Everyone – and I mean really everybody — has an opinion about the Ösa electric two-wheeler from the Swedish upstart Cake. It evokes such a wave of emotions that in recent weeks dozens of strangers have felt compelled to take unsolicited criticisms of me.
“What is that!?” screamed a middle-aged man who cycled down a busy street to ask. “What a stupid design,” scolded a clumsy woman who was waiting next to me on a ferry. But mostly people watched in silence, frowning or tapping excitedly at their friends to behold the unique-looking scooter that had just come into view.
The Cake Ösa is quite unique. Not only does it carry all your gadgets and tools, it also turns into an electrical generator to power them once you arrive.
Cake calls Ösa a “versatile utility platform with off-road capabilities.” To test that claim, I took an Ösa Flex model on a sunrise surf safari and cooked breakfast off the Ösa’s battery, which could also power my workday on a remote stretch of beach. I wanted to recreate one of those boastful “today’s office” stories you’ve seen on Instagram but rarely, if ever, experience in real life.
How did it do? Good enough to make me think that the starting price of $9,000 / €9,000 isn’t as crazy as I first thought.
Cake was founded in 2016 by Stefan Ytterborn, who is also responsible for launching the POC clothing brand that is popular with mountain bikers. Founded in 2005, POC is short for “Piece Of Cake”. That bit of trivia blew the mind of my MTB friends, who universally liked the Ösa for what it is, but were even more impressed with what it can do†
Ösa is just one of many eclectic, all-electric vehicles produced by Cake in a range that spans from off-road motorcycles to street-legal mopeds. It even has an entire series devoted to getting kids addicted to electricity. The Ösa model is positioned as a rolling workbench that can easily transport and power gadgets such as phones, speakers and laptops; as well as medium to light tools such as drills and circular saws, when equipped with an optional converter sold by Cake.
The Ösa model is available in a number of configurations. The Ösa Plus corresponds to a 125cc motorcycle with a top speed of 90 km/h. The Ösa Flex configuration can be driven with a typical driver’s license, but will reach a maximum speed of 45 km/h (30 mph). It is the Ösa Flex that I tested for 10 days in and around Amsterdam.
Oddly enough, Cake doesn’t make an e-bike despite its POC mountain bike pedigree. All Cake vehicles come with throttles and footrests, not pedals.
The battery-operated generator
Tesla owners have long attached aftermarket inverters to their giant rolling DC batteries to convert them into unofficial (and potentially warranty-voiding) mobile AC power sources. It’s a trend that has recently been fully embraced by the likes of Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 SUV and new electric pickups from Ford and Rivian. It’s no wonder that Cake refers to Ösa as a truck in some marketing activities.
My Ösa Flex review vehicle came with all the bells and whistles needed for maximum transport capacity, power and range. That means a Cake inverter, a second hot-swappable battery, a surfboard holder, a second seat, a small basket in the front and a large basket in the back. The top beam of the Ösa was then equipped with numerous adjustable mounting points to mount everything.
For my test I drove 32 km (20 miles) from Amsterdam to the North Sea coast. There I loaded up the Ösa with my kitesurfing gear, induction hob and tent before driving to a secluded beach for an early morning kitesurfing session. Then, with the inverter and battery set up as a kitchen in front of my tent, I was able to cook breakfast and power my laptop and 5G hotspot to run the international news service for The edge†
It all worked surprisingly well. The large battery slides out of the Ösa quickly after removing a sturdy power cord and thin Velcro strap. The optional 1000W Cake Pure Sinewave DC to AC power converter (available in both 230V EU and 110V US models) connects directly to the main power port of the Cake battery with a thick and rather clunky cable that limits the placement of the bulky box . The inverter can connect to the battery while it’s still on the Ösa, but I wanted to keep my distance from it because I was afraid the wind would knock the scooter off the center stand, which was parked precariously in the damp sand.
The inverter is limited to 1000 watts and was easily overpowered by my induction hob when set on high. The fan is also quite loud when it comes on. But when I plugged it into the Ösa battery, I had enough power to boil the water in the Moka coffee pot and fry an egg and then roast it. The 50 Ah / 2.5 kWh battery still had enough juice to power a small 600 W stove for another 60 minutes before shutting down. Good thing I had a second, fully charged Cake battery with me to keep my laptop going and still get it home.
Cake offers many examples of the types of devices the inverter can power when connected to Ösa’s battery. These include power tools (drills, grinders, weeders, air compressors); consumer electronics (game consoles, electric guitars); industrial equipment (cloud server, facial recognition system); household appliances (vacuum, fan, sewing machine); and office equipment (coffee maker, blender, toaster). Unfortunately, the company lists the duration, which in some cases will only measure a few minutes before the battery is completely drained.
Even without the inverter, the Cake Ösa battery can power a laptop or devices such as travel refrigerators that plug directly into the 12V / 15A (180W) jack, as well as your USB devices from the two 5V / 2A (10W) USB- A jack. I was able to attach a standard length Apple Lighting cable to my iPhone which was mounted on the handlebars to keep it fully charged during long journeys.
You can choose from three riding modes on the Cake Ösa Flex. Mode 1 is designed to maximize range with a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph), Mode 2 increases top speed to 45 km/h (28 mph) and Mode 3 maximizes acceleration. I chose Mode 2 for my daily rides as it offered the best balance of range and power. I was able to drain a fully charged battery after 70km (43 miles) while driving in mode 2 with my baskets fully charged and in windy conditions hovering just above freezing. The battery charges to 80 percent of a household connection in two hours or 100 percent in three hours.
The Ösa rides heavily compared to traditional mopeds, making it feel very stable at any speed, even on tackled sand. It weighs approximately 100 kg (220 pounds) with all transport accessories and battery installed. The geometry places the rider low to the ground in a very relaxed position on a saddle that’s more comfortable than it looks, even on rides of over an hour.
The only real flaw is that the screen is not readable at all in sunlight, either directly or indirectly. It’s really bad and slowed me down when starting the vehicle as I could barely see the display to enter the pin needed to unlock it.
Nevertheless, if I had to sum up my time with the Cake Ösa Flex in one word, it would be “fun”. In fact, The Cake Ösa is the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels – or any wheels for that matter.
If there’s one bright spot in the pandemic, it’s the rise of tools like Zoom and Slack that have enabled companies to extend remote working capabilities to more people. Vehicles like the Ösa Flex can help make the most of this new hybrid office policy. It’s a great on- and off-road vehicle with a ton of configurable storage options for anyone who needs such rig.
While the idea of a work bike like the Ösa Flex or faster Ösa Plus motor is appealing, I can’t imagine there’s enough capacity here to be practical for most craftsmen to power their workdays. Carrying a separate inverter is also not ideal. The Ösa Flex was fine for my modest journalist needs, but that was only because I had a second 17kg (almost 38lb) battery with me.
Cake recently introduced a more robust Work series to its range of vehicles. In addition to providing more pulling power, the Ösa Flex Work comes with an XL 75Ah / 3.75kWh battery that weighs 26kg (over 57lbs). That makes it a bit more viable for people who need off-grid power — especially if you’re carrying a second or third battery — but it also raises the starting price from $9,000/€9,000 to $11,000/€11,000. A true rolling electric generator like the Ford F-150 Lightning starts at $40,000 with a battery capacity of 98 kWh — enough to power a workplace or an entire house for days.
The fact that you now have so much choice in mobile exchanges is just… the icing on the cake.
All photography by Thomas Ricker / The Verge — video by Ivo Ricker