The Cake Ösa + doesn’t look or feel like other motor-driven cycles—and not just the combustion-powered ones, either. The brand has its own design language, which is clearly evident up and down the current model lineup—including this bike. Since it’s out there, drifting on its own and quite unlike anything else, that design language tends to be rather divisive; either you really, really love it, or you really, really don’t.
It’s a design language that doesn’t play it safe—and whether it’s a design you like or not, isn’t that admirable on its own merits? To me, one of the coolest things about the electrification of all kinds of powered-two wheelers is when people try new things. From alternate-timeline takes on the evolution of what we think of as “motorcycles,” to futuristic little scooters that look like they came out of a sci-fi sketchbook, I kind of adore this aspect of electrification. It’s invigorating.
Of course, design is one thing. Let’s dig into the rest of the Cake Ösa + experience though, shall we?
Cake’s current lineup offers multiple types of drivetrains. The Kalk features a chain drive, while the Ösa + uses a Gates carbon fiber belt drive, and the Makka (which I’ll be reviewing separately) features a hub drive. Interestingly, the electric motors used in the Kalk and in the Ösa + are the same, though the batteries and configurations differ.
Although Cake makes a range of battery-powered electric two-wheelers, each battery configuration is specific to the frame of the bike that it’s in. So, it’s not simply a case of plug-and-play interchangeability, should your household decide that you want two different Cake models on hand. That said, it’s easily charged via your regular 110-volt household plug. The Ösa + does not support other types of chargers at this time. The battery is removable for easy charging inside your home, work, or school while you’re doing other things, with a claimed zero-to-80 percent recharging period of two hours and zero-to-100 percent in three hours.
According to Cake, the motor is approximately equivalent to a 125cc combustion bike in terms of power. It makes a claimed 13.5 horsepower, with 151 newton-meters (or 111 pound-feet) of torque at the rear wheel. One of the coolest things about electric bikes and scooters is the ability to tap into that torque right from the jump—and the Ösa + definitely doesn’t disappoint there.
Battery, Ride Modes, and Range
A combination of three different ride modes and two different braking modes can help you dial in the balance you want between battery life and fun. Regenerative braking (which helps you gain back a little power) is available. The latest firmware update at the time of writing (May 3, 2022) adds a fourth Custom ride mode, where riders can dial in their preferred combination of Ride and Brake mode characteristics via the smartphone app. (Cake Connect, the smartphone app, is currently only available for iOS, but there’s a plan to release it for Android as well sometime in 2022.)
Ride mode 1 limits your top speed to 28 mph, and is billed as the most power-saving way to ride your Ösa +. However, unless you’re constantly riding in extremely low speed limit situations, you’ll soon feel its limitations as a hindrance. As we set off to ride the Ösa +, our ride leader told us that ride mode 2 was probably the most usable and practical for most types of riding—and in practical use, its top speed of 44 mph seemed to work pretty well for most of what we were doing. Ride mode 3 is the most powerful and fun, allowing the quickest acceleration of all and a top speed of 56 mph—but that fun will cost you in terms of battery life.
Speaking of which, what’s battery life like? Cake claims a range of about 52 miles on a single charge in mixed city riding—but of course, exact range will differ based on a number of factors. How spiritedly you ride, what proportion of up- and downhill situations are involved, whether you’re using regen braking, and so on can affect actual, practical battery life.
Keeping the throttle pinned all the time can knock range down to around 22 miles, so unless your commute is very short, it’s probably best to take it a little easier. That said, it’s encouraging to know that you can tap into that power to get yourself out of any potentially gnarly situations in traffic if you need it.
Since the battery is exposed, it's also important to note that it's water-sealed. Cake told us that while you probably shouldn't ride it into a lake, you should be fine if it rains.
Chassis, Suspension, and Brakes
Telling you all about the Cake Ösa + drivetrain and power figures doesn’t mean a whole lot without also telling you about its weight. Cake’s figures are 159 pounds on the bike itself, and an additional 37 pounds for the battery. That’s 196 pounds in total, ready to ride.
Part of that light weight comes from its aluminum chassis, with steel reinforcements at stress points to strike a balance between being both lightweight and durable. The minimal fenders and bodywork are plastic, but the point of the Ösa + is to be almost endlessly configurable for your specific needs, because it’s a utility bike.
Want cargo racks, baskets, and nets? There’s a simple attachment system Cake uses for all the stuff that mounts to its frame—from a pillion seat to the cargo basket—to give you confidence when locking it into place using metal brackets. Interestingly, if you don’t like where the rider’s seat is positioned, you can move it forward or back at your whim using this same system. There’s even a surfboard rack among the many possible configurations available for riders to choose from.
The suspension is pretty basic, but does its job decently well. It does roll on a pair of 15-inch wheels fitted with dual-sport tires, so rolling over rough pavement won’t give you too much trouble. It also scoffs at light dirt and gravel situations, treating them like absolutely zero percent of a big deal.
The brakes work quite well, although they may take some getting used to since there’s no rear brake pedal like you’d find on most modern motorcycles. There’s no clutch, either, so both brakes are operated by hand levers—more like a modern scooter or bicycle. Even in sudden stop situations, they do what they’re supposed to without making it easy for you to unbalance the bike and get yourself into a predicament.
Speaking of bicycles, the nimble, narrow nature of the Ösa + feels more like a bicycle than any motorcycle I’ve ridden. It doesn’t have pedals, and it’s a whole lot faster—but making tight turning maneuvers and keeping your balance at low speeds (like, say, in stop-and-go traffic) is a snap. In fact, Cake says a lot of its most enthusiastic riders in the U.S. are people who are already active in the mountain bike community, and come from that world as their primary point of two-wheeled reference.
TFT Display and Center Stand
To properly tell you about the small, rectangular TFT display on the dash, I also have to tell you how the Ösa + turns on. You have to turn on the battery first, which involves a simple button press on the right side. Next, there’s a red switch mounted on the right handlebar that you have to press. From there, you hold down the top button on the right side of the display, and the screen will light up and display a Cake logo before asking you to enter a PIN.
The PIN is entered via a combination of the three buttons on the right side of the display. Once you’ve done that, it’s unlocked and you’re able to see the full display and switch between ride and brake modes as you like. The upper right corner shows a battery meter, there’s an odometer and a large digital speedometer as well.
Now, here’s my first complaint about the Ösa + : If you wear polarized sunglasses while riding, that display will effectively appear to be blank most of the time. Tilting your head just the right way, or simply removing your sunglasses for a moment makes the screen quite visible, even in bright sunlight. It’s not the best thing for battery anxiety, though.
My second complaint has to do with the center stand. Now, if you come from riding many motorbikes and scooters, chances are good that you’re used to center stands. They’re fine and good things, and especially helpful if you need to get both wheels up off the ground to do some work on your bike! Loading and unloading stuff that you’re carrying is also easier with a level surface, which is why Cake says that it chose to go with a center stand.
Thing is, Cake opted to only go with a center stand—and no side stand. That makes getting off the bike while simultaneously holding it up so you can pop it onto the center stand from the side much more of a challenge. Mind you, it’s a pretty lightweight bike, with a low center of gravity—but even so, as a short rider, I found it even more of a challenge at first. It does help that the whole frame basically acts as a big grab rail, so you can put one hand on the handlebar and the other hand wherever you feel comfortable in steadying it as you dismount.
Once I got the hang of the dismount and center-stand sequence, I was pretty proud of myself—but that’s also unfortunately where it all went wrong. The next time I was parking, I (in my newly-found overconfidence) tried to do it a little too quickly, and somehow managed to get my boot stuck in the frame. Down I went, on the left side of the bike—with the bike landing directly on top of me.
It was seriously dumb, and I don’t recommend it—but hey, I can now also tell you for a fact that you probably can’t walk away with only minor bruising and embarrassment if you repeat that process with just about any other bike! (Don’t worry, the bike was fine, too.) Anyway, I super wish that it had a side stand in addition to the center stand, because then that incident never would have happened. Maybe that can be an upgrade item in the future, or on a future version of this bike?
Gallery: Cake Ösa +
The Cake Ösa + strives to be a utility-focused workhorse of a bike, and it seems to mostly succeed. Its instant access to power, light weight, nimble nature, and totally reasonable brakes make it extremely practical in stop-and-go traffic situations. Cake took us on some pretty, fun, curvy roads as well, and it’s also great fun there. It’s not a highway bike, nor does it want to be—but for its intended purpose, it seems pretty fun.
Incidentally, the battery on the Ösa + is also set up to be your own mobile power bank, where you can hook up your phone, computer, or other devices if you want to go somewhere and work or chill out. There are extra ports directly on the thing so you can tap into the power when you’re parked at, say, a campsite.
If you're wondering what it's like to live with, so am I. Luckily, I should have exactly that opportunity for a longer amount of time later in 2022. Stay tuned to find out the practical ins and outs of life with a Cake Ösa + in Chicago in the not-too-distant future.