Riding The Kove 450


By Glenn Foley and friends.

Pics by Black Rock Studio

Kove. Who knew that this brand would make such a splash globally? I mean – take on the Dakar rally for starters. So you have to give them credit, it could have gone either way. 

In 2023, 3 Kove’s (Please note, pronounced Kovay) took on Dakar – and they all finished. 

In 2024, Mason Klein took on the challenge and did really well when you consider how the odds were stacked against him.

His race bike did not arrive in time thanks to various reasons out of his control such as the war in Israel (Yup!). The Kove team still managed to put a bike together for him, but that was really last minute.com and sadly, the electrics let him down. 

Mason Klein


In SA, Kove Motorcycles South Africa has just landed the first shipment of these 450 rally machines – and they are all sold out. 


Except for the demo at Offroad Cycles, the Kove dealer in Koedoespoort out Pretoria Side.


Those fine gentlemen lent us their bike for a fine couple of days out in the saddle.


For this ride, we roped in the talents of two very experienced MX riders, Mike “Maverick” Wessels and James Lottering. You’ll have seen them in other features that we’ve run. Both are old hands at bike stuff and – interestingly, both were at this years Dakar rally swinging spanners. We also roped in a “normal” rider in the form of the Bike Shows Donovan Fourie to get his take on it all. 


“Go gently” we said, and they did. Until they were out of sight of this here editor…

On a bike like this it doesn't take long before you start behaving badly...

The meats:

Guys, you need to see this bike in the flesh. It is pretty gorgeous in our opinion – and the feel and build quality is absolutely not what we expected. You can check out the video we did here, but just for a recap.

Plastics, quality. Proper, complete with carbon fibre finishes.

Practicality. Access to the tower – 6 Dzus clips. Tool free.

Access to air filter – tool free. Noice.

No oil glass or dipstick on this one, you need to remove a bleeder screw on the casing to check your oil. Also easily accessed.

Suspension fully adjustable.

Brakes by Nissin

Engine DOHC fuel injected water cooled.


The bike that we rode is basically as it arrived out of the crate. The only modifications made here was the removal of the catalytic convertor and the addition of a Garmin GPS. The guys do have full titanium exhaust systems in stock that reduce the bikes weight by 4 KG’s. They also have flashing units for the ECU.


So from the top. 

This Kove FSE 450R Rally is built and engineered in China. The tyres, rims, suspension, engine, and every other component is made by Chinese suppliers. Now as you’ll know, with our phones, cars on the SA roads and other electronic stuff, China has progressed a lot in the last few years. And the motorcycles it manufactures are getting better.


This bike is powered by a 450cc water-cooled single with dual overhead cams that pumps out 51 horsepower and 30 ft-lbs of torque. 

It runs on adjustable inverted suspension that is made by Yu-an, complete with air bleeds on top of each fork leg so you can purge pressure.

Braking is handled by a Nissin double-piston caliper and single-piston rear brakes. Included is simple 3 level ABS that can be switched off. 

The 21-inch spoked front wheel is shod in CST rubber.

Out back you’ll find an 18-inch wheel with a hybrid aluminum and steel rear sprocket. The inner alloy portion keeps it light while steel teeth make it more durable.

The linkage-enabled rear suspension includes compression and rebound adjustment.


It comes with three different fuel tanks, two up front on either side and one in the rear. All topped up, it holds thirty and a bit litres of fuel. Full LED lighting and sleek body panels and a clean swept exhaust make for a good looking machine. 

Among the “Rally” part of things are the rally screen fitted with TFT display, rally-style fairings and bodywork, a large carbon fibre skid plate with a tool compartment, quick-access air filter, and oversize footpegs.

The bike has a tall 38-inch seat height and gives you 12 inches of suspension travel and ground clearance. Weight without fuel is a claimed 145 KG’s. Add 30 litres of fuel to that.


The ride:

We have a perfect testing ground right here for a bike like this. Fast, flowing wide open tweespoor, a rocky little mountain, a flat taps river crossing or two and our Covid track where you’ll find some cool jumps and things. The only thing missing is long sections of thick desert sand.

As we said… “Take it easy” was not on the menu for the day.


Mike was first in the saddle, all nice and polite on the roads to our staging area. Upon arrival we quizzed him after the shorty. 

“It feels good, maybe a bit stiff and the motor still feels quite tight. It seems to lack real power down low – just for the ride out to here, but let’s open her up and see what happens. I do like the display and controls, it all feels good!”



“Right off you go then” – and he opened wide and took off like a tribe of angry KTM’s were on his tail. The route we have is roughly seven kilometres of fast flowy stuff, finished off by a lekker little stream crossing where we attempted to get him to stop so that we could have a chat. But he knew that James was waiting for a turn and – he didn’t stop. For about five laps. Eventually we got Rene’ our resident damsel in distress, to lie across the trail. This forced him to apply brakes forcefully and come to a quick stop (Luckily the brakes are excellent), whereupon James practically rugby tackled him off the bike – and took off. Repeat. Lots of laps and big splashes and stuff and eventually we got everyone together for a good chinwag.


It’s properly modern with a very legible TFT display. We’d need to modify the skid plate or selector.

Comfort and ergonomics. “Spot on” say the guys. The only beef is that the seat is quite wide where it meets the fuel tank. Easy enough to remedy.

The bars, controls pegs all feel proper. That tower does not rattle or vibrate and the TFT display works perfectly. It even comes with bluetooth connectivity. Nice!

Actuating the three levels of ABS are easy to use and you can turn it right off which is great for the faster stuff.

General consensus: The faster you ride her the better it gets… initial pull-away is soft, but she revs really well and feels pretty quick!

Handling in the faster stuff is really good, the bike turns well and there is sufficient chug to shoot her out of the corners. Not as aggressive as an MX 450 – you need to play in the gearbox – especially with all the fuel up front, the front feels heavier than your conventional dirt bike.

Both were impressed with the suspension – for the average rider, just play with the clickers. 

James wanted a bit more stiffness. Mike wanted to soften her up a bit.

That’s the importance of personal bike setup! But as a mean average, the boys were pretty impressed.

The stock tyres are good, but both riders felt that they would go for something with a bit more hook-up, especially for faster terrain.

The gear shifts were perfect through the day with a really smooth clutch pull. We’d change the lever – the skid plate gets in the way of adjusting the stock unit.

From the fast stuff, we took the guys to our little track. 

Tight and slower with lots of jumps and climbs where the guys proceeded to get airborne  at every opportunity. It was a good test for the suspension again – and we need to tell you that despite the guys best efforts while the ed was not looking, they did not bottom out. Ever. cool huh!

Also notable is the bikes general chug-a-lug up and over the rocks. No stalling and slow climbs up and over without stalling or getting overly warm. The cooling fan did kick in a few times, but then any 450 would do the same.


“Pretty amazing!” says Mike. I fully expected a big heavy machine, but the more I rode this, the better it got.” fact is, we couldn’t get him off the bloody thing.

”Super impressed” says James. It’s a lot more than I expected, at 200k, terrific bang for your buck.

Just look at it. Wide radiators with cooling fans. 3 fuel tanks all neat. Up to date styling… 

Then we gave it to the Bike Shows Donovan Fourie and asked his opinion…

“Is this thing really Chinese?”

I stood at the door to the offices of Dirt & Trail with a quizzical expression asking the above question. Annoyingly, when you present a piece for TV or write an article on a motorcycle, people expect you to get the facts right. We were riding through the beautiful fields near the Dirt & Trail plot and remembered that Glenn and the crew said it was Chinese. 

Riding it shed some doubts on that – I won’t criticize Chinese motorcycles as they are built to serve a function and at a good price. For the most part nowadays, Chinese bikes do exactly that. Although, when you climb on a Chinese bike, especially after riding all sorts from Japan, Europe, America and all over, you can somehow immediately tell that you’re on a Chinese bike. It comes through.

It didn’t through on the Kove.

The doubt was becoming unnerving – I don’t want to proclaim on national television that this bike is built in China only to hear afterwards that, perhaps, it is owned by the Chinese but built in a fancy facility in Germany and that is why it doesn’t feel like it’s built in China.

“Yes, it’s built in China,” came the reply from the office. Not believing them, I did some more googling and found that yes, it is indeed built in China.

This is cracking good news. China is a superpower of production, and their building motorcycles that can rival the likes of the Europeans can only mean good news.

Apart from feeling Not Chinese, it feels largely like an enduro bike. Well, a larger enduro bike, but an enduro bike nonetheless. It isn’t as tall as you’d expect and not as wide or ungainly as you’d expect from a bike that looks big in photos. I was expecting something like a slightly lighter adventure bike. Not so.

The motor feels strong, especially on the muddy trails that day, although we suspect that should we have had a 450 MX bike there on the day, it might feel somewhat more docile. However, it was definitely fast enough for me and my, ahem, “normal” dirt skills. More so, the throttle is wonderfully regulated so that at full throttle it breathes fire, but at half throttle, it feels more easygoing and predictable.

The suspension is from a company we have never heard of and yet it seems to work. Kove seems to have set it up for the more experienced rider who hits bumps hard and needs the support. 

Riders like me would rather soften it up a bit, but thankfully the clicker adjusters are all there to do just that.

So here we have a road-legal, lightweight dirt bike at a price that isn’t too exorbitant, especially compared to other rally bikes (those that can be purchased). It’s pretty much everything that people on the likes of Wild Dogs Forum have been asking for for decades. 

And it took the Chinese to get it right.

Good job!

The next shipment is due in May.

To dealers so far – Offroad Cycles in Pretoria and CWL Baard Auto in Hopefield, Western Cape, about a 100 kays from Cape Town. Demo’s are at both stores.

Details: www.kovemotosa.co.za

Perhaps it’s designed for some really fast farming? Those mealie thieves will never get away…

Kove 450R Rally Specs.

Current price R199950.00


Water cooling, oil cooling, single cylinder 4-stroke, dual overhead cams






Bosch EFI


Electric start


38kw (51 hp) @ 9500rpm


40N m (29.5 ft-lbs) @ 7000rpm




86″ x 31″ x 55″


58 inches (1473.2 mm)




38 inches (965.2 mm)


49mm fully-adjustable inverted fork by Yuan


Fully-adjustable single shock by Yuan with linkage system


12 inches / 12 inches (305 mm / 305 mm)


12 inches (305 mm)


Front: Single-disc dual-piston caliper/ABS; Rear: Single-disc  single-piston caliper/ABS


145 kg


170 kph


Front 90/90 – 21 Rear 140/80 -18


30.2 litres


Oil change every 5000 KM’s; Valve clearance check every 8000 Km’s

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