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Zhang Xue steps down as Kove CEO

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Credit: Kove Moto

Zhang Xue, the founder and intrepid leader of Kove Moto, has resigned from his post as CEO, citing differences in how he wants to lead the manufacturer compared to other executives. Nonetheless, he is still a stakeholder in the company and maintains good relations.

“I made this decision last Friday. If I had to give a reason why, I would say that it’s because our values differ,” Zhang explained. He had initially posted his resignation message on WeChat. “I treated Kove as if it were my own child, but I have to love myself first and find value in my own life. I believe I can do it, but it’s because I am no longer the CEO of Kove. There are many things that I can’t make a decision on, so it cannot grow according to my vision. Of course, there is nothing wrong about this.

“Our manager is also a very, very good person, and he’s now the CEO. Let him follow his own managing philosophy, which I think is not wrong, because everyone’s values are different.”

Zhang, a former motocross and enduro rider, founded Kove in 2017 with the goal of eventually fielding bikes in motorsport. In 2023, Kove became the first Chinese bike manufacturer to compete at the Dakar Rally, and enjoyed great success in their début when all three riders Deng LiansongFang Mingji, and Sunier reached the finish. Kove expanded their rally raid programme throughout the year, adding foreign factory riders Neels Theric and Xavier Flick who competed in other World Rally-Raid Championship events. Zhang himself also entered the Taklimakan Rally in China alongside five other Koves.

At the 2024 Dakar Rally, Kove expanded into the premier RallyGP category on a partnership with Mason Klein on the new Kove 450 Rally EX. Despite an up-and-down race as he ran as high as third but was plagued by mechanical failures, Klein’s effort won the hearts of many following the race. 2024 was the second step in Zhang’s five-year plan with the hope of placing one Kove in the top twenty, though Fang Xiangling ended up being the highest-finishing Kove in thirty-fifth in Rally2. Zhang’s plan consisted of the following: finish in the first year (2023, achieved), a top twenty in 2024, a top ten in 2025, a podium in 2026, and winning the fifth and final phase in 2027.

Kove also has branches in other disciplines like motocross and road racing. In the latter, Marc García and Julio Garcia González will race Kove 321RRs in the 2024 Supersport 300 World Championship.

Although his involvement with Kove has mostly been reduced to being part-owner, Zhang intends to start a new business that also builds motorcycles, with a three-cylinder bike as its first project.

“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Zhang and many at Kove over the years. I know who they are and what they do, I’m 100% confident both Zhang and Kove are going to continue to move forward,” wrote Gary Goodwin, who oversees Kove’s distribution in North America. “They have nothing but respect for each other. They are all passionate people and have the mindset to build performance. Zhang is part of a group of investors. His passion and vision are what helped organize a great group of technicians, engineers, designers, suppliers. The same passion and vision continues on at Kove I’m sure I will hear from Zhang on his new projects.”

Kove Moto has not released a statement on the matter, though Goodwin indicated that bike development and sale will continue as usual.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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