A silent, solar-powered motorbike to combat poaching in South Africa and beyond…
Our friends at Swedish electric bike company CAKE have remained at the cutting edge of electric off-road motorcycle R&D, developing a range of lightweight machines unlike anything else on the market.
“The lightweight electric off-road motorbike segment started with small, dedicated manufacturers assembling and customizing standard parts from the world of cycling and motorbikes. These hybrids, equipped with off-the-shelf motors, batteries and controllers have helped to define a new direction that changes the future of riding.”
CAKE took things a step farther, resolving on a “no-compromises” approach wherein every last component — frame, wheels, suspension, drivetrain — would be specifically designed and purpose-built for their machines.
Unlike products like the late Alta Redline, which intended to compete directly with existing ICE dirt / motocross bikes, CAKE’s two platforms, the Kalk and Ösa, are carving out niches of their own.
“Light, clean and quiet. All bikes are developed to promote performance, trail/enduro and free riding in the back country, leaving nothing to chance. The kinematics, size and geometry together with precision construction and careful use of materials, make for an agile, light, torquey and exciting experience.”
The numbers are pretty extraordinary. The Kalk OR Race weighs 165 pounds, makes 31 ft-lbs of torque, has a range of 3 hours / 50 miles off-road, and brake modes include 2-stroke or 4-stroke style engine braking — both with energy regeneration. It costs $13,000.
In comparison, a Honda CRF450R weighs 244 pounds, makes 35 ft-lbs of torque, has a range of 45 miles, and costs $10,000. That said, these bikes have different intended purposes.
Kalk AP: Anti-Poaching
One of the areas where the all-but-silent drivetrain of a lightweight electric motorcycle may be most advantageous is tracking down poachers. Across Africa, a rhino is killed every 12 hours for its horns, and 10,000-15,000 elephants are poached each year:
“At current poaching rates, elephants are in danger of being virtually wiped from the continent, surviving only in small, heavily protected pockets.” —Science Daily
In fact, I (BB founder and editor-in-chief, Taylor Brown) actually traveled to South Africa in 2018 to speak with anti-poaching rangers for my book Pride of Eden, where I found most of them using ATVs, dirt bikes, or 4×4 trucks — all of which have the disadvantage of alerting poachers to their presence. Then there’s the fuel issue:
“Recently, anti-poaching teams have started using dirt bikes for patrolling. However, these bush bikes run on gasoline, and, depending on the location, the fuel used to power these bikes must be brought in by truck or via helicopter. Although the motorcycle approach has proven highly successful, the roaring combustion engines unfortunately alert poachers miles away, decreasing the chances of catching them. By utilizing CAKEs electric off-road motorcycles, the goal is to increase efficiency in catching poachers without forewarning them of an approach.”
Now CAKE has developed the Kalk AP (Anti-Poaching), working in collaboration with South African game rangers. The bike has similar specs to the Kalk OR race mentioned above: 176 lbs, 31 ft-lb torque, 56 mph top speed, 3-hour range.
The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) will be serving as the operational partner and education hub for the project, conducting field analysis of the motorbike and training future rangers on the machine, while Goal Zero solar power stations will be used to recharge the bikes both at base and in the field.
“It is somewhat unreal how the sun and solar power, together with the technology of these silent off-road motorbikes can serve as something of a perpetual machine that works toward the general obligation of sustainability and, in this specific instance, to serve the purpose of saving species from extinction.” -CAKE CEO
To help build this fleet of anti-poaching motorbikes and solar power stations, CAKE is currently offering a limited edition of 50 bikes sold via a “buy-one-give-one” charity combo:
“The combo meaning that each purchase is a price-reduced bundle of two CAKE Kalk APs and a solar power station along with solar panels from Goal Zero. The buyer gets one bike, the other twin bike, together with the solar power station and solar panels is handed over to the Southern African Wildlife College.”
In addition, CAKE and Goal Zero are donated their profits from each purchase to the SAWC.
If you’re interested in supporting the Electric Bush Bike Anti-Poaching Act, you can reserve a Kalk AP for $1000 at www.ridecake.com. The total cost of a Kalk AP, the donation of a Kalk AP, and the solar panel / solar kit is $25,000. Delivery starts September 2021.