Right up there with its model economy and education system, six-hour workday, 99 percent waste recycling record, and IKEA meatballs, there's another enviable Swedish achievement: the Kalk&, a super-light, high-performance, off-road electric motorbike from the company , headquartered in Stockholm.
The Kalk& in Denver in the L.E.O. (light electric off-road) category, though full specs, availability, and cost won't hit until next month. Its big brother, the Kalk OR, released last year, runs about $13,000 and has an estimated top speed of 46 mph. The new Kalk&—“&” as in we’re going places, see if you can keep up—tops out at 62 mph. That’s fast for a 15-kW, 3,000-rpm enduro-style bike weighing just under 150 lb. Time to start saving up your kronor.
When a company like Cake says they started “from scratch,” it means no off-the-shelf components were used in the build. That includes the electrical drivetrain, the off-road chassis, the carbon-fiber body and extruded aluminum frame, suspension, wheels, tires, hubs, rims, and whatever else a two-wheeled machine that uses zero gas and travels 50 miles on a charge might need. Altogether, it makes for what Cake engineers call “an agile, light, torquey, snappy, flighty and exciting experience.” That’s a wheelie-popping list of adjectives, with some serious white-knuckle footage to back it up.
The bike’s design is maximized for trails and gravel roads. But it’s also street-legal, making it perfect for carbon-free city commutes. It’s not every motorbike that can boast an appeal to both professional adrenaline junkies (e.g., veteran Paris-Dakar desert racer Olle Ohlsson, two-time enduro champ Robert Kvarnstrom) and everyday about-towners alike. With the electrical drivetrain, there’s no combustion engine. No pollution or fumes. No oil, grease, or gasoline. This also means no clutching or shifting gears. Just the throttle and the breaks and gravity and you.
“The bike is built like a LEGO,” claims the website, “with the ambition of reducing the number of moving parts and to minimize the complexity of tinkering.” You’ll need to charge it of course, maybe change a tire, clean it every so often, and service the brakes the way you do on your mountain bike. But your grease-monkey days are over.
The name comes from the Swedish kalksten, the white limestone found on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea where the company has developed a category-specific track format called the Cake Track. They believe there needs to be a clear distinction between human-powered and motorized cycling, which reflects their motto of “sustainable, respectful, and active discovery.”
Another standout feature of these versatile, highly efficient bikes is their emphasis on quietness—the last thing you might think of when hurtling along a single track at 40 mph. But Cake takes this aspect of their products seriously, promoting, rather poetically, “absolute presence whilst out exploring.”
Add that to a 42 newton meter peak torque on shaft and you’ve got yourself a ticket to the “light, quiet, clean” revolution of the high-performance off-road e-bike world. All you need now is some ABBA in the earbuds and a hot dish of Raggmunk and Lingonberries waiting for you at the end of the trail.