Despite being the CEO of CAKE, a Swedish electric bike company, Stefan Ytterborn admits that he’s not exactly a motorcycling geek. His love of the natural world inspired him to enter the mobility space. He soon realised that the electric transition would flip the motorcycling sector upside down.
“Being able to share the country with fellow mushroom pickers, and wildlife, without disturbing or polluting, really opened my eyes to the thrill of exploring with respect. It’s more Patagonia than Kawasaki,” Ytterborn tells Auto Futures.
“Energized by the vision, I started getting everything there was in the market in terms of electric motorcycles, realizing that not much had been done. With the vast majority of brands and manufacturers trying to replicate the character of a gasoline bike, while electric means a totally different DNA.”
“With the assumption of that the transition eventually will take place, inspiring the market towards a quick transition towards sustainability, I decided to start,” he adds.
Its first model, the Kalk, debuted in January 2018.
CAKE recently announced the launch of Kalk AP (Anti-Poaching), a special edition, off-road motorbike that has been optimised for rangers working to protect wildlife in the African bush.
The Kalk AP has been developed alongside the Southern African Wildlife College. Using motorbikes is an essential part of anti-poaching in Africa. Today these bikes run on inaccessible gasoline and their noise warns poachers miles away.
By utilising CAKE’s electric off-road motorcycles, the goal is to increase efficiency in catching poachers by quietly being able to approach them.
“A large part has been about modifying the KALK platform in regards to the specific environment and purpose in Africa, where matters of heat, dust, mud, usage, etc has led to mechanical as well as software changes. We are patient about establishing true relevancy. The first 3 bikes are arriving to the South African Wildlife College in May and I believe it´s going to take us a year of fine tuning until we fully support need and functionality,” explains Ytterborn.
Purpose meets Sustainability
CAKE customers can partake in the anti-poaching initiative via a ‘buy-one-give-one’ campaign. When a customer purchases a Kalk AP, an identical twin will be made. These bikes will then be delivered to conservation areas across Africa.
Additionally, purchasing a Kalk AP also covers the donation of a solar panel and power station kit from its partner Goal Zero that enables the twin bike to operate in the African bush independent from the electric power grid.
Ytterborn explains why solar power suits the region.
“Because we can avoid trucking in or, in the worst case, flying in gasoline for the bikes in the field. Making the system self sufficient and fully independent, without ever charging from the (electric power) grid.”
“Solar power, new technology, and a new category of vehicles that help save endangered species in Africa. This is a perfect example of purpose meeting sustainability.”
Ytterborn says CAKE will learn from developing products in the most extreme environments. The learnings will be implemented later in its standard products.
“It’s the perfect initiative, combining new technology, transportation, self-sufficiency, independence, solar power, sustainability and efficiency, while saving endangered species. On a practical side being able to develop bikes in the extremely demanding environment, including climate, usage and terrain and to pass that onto standard products, is the ultimate platform for relevant product development and eventually user beneficiary,” he explains.
There’s a real possibility to spawn a new spectator-friendly competitive sport.
CAKE has recently announced a number of new initiatives such as a collaboration with the Swedish battery developer and manufacturer, Northvolt, for the supply of sustainable battery cells for its line-up of electric motorcycles.
“We are developing a next generation of 2170 batteries, to be integrated in all our products. Aside from increased performance we will be able to served the market with a fossil free cell (in production),” says Ytterborn.
The company has also announced the inaugural CAKE Kalk One Design Global Championships, a competition that will take place as a single event on the Swedish island of Gotland.
The first championships will be an invitational, with 16 riders from around the globe from the disciplines of Enduro, Motocross, Supercross, and Downhill Mountain biking. Men and women will race together on a CAKE-specific track built at the Gotland Ring.
“Our ambition is to bring back motorcycle racing to the masses, fighting the decline in traditional ICE two-wheeled motorsport events. There’s a real possibility to spawn a new spectator-friendly competitive sport.”
“The One Design enables this wonderfully because we can operate professional races in urban locations without noise, minimal disturbance, and zero pollution (70% of tracks around the world have had to close down the past 15 years due to the opposite). Pair this with the limited need for space and the ease of attracting spectators and media, and it’s a game-changer,” he adds.
For 2022, CAKE is expanding the event into a series of urban races in major cities worldwide called Global City Racing.
“From a broader perspective, with the ease of riding, steep learning curve, and feathery weight, CAKE’s motorcycles are an inclusive way to bring action pursuits to the masses – wherever there is a small piece of land someone can get into the sport. We were fully committed to delivering a race series this year, however as the Coronavirus continues to cause disruption we decided to focus on a single event, a taste of the excitement to come next year!”
In conclusion, we asked Ytterborn what urban mobility look like by the end of the decade.
“Park the car outside city limits, take a walk, a bus or a CAKE, to get to where you are heading,” he tells us.