Review: Cake’s Kalk& Moto Is An All-Electric, All-Terrain Thrill Ride

Jul 13, 2021

Category: Rides

It’s only been within the last decade that rapid advancements in the EV sector have been giving way to a small, but steadily growing number of electron and proton-powered hypercars with never-before-possible performance capabilities. In the motorcycle world, however, despite several electric moto manufacturers already having debuted some impressive EV models, none have been able to capitalize as fully on the latest technologies and breakthroughs to deliver a truly game-changing road-legal production bike quite like Swedish startup Cake has done with its Kalk&.

With more than double the torque of Ducati’s latest superbike, a curb weight less than that of a 125cc dirtbike, and a myriad of top-shelf componentry, the Kalk& has undoubtedly piqued our interests since its debut in early 2019. Wanting to experience this almost certainly revolutionary two-wheeler, we’ve been given access to the latest version of the Swedish dual-sport to put the machine through its paces and give an honest and unbiased hands-on review of the Cake Kalk&.

Photo: HiConsumption

Kalk& 101

An Introduction & Specs To Cake’s Watershed Street-Legal Dual-Sport

The Kalk& (pronounced like the first syllable of the word “Calculator”) is a dual-sport, road-legal version of the Cake Kalk OR that maintains much of the riding characteristics of the off-road-only model in a more street-able package. The machine is intended for urban commuting, canyon carving, and light off-roading and tips the scales at just 174lbs. The Kalk& also comes with three power/ride modes, Explore, Excite, and Excel, (with Excel being the fully unrestricted mode) which feature increasingly large power outputs and top speeds limited to around 28mph, 44mph, and 70mph respectively.

There are also three adjustable regenerative braking modes that replicate the feel of engine braking on a traditional petrol-powered dirtbike with Freewheel mode (i.e. no regenerative braking), Two-Stroke mode (i.e. moderate regen braking), and Four-Stroke mode (i.e. maximum regenerative braking anytime the rider lets off the throttle). Using a standard home wall outlet, the Kalk&’s swappable 2.6 kWh, 18,650 cell Lithium-ion battery can receive an 80% recharge in around two hours, or three hours for a complete refill. The range is limited to a claimed 51-miles (mixed city and freeway use) or 3 to 4 hours in Explore mode, 1 to 2 hours in Excite mode, and up to one hour in Excel mode.

Photo: HiConsumption

Built around an extruded, forged, and CNC-machined 6061 T6 aluminum chassis, the Kalk& is outfitted with a generous array of premium components including a top-shelf 38mm Öhlins USD air fork, an Öhlins TTX22 mono-shock, a Domino throttle, 19” wheels with billet hubs and custom-designed rims, aerospace-grade 7050 aluminum MX-style handlebars, a righthand lever-operated Formula moto-spec four-pot caliper biting a 220mm rotor up front, and a right foot-lever-activated rear brake — neither of which feature ABS. Looking larger in person than it does in photos, the bike sports a rather tall seat height at 35.8″, though, with 8” of suspension travel, the MX-style saddle compresses quite a bit once laden with the rider’s weight.

Photo: HiConsumption

This model features an interior 10kW PMAC motor that puts down an absolutely astounding 185.6ft-lbs of torque — at the rear wheel, mind you. As a point of reference, Yamaha and KTM’s latest flagship 450 dirtbikes make between 30 and 35ft-lbs of torque, and even Ducati’s newest Panigale V4 SP — its most powerful offering — puts down only 91.5ft-lbs while weighing around 200lbs more than the Cake. Draped in a minimalistic set of polycarbonate and ABS plastic bodywork, the Swedish-made enduro features a non-color digital display with a trip meter, speedometer (in mph or kph), ride and brake mode selection, and a five-level battery life indicator — though there’s also a small screen on the battery itself that displays an exact battery percentage level. The bottom of the battery pack’s housing also doubles as a skid plate, should you exhaust the bike’s more than 11.8” of ground clearance.

Photo: HiConsumption

Swedish Super Commuter

The Many Strengths & Pros Of The Cake Kalk&

It was difficult to know exactly what to expect when taking delivery of our Kalk& demo bike, though it was hard not to take an almost instant liking to the thing — a feeling that only compounded over the subsequent days spent with the Kalk&. In order to get a more robust and well-rounded overall experience of the Kalk&, we opted to load the bike up on a truck and take it to a variety of locations, including some winding mountain roads, a dry Southern California lake bed. and several hundred miles of riding and commuting on city streets.

The machine’s low weight and crisp, precise throttle response — (the latter of which is at least partially owed to its top-shelf Domino throttle — also inspire a remarkable amount of confidence. After spending only a few days riding the Kalk&, I found myself launching the bike off of curbs, locking up the back tire and fishtailing the rear-end into corners, and performing other feats of hooliganism that I’d never even attempted — let alone successfully performed — on any other bikes in all my years of riding. And, even without being able to dump the clutch to get the front-end up, power (i.e. throttle-only) wheelies are ridiculously easy to pull off while riding the Kalk& with just a bit of preloading and bouncing of the front-end.

Photo: HiConsumption

Thanks to an envelope-pushing powertrain with gobs of torque and a ridiculously light curb weight, the riding experience offered by the Kalk& is genuinely unlike anything else out there. Cake was able to achieve this super-svelte figure and the unparalleled performance capabilities it subsequently allows for by opting for a smaller battery pack that only weighs 37lbs. The range is admittedly being sacrificed here, though it only a few minutes in the saddle to be convinced that the sacrifice was more than worthwhile.

The fact it doesn’t require a charging station and can be juiced up in just a few hours using a standard home wall outlet makes it a much easier bike to live with for urban dwellers — especially those of the apartment dwelling variety. While it is somewhat heavy, the charger easily fits inside even small backpacks, enabling you to carry it with you and recharge once you’ve arrived at work or wherever you’re headed. The Kalk& does require a key to start and comes standard with a steering lock for added security, too. The machine’s limited weight also allowed me to walk the bike up the flights of stairs to my second-floor apartment, gently throttling the sub-180lb machine up each step under its own power. And, just like a regular motorcycle, the Kalk& requires a motorcycle endorsement on your license to ride and also needs to be registered, plated, and insured.

Photo: HiConsumption

Being an electric motorcycle, the Kalk& is devoid of a clutch and gears and instead employs a simple twist-and-go-style throttle. Power is delivered smoothly and is restricted when accelerating from a standing start or at low speeds, preventing the bike’s immense torque from quickly looping itself should the rider crack the throttle too abruptly. The Kalk& also boasts exaggerated gearing with a 420 rear sprocket that massively favors low to mid-end torque and lightning-fast acceleration off the line in lieu of a blistering top speed.

Experienced riders who are accustom to piloting gas-powered bikes will likely find themselves reaching for a throttle lever that isn’t there for the first few days of riding, though, aside from the lack of a foot-shift lever on the left-hand side, the control setup is the same as that of a regular bike’s, with the throttle and front brake lever controlled by the right hand and the rear brake manipulated via a foot lever on the right.

Another incredibly unique aspect of the Kalk& is how insanely well it lends itself to both novice and seasoned riders. The model’s first and second ride modes limit power to a safe and approachable amount of oomph. And while plenty of late-model bikes offer de-tuned power modes or fuel maps that greatly reduce horsepower and torque output, they still require their pilot to contend with the entire weight of the bike, resulting in sluggish, watered-down riding experiences. At just under 175lbs, the Kalk&, however, doesn’t have this problem, as even its lowest power setting offers a more-than-impressive power-to-weight ratio. This means a beginner rider with zero experience can safely swing a leg over the Kalk&, steadily hone their skills, and then work their way up to higher power modes as their experience and confidence grow.

Photo: HiConsumption

Its top-shelf suspension keeps everything nice and planted as well as its turning razor-sharp, though its eight inches of travel also means the Kalk& has no problem soaking up potholes, speed bumps, or any other imperfections out on the road. And while nothing short of an absolute pleasure to experience on the road, the Kalk&’s top-of-the-line Ohlins suspension is a little too tight for any real hardcore off-roading. Nonetheless, I found the bike to be surprisingly capable in the limited time I spent ripping through deep sand and powering the thing off of mounds.

The Kalk&’s ergonomics are comfortable and provide plenty of leverage for wrestling around the bike. The handlebars are in a somewhat neutral position and the billet footpegs are big enough to comfortably plant your feet on, though they don’t hang so low that they scrape the tarmac in the corners. Unsurprisingly, the Kalk&’s lack of weight also makes the machine incredibly nimble and flick-able, with direction changes being smooth and fairly effortless. The Kalk&’s riding position is also extremely conducive to standing up on the pegs for throttling over speed bumps, potholes, or off-road obstacles.

Photo: HiConsumption

Despite its custom-made 19” wheels coming shod in somewhat skinny enduro tires with only 3” of meat, the Kalk& is a shockingly capable canyon carver, even with its restricted lean-angle. With that said, while pushing it particularly hard through the corners, I never for a second felt like I was going to low-side or wash out the front-end. A rep from the company also informed me that some customers have even tossed custom supermoto wheel-sets onto their Cake bikes in order to achieve a greater lean angle and offer an overall more street-friendly riding experience.

Photo: HiConsumption

Letting Them Eat It

Our Gripes & Complaints About The Cake Kalk&

We’ll start this section by saying we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent riding, testing, and living with Cake’s Kalk&, though the bike isn’t without some issues and shortcomings. Even with its unrivaled performance figures, a major selling point of the original Kalk OR is undeniably its futuristic appearance. Unlike its non-road-legal predecessor which was penned from the ground up as a single, sleek cohesive design, the Kalk& is very clearly just an OR-spec with indicators, a license plate holder, and a headlight tacked onto the original design — seemingly as a bit of an afterthought.

Both the size of the turn signals themselves and how far they protrude from the bike is pretty unsightly — or is at least a little less than one would expect from a Red Dot Design Award-winning team like that of Cake’s, though we do readily acknowledge that the company did have to adhere to America’s ridiculously stringent government regulations in order to achieve road-legal status. The good news is that these visual flaws can very easily be remedied by purchasing an upgraded set of Rizoma, Kellerman, or Motogadget micro-LED indicators.

Photo: HiConsumption

While we’ll readily admit that polycarbonate can be incredibly rugged, with a $14,000 MSRP, we wouldn’t mind seeing some thin-gauge steel or aluminum — or even carbon fiber — bodywork come on the Kalk&. It’s probably also worth noting that, aside from Cake’s utilitarian Osa model, none of its bikes, including the Kalk&, are designed to carry a passenger, which is a shame because being two-up friendly would add a decent amount of utility to this already versatile machine. And while it’s a minor gripe, in our experience, the kickstand didn’t lend as much confidence as one might hope, especially considering the bike costs — and weighs — what it does. We also wouldn’t mind seeing some additional livery options, either.

It’s also unfortunate that Cake included a battery percentage display that can only be accessed by using a tool to remove a few bolts in order to take off the seat (which is how its batteries can be swapped), as taking a glance at said display when on the last of your five battery level bars is a bit of a hassle (not to mention anxiety-inducing). Finally, the Kalk&’s range is nothing to write home about, though this very much appears to be a calculated decision (as touched on above).

Photo: HiConsumption

The first two power modes (Explore and Excite) both offer enough acceleration and speed to comfortably keep up with traffic while still affording enough range to accomplish most roundtrip commutes. Plus, you can always temporarily switch to the highest power setting for brief periods as needed, and the trio of regenerative braking modes can also offer some supplementary range.

Photo: HiConsumption

The Cake Kalk& In Closing

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Offering a glimpse into a future in which EVs undoubtedly reign supreme, the Kalk& is, at the end of the day, very much its own unique creation, and as such isn’t intended to compete with traditional dual-sports or even more competition-focused dirtbike models. Its minimal weight and ridiculous power output make for an exceptionally idiosyncratic riding experience that makes swinging a leg over even a modern sportbike feel somewhat tame in comparison. And, what it lacks in top speed it more than makes up for (several times over in fact) with its blistering acceleration.

The Kalk&’s conduciveness to both novice and seasoned riders is also pretty extraordinary, as Cake’s dual-sport model arguably does this better than any other motorcycle on earth, gas or electric. And while it clearly takes visual inspiration from the MX sector, the Kalk&’s sleek appearance is almost as unique as its otherworldly performance capabilities. Over the course of our time spent living with the road-legal Cake, it became increasingly clear just how thoroughly calculated of a machine the Kalk& truly is. Far more than just an electrified dirtbike or enduro model, the Kalk& has intentionally been formulated to be something of the ultimate urban commuter bike — an objective that the team over at Cake has absolutely nailed.

Available now, the Cake Kalk& is priced at $14,000, though the company also offers a more affordable Kalk INK& version with lower-specced suspension components for $10,500.

Photo: Cake

Motor: PMAC
Battery: Swappable 50 Ah / 2.6 kWh 18,650 Lithium-Ion cell
Power 13.5HP & 185.86FT-LBS Of Torque
Curb Weight: 174LBS
Range: 51-Miles (Mixed)

Purchase: $14,000

Photo: HiConsumption

Armored Up

The Gear Seen Here

Want to learn more about the gear seen in this review, below we’ve broken down every item that comprises the moto gear loadouts that we wore while reviewing the Cake Kalk&. (Note: Rider is 6’2″ wearing a size Large).

100% Strata 2 Goggles

A great pair of entry-level off-road riding goggles sold at a super accessible price, the 100% Strata 2 goggles feature clear, anti-fog-coated Lexan lenses with a nine-pin retention system, dual-layer moisture managing foam at the eye port, and a 40mm silicon-backed wide strap produced in a dozen colors.

Purchase: $25

REV’IT! Striker 3 Gloves

REV’IT!’s Striker 3 model is a lightweight pair of ultra-versatile moto gloves that lend themselves from everything from committing to off-roading to touring. These weather-resistant gloves boast a drum-dyed two-way stretch goatskin construction with PU-coated reinforcements, 3D SEESOFT knuckle armor, and Temperfoam palm and thumb sliders.

Purchase: $90

Evolv Rebel Leather Shoe

While technically a climbing shoe-inspired sneaker, the Evolv Rebel’s immense feel and durability make it incredibly conducive to both cycling and a surprising number of moto riding applications as well, with full leather uppers, a TPU rand, compression-molded EVA mid-soles, and a rubber toe cap, all built atop grippy and hardwearing TRAX Enduro outsoles.

Purchase: $99

Pando Moto Shell UH Armored Shirt

Crafted from a highly-abrasion-resistant AA-rated bi-stretch fabric, this ultra-low-profile armored shirt can be slipped beneath any garment to add armor and more than 50’ (or 2.5 seconds) of slide protection to any jacket. CE-approved, this breathable shirt also packs SAS-TEC TripleFlex CE elbow and shoulder armor and a pocket for a QUATROFLEX CE spine protector (which is sold separately).

Purchase: $249

Saint Unbreakable Slim Jeans

Saint produces what is arguably the finest motorcycle jeans that money can buy with its latest seventh-generation Dyneema-infused single-layer riding denim. Looking and feeling like a regular pair of jeans, this decidedly top-shelf garment features bespoke buttons, reinforced stitching, and is available with or without removable, cutting-edge D30 Ghost armor.

Purchase: $399

REV’IT! Stealth 2 Hoody

An all-weather urban commuting jacket that looks fashion-forward whether on or off the bike, REV’IT!’s Stealth 2 Hoody is made from a stretch CORDURA denim fortified via a laminated Hydratex Pro membrane, polyamide elbows elbow overlays, Seesmart CE-level 1 shoulder and elbow armor, and is equipped with a removable hood and a removable camo-print thermal vest liner.

Purchase: $400

Bell Moto-9 Fast House Helmet

Thanks to the use of a full carbon fiber shell, Bell’s Bell’s Moto-9 helmet manages to tip the scales at just under 2.5lbs while still providing stellar impact protection. Produced in a variety of colors and patterns — including the Fast House scheme seen here — the Moto-9 is equipped with Bell’s Flying Bridge Visor, an integrated emergency release system for first responders, and an integrated breakaway camera mount.

Purchase: $445

Saint Unbreakable Denim Shearling Collar Jacket

Affording nearly six seconds of high-speed slide protection, this stylish and thoroughly protective shearling collar denim moto jacket is the upper-body counterpart to Saint’s absolutely stellar seventh-generation UHWMPE Unbreakable jeans. Completely devoid of any liners, this single-layer jacket is also sold with both black and white removable shearling collars and like the jeans, looks fantastic in or out of the saddle.

Purchase: $500

The 15 Best Electric Motorcycles

Want to check out a few more class-leading models from the EV moto market? Then head over to our guide to the best electric motorcycles for more than a dozen of the finest electron and proton-powered models currently available on showrooms floors.

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