddle whereas my bike feels like I’m riding with an English saddle. Translation – more legroom on the CAKE.

I was not thrilled with the display. I’m not a big fan of loads of information since I can get that from my phone and an app. Plus I don’t really look at my display when I’m riding. I’m not insinuating that the display is cluttered, it was just hard to see in bright sunlight and I didn’t find out if the display can be set at different angles. I have a feeling I just missed that adjustment. But the sun did tend to overpower the brightness of the display. The buttons that control the power and regen levels are on the display itself. They are rather small and I would prefer it if CAKE  offered a separate button toggle near the left handlebar grip. Doing so would prevent having to lift your left hand off of the grip to change the power or regen levels.

When I mentioned the double plateau of the powerband Zack explained that since the KALK& is a dual sport model the engineers have programmed the controller to optimize battery range which he says explains that phenomenon. Since I’m a complete dunce in the world of electronics I have no idea if that is good or bad. I just know that it felt strange to plateau twice in the upper power band.

The demo CAKE KALK& that I test rode.
I only had a few minutes to examine the build quality of the bike. I cannot fully state that the construction is “Honda quality” until I have disassembled parts of the bike, (my highest compliment based on my experience) but in examining the fasteners and welds, I have no doubt it’s of a very high level. I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort of the seat!! Although it looks like the Sur Ron OEM rectal torture seat in shape it is much more comfortable. As a matter of fact I would have to get some serious seat time to decide whether or not to have Renazco Racing make me a custom seat. I knew within 4 minutes of owning my Sur Ron that the OEM seat had to go!

“What about all of that plastic!” Uh well when you actually examine the bike there isn’t a lot of plastic. The stanchion guards and the front fender along with the triangle covers on the lower portion of the bike are plastic, but not much else. “It looks weird like an Ikea build.” Yeah appearance is all in the eye of the beholder. Stefan Ytterborn, Cake’s founder and CEO worked at Ikea! The SR is certainly much more traditional in appearance, but I happen to like the look of the CAKE line. But then again I have a deposit on the Tesla Cybertruck!

My issue with all things is until I am actually able to try it for myself, I don’t believe others. Why? Well just one example was when I was an admin on the private FB group for the Sur Ron. I had asked if anyone has tried using a 21er on the front instead of the OEM 19″. “Oh that would be way too heavy.” “Oh that won’t work” Yet when I asked people who made those comments what they didn’t like about the handling guess what? Crickets. Not a single person who bitched about a 21er had ever even ridden a Sur Ron with one. And guess what? The 21 inch rim is my most frequently visited page on this site. And according to Josh Nowell, the guy who builds them for SRs his business is booming.

Pulling the Trigger on a KALK&

So instead of buying the INK SL I was looking at, after selling my beloved RC51 I decided that since she (Ashley was my name for the 51…after Ashley Judd) wore all Ohlins suspension I should replace her with another mistress who wore the same shoes…Ohlins. So Sofia (Vergara) it is for the win! I paid for her on June 25 2020 and Emily explained that FedEx Freight would call me the day before delivery to set up a time/date. Sure enough on July 1 2020 they called and said the bike would be delivered to my home on July 2 2020. When the FedEx driver pulled up I was like a kid waiting for his birthday present! It was damn hot that day so I offered the driver a bottle of Mexican Coca Cola, the kind with real sugar! LOL He wanted to know about the bike so I cut off the shipping straps opened the box to his WOW reaction. Nice fella.

CAKE’s Customer Service

Prior to becoming a commercial photographer I spent the majority of my career in corporate leadership roles. I’ve always had a keen sense for employees who are stellar in terms of customer demeanor and understanding. I’m very happy to report that my experience both in person and online with CAKE employees is the benchmark for how companies regardless of industry should be selected and trained.

Zack Bailey – West Coast Sales

In the good old motorcycle days when shops were on every street corner and sales were through the roof I bought my bikes where the sales and support staff was stellar. When I’d go to buy parts or fluids I would always stop to talk to the sale and service folks. They became friends I’d see out at motocross or desert races, people I truly enjoyed talking with and sharing stories. If someone forgot their plug wrench or other tool all of us loaned each other whatever was needed. Without question Zack could have worked in that era. His level of customer service along with his general demeanor and engagement is excellent. For a young fella there was no incessantly checking of his mobile phone, (those I call belly browsers since they are always looking down) no listening just for his turn to talk. Nope he was what I consider “old school” in the best way.

Emily Miller – Salt Lake City Support

After purchasing my KALK& Emily is the person who took care of the shipping and paperwork. Not only is she on point for timeliness but like Zack her demeanor over email is both engaging and helpful. She carefully explained the FedEx Freight delivery system which was much easier than my prior Sur Ron experience, how my payment to CAKE and SplitIT would work answering all of my questions.

I would gladly hire both of these CAKE employees at any time, past or present for my own business. And that’s no sunshine up your ass statement, but simply my truth.

SplitIt

I have not had a vehicle payment in over 40 years. I pay cash for my vehicles because I hate payments and interest. I tend to be frugal (despite what you may think about buying a 14k plus tax and license vehicle during COVID19 and currently being self unemployed…) When I noticed the SplitIt payment option on the CAKE site I was suspicious. So I researched the company through the BBB and other review sites. No real complaints. The way it works is you get to decide how long you want to ‘finance’ the amount of the bike, 12, 24 or 36 months. The ‘fee’ depends on the length of time you wish to make payments. The longer the time the higher the flat fee percentage. The fee is not annual it’s a one time charge. You charge the amount you want defer to a credit card. The amount you choose reduces your available credit on that card, but no interest is charged against the amount. Each month SplitIt bills you a monthly payment amount based on how much you’ve financed and unless you don’t pay that amount you don’t get charged any interest. And each month the amount held against your credit line is proportionally reduced. So to use someone else’s money interest free for three years is a win/win to me. If I want to pay off the entire amount I can do that as well. Although I had saved enough to pay for the bike in its entirety, I felt more secure keeping money in my savings account during COVID-19 times. The balance of the bike was paid in cash to CAKE along with the flat fee.

How Durable is the CAKE line of Bikes?

I must be pretty crummy at searching YouTube videos. Before buying my CAKE KALK& I tried to find videos about the bike. Many were the same, the CAKE site has some but most I found pretty boring and similar to others. Until I found Max Fredriksson’s videos on CAKE bikes. Holy shit man where have I been?! It opened up a whole new world to me of CAKE videos. Obviously I would NOT have purchased a 14k bike without first seeing and riding it, examining the build quality, etc to determine if I felt it is well built and engineered. And in my opinion it has that in spades.

Can be seen at 10:10 in the video. Oh and BTW to all of you haters out there, let’s see how your bike fares after something like this. Maybe your fender will break. Hahahahahaha

Skate Park Fun…and crashing! Oh and much more.

5:09 Later they get to ride on CAKE’s off road track. Yeah these bikes can take a lot of shit. I’ll find out myself soon enough.

Make no mistake I have no intention, nor do I possess the skills to do what Max and his buddies do in his videos. But what it did illustrate to me is the incredible build quality of the bike. They literally beat the shit out of those demo bikes. And anyone who has a brain larger than an amoeba knows how demo bikes are treated…SHITTY. All I had read from the usual haters of anything new; “Oh it’s all plastic.” “The fenders snapped off in mud.” “I don’t like shit that is new or different from what I know.” The usual crowd who have never ridden one, seen one or would buy one. Reminds me of my 21er front rim or when dad and I use to deep sea fish for albacore off of the Mexican coast. Mom would make us rice and soy sauce to take with us. We’d catch some fish, scale and gut them, cut them up for a fresh sashimi lunch. Many of the white boys would say “Hey man, you Orientals should cook that shit before eating. We call that bait if you don’t cook it!” Yeah well fuck that, now most of those fellas are either dead or paying bookoo bucks for sushi at their fancy restaurants to eat bait! Hahahahahaha

My Conclusion

Well since I have not been able to properly ride the bike I’m not going to comment on something I don’t know about other then my demo ride. Those impressions will be forthcoming. But I can say that the ENTIRE buying experience, the quality of the bike, the attention to detail is so so impressive to me. I was not kidding when I stated that “It’s CAKE quality.” Some people have asked me “Mark is it three times better than the Sur Ron?” My response? “Is your wife/husband/girlfriend/partner, three times better than your others?” My point is for me the bike fills a niche that isn’t currently filled, just different. My Sur Ron is fantastic! I can ride it literally ANYWHERE, but not legally on the road to trails further away. The quality of the CAKE is beyond what Sur Ron has in build quality, but that’s not to say the SR is a slouch. For me the CAKE is in a different league like a VW and Porsche are in different leagues.

“Really 14k for that bike? I can buy an XXYY bike for $$$$” I get that, everyone decides for themselves how to spend their hard earned after tax dollars. I’m not here to justify how I spend my money or try to sell you a bike. I bought it for me, not you.

Two of the guys who asked me that question own jet skis and/or snowmobiles. “How much was your jet ski Fred? How often do you ride it? How much was that trailer for it? How much was your truck?” Same questions about snowmobiles….. I love that I can pull this out of my garage and ride it whenever I want to do so. At night, during the day, near your home, near my home. I come home and plug it into my 110 outlet, put my helmet, gloves and jacket away and hit the hot tub.

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4 Comments

  1. Nice, very informative write up Bike looks like it’s built tough with awesome components. Not sure on the deep water capabilities for here in Hawai’i The way the battery connects but from experience I can tell you the Sur Ron’s aren’t handling the deep water well either.

    “Our Dad is always only 5 seconds away from telling someone to F*** off” My fav part of all if this.

    1. Blane I would LOVE to ride with you Jade and the rest of your posse both on my SR and the Cake. Be so fun to swap bikes too, and I’m a real bitch about not letting people ride my stuff. The SR had spoiled me (you and Jade too) on the lack of weight. “Having my Cake and Riding it Too” is my new motto. It’s around 50 pounds heavier than my SR, but it still weighs just about the same as me in gear. So wild for me to have pegs and a rear foot brake, I’m not use to those anymore….yet adjusting! LOL

      I was a bit worried that my street skills and awareness had left my brain forever, but like riding a bike it all quickly came back. Let’s see if the CA DMV issues me a license plate, otherwise the bike goes up for sale. Having a street legal dual sport has always been my dream. Fingers crossed it will come true. Take care brah, hug Jade for me too.

  2. Nice write up Mark, once I make a decision to buy something I don’t care what others think of the price…I’m happy so who really cares? I sure hope your DMV experience pays off, I applied for my sur rons moped plate per your instructions 2 months ago, DMV deposited my check one month ago and here’s another month and still no plate. Hopefully they’re just slow because of the virus.

    I’m a bit surprised to hear of Cakes lack of printed info on aspects/features of their bikes…I really want to know what makes my bikes tick before I’m stuck somewhere with just the info that’s in a sales brief. They really need to address that lack of info for their customers.

    I look forward to your further reviews of your Cake…Mark

    1. Hey Mark, great news today, the CA DMV has issued me an official registration. I hope this helps other CA owners in the future avoid all of the crap I went through. https://cakekalk.com/latest-news/my-ongoing-california-dmv-fiasco/

      And yes I agree that Cake does need to improve their documentation. I’m from the old ‘shop manual’ days so it is my normal. I did find a section (again not readily visible) on their site that has lots of how to videos. I giggle to myself that Cake mimics IKEA’s assembly instructions. LOL
      https://cakekalk.com/latest-news/kalk-instructional-videos/

      I find it so interesting how culture greatly affect instructions, how they are written and how they are used. When I worked for Playstation I had to argue with Japan about allowing me to develop Quick Start Guides and finally won them over. The Japanese culture is to read each and every piece of information before using a product. Well we all know how Americans are about reading instructions, we suck. It was so hard for Japan to understand that since their culture is so opposite when it comes to reading instructions. And trust me, you NEVER want to be in a PowerPoint meeting with a Japanese presenter. OMG it’s terminally painful to watch.

      And I was the first and ONLY person successful in burning animated instructions onto the PSPs. Proud of that too.

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