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An electric dirt-bike made to combat poaching

Written by Theo Koenig – March 03, 2021

Reviewed by Asaf Kedem

CAKE Electric Motorcycles is a Swedish manufacturer of lightweight electric performance motorcycles, whose mission is to speed up the journey towards a zero-emission society. Known for its iconic, award-winning designs that come together to make light, quiet, and clean, high-performance electric off-road motorcycles, the company is now joining the campaign to tackle the devastating effects of poaching in South Africa.

In 2018, CAKE’s first model, the KALK OR (ORiginal) was launched. Since then, CAKE has expanded into all areas of the electric bike lifestyle. They did so by adding apparel and parts distribution, while continuing to launch new bikes in new sectors. CAKE’s current motorbike selection is divided into a race series, free-ride series and the explore & commute series.

The KALK AP (Anti-Poaching) was born out of a three-way partnership between the South African Wildlife College, CAKE Electric Motorcycles, and Goal Zero. Together, they have combined forces to protect endangered species from poaching by joining the Electric Bush Bike Anti-Poaching Act initiative.

Based on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the South African Wildlife College (SAWC) covers large and remote areas with widespread poaching that often lack adequate road infrastructure. While this makes dirt bikes ideal to combat illegal poaching, today’s diesel-powered engines alert poachers miles away of their presence. In addition, they suffer from the fact that their isolated location means fuel is brought in by truck or helicopter, making it costly and unsustainable. From this, the idea was born to create specially tuned bush-bikes capable of operating independently from the electric power grid.

While the SAWC and CAKE developed the KALK AP (Anti Poaching) motorcycle, the 3rd member of the collaboration, Goal Zero, agreed to provide an off-the-grid charging solution. Courtesy of the California-based start-up, every KALK AP motorcycle purchase comes along with a solar panel set and a power station kit. Rangers can thereby set-up charging stations in isolated areas of conservation parks that they can return to throughout the day. In this manner, rangers save time and energy not having to return to the central grid for fuel or to recharge.

The dirt-bike itself is built on the same platform as the KALK series but has been optimized for rangers working under the harsh conditions of the African bush. First of all, thanks to the electric motor, gear-switching has become a thing of the past for all CAKE motorcycles. The motor being electric also has the advantage of delivering nearly instant acceleration (much more receptive than a combustion engine) to the 3.5-inch thick, lightweight, off-road tires, while still allowing for great nimbleness due to an excellent power-to-weight ratio. This means customers won’t have to be sacrificing speed for more technical rides. It is also worth mentioning that the motor, sitting centrally below the batteries on the bike, is fully sealed and thereby completely submersible.

A notable feature of the KALK series are the removable batteries, capable of being charged both while installed in the bike, or separately. Plug-in charging capabilities on standard household outlets (110V) allow the KALK bikes to charge from 0-80% in 2 hours, and to 100% in 3 hours. It can endure an average drivetime of 3 hours, depending on the drive-mode. As is the case with the KALK AP bike, the standardized plug-in system can also be used by solar panel charging solutions.

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Although the KALK AP is based on the original KALK drivetrain, the addition of many new features has transformed it into an entirely new bike. Specific to the KALK AP is the modified suspension. Lower maintenance was a primary overall objective and was partially achieved naturally because the electric motor features far fewer moving parts than a traditional combustion engine. CAKE has gone further, however, by employing springs over air for the front fork and thereby providing a suspension system with longer durability and less maintenance.

Along with the suspension, the drivetrain and the motor are equipped with extra sealing from dust and water. Fenders and other plastic parts have been replaced with a fiber-reinforced biocomposite that are aimed at reducing weight while staying durable and carbon-neutral. Finally, the KALK APs are equipped with specially-tuned software to regulate the torque and speed under the high-temperatures of the African climate to prevent overheating of the engine.

KALK APs are sold as part of the buy-one-give one charity campaign that funds the initiative. When a customer purchases a KALK AP, an identical twin is made and delivered with Goal Zero solar panels to the South African Wildlife Conservation. Twin bikes stay connected with the CAKE Connectivity platform, meaning customers can stay updated with the sibling bike in the bush. Furthermore, CAKE and Goal Zero have agreed to donate the profit margin from KALK AP sales directly to the SAWC. The total cost (including the donation) is $25,000 and sales will start in September 2021.

Auto Trendy’s take:

It is plain to see that there is genuine time and effort being dedicated to this initiative from all 3 collaborators. It’s also heartwarming to hear that the initiative has only just started, and that depending on the success experienced in the 25 national parks where the SAWC manages anti-poaching teams, expansion to other conservation centers in Africa may not be too far off. As was the case with the KALK OR, CAKE will continue to modify and adapt the motorcycle over the years based on the feedback it will receive from the SAWC. Whether or not the KALK AP becomes a commercial success is doubtful, in our eyes. We’re certainly not expecting to see any KALK APs on the road anytime soon and expect instead that Non-Profit-Organizations and conservation groups would be the primary donors, rather than private customers. We hope to be proven wrong, and look forward to bringing more updates on the progress soon!

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