At EICMA 2022, you may or may not have noticed a certain Chinese motorcycle manufacturer take on the global stage. Kove, is the brand I'm talking about, and it's definitely a new player in the global two-wheeler industry. Born in 2017 and with operations focused mainly within China, Kove has some lofty ambitions in entering the industry, particularly in the world of motorsports.
I must admit that when I first saw the Kove brand, and took a quick trip to their website, I thought they were just another Chinese motorcycle manufacturer that wouldn't really catch on. As it turns out, I was wrong, as Kove has entered the 2023 Dakar Rally and completed the event with flying colors. Indeed, at EICMA 2022, Kove president and CEO Zhang Xue made it clear that he had ambitions of making it big on the global racing stage. The company fielded a total of three Kove 450 Rally race bikes, and all three of them finished the race without much issue.
Sure, there were minor roadblock and hiccups along the way, but the three 450 Rally bikes passed the challenge with flying colors. What's most interesting is that one of them even placed in the top 50—a rather impressive feat considering that this was Kove's first time racing in Dakar. The bike was piloted by a Chinese rider named Sunier Sunier—I kid you not, that's really his name. Sunier finished in 46th place overall, with his best performance being on Wednesday, where he tackled the 114-kilometer section from Haradh to Shaybah and finished in 33rd place overall, and sixth in the rookie class.
So there you have it, Chinese machinery once again proving that it has what it takes to take on the big leagues. The Dakar Rally, however, isn't the end of Kove's motorsports escapades. With Kove's presence in off-road racing already known, the brand is simultaneously focusing on road racing with its upcoming debut in the World SSP300. In a similar fashion to how Kove entered the Dakar Rally, it'll be a team comprised of Chinese folks, with rider Shengjunjie Zhou taking the helm of the Kove 321RR.
As for the bike, it's a model we've talked about before, a sportbike with a 321cc parallel-twin which has likely been derived from Yamaha's YZF R3, a bike that the 321RR will be racing head-to-head against in the World SSP300, along with the formidable Kawasaki Ninja 400.