Well you know I have been keeping an eye on Kove in general, and I do have a particular interest in the arrival of the Kove 800X Super Adventure.
I am still hoping this is the closest thing yet to the bike I have been waiting years for. A lighter more truly off road capable adventure bike that weighs less than a horse.
Will it be the lightest of all the highway capable ADV bikes?
The 800X Super Adventure appeared again at Eicma and the Spanish distributors are saying clearly it will be available mid year, but for now no one can be sure.
Unfortunately we are still waiting for homologation for Europe. In the meantime I have been talking to friends in China as well as the factory and importers and we do have more information for 2024.
I have heard a lot of people criticising Kove again after a less than stellar performance at the Dakar this year, but I have to say, the Dakar is meant to break riders and motorcycles. How many KTM’s, Honda’s, Husqvarna’s and the rest have failed to finish over the years?
You have to understand the reality of trying to do what Kove are doing.
A Company With A Dream
They have built a bike that can finish the Dakar, that is well proven. They have also, built another bike that is as fast as most of the competition in the new 450 Rally EX.
Now, they have another 3 years to hone those designs, to create a bike that is fast enough to win AND reliable enough to finish. That was always going to take time.
Consider the fact they have also launched a team to compete in the World Supersport 300 Championships, and a range of top spec MX bikes that will inevitably enter the fray in private hands this year even if they don’t send a works team out and you have to admire the determination and sheer audacity of the Kove CEO Zhang Xue.
In just 7 years, they have become the 4th biggest producer of motorcycles over 300cc in China, and their 500cc twin Adventure bike has been a great seller and reliable performer in all the markets it has been released in.
They are still a young company, and the Kove 800X Super Adventure is the bike that can really launch them on the world stage.
The 450 Rally was always going to be a niche bike and the 400cc 4 cylinder Supersport although a fantastic bike, just doesn’t have the cubes to make it big in Europe, Australia and the USA.
But what they have done, is prepare the ground, ready for the launch of a motorcycle that can go head to head with any of its competition.
As well as the standard model of the Kove 800X Super Adventure, there is the Pro model, which as you can imagine is a higher spec version of the standard model, but then we have the Rally version. This bike is lighter and longer and maybe more different than you might be expecting.
Obviously the engine is common to all models, although there is a very slight 1.5HP difference in quoted power. I think we can safely say they will produce around 95HP and 80Nm of torque. Power delivery could be very interesting though.
One of the things about the KTM 790 engine, is that it is peaky. Top end power was where it shone, The Kove produces maximum torque at 7500rpm and max power up at 9,000rpm. This means it is an engine that will like to be revved.
I hope it manages to have a better spread of power at lower revs, but that is me being picky about an engine that has proven solid, and I see no reason why Kove wouldn’t have made sure the cam lobe wear issue don’t happen on their engines like it did on some of the earlier KTM’s.
That power is more than enough to deal with highway miles as well as anything else you might want to do. Top speed of the bikes is a place where you begin to see differences. The quoted top speed on the standard and pro versions is 130mph or 210kph, whereas on the Rally version it is quoted at 115mph or 185kph. This immediately shows us a gearing difference, and if we look at the comments from Nelis van Rensburg in his video that I will link below, he described the first gear on the pro as fairly long. The Rally having shorter gearing overall will immediately make it better for more challenging off road riding.
The next big difference I noticed was the difference in length and wheelbase. The rally comes in at 2267mm long, with a wheelbase of 1545mm. The standard and Pro versions are 2238mm long overall with a 1510mm wheelbase.
So, the rally has a longer swingarm and you might think 35mm doesn’t sound much, but in the mud and sand that could make a big difference.
The rake on the Rally is slightly steeper too, So you get a combination of faster steering and better stability on the rough stuff.
Something I have now noticed which I am not sure was the case on the prototype, the rear subframe is welded directly to the chassis. This is something that bothers me on ADV bikes. It would only have added a few ounces or grams to make it removable and it makes so much more sense. It means that a relatively minor spill can result in the bike being written off by the insurance company instead of a simple rear subframe swap.
Wheelbase on the Pro is showing 8mm longer than the standard model so I take it that will be extra front suspension travel. But that isn’t listed so far in the specs.
What the specs do tell us, is that the suspension on the pro and standard models is Kayaba front and rear with preload and damping adjustment. Front are 43mm USD forks.
The Rally model is listed as having preload and damping adjustment, but doesn’t say its Kayaba or not, but we do get travel figures of 270mm or almost 11” at the front and 250mm or 10” at the rear.
That is a significant increase over the 200mm or 8” travel front and back on the KTM790.
A Good Looking Motorcycle
Something else I am going to mention here is looks. Obviously the look of a motorcycle is always a very personal thing, but haven’t we all been criticising the insectoid abortions of the KTM’s and all the Kiska group designs for years now?
How many times have I heard people say it would nice to see something that looked a bit different.
Well the Kove 800X does look different, and not everyone will like it, but this is a bike with a distinctive look. A balance of aggression and smooth organic lines, I do find it refreshingly different while still remaining practical.
Now, spec sheets will reveal a certain amount about bikes, and so will the various marketing videos, but we all know a basic but honest owners review can reveal more than most things. So I want to point you to Nelis Janse van Rensburg’s channel. https://www.youtube.com/@Nelisjvr
He recently did a video after buying an 800X Super Adventure Pro and I think he highlights some good points, I will link his video below, but let us look at some of his points and some of the things I have noticed.
The first thing I noticed was the wheels and although Nelis skips past it fairly quickly I want to stop here. It is fitted with Akront wheels front and back. Now Akront the original Swedish company were bought out, but the tooling was all retained and the new Akront wheels are really good. It is the rims that separate them from most others, and their valancing means you can make a stronger. Lighter rim.
These are tubeless spoked rims too, so puncture repair on the road becomes a much easier job, and as we know, there are many of the existing ADV bikes that just fit normal tubed spoked wheels or tubeless cast wheel options.
These aren’t just any old tubeless spoked rims, they are as good as you can get. My old Cagiva Navigator had Akront rims and they were built to a fantastic standard. Mine were heavier stainless rims but these are alloy rims similar in design and quality to the Excel rims used by most of the Japanese MX bikes.
Now this is a really good start for me, Yes the shiny gold finish always looks good but looking beyond the bling, they are a quality component.
Taisko Monoblock Brakes
With the brakes we have Taisko units that are fitted with Brembo pads apparently, whether that is standard or was a dealer addition I’m not sure to be honest. The make of the pads is something where sideways compatability is probably the most important factor, and it seems pretty obvious that these are the same as many other calipers so when buying pads, whatever brand you prefer should be available.
The branding of the calipers themselves I would personally say is less of an issue. Most disc brake calipers have been more than capable of stopping a big bike quickly for a long time. The best are now so good that without ABS systems it would be difficult not to lock the wheels. And people forget that often it is the master cylinder that actually creates the stopping power in many ways as much as the calipers.
What you do see is that they are a “monoblock” style “radial” caliper, and Taisko are a good company who have been doing brakes for a long time. I have no doubts at all that the brake calipers are more than strong enough for the bike.
The Standard and Pro versions both have a twin disc arrangement and I don’t have sizes of the discs, but they look more than big enough. What I found interesting is that the Rally version has saved weight by using a big 310mm single disc up front. This saves a surprising amount of weight on a bike, and will be one of many ways they have got the weight down so low on the 800X Rally.
You may ask, but will a single disc be enough stopping power? Well, as the owner of an Aprilia Pegaso that weighs around the same, I can attest that even the brakes of 25 years ago were good enough to stop a 175Kg bike from high speed with no trouble, so today’s brakes will be more than equal to that.
It may be that if you are touring the bike with a passenger and a lot of weight on board that the Standard or Pro versions are better for you, but if you are looking for something light and powerful with a real off road focus in the ADV market. The 800X Rally looks like it will be hard to beat.
It certainly has a better front mudguard than this one from the new Ducati Desert X Rally which looks like they made it from plasticine and mounted it using dead slugs.
Two Very Different Bikes
The information so far is already showing us that really, we have 2 very distinct bikes, and 2 variants of one of those bikes. The 800X Rally really does look probably the most off road focussed ADV bike on the market in my opinion.
The Scorpion Rally tyres fitted are again a bit irrelevant too me. We all have our tyre preferences and the originals fitted are usually short on tread depth so don’t last as long as a real Scorpion Rally, that is the same with all manufacturers. Sizes however mean choices will be good
We have a 90/90/21 front on them all, it is on the rear where we have a difference.
On the Standard and Pro versions we have a 150/70/18 and on the Rally we have a 140/80/18. Now you see those little differences adding up. You will have a better choice of touring tyres for the rear on the Standard and Pro, with a better choice of more aggressive off road tyres on the the Rally.
Chain size is listed as 525 so that’s a good balance between strength and weight for me.
The stock rack looks well made, but states a weight limit of just 5Kg, so if you are using it with a top box or travel bags it may need replacing, but I have seen others that say similar and it does seem a modern trend. I guess its an easy way of selling extras maybe?
You can also see here that as with so many ADV bikes nowadays we have a low level exhaust. You can see where Nelis has put a cover on to try and stop any more gravel rash, as the bike has already been over on its side, and we all know that is bound to happen sometimes if you are doing any decent off road riding.
I would have liked to see a higher level exhaust option, especially on the Rally model. At least they don’t have a huge breadbox underneath as the Cat like on so many, but will that be the case under European and US emissions regulations? We will have to wait and see.
As we know The 800X comes with crash bars and a sump guard as standard, but I do like the beefier ones Nelis has fitted. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find details and costs of the replacements yet, and I’m sure they will be cheaper in China than we get them. It will probably be a case of dredging through ali express to find some decent ones. They will be there somewhere in the morass of rubbish.
That rad guard looks like it would be better replaced if you ride where the rocks will be flying too. But at least you get one.
The sump guard is mounted to the base of the engine like the Triumph and a few others. This is something I don’t like to be honest. However, Kove have mounted it with a frame as a crumple zone to absorb any big impact, so in theory. Before the engine suffers the plate mount will absorb the impact. Will it work? We shall see, but at least they have put some thought into the issue, not just ignored it.
The TFT display might not be to my liking but with the electronics package included it is needed I guess. There are day and night displays with everything needed including a front and rear tyre pressure monitoring system.
Your phone can be paired for Navigation and there are multiple rider and traction control modes and ABS but all can be turned off, and from what I understand it has been given a memory, so that the settings you have are not reset as soon as you turn off the ignition.
Next we see another way they have saved weight. All models are equipped with a lithium battery. Now this has pros and cons but I’m not going to go into that here. Suffice to say it does save weight. I just hope there is a charging port that is wired via the BMS so that any reasonable charger can be used rather than me having to buy yet another specialised charger purely for Lithium Ion batteries, because they do not like the same charging cycle as lead acid or glass matt batteries.
There doesn’t seem to be much space under that seat for storage, which would have been nice, but you can see here how they have run the fuel tank back and down behind the engine block, to keep overall weight lower in the chassis. It also gives a narrower profile to the tank, without loosing fuel capacity.
Nelis goes into the details of the connectivity, so if that is of interest do go and watch his video. I for one appreciate his effort to get his review done. No video reviews are easy and he deserves more views than he has had, so show him some support.
The Bosch ECU Is pretty much standard fitting on most bikes now and I will leave someone else to pick their way through the minutiae of differences there may be.
The Little Things
The foot-pegs look a bit lacking for my liking, I can see again that cast alloy ones will save weight, but they wont bend on impact like a steel one would, they will break, That is something I would rather not have to deal with out in the wilds.
The flexible gear shift lever is a nice touch that often gets missed, and that brings us to what is possibly the smallest quickshifter mechanism I have seen so far. It comes as standard too. Now being honest, a quickshifter isn’t high on my list of priorities with a bike, but it is nice to see it included as a standard item, not used as another way to extract a few dollars more from everyone’s wallet as an added extra.
I’m not sure on the standard model but certainly on the Pro, you also get a steering damper. I imagine the Rally version may well be fitted with the better Scott style of damper but the version I’ve seen is a Fast Ace under yolk damper rather than the kind that sit on top of the steering column. Fast Ace are one of the better Chinese suspension companies so you can expect it to perform well.
Sound is hard to judge from videos, but it does sound throatier than the KTM790 engine. That could be as simple as the smaller Catalytic converter though. This again is something that may change for Euro Homologation.
Speaking to Nelis who has been riding with a friend who has an Aprilia Tuareg 660, he did describe first gear on the pro as longer than the Aprilia, and that will be to aid Highway speed and fuel economy. It is easily remedied if you want by altering sprocket sizes and I imagine that will be a big part of the speed differential between the Rally model and the Standard and Pro models.
So, breaking it all down, we have the lightest ADV bike on the market that is also going to make long highway miles easy when needed. Almost 100HP with a rolling weight of 185Kg or 407lbs or even less with the Rally edition at 165Kg or 363lbs, puts it top of the class in the ADV sector when it comes to power to weight ratio. You get quality cycle parts like the Kayaba suspension, Akront wheels and Taisko brakes along with the Bosch ECU to control electronics on a bike that has obviously been designed with serious off road riding in mind.
So what you are getting is something that should be capable of going head to head with the best in the business. Prices we are yet to know for the markets outside of China, but rumour has it that it will be around the £9,000 or Euro’s mark. That makes it direct competition for the new Voge 900DSX BMW clone, and the CF Moto 800MT, but they are both much heavier more touring focussed bikes.
The closest things we have to the Kove 800X Super Adventure from any of the big manufacturers have to be the KTM 890 Adventure R Rally, which comes in a full 25kg heavier, and the new Ducati Desert X Rally which is almost 50kg heavier.
Where the KTM has been slimmed down to create the Rally model, the Ducati Desert X Rally actually weights more than the standard version.
Even in the smaller capacity segment, with a final weight now released as 175Kg dry on the CF Moto 450MT, with 17.5 litres of fuel alone its wet weight will be around 195Kg minimum. Add oil, coolant and other fluids and it is yet another 200kg ADV bike.
The Kove 800X Super Adventure Rally looks like it was built to be lighter from the start, and then beefed up for the Standard and Pro models aimed at a more touring market.
So it really does look like the Kove 800X Super Adventure will be the lightest of all the highway capable ADV bikes for 2024, if we get it by the end of the year that is.
Will I be putting money down on one I hear you say?
Well that is a question that can’t be answered until we actually get an idea of when they will be delivered into the UK market.
When that will be? Now, I have honestly stopped trying to figure that one out, as every rumour so far has proven wrong.
I will let you know as soon as I know.
Well that’s it for today anyway, I will be looking at some of the other new Adventure bikes coming to market soon as well, Some are more ready than others and the breadth of the ADV market has now been widened by bikes like the CF Moto MT450 and the new 450 Himalayan too.
At least we have more than yet another batch of overweight hippo’s now, so we get a bit more real choice.