Will CAKE be Alta Motors v2.0?

No matter how much I love and ride my Cake Kalk& I just cannot help but worry that CAKE as a company may not be doing the right things to increase sales. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT saying they are slacking, that’s not the case.  All of my interactions with CAKE staff – from the sales people to the support staff have all been first rate, helpful and knowledgeable about the product and courteous. I know that their sales staff is running around doing demo rides for people which is one of the reasons I moved from just interest to purchase. But…

My worry surrounds the marketing of the bike, specifically the Kalk and INK line. As I examine their very slick marketing which focuses on being environmentally conscious which is an excellent attribute. BUT the people in their videos, where they are riding and how they are riding seems to go against the people who would actually BUY a bike at 10.5 to 14k. That’s a ton of cash for people in their mid 20s to late 30s; which are the people I see in their ads and videos. 

By design CAKE has seemed to avoid the ICE riders, but I can say first hand that older ICE riders, meaning those between 45-70 I meet are the ones who have an actual interest in the bike and have the means to purchase one. They are not planning to do multiple 360s in the air, jumping triples or racing the bike. The questions they ask me are intelligent and just today two men who fit the demographic I just mentioned stopped me in my hardware store parking lot. “Sorry for stopping you, but can you tell us a bit about that bike? Wow did you install those Ohlins forks or does it come with those? How much was it if you don’t mind me asking? Really that’s not too bad. I’ll look it up when I get home. It weighs how much?! Holy crap that’s crazy light! It charges in 2.5 hours from a 110?! Thanks, ride safe and thanks for the info. We both ride dirt bikes but want to move to electric.”

As of the date I published this article this new Alta Redshift MXR is being auctioned on eBay.

I have been doing some research on Alta Motors, how it began and how it failed. No definitive articles exist on why they closed. They were located in Brisbane, CA which is 18 miles north of where I live. On May 10 2018, TopSpeed’s website did a review of the Redshift MXR, which at that time was Alta’s most current bike. In the piece they even identify the Cake Kalk as one of the MXR’s competitors:

“The brainchild of a Swedish Stefan Ytterborn, Cake intends “to speed up the journey towards a zero-emission society, while enhancing excitement and fun.” And their very first step is this Kalk electric off-roader that blurs the line between mountain bikes and motorcycles. It looks like a concept model since it is technically not legal to go on the roads. It gets no headlights, indicators nor any side mirrors or a number plate bracket.

These machines are strictly made to tread 50 miles of the off-beaten tracks in a full charge of the batteries under its belly. Maxing at 50 mph, the 2.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack pumps out a maximum of 20 bhp and 30 lb-ft of max torque at zero rpm. Which is not a lot considering other electric enduro motorcycles coming into the scene but get this, the Kalk weighs in just at 154 lbs. That is lighter than any enduro motorcycle currently on the market.

An industrial standard 15kW IPM motor (interior permanent magnet) was customized in Europe specifically to run on the Kalk and is powered by a 51.8 Volt, 50Ah battery with an in-house designed engine mapping for a dynamic performance. Adjustable Ohlins USD at the front and TTX shocks at the rear with full adjustability. 24”aluminum hubs get laced with steel spokes with the rim wrapped with specially developed tires for durability and minimum trail wear.

Cake will be making a limited run of just 50 units of the Kalk and are available for pre-order on making a deposit of €1,000 ($1,250), and the bike will cost an eye-watering €14,000 ($17,500).”

An excerpt from their Verdict section of the article about the Redshift MXR:

“Having this Redshift MXR their flagship, Alta Motors have surpassed the majority of the players in this segment when it comes to providing the equipment bang for the buck. With being the most powerful of its competitors that also provides high-spec components, it is a surprise that Alta managed to price it lower than any of them.”

Just five months and eight days after that glowing review Alta Motors closed its doors. Although many (especially Alta owners!) held out hope that the company would return, it obviously did not. Rideapart’s article “What Ever Happened to Alta Motors” outlines the rise and fall of the company. Some excerpts from the article:

“By the time 2018 rolled in, things were looking up for the company. Its lineup was now four models strong with a fifth one scheduled to come out during the year and the company had managed to slash its prices by 30%, making the bikes more accessible. Already at the end of 2017, Alta had recorded skyrocketing sales, hired a new Chief Revenue Officer, and added 36 new distributors to its expanding network. The picture was pretty: they were on track to grow exponentially and finally carve their place on the market.”

On Alta’s partnership with Harley Davidson:

“The honeymoon didn’t last for long. Six months into their partnership, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors broke off their engagement. Harley allegedly backed out of the deal which meant Alta was losing the support of a well-established strategic partner and the resources it had brought to the table. The Americana company had apparently decided to build its own Research and Development center in Silicon Valley instead. The announcement came only a few days following the separation which created a very obvious cause-effect relationship between the two events.”

 

So why in the world would ANY OWNER of a Kalk& write something like this!? Doesn’t this dumb ass realize that it may hurt the very sales he is hoping CAKE increases!?

Great questions and here are my reasons. My Kalk& is a FANTASTIC BIKE, F-A-N-T-A-S-T-C!!! I mean how many owners take the time to create and build a website dedicated to their bike just to help other owners? No damn ads to make revenue or offset costs, no clickbait “Likes” or “Subscribes” like on those I Love Me YouTube Pages.

I get concerned when I see Cake spending so much marketing energy on “awards” they received like Grand Award of Design 2018. Sure those are great to attract employees, investors and collectors. The first 50 limited edition bikes completely sold out. But collectors don’t ride their bikes or encourage aftermarket companies to build products for the bikes. And investors are only so willing to cough up more funds unless they believe profits will be returned on their investments. And that takes SALES. As my business mentor instilled in me when I was climbing the workplace ladder, “Mark nothing happens until you make a sale. All the work you think matters doesn’t if you don’t make a sale.” That was Merv Morris of Mervyn’s Department stores. The best founder/leader I’ve ever worked for in my corporate career.

I think it’s great that Stephan Ytterhorn built his successful safety gear company POC Sports in Sweden and grew it from there. Even happier that he built Cake! But an electric motorcycle company is very different than a safety gear firm. Imagine KitchenAid, one of the most successful makers of kitchen gear, deciding to open a chain of restaurants…..a very different venture. 

So I’ve begun to search for and ask other people who actually purchased a Cake Kalk what moved them from mere interest to actual purchase. It’s a difficult task because locating other owners is damn near impossible. And of course this is all self serving – I want Cake to succeed, to grow and to flourish. I want them around when I break something on my bike. I want updated batteries when battery tech evolves.

My story is if I had not owned a Sur Ron Light Bee for two years I would have never known how incredible a light electric motorcycle could be let alone consider purchasing a 14k Cake Kalk&. And I’ve been an ICE rider for my entire life. The lack of weight, the amount of instant torque, a completely flat power curve, regenerative braking, the absence of maintenance…..what more can I ask for!

So come on Cake PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG P-L-E-A-S-E!!!

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8 Comments

  1. Great article, never even heard of Alta! And I agree, as a 35 year old 4 stroke rider, I wouldn’t have heard of Cake/Kalk& except for knowing you – and also wouldn’t be able to afford one, I wish!!!! Lighter, lower maintenance and more, sounds like a dream!! I was in a race club with the majority of riders being 45-70 +, male, desert riders. They’d talk shit but if Cake/Kalk& were to beat one of their race bikes, I’m sure it’d be an easy sell!! One day (if the company is still around), I’ll be lucky enough to own one too!

    1. Carisa I can confidently state you would love my bike. Riding one as well as more input from actual buyers would help greatly.

  2. The Alta was what lead me into electric bikes from a 37 year history of ICE bikes, I mean come on ride a Prius bike? My son and I went to the KTM dealer around Christmas a couple years ago, and they had 3 Alta’s, one was street legal. We got to test ride around the wet asphalt area and started out on level one power of four increasing power levels. OMG Holt Shit Batman! That sucker stuck to the wet asphalt and took off like a rocket. Quiet addictive. Afterwords I asked my son if he put it in level two, neither of us did and he’s a younger racer. But for me the hook was set, I could not stop thinking about that bike even though it was too heavy, too tall, too expensive, and had the range of one moto, totally impracticable. Yet still I had it in my head, “The HOOK WAS SET” so to speak, and one day while looking at Oset’s, small kids electric bikes, for my grand kids… I stumbled into the Sur-Ron bike. Oh wow, light, low seat height, low price, and a website of users. I have never bought a bike sight unseen, with upfront full price payment on a bike that had yet to ship from China, that’s just not how I am wired. But I did It! And Oh what fun! That is how I met Mark, and I have enjoyed his work on all things Sur-Ron ever since July 2018. We both got the (only 50 made) special Sur Ron regenerative controllers. Mark, more than anyone, was constantly evolving his bike and doing write ups on his progress. I believe Alta is no longer with us due to Harley Davidson picking Alta’s brains and then dumping their funding. The Cake is more expensive than my taste but if Mark keeps at it, I might have another “Hook Setting” experience.

    1. Hey Lee, I had no idea you and your son had actually ridden an Alta. So jealous! Wow only on level 1 and it was that quick?! Holy shit Batman. Yeah like you I had never purchased any motorcycle sight unseen, it never even occurred to me. And although like you I bought my Sur Ron that way there was no way I was going to fork over 14k plus CA tax and license on a Cake. But like I’ve said here, I sold the most expensive towel rack in the SF Bay area in literally 90 minutes from the time I pressed ‘publish’ on craigslist for my beloved RC51, DURING COVID19! 22 offers in that time and the buyer Venmo’d me the money before he even saw the bike!

      It’s really best if you don’t ride a Cake. I don’t want to be responsible for your kid’s inheritance being reduced and your wife’s wrath! LOL SRs are great bikes, a great value and I’ve changed mine enough to know that it fits how and where I ride so well. But the Cake well it’s a totally different level as well it should be for that price. But I have no regrets ever. I just need them to be around long after I kick the bucket.

  3. I saw a 14 minute video of a good rider on single track and fire roads ridding the Alta Redshift. He started at level one and proceeded on through 2, 3, and then 4. I don’t think he even made a minute, and on a fire road, before there was a big dusty ride ending crash, but he did manage to keep it fro going over the edge off the road. My Son would not mind me getting a Cake as he would get to ride it and eventually inherit it… So far the Wife’s Wrath thing usually does not involve bikes, as she knows it keeps me mellow.

  4. Mark – thanks for taking the time to share your Sur Ron and now Cake ride experiences and insights!
    I was lucky enough to get a quick test ride on an Alta and as you said the hook was set. Picked up a new 2019 Alta EXR in July, 2018. What a fun bike! Rode that bike everywhere including indoors at the local Trek bicycle shop (owner is a moto guy too!). Sadly once the doors closed I sold the EXR for fear of it turing into a 270 paperweight (frame chassis parts are easy enough to get repaired but the software and battery issues could be problematic). There certainly is a hard core group of Alta riders keeping the bikes going now.

    I got a chance to ride the Sur Ron and immediately picked one up. Really blurs the lines between mountain bikes and ICE dirt bikes. Super fun! I also have a KTM Freeride E-XC which is like a cross between a trials bike and woods bike with an electric power train (a modern day Bultaco Alpina…some vet riders may remember Bultaco)

    I did a quick ride comparison of all (3) this past summer if you have an interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkNS2hiblKY&t=3s

    Enjoy your e-mobility bikes! Looking forward to reading more of your experiences!

    1. Thanks so much for your video comparison of the Sur Ron, KTM EXC and the Alta. Short, simple and to the point. I’ve never ridden the Alta or the KTM so it was informative to hear your views, especially since you mentioned Bultaco. I was a 250 Pursang owner and switching from left to right hand shifting when I went from my Penton (now KTM) 125 to the Taco drove me nuts.

      I laughed hearing your SR’s brakes squeal like a stuck pig LOL. New pads will solve that as well as GREATLY improving the stopping power. I’ve changed more things on my bike and it’s easier to say what is still stock. You can read about my experience in the article I wrote for WebBikeWorld regarding both the SR and the Cake. I did have an extensive SR website that I took down, but am relaunching it soon as a subscription based site. Thanks for coming by and sharing your views. If you’ve not heard of Tucker Neary from Electric Cycle Rider on YouTube he is my friend and a very fair evaluator of bikes.

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