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ADV NewsKove Unveils Lighter, More Powerful Limited-Production Dakar Bike

Kove Unveils Lighter, More Powerful Limited-Production Dakar Bike

The dark horse of this year's Dakar aims for a win this time around.

Published on 11.13.2023

Early this year, Kove Moto turned heads with a trio of unproven 450 Rally Pro factory bikes mounted by Chinese riders at the Dakar. It was the first time a Chinese manufacturer had ever entered the motorcycle division, and for an edition that turned out to be the most difficult in more than a decade. Ahead of the rally, Kove CEO Zhang Xue made it clear he wanted his team to finish the race. Impressively, all three bikes did.

Kove entered three 450 Rally Pro machines in this year’s Dakar Rally. Impressively, all bikes finished the grueling two-week race.

Kove will be back at Dakar in the upcoming edition, and this time Xue says the team is in it for the win, not just the finish, unveiling at this week’s EICMA an all-new, even sharper weapon in the 450 Rally EX. 

Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike
The 450 Rally EX is Kove’s new Dakar weapon.

So what makes the new 450 EX worthy of a podium finish at the toughest off-road rally in the world? The next-gen bike just revealed in Milan is more powerful, more maneuverable and lighter than the machine that debuted at the last Dakar. Tucked inside the double-cradle frame is an all-new, more compact liquid-cooled DOHC 449.9cc single said to provide a class-leading 65 hp and 36.14 ft-lbs of torque with a top speed of 112 mph. For reference, the previous machine put forward 54 hp and 31 ft-lbs of torque. 

Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike
The ultralight double-cradle frame is made of high strength steel and has a tensile strength of 980 MPa.


This bump is partly the result of a larger bore and quicker stroke of 96×62.15mm versus the 94.5x64mm of the original engine, but the entire drivetrain is also dotted with innovative applications and lightweight, high-tech materials, including a unique new cylinder head design with a unified rocker arm.  

Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike
Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike
The Kove 450 Rally EX is equipped with a Quickshifter and a new hydraulic clutch design with a lighter and slimmer clutch assembly.

The new Dakar-spec EX will also carry an additional .98 gallons of fuel between its three tanks for a total of 8.98 gallons that Kove says are now positioned lower and more towards the center for an improved centralized mass that delivers better handling and stability.  Selection of front or rear tanks can be done manually through a fuel pump switch located on the dash or the rider can opt to keep tank use on automatic mode.

The new tanks are positioned lower and more towards the center for better mass centralization.
Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike
The EX has a slim profile in spite of having more fuel capacity.

And perhaps most impressive, the new bike is claimed to weigh just 282 pounds dry, an impressive 38 pounds less than the company’s last Dakar entry. This is said to be achieved by studying every detail of the bike, and trading out even the smallest items with the lightest viable materials, say using magnesium alloy for the new cylinder heads and side covers and advanced plastics for the fuel pump rotors. Titanium was used for every single bolt on the bike as well as the exhaust pipe and muffler. Carbon fiber and CNC machined parts are also generously sprinkled throughout the design. 

Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike

For bump absorption, the EX features a fully adjustable 49mm USD fork and progressive link mono shock by Yu-an, delivering 12 inches of travel up front and 11.8 inches out back. The bike will slow its 21/18-inch wheelset using a floating single, 2-piston caliper front disc and single piston rear disc supplied by Taisko. Other features mentioned at the unveiling include a new roadbook turret, hand guards, adjustable risers with dampers and an Akrapovič exhaust.

Kove 450 Rally EX Dakar bike

Limited Production Run

It was also revealed that interested consumers and aspiring privateers will have an opportunity to snatch up the new factory race bike Kove’s pro riders will use at the upcoming Dakar since the company will have a limited production run of 50 units. The bike will sell for €19,999 (today’s $21,355), a healthy chunk less than competing replica models from KTM and Husqvarna. 

And for those still mulling over the existing and even more affordable Kove 450R Rally ($8999) or the Rally Pro that made short work of last year’s Dakar ($13,999) don’t panic. Both will remain available in 2024 at the same pricing.  

2024 Kove 450 Rally EX Specs

Engine TypeSingle cylinder, DOHC, 4 stroke
Bore x Stroke96×62.15mm
Compression Ratio14:01
Max Power65 HP
Max Torque49 NM @7500
Fuel SupplyEFI
Max Speed112 mph (180 km/h)
Front SuspensionFully adjustable 49mm USD, 12 in (305 mm)
Rear SuspensionDamping adjustable, 11.8 in (300 mm)
Wheelbase58.7 in (1490 mm)
Seat Height38 in (960 mm)
Tank capacity34 L
Dry Weight282 lbs (128 kg)
Ground Clearance12.2 in (310 mm)
TRAIL4.8 in (123 mm)
Steering angle38.5°
Front Tire90/90-21
Rear Tire140/80-18
Front BrakeFloating disc, 2-piston caliper
Rear BrakeSingle piston caliper

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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Rick Rezac
Rick Rezac
November 13, 2023 2:43 pm

Just wow!

Victor Sturdivant
Victor Sturdivant
November 14, 2023 6:14 am

Funny how the folks at KOVE just keep making good bikes better.

November 14, 2023 9:35 pm

Back in the 1970s european car and motorcycle manufacturers were laughing about the new vehicles coming from Japan. Is history repeating itself?

November 15, 2023 4:46 am

Hmm, titanium bolts throughout? What could go wrong?

JR Fortenberry
JR Fortenberry
November 22, 2023 11:14 am
Reply to  Robert

It’s a factory RACE BIKE not your big wheel my man. Lol

Dustin De'Win
Dustin De'Win
November 22, 2023 10:12 am

I’ll play critic, Just because the bikes finished, caries little significance. I would like to see the list of parts that had to be replaced MID race and a list of non production parts installed.

December 2, 2023 10:09 pm
Reply to  Dustin De'Win

Need to be asking that same question to any of the other teams too. (list of parts that had to be replaced)
And then think that EVERY other bike out there is fully custom, nothing production. So it’s not like you can compare apples to apples there…


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