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.”
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!!!