Over the weeks that I’ve been living with our CAKE ösa + review bike, I’ve taken it on a number of everyday errands. From retrieving parts for other bikes, to grocery shopping, visits to local businesses, friends’ houses, food pickup/dropoff and more, I feel as though I’ve gotten to know it a lot better over time.
Here are the pros and cons that I’ve noticed, from the time it arrived up until now.
The Pros: Basket Storage
The CAKE ösa + is nimble and lightweight, with an undeniably eye-catching and unique design. If you opt for a pair of metal baskets to clamp on (along with bungee nets to keep your stuff in the baskets as you ride), it’s hard not to appreciate just how much you can fit inside.
Case in point: On big grocery runs, I’ve fit as many as three big reusable grocery bags filled with food—as well as the small backpack I like to carry everywhere—in the rear basket. While I can fit just about as much stuff in the underseat storage area of my Suzuki Burgman 400 maxi-scooter, I usually have to take it out of the bags and reconfigure where items sit in order to make everything fit.
With the ösa +, it’s much easier to simply load up the groceries, secure the bungee net, and take off—no underseat grocery Tetris necessary. (That said, my groceries would certainly get soaked if I left the CAKE out in the rain, which wouldn’t happen with the scooter.)
Adding the smaller front basket behind the headlight gives an extra tray for any items you want easy access to, or that are fragile and need to be separated from whatever you have loaded in the back. On grocery runs, for example, that rack is a great place to stash eggs or other delicate, crushable things. I recently made some baked goods to take to some friends, and that front basket was the perfect place to keep them while I rode to their homes.
The Cons: Suspension and Saddle
These two things work together, I feel. If either the saddle or the suspension was a bit more comfortable, then both things would probably feel better if you’re a rider who plans to use this bike for longer commutes. However, the saddle is not padded, and if you spend lengthy amounts of time in it, you’ll need to accept the fact that you’re going to have a new bicycle feeling in your undercarriage from this bike.
The only suspension adjustability is the preload. It makes a small amount of difference if you have a lot of rough roads in your area, but you know what also helped in my case? Ratchet-strapping a spare battery into the rear basket, centered directly over the rear wheel. At the time, I just wanted to secure the spare battery so I’d have it if I needed it—but then I discovered an added, bonus benefit of a smoother ride with that added weight over the drive wheel.
So, if you find yourself hauling a bunch of stuff with your ösa +, that could actually work in your favor as far as ride comfort and handling are concerned—as long as the weight is in the back. Overall, though, I’d say this bike isn’t great for long rides—and there’s another, bigger reason why, which I’ll get to further down.
The Pros: Easy Cleanup
Plenty of things look good with bright swathes of white in their design. From cars to sneakers, using white can make a definite statement—but always, the practical side of me wonders how difficult it will be to keep clean. (That’s why magic erasers were invented, duh. No, not on cars, but on sneaker rubber? Yes, absolutely.)
Looking at the ösa +, things like the grips, the wheels, and the saddle immediately stand out because they’re a bright white (or maybe slightly off-white) color. It’s a striking design choice, to be sure—especially set against the dark gray and black utilized elsewhere in the design.
After my first ride experience, when I had to get the bike towed home, the bike was pretty dirty from the tie-downs that the towing company had used to secure it. Both the grips and the saddle were pretty filthy. Now, as an electric bike, you of course don’t want to soak or submerge the thing. The owner’s manual even offers some specific instructions for cleaning, such as the fact that you shouldn’t clean it with the battery connector disconnected because when it’s not connected, that connector is water-sensitive.
However, as long as you’re careful and observant, it’s nice to see that whatever coatings have been used on the high-touch surfaces of this bike are pretty robust. That’s good to know, because even simply riding my bike wearing black jeans or gloves seems to get the saddle and the grips dirty pretty easily.
The Cons: The Display, Mirrors, and Ride Mode Retention
The display is small, digital, and fairly minimalist. Those three things could be acceptable on their own—but unfortunately, the display is also not very bright. In the manual, there’s a line that says “Don’t ride your bike with polarized glasses as it will filter out the light from the display in certain angles.” That is a definite and noticeable problem as well—but it’s a separate problem. Even with no glasses (or tinted visors) whatsoever, if you try to view the display in bright sunlight, good luck to you.
Style-wise, it’s easy to see that the shape of the mirrors complements the rest of the design. They seem as though they should lock in place like many other motorbike mirrors on metal stalks that you may be used to. However, they don’t seem to want to stay where you put them, and tilting them to get into a good position to see traffic around you while you’re riding is more challenging than most mirrors I’ve tried. It can (probably) be done, but not without a lot of sighing and/or swearing, as well as possibly giving up temporarily and deciding that a sub-optimal position is good enough because you simply want to get on with your ride.
The CAKE ösa + features three ride modes and two brake modes, which you can set via the buttons on the right-hand side of the display. According to the manual, Ride Mode One offers the best range, and limits your top speed to 45 kmh (or 28 mph).
Ride Mode Two gives a top speed of 70 kmh (44 mph) and offers slightly slower acceleration to help conserve energy. When we did our test ride in California in May, we were told by CAKE reps that this was probably the best mode for most occasions, because it offered a balanced performance in regular road traffic. Ride Mode Three gives you the 90 kmh (56mph) performance, but will of course sap the battery the quickest.
Brake Mode One does not engage motor braking, and lets the bike simply freewheel when you release the throttle. Brake Mode Two activates regenerative braking, so you can restore some energy into the battery upon throttle release, which should increase your battery range slightly.
The ride and brake modes are well and good, but you have to reset them every single time you turn the bike on. Most of the time, I was going about my business in Ride Mode Two and Brake Mode Two. That meant that every time I hit the kill switch and parked to go do something off the bike, I had to punch in my Ride Mode and Brake Mode choices anew upon powering the bike back on, because the default settings start at Ride Mode One and Brake Mode One.
Now, I should mention here that I’m not able to use the CAKE Connect smartphone app, because I have an Android phone. While CAKE says that an Android version of the app is in the works and should be available soon (as of October, 2022), it’s not available yet. Perhaps if I had an iOS device paired to this bike via the CAKE Connect app, my settings might be saved and I could skip this step. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it’s something to be aware of.
The Pros: The rear basket is extra helpful if you’re short (and use the side stand).
My first ösa + experience in May, 2022, didn’t involve a basket—and while I did mostly get used to mounting/dismounting the bike at that time, this current ösa + outfitted with that huge rear basket is pretty easy when dismounting the bike on the accessory side stand. Why? I steady myself with my left hand on the basket as I swing my right leg over to get off.
If you stick with the center stand that comes with the ösa +, the grab handle that’s located behind the seat is surprisingly helpful when you’re trying to hold the bike upright while dismounting. It also works fairly well to help you hoist the bike back up onto the center stand once you’re all the way off of it.
Before CAKE sent me the side stand, I noted that it was actually easier for me to get off the bike on the right side (instead of the left), and then hoist it up onto the center stand that way. My right leg is my stronger leg, so obviously your personal experience may vary based on your own strengths and weaknesses. When using the center stand, the rear basket doesn’t really come into play when dismounting the bike.
The Cons: The Motor Overheated Twice on Longer Rides
I’ll preface this section by saying that not every bike is good at every task. You wouldn’t take a trail bike on a highway and expect it to do well, for example—even if it’s everything you could ever want in a completely great trail bike. That’s not what it’s made for, and that’s not what it’s good at.
That said, in my experience, the CAKE ösa + is not made for long rides. I don’t only say that because of the saddle and suspension. I also say that because the motor apparently doesn’t like it. If something happens once, then you can chalk it up to a lot of variables and you probably won’t even think about it much after the problem is solved. If it happens more than that, though—then, you start to get concerned.
Back on my First Ride of this bike, I told you about my battery woes—namely, that I’d thought I had a larger battery (and thus, longer range) than I actually had. That coupled with the spirited ride I took the bike on meant that we (me and the bike) ended up getting a tow home.
What I didn’t fully appreciate until later about that first ride was the error message I had on the display right before the battery gave up. I’d gone about 23 miles on that ride—and apparently, the motor began overheating, as was indicated by an error message that I didn’t look up until (much) later.
At the time, the battery was also on its last bar. According to the manual, that meant that it had between five and 15 percent of a charge left. I was pretty upset about having to get towed home—so I meant to look it up later, but evidently got distracted.
After CAKE sent me the larger battery, I charged it up and went for another long ride. This time, I resolved to keep things at lower speeds. Since I found myself with both the XL and L batteries in my garage, I charged both and then proceeded to strap the smaller battery into that capacious rear basket—because I was determined that no matter what, I wasn’t getting stranded. (Think of it like a spare fuel bottle on a combustion bike, only more rectangular. The added bonus here was that I discovered the added weight over the drive wheel smoothed out my ride considerably!)
Anyway, that long ride went pretty well and uneventfully, for the most part—that is, until I was a little less than two miles from home. After having ridden about 25 miles or so, I saw that error message again. Around the same time, the battery dropped down to a single bar remaining. (I’m not certain in which order those things happened, as I was looking where I was going.)
I was in Ride Mode Two and Brake Mode Two (as usual). With both those situations on the display, acceleration from a dead stop was incredibly, unacceptably sluggish—particularly when you have anxious traffic behind you that’s about to ram you in the rear basket. It felt downright unsafe, and I’m grateful that all I got was a red face and some angry honking from traffic around me. I could barely get the bike to move from a dead stop, even with the throttle open all the way—though it would eventually get up to speed after quite an anxious bit of struggling.
I immediately had flashbacks to the same behavior occurring along with the same error message on my first ride. It’s something that I later referred to in conversation as “limp-home mode,” although I don’t know if that’s an official thing with this bike. To me, it felt like that’s what it was doing; reducing power so that even if you had to do it slowly, you could at least get yourself away from where you currently were. (After all, this isn’t an e-bike, and it doesn’t have pedals so you can power it with your legs if you have to.)
By some miracle, even though the road I was on when the error showed up had a 45-mph speed limit (and was the kind of place where most traffic goes at least 50 on a regular basis), by switching to the back way through my neighborhood, I was able to make it home safely. In fact, I didn’t even have to pull over and swap batteries (yay). Once home, I was then able to take a photo of the error on the display so I could try to look it up and find out what it meant.
There are three error codes listed in the manual, all of which use simple icons to show you what’s wrong. The one I was now seeing for the second time meant that the motor was overheating. The first time this happened, I had gone 23 miles on a warm day, with spirited riding. The second time this happened, I had gone about 25 miles on a cool day, with much more mixed (but mostly more relaxed and slower) riding.
In conclusion, for small, short-distance, local errands, the CAKE ösa + is a capable bike—and it’s a pretty great grocery-getter. For longer-distance commutes, though—that motor overheating (and accompanying sluggish performance from stops) can’t be ignored—and that’s regardless of any feelings you may have about the design or the price.
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