CAKE’s Sinje Gottwald completes first unassisted African continent crossing on an electric motorcycle.
AKE B2B Account Manager Sinje Gottwald has achieved a remarkable milestone in riding the longest distance ever on an electric motorcycle, after completing her 124-day journey along the West Coast of Africa on the CAKE Kalk AP.
Starting from Spain and ending in South Africa, Sinje rode the entire journey completely unaided by technical or medical support.
Faced with daily challenges ranging from the continent’s inclement weather and terrain, to her ability to charge the bike and the risks posed by dehydration, Sinje’s triumph on the Kalk AP is a significant breakthrough for many technological and social aspects.
Sinje, a veteran of motorcycle adventures, came to wide attention within the motorcycling community in 2017 after she accomplished a solo circumnavigation of the world. Her accomplishment drew attention for breaking down barriers and normalizing the idea of independent female riders achieving such feats. Sinje’s other expeditions have included traveling overland from Europe to Asia, exploring Australia, traveling from South to North America overland, and from Morocco to Mali.
One key factor of Sinje’s motivation for the trip, and one that she aspired to for the duration, was to showcase Africa and highlight the positivity of its blend of languages and cultures. Engaging with its people and landscapes was just part of why her experience was so memorable, along with the practical and logistical challenges of crossing borders, applying for visas and having the correct documentation with her at all times.
As part of her preparation, she readied herself with two batteries, two chargers, spare parts including a controller, display, throttle, chain, and fuses, tools, a laptop in case her bike requires a software update or remote support, a camera, and personal belongings.
Starting on October 14, 2022, in Spain and ferrying across to Morocco, Sinje’s African exploits began, with the deep Moroccan sand causing the first technical difficulty with a fuse burn out. Before long she entered the hallowed terrain of Mauritania and Senegal, famous for their role in the iconic Paris-Dakar Rally.
From Gambia she entered Guinea Bissau, where the entry into Guinea presented the challenging but supremely rewarding combination of muddy and waterlogged jungle tracks where no car could venture. Sinje continued down the Ivory Coast, onwards through Ghana, which included a 24-hour wait at the border, Cameroon and Angola amid the endless African majesty on the way.
She finally arrived in South Africa to complete her unforgettable 13,000 km journey that saw her meet countless people and experience nature in ways only possible on two wheels.
My dream was to see the world with my own eyes. No matter how much I learn about places, seeing and experiencing them myself will always give me a better understanding. This I feel is particularly the case for Africa. With this adventure I not only wanted to open up my own and people’s views and ideas about this continent but also give an example of what is possible even if the challenges seem too big at first. We are capable of a lot more than we think.
As well as her motivation for human and cultural reasons, Sinje also sought the challenge presented by using a wholly electric motorcycle to finish a journey many would have deemed unlikely, if not impossible. In the Kalk AP however, Sinje found a machine that has highlighted a major step forward for the possibilities of vehicle electrification and the sustainable future not just for personal transportation, but also for the unique challenges presented by adventure riding.
With the Kalk AP she has demonstrated the previously-thought impossible effectiveness, durability and versatility of an electric motorcycle, overcoming the array of vehicular challenges presented by charging, mechanical care and spare parts.
Together, she and the Kalk AP, achieved a feat that was far beyond the bike’s intended purpose. Originally designed for short bursts of fun riding, the Kalk AP exceeded expectations by completing a 13,000 km-long journey in just 124 days, without experiencing a single flat tire, and requiring less than 140 charges.
The Kalk was simply amazing! Maintenance was almost zero, adjusting and lubing the chain was basically it. Some minor issues that could be fixed, and I didn’t have a single flat tire. It drew so much attention, wherever I stopped people would come and ask about it, many said it was the first time for them to see an electric motorcycle. They couldn’t believe I came from so far away!
Finding places to charge was the hardest part, in some areas it was extremely difficult, and I had to plan the day very thoroughly. Many times, I didn’t know if I would find a place to charge at all! I had a couple of minor crashes in difficult terrain at low speed, but more than once I was almost run over by cars; traffic is crazy and cars that overtake don’t leave any space!
Easy to maintain, light and with far less potential mechanical issues than traditional motorcycles, the Kalk AP’s performance in Africa has provided irrefutable evidence of the build quality and potential life cycles of CAKE products. The incredible can be achieved, and CAKE’s world-first achievement has laid down a major milestone for electric transport.
Stefan Ytterborn, CEO and founder of CAKE, has been one of Sinje’s biggest supporters throughout the buildup and duration of her adventure:
At a company dinner during fall 2021, I sat next to Sinje, when she told me she had the dream of riding electric, by herself from Spain to South Africa. Besides being amazed by her courage and spirit I was thrilled about the ability for us to support her, while truly getting a chance for extreme field testing.
We agreed that Sinje would change position for a few months from being the CAKE German B2B sales manager to become our most precious field tester and Africa Explorer. Now as she is through, and yes we have been worried, it’s extremely rewarding that she and the bike arrived in perfect shape.
Stefan Ytterborn– photos CAKE