It’s been a wild week and it’s getting even wilder. Last week I rode the Kove MX250 for the first time. Then I was in South Carolina where I rode the new Yamaha YZ450FX as well as the unchanged YZ125X and YZ250X. Then I rode the opening round of the GNCC season on the 450. Then it was back home to ride the new Beta 450RX motocross bike for the first time. Wednesday was the Beta Trials Press challenge up at Motoventures. Tomorrow I’m going riding with Rodney Smith to compare four different Beta Race Editions (350RR, 390RR, 430RR and 480RR). On Monday Mark Tilley is off to Florida to ride the new Triumph TX250. It’s all going into the May print issue of Dirt Bike.

The Kove MX250 sells for $5999.

First things first, the Kove is a very cool bike. It is, as far as I know, the first real motocross bike from China. Most other bikes from mainland Asia are copies of something else, but the Kove is its own beast. It has a DOHC six-speed motor that Kove produced in cooperation with nearby Zongshen. The top end, clutch and most parts are made by Kove. The suspension is by another Chinese company called Yu An and the brakes are by yet another Chinese company called Taisko. Virtually everything is sourced in China, which allows the MSRP to come in at $5999.

Pete Murray on the Kove.

The great thing about the Kove is that it feels normal. Everything is right; the seat, the bars and the riding position are all very modern and comfortable. This isn’t what I expected. Usually bikes from mainland Asia are laid out in weird ways. From just sitting on it, I would swear it’s a Honda. It fires up easily and sounds just like any other 250cc motocross bike.

In performance, the Kove is realistically a step behind most other 250 race bikes of today, and the importers in Utah freely admit as much. It’s around 5 percent heavier than most (237 pounds without fuel versus 227 for a Husky FC250) and makes about 17 percent less horsepower (37.5 versus 44.4 for the Husky). When you ride the bike, though, you don’t really think in those terms. It revs like any modern 250. Most of the power is way up high, so to get around the track, you scream it–just like any other 250. It jumps all the same jumps, goes up all the same hills and feels just like it should. Even the suspension is surprisingly normal. The Yu-An and shock have clickers and once you get them adjusted properly, it feels … absolutely mainstream. For some reason, our bike came with all the clickers too far in and so our first impression was that it was overdamped. To get it in the ballpark we took about 10 clicks out of both compression and rebound in the shock, and about 5 out of the fork.

Glen Helen has been a muddy mess. The Kove didn’t mind

The real concern with most products from mainland Asia centers around reliability. On one of our test days, Glen Helen was a muddy mess, and just to get around the tack, Pete Murray had to abuse the clutch like crazy. The radiators were filled with mud and other bikes were overheating all over the track. Not the Kove. The next time out, the bike felt like it was still new. We’re impressed.

Of course, you can’t give away 7 horsepower in the 250 class today and expect to win races. This is a great practice bike, a fantastic playbike and a wonderful trail bike, but Kove still isn’t to the point where it can go head to head with more established brands on the track. That day will probably come, but frankly, we’re in no hurry. Right now, we would rather have the low price.


Jared Hicks at Randy’s place on the YZ250X.

Yamaha held its off-road introduction at Randy Hawkins place in Union, South Carolina. This is the third time the combined press has been there, which is where the Ampro GNCC team trains. I had Jared Hicks in tow for testing and he stars in the video, which you can check out here: Yamaha YZ450FX.


Tomorrow, as I said, we are testing the four Beta Race Editions. I have often been asked why Beta has four different off-road four-strokes that look identical. I’ve never had a very good answer. Next week, I will.


Beta 350RR Race Edition–if you can spot the difference between the four beta Race Editions pictured here, you are an official Beta expert!
Beta 390RR Race Edition
Beta 430RR Race Edition
Beta 480RR Race Edition



Mark Tilley on the Beta 450RX

Another reason that Rodney was down here is because the 450RX motocross bike has finally arrived. I’ll have more on that next week, but I’ll give away a spoiler: I love it! To be honest, it’s exactly what I expected from Beta. It’s incredibly smooth and easy to ride. It’s a little tall, but for me, that-s perfect. The riding compartment is roomy. You can check on the Beta 450RX video here and listen to Mark Tilley’s analysis. There will be a lot more Beta 450RX coming in the days ahead, so stay tuned.


And in yet more Beta news, Team Dirt Bike won the Beta trials challenge! This is the third time that Beta manager Tim Pilg has put together a competition among editors. It was a team event, where we could all choose a ringer for a partner. My ringer was 1974 US trials champion Lane Leavitt. He brought along his wife Debbie Evans and their son Daniel Leavitt, who comprised Team Dirt Bike #2. We finished 1-2! I know a good ringer when I see one! I’ll have a little more on Beta’s trials line next week when I have time to catch up.


Hey, that’s me! Photo by Lane Leavitt.
–Ron Lawson

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