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  • Flywheel: The resurrection of CAKE | Vehicles from Tern, FLIT, Riese & Müller, Globe, & Heybike

Flywheel: The resurrection of CAKE | Vehicles from Tern, FLIT, Riese & Müller, Globe, & Heybike

Exploring the recent acquisition of CAKE & featuring the top 5 vehicles of the week


Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of owned and used micromobility. Each newsletter will highlight an observation of trends emerging in the industry and feature five of the most interesting vehicles/hardware in micromobility.

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The observation of the week explores the recent acquisition of CAKE. This week’s featured vehicles are a new compact longtail cargo bike, a new Brompton competitor, a bakfiet, a utility bike, and a folding full-suspension fat-tire.

Observation of the Week

The resurrection of CAKE

After filing for bankruptcy back in February due to fundraising challenges, it looks like beloved Swedish emoto brand CAKE is back from the dead. Earlier this month, CAKE announced that Norwegian auto brand Brages Holding AS acquired CAKE’s brand and IP and has set up a small team to figure out the startup’s future. From Brages owner Espen Digernes: “When we first connected with CAKE as a retailer, we fell in love with their products, the design, the craftsmanship, and the story behind CAKE. Our goal in acquiring CAKE was to evolve the brand. We aim to scale CAKE by building a robust retailer distribution network and transforming a remarkable Swedish initiative into a Scandinavian success.

CAKE has always been one of my favorite brands in micromobility, and the design, mission, and story around the startup is awesome. The company was founded in 2016 with the ambition to make electric motorcycles that “inspire customers and drive us toward a zero-emission society.” I actually first learned about them when they launched their anti-poaching initiative. CAKE partnered with the Southern African Wildlife College to develop an Electric Bush Bike series that “allowed rangers to approach poachers silently without being detected and making way for more efficient anti-poaching patrolling in the region.” The bikes were powered by solar, which was both cleaner and made access to energy in remote areas easier (fuel for ICE motorbikes was sometimes helicoptered in).

The model CAKE is best known for is the Kalk, an emoto made for recreational off-road uses. On the back of this vehicle’s popularity, the OEM launched several more utility minded models like the Ösa and Makka. CAKE developed a fervent following for their iconic design and quality, and people fell in love with the brand. So much so that when CAKE announced its bankruptcy, a Florida-based emotorbike retailer emoto (in partnership with MM manufacturing, distribution, and servicing startup Bloom) actually bought up a majority of the CAKE Makkas and Ösas shipped to the US to keep the brand alive.

However, despite their eye-catching design aesthetic and strong brand loyalty, CAKE had several fundamental issues that limited traction in the US. CAKE’s biggest problem was that their vehicles were too expensive for their relatively limited performance, as well as the fact that their vehicles often fell into awkward gray areas between ebikes, emopeds, emotorcycles, and urban utility vehicles. Ultimately, as we’ve seen time and time again with other EV manufacturers, it’s simply not possible to sell expensive vehicles by solely relying on brand identity and people’s desire to be more eco-friendly without offering the performance and/or functionality to match.

Take for example the Makka Flex or Ösa Flex. Both have the max speed of a class-3 ebike yet require a motorbike license. The Ösa+, Kalk, and Bukk are capable of higher speeds but are simply too expensive compared to competing options. CAKE did offer a couple options that don’t require a motorbike license, but those came with their own set of challenges as well. The Makka Range is classified as an escooter but has a meager top speed of 15mph, while the base version of the class-2 cargo bike Åik is more expensive than even the higher-end offerings from premium cargo bike OEMs like Tern and Specialized. Granted the Ösa and Åik were advertised as more commercial vehicles, but fleets in the US are still early in the micromobility adoption curve so the Ösa and Åik were too expensive for fleets to justify (especially without a robust enough servicing/support network that can guarantee uptime).

Despite these challenges, CAKE still managed to create a brand that resonated with customers and was highly desirable. Used CAKE vehicles were hot commodities in the secondary market, selling in an average of 9 days at an average discount of 24% off MSRP. It’s clear that the CAKE brand can be a compelling opportunity for Brages with a lot of potential upside.

One of the first promises Brages has made is that they will be building out a new retailer distribution network. This is a good start that not only addresses the needs of existing CAKE customers, but also significantly reduces overhead costs and thereby allows future vehicles to be cheaper. However, to truly take advantage of this amazing brand and transform CAKE into a category leader, there are several embedded structural and vehicle-level challenges that need to be solved. I have tremendous admiration for CAKE, and I hope Brages makes the changes required to really make this resurrection stick.

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Launched today, the Tern Quick Haul Long is a compact longtail class-1 cargo bike. Tern kickstarted the compact cargo bike segment with their GSD in 2018, and the Quick Haul Long builds on the core learnings and features from the GSD and offers them at a more accessible price point. The Quick Haul Long has the same length as a regular city bike, and its 20” wheels give it the same nimble maneuverability of a commuter even when loaded to its max payload capacity of 419lbs. It’s important to note that this isn’t just an arbitrarily claimed payload rating. The frame and fork have been tested to meet the recently published DIN79010 German national testing standard for cargo bikes, which is a standard that Tern has been a strong advocator for within the ebike industry. The Quick Haul Long’s powertrain features an 85Nm Bosch Cargo Line mid-drive motor and a 400Wh Bosch PowerPack battery, and is paired with a 9-speed Tektro transmission custom designed for Tern. As with all Bosch powertrains, this system is also UL 2849 certified. Lastly, the Quick Haul Long features several features “designed for urban living.” The vehicle can be parked vertically on its rear, there’s a Speedlifter stem that allows you to adjust the ride height in seconds, and there’s a modular towbar, an Atlas L rack, and several other mounting points that can be outfitted with a vast number of accessories. Although the Quick Haul Long is a bit more expensive than D2C cargo bikes, it’s one of the most affordable incumbent OEM cargo offerings in the market. It’s a vehicle that bridges the price gap between the two types of OEMs, all while providing the superior quality, serviceability, and reliability Tern is known for. The Quick Haul Long will be available at bike shops in North America and Europe starting in August. Listing can be found here.

MSRP: £2,499 | Flywheel Price Comparison: £0 more than avg resale price | Flywheel Vehicle Value: £1,999

The M2 is a class-1 folding ebike from UK-based OEM FLIT. For most people, the first company that comes to mind when thinking about folding British ebikes is Brompton. However, although Brompton has long set the standard for folding bikes with ultra-compact foot prints, their ebikes have fallen short of the mark. Their powertrain units are integrated somewhat messily and the motors are often too weak for most types of daily riding. Ultimately, Brompton’s challenge is that they are trying to retroactively retrofit ebike components into a hyper-optimized pedal bike. On the other hand, FLIT is making folding bikes that are designed to be electrified from the onset. The FLIT M2’s powertrain features a 35Nm rear hub motor that is controlled by a torque sensor and a 230.4Wh battery pack that is neatly integrated into the central frame tube. Although both of these powertrain components are modest, they punch above their weight. The motor being mounted on the rear wheel gives the vehicle better traction, and the battery can be removed for easy charging by simply pulling out the seat tube. There’s also a rear suspension that helps make up for the slim frame and small 16” tires, as well as hydraulic disc brakes that give riders ample stopping power. The FLIT M2 is not the best solution for those looking for a powerful all-terrain rider, but its low ~31lbs weight and quick folding mechanisms make it great for those looking for a portable vehicle they can use in addition to public transit or a car. The M2 is available for pre-sale in the UK, and deliveries are expected to begin in Fall 2024. Listing can be found here.

The Riese & Müller Load 60 is a premium class-3 bakfiet cargo bike. Often referred to as the perfect alternative to a minivan for families, bakfiets are highly popular vehicles due to their spacious cargo boxes that are great for carrying kids. The R&M Load 60 is one of the most high-end bakfiets in the category, and has an exceptional ride quality and high-end componentry that matches its price tag. Its powertrain features Bosch’s 75Nm Cargo Line Speed mid-drive motor and a 500Wh Bosch PowerPack, and is paired with an 11-speed Shimano transmission. The most notable feature for the Load 60 is its full-suspension (front fork and rear shock), which helps cushion the cargo box and make riding the Load 60 more comfortable even when it’s loaded to its max payload capacity of 440lbs. While bakfiet cargo bikes like the Load 60 offer superior ride comfort and ease of loading compared to longtails, keep in mind that their larger size can make storage and parking more challenging. They are best-suited for families who have garage space in suburban or less congested areas. An alternative to the Load 60 is the Urban Arrow Family. Urban Arrows are undoubtedly more popular bakfiets, but they are very similar to the Load 60 in price and use effectively the same Bosch powertrains. This listing was bought in 2021 and has less than 100mi on the odometer. R&M Load 60s have great residual value, and their average resale price is actually higher than their MSRP. Listing can be found here.

The Globe Haul ST is a mid-market class-3 utility ebike from Globe, a sub-brand of cycling powerhouse Specialized focused on urban-centric ebikes. The Haul ST is Specialized's most budget-friendly and functional offering. Its step-thru form factor with a short wheelbase is nimble and easy to maneuver, and the strong frame has an impressive payload capacity of 419lbs with many modular mounting points for cargo accessories. The Haul’s powertrain features a 50Nm "Globe custom tuned" rear hub motor and a 772Wh battery pack that meets UL 2271 certification. Notably, the hub motor is actually controlled by a torque sensor. This is an increasingly popular motor controls setup that offers a cost-effective and maintenance-friendly alternative to mid-drive systems while still providing a comparable smooth pedaling experience, and also allows throttle compatibility. In fact, although the Haul ST comes as a class-3 pedal assist ebike, Specialized actually offers a $50 plug-in throttle accessory to convert the Haul ST into a class-2 ebike. Specialized is one of the only incumbent OEMs offering throttled ebikes, and I expect more to follow suit if they want to tackle the utility-minded urban commuter market. This listing has a mileage of 94mi and comes with the throttle accessory pre-installed. Listing can be found here.

The Heybike Mars is an affordable class-2 folding fat-tire ebike. It features a front suspension fork, a seat post suspension, and 4” wide fat tires, all of which make it extremely comfortable for both off-roading and navigating the rough surfaces of city roads. The Mars’s powertrain is TÜV Certified in accordance with UL 2849 and features a high-performance 500W (~80Nm) rear hub motor and a 600W removable battery pack. This is paired with a 7-speed Shimano transmission that helps make pedaling a bit easier, but most riders primarily use the Mars via its throttle. The folding mechanism is swift, intuitive, and sturdy, and lets the bike be folded compact enough to fit in the trunk of most sedans. The Mars is a surprisingly feature-packed vehicle given its price range, and it’s one of the few budget folding bikes equipped with a UL-certified powertrain and dual suspension. Its closest rival in cost is the Lectric XP 2.0, which features a smaller battery, thinner tires, and no seat suspension but does have a better servicing reputation. This listing is in like-new condition with a Flywheel estimated mileage of 211.26mi. Listing can be found here.

That’s it for this edition. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!

- Puneeth Meruva

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