As we reported on January 25, 2018, Swedish gadget heads at Cake 0 Emission not only introduced its electric off-road motorcycle production concept and a new category, Light Electric Off-Road Motorbikes, it fully delivered 50 limited-edition bikes to international customers in nine months. And man, did it sweep up design awards across multiple categories and industries, including the highly prestigious (and historically anti-motorcycle) Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards.
Now that Cake has pierced the previously impenetrable (and highly lucrative) broad-based outdoor market, what does this mean for the current wave of electric motorcycles, many of which are momentarily Insta-famous artist renderings? One hundred years ago there were several hundred motorcycle companies pushing the envelope, but only a handful remained after the dust settled and reality set in for several entrepreneurs.Our publisher Paul d’Orléans was happy to feature a Cake Kalk at the wildly successful book launch party for the print version of ‘The Current’ (Gestalten), at Aether Apparel LA on October 30. On being informed that Cake had been nominated for an Innovations Award at the Outdoor Retailer (OR) Winter Market, the Vintagent team detoured to Denver, Colorado, to watch a frickin’ motorcycle being honored alongside outdoor giants like Big Agnes and Black Diamond. This is serious news for the outdoors scene: the OR represents a multi-Billion dollar industry that has kept motorcycles at arm’s length (including politically), and The Vintagent team were the first motorcycle industry representatives to cover the show, ever. I asked Paul to explain his thoughts:
“When Liz Ferrin told us at our book launch that she was organizing the Innovation Awards, and our cover girl Cake was nominated at the world’s biggest outdoor industry event, it seemed like kismet, and I knew we needed to be there. Clearly, things are changing in the outdoor world as much as in motorcycling, because the outdoor industry is notoriously hostile to off-road motorcycles. But with the flood of electric mountain bikes and now e-trail bikes, attitudes are softening…although I did hear of one judge on the Industry Awards panel who cursed the Cake; ‘What’s that F**KING motorcycle doing here?!’ Which pretty much sums up why no motorcycle industry folks have ever attended! But, we’re happy to be trailblazers, and met serious players in the industry, who were curious why we had come. I explained it seemed a no-brainer: the ADV sector of motorcycling is enormous, and they use exactly the same outdoor gear as bicyclists or backpackers. The e-ADV/outdoor industry hookup is inevitable, and the door is wide open, though nobody saw it.”
“The Vintagent/Motorcycle Arts Foundation’s next exhibition at the Petersen Museum this April will be called Electric Revolution. We’re witnessing history right now, it’s a big turn of the wheel to where the motorcycle industry was in 1900, with different technologies competing for dominance. Then it was steam, electric, and petrol, now its petrol, electric, and hydrogen. We’ve never seen this kind of activity in the motorcycle industry in our lifetime – basically it’s been a downhill slide from the 1960s in sales. Today there are hundreds of small e-Bike makers trying to be the next Apple…which means there will the a Kodak and a Polaroid too, giants that seemed to big to fail, but did. We’re watching history being made.”