“Practical” is not a word that comes to mind often when thinking about motorcycles. For the most part, they’re just play-things built to go fast through corners, rack up highway miles or kick up a bunch of dirt. The Osa+ from Swedish electric motorcycle maker Cake doesn’t fit that traditional mold — which is part of what makes it so damn interesting.
From the way it handles to the way it looks, the Cake Osa+ defies expectations. It doesn’t look like a traditional motorcycle, nor does it really look like a scooter. So what is it, exactly?
What is the Cake Osa+?
I was asked that question constantly while riding the for a couple of days in Brooklyn and Manhattan. People seemed pretty satisfied with my response, muffled through a motorcycle helmet, of “an electric motorcycle from Sweden.” But Cake provides a more colorful description in their promotional copy: a “workbench on wheels.”
A key function the bike provides is its modularity. Like a workbench, it’s a platform designed to conform to your needs. The simple top tube on the frame (set at just 31.5″, making it a great motorcycle for short riders) allows riders to adjust the bike easily for a variety of different use cases. Need to ride one-up? Add a seat. Haul gear & groceries regularly? Slip a basket on the back or the front.
Whether the appearance resulting from all that modularity is a good thing or a bad thing comes down to personal preference. I found myself enamored with the bike’s simplicity, stark white highlights and general futuristic vibe. Plenty of others, however, feel differently.
Outside of the pure aesthetics, the Cake Osa+ design has two potential downsides. Accessories being easy to clip on and off a frame also means they will be easy to steal. I worried about this while parking it on the street in Brooklyn overnight, but that will be far less of an issue for those with a garage.
I’m also not sure how that clean Osa+ look will hold up after a year or so of riding. A lot of Osa+’s add-ons are white: white seat, white basket, white handlebar grips. Those were already looking a little tired on the press bike I was riding, and I’d expect them to show even more wear a bit sooner for others. If you’re into the look of a well-worn white sneaker, that may not be an issue.
The Cake Osa+ doesn’t have a key
Looks, of course, don’t tell the whole story. The real fun with this bike begins when you start it up. Rather than relying on a physical key, the startup sequence for the Osa+ requires you to hit a button on the battery, switch on the bike using what would be your ignition switch on an ICE motorcycle, turn on the monochrome TFT screen and then dial in a code into the side.
The screen and buttons control the bike’s ride and braking modes. For braking, riders can free-wheel it or use regenerative braking to keep some charge flowing back to the battery. For ride modes, you basically have slow, medium, or fast. The little dash keeps things simple. Decently legible even in the sun, the simple screen displays nothing more than the trip, your speed, and the braking and riding modes.
What’s the Cake Osa+ like to ride?
While I had three riding modes available to me, I mainly kept it in the second ‘medium’ one. It was more than enough. I loved pinning this thing off the line and hearing the electric motor whine as it sped up. It’s easy to miss the grumble of an internal combustion engine — especially on a motorcycle — but I grew fond of that linear electric engine sound when I twisted the throttle and got the interior magnet motor to send a good chunk of its torque to the wheels.
Despite a tepid top speed of 56 miles per hour (still fast enough to require an A1 license in the UK and an M1 license to operate in the states), the Osa+’s rapid acceleration at any speed made it feel amply quick while riding over the Brooklyn Bridge and along the West Side Highway and some other, faster surface roads. The Osa+ would be a strong contender for the best city commuter motorcycle.
More notable than the top speed and power delivery was just how planted this bike is. The 37-ish pound battery sits smack in the middle of the frame above where the rider sits — bringing the total weight up to 150 pounds. That weight distribution combined with the longer 52.75″ wheelbase, front shocks with 120 mm of travel, an adjustable 260-mm rear shock and 14″ x 4″ dual-sport tires made the Osa+ pleasant to handle even when going over New York City’s cobblestone & pothole-strewn streets.
That’s a good thing when you’re porting around extra bits, too. The basket & net that came with my press bike stayed completely secure the entire time I rode on a particularly windy day. Nothing bounced out or ended up shifting in any significant way.
What’s the Osa+ like to recharge?
When I ran the battery pretty low after a day of riding, it was easy to get it out of the bike’s frame. I didn’t time myself but detaching the battery from the bike couldn’t have taken more than a minute. All you have to do is undo the velcro strap across the top of the battery and detach the cord connecting it to the engine.
The real struggle began after that was done. The battery is heavy. That’s to be expected for a unit made up of 21700 lithium cells with a capacity of 50 Ah/2.6kWh. Even so, it sucked to move. As a pretty fit guy in his early 30s, having to haul the 37-pound brick a block to my home and then up four flights of stairs was tough work. Enough so that I’d encourage anyone considering buying a bike like this in the city to consider renting a space in a garage. (If you live in an area with a dedicated parking space already, this won’t be as much of an issue.)
Once the battery is hooked up to a charger, it doesn’t take long to charge; it takes two hours to 80 percent and three to 100. But the charging adapter isn’t completely silent — though quiet, the cooling fan generates enough noise that I’d personally want it somewhere that’s decently out of earshot.
How much does the Cake Osa+ cost?
Coming in at just about $10,000, the Cake Osa+ is not cheap. Critics will point to the fact that for that price, you can get a great motorcycle in any class; sport, naked, or cruiser.
That criticism is not wrong, but I think it’s a bit misguided, because there isn’t really a bike comparable to this one on the market. The closest equivalents (and reader, I understand that they’re not that close) I can think of would be adventure motorcycles equipped with panniers. Most of our recommendations in that category are north of $10K — and even then, none of them match the design aesthetic that Cake offers with the Osa+.
On the smaller displacement side of things, one could buy something like a Honda Ruckus with some bags added on. Still, though, in terms of engine displacement, the Ruckus qualifies as a scooter, not a motorcycle.
Should you buy a Cake Osa+?
So what is the Osa+, and who is it for? Coming to a firm conclusion on whether or not a person should buy this electric motorcycle from Sweden is difficult in large part because of how unique a vehicle it is.
The Osa+ just isn’t built for the traditional motorcycle rider. It’s not fast, its handling isn’t racey, and its DNA isn’t rebellious. It is practical. As practical as a motorcycle can be.
I imagine there are two types of people who would love the Cake Osa+. The first is someone who loves motorcycles, has at least a few in their garage and wants a bike on hand to get-stuff-done with. The second is someone who has always loved the idea of a motorcycle but has never been able to justify getting something so…frivolous.
If you count yourself in either of those two camps, have 10 grand to spend, and you’re even vaguely tempted — I’d encourage you to go for it.
The 2022 Cake Osa+
Weight: 196 pounds
Electric Range: 57 miles
Top Speed: 56 mph
Starting Price: $10,500