Could this bike be the Unicorn of adventure bikes that so many people have been asking for for so long?
The KOVE 450R Rally Pro is a competitive, reliable, lightweight, long range rally bike.
It will be the first ever mass produced “Dakar Rally” ready motorcycle in the world.
3 Kove Rally 450’s started the 2023 Dakar Rally and all 3 finished.
This is an incredible achievement and a terrific result for Kove motorcycles. The quality of these production based bikes has now been proven beyond doubt.
The 3 riders were riding the Dakar for the first time and showed real talent, guts and determination to complete the whole race.
The Kove factory have confirmed they are already taking what they have learned and implementing several changes to the first motorcycles that will come off the production line.
Later in the video you can see the full interview with the Kove race team from before the Dakar and some of the celebrations that came after the finish.
Who Are Kove?
Kove Motorcycles was founded in 2017 by Zhang Xue a former Motocross rider. They now have multiple factories and produce nearly all of the components for their motorcycles in house. One of these bikes, the 450 Rally, has already become one of the most eagerly anticipated motorcycles of 2023.
Final production has now started after 4 years of development and pre-orders are being taken for deliveries due in May.
Styling is always subjective but the designer clearly got a free hand when designing this motorcycle. Their passion about creating something very special oozes from every curve. Its clearly not something we’d ever see coming from the designers in Austria or Japan. The curves and lines are too complicated to be entirely necessary, but they create a sleek and natural, but focused and aggressive stance. It has an exotic look that clearly states “No accountants were involved in this design”.
A Better Engine
The all new diamond-shaped chassis has dual-wing beams and houses a seriously upgraded version of the ultra reliable Zongshen NC450 engine. This is the engine that powers the Fantic Caballero amongst many other bikes. However, the Kove engine is fitted with a double overhead cam head, completely redesigned manifolds and a new counterbalancing system. This coupled to the Bosch fuel injection and mapping, take the power up to 52 bhp and give torque figures of 42nm at 7000 rpm.
The power delivery from this liquid cooled 8 valve engine is velvety smooth on the bottom to aid traction but it revs higher and more smoothly in a way the standard Zongshen engine could only dream of. The double overhead cam and other changes ha turned the engine from a thumper to what many have described as feeling like a twin.
Service intervals are likely to be around 6000km for valve checks and 2000-3000km for oil changes depending on use. Air filter is a fast access unit with a water drain system set between the front tanks.
Ultra Low Weight
Dry weight is just 145kg for rally spec Bike. The full rally version has 2 forward and 1 rear petrol tank to take fuel capacity up to continent eating 31 litres. This transforms it into a serious long range adventure motorcycle. It is also possible to isolate one tank to use as water storage as per rally rules.
21” front and 18″ rear wheels have tubeless rims and provide great tyre choice with floating disc brakes and Nissin calipers used both front and rear.
3 Model Variants
There are 2 distinct models, the Rally Pro and the standard Rally, but there are 3 variants as the standard Rally model comes in a low and high seat version.
The Rally Pro and high seat Rally have a seat height of 960mm and the lower seat version has a seat height of 910mm but has to sacrifice the rear fuel tank to achieve this so has a smaller 15 LTR fuel capacity.
The Rally Pro comes fitted with a steering damper, carbon fiber Roll book and full carbon fibre bash plate. There are also numerous titanium and magnesium parts used to save every ounce of weight without compromising quality.
The standard model comes with a bigger than average fully detachable TFT screen with multiple USB connection.
Although the race ready model comes with no ABS, specifically for racing, the standard model has a multi Switchable ABS system that allows for the use of full ABS, ABS on the front wheel only or the ability to switch it off completely. Even when on it automatically disables itself below 10mph.
Top Shelf Suspension
Suspension is made by YuAn who are basically the best suspension manufacturer in China. Their shock absorbers are renowned for their quality and these really are top shelf. With 305mm of travel on the high seat and Pro versions and 260mm on the lower seat model, they have spring preload adjustment as well as high and low speed compression and rebound damping adjustment.
The rear suspension seems to be a collaboration between KYB and YuAn and has all the same preload, high and low speed compression and rebound damping adjustment. You get a full 300mm of travel on the Pro and high seat versions and 250mm of travel on the lower seat version. All model variants have an external expansion bladder type damping system to avoid the sticking and maintenance of piston based expansion systems.
A Titanium race exhaust system is used on the Pro model with a full catalytic converter system on the standard models
Attention To Detail
The level of detail which you will find on these bikes is incredible and I can only touch the surface in this video. There is no doubt that Kove are coming head on to challenge the Western motorcycle markets.
Designed To Be Raced
The Kove Rally is designed to be raced. It’s a properly tuned, tried and tested bike. It has been designed as something that you can buy and immediately use in the Dakar or other equivalent rally’s as it comes out of the crate.
It’s very unusual for such a high spec machine to be released as a production model. This is not designed for gentle trail riding, although it will no doubt do that very well.
It isn’t a lookalike, it is the real deal. The engine and chassis have been in development for 4 years in competition and in the desert. The factory have released regular desert testing videos month after month. This motorcycle hasn’t simply been tested around the block on tarmac and then rolled out of the truck to do a photo shoot.
The Dakar Interview
This is a short interview from the Dakar. You can see in every face including Zhang Xue’s what the Dakar means to this team. The rest of my words and the discussion of prices will follow it.
The Kove 450 Rally looks one hell of a motorcycle and they will be in showrooms soon.
Until dealers are fully stocked with parts, availability is on a 1 week DHL service direct from the factory. General maintenance parts can also be supplied with the machine and parts are set at a very reasonable price.
That All Important Price
So that is where we come to that all important piece of information, the price. Now bear in mind that the KTM full competition spec Rally bike starts at over £34,000 in the UK. The Chinese made Fantic 450 Rally, which has no proven record in racing, is priced at over £17,500 before taxes. What price would you expect this bike to be?
To build a motorcycle to these specs yourself in the western world would cost in excess of £20,000. Amazingly the Standard Kove Rally starts at just £8500. The full Race spec Rally model comes in at just £13,500 inc VAT and all shipping, custom clearance costs.
Obviously I don’t have exact figures for every market yet, but this is a motorcycle in a league of its own when it comes to value for money.
Has The Unicorn Been Born?
So I ask you has the Unicorn been born? For those people looking for the ultimate light weight, long range, race developed adventure rally bike, this IS the real deal!
If you want something individual and really special this could be the bike for you.
You tell me, Has the Unicorn been born??????
let me know what you think about the Kove brand.
Did you know about them already?
Are you interested in the 450 Rally?
Let me know in the comments below
If you enjoyed this article and the video leave a like on youtube and share it with your friends
Don’t forget to subscribe to the youtube channel and hit the bell so you don’t miss my next videos
Ride free everyone