AWD motorcycles are about to get real

Dailies -



For years the maker of custom all-wheel drive conversions, Christini is launching its own brand of production bikes. Two models will be assembled in the company’s Philadelphia facility for sale as 2012 models and it’s kinda hard to not be overwhelmed by awesome reading the spec sheets. In addition to a $6,895 four-stroke 450, there’ll be an $8,995 two-stroke 300 too. Affordable prices, AWD, high-end components and American assembly? Win.

By powering the front wheel, Christini’s AWD system increases traction available for acceleration. If the rear wheel spins, power is transferred to the front until grip at the rear returns. The other advantage is that AWD prevents the front wheel from washing out by applying power if it starts to push.

Achieving both those advantages sounds complicated, but Christini’s approach is simplicity itself. Power is transferred to the front wheel by a series of chains and drive shafts that run up through the frame, then down through the steering tube, bottom yoke, through telescoping driveshafts on the forks to a one-way clutch mounted in the front wheel. Under normal conditions, the front wheel is driven at 80 percent of the speed of the rear wheel, working, Christini says, like pedaling a bicycle down hill. If the rear wheel rapidly accelerates, the front tries to catch up and applies power. If the front slows down dramatically as is the case when it starts to push, the power plays catch up again and keeps it spinning.

Christini says that, unlike more complicated hydraullic systems, it’s mechanical solution, “is extremely efficient, resulting in less than 1% power loss while adding less than 15 lbs total weight to the motorcycle. Traction and safety in wet and treacherous terrain both on and off road are dramatically improved by AWD enabling a broad range of riders to achieve performance levels far superior to a normal rear wheel drive motorcycle.”

• Twin Spar Aluminum Frame
• 450 cc Liquid Cooled Four Stroke
• 5 Speed Wide Ratio Transmission
• Electric and Kick Start
• Suspension: 12” Front & Rear
• Link Suspension
• Ground Clearance: 14”
• 21” Front Tire
• 18” Rear Tire
• 2.6 Gallon Tank
• Seat Height 37.5”
• AWD Drive Ratio 0.64:1
• AWD Engagement Switch
• 1 Year AWD Warranty

• Steel Frame
• 300 cc Liquid Cooled Gas Gas Engine
• 5 Speed Wide Ratio Transmission
• Kick Start
• Hydraulic Clutch
• Twin Cooling Fans
• Suspension: 12” Front & Rear
• PDS Rear Shock
• Ground Clearance: 15”
• 21” Front Tire
• 18” Rear Tire
• 2.8 Gallon Tank
• Seat Height 39”
• AWD Drive Ratio 0.64:1
• AWD Engagement Switch
• 1 Year AWD Warranty

  • David

    For the curious, there’s a good video describing the front-wheel-drive mechanism here:

  • noone1569

    *reread first sentence. . .* #corrections

    1% loss and +15lbs

    That’s not terrible. I bet the improved traction is enough to overcome this loss and weight gain. . . It looks like you would be able to shave off most of this 15lb gain with aftermarket components and dropping that massive kickstand…

    Could be a game changer. I’d like to ride one to see how it feels. I wonder if the mechinical system is reliable? Slipping a front drive chain while running around the woods would be terrible.

    Are these AMA legal for MX races?

    • Cajun58

      The front drive chain is in that red anodized case on the left side + 2 small cahins in the triple clamps everything else is drive shafts. Losing the front drive doesn’t affect the rear drive. Several tree killer mags have done long term tests. No MX with that kickstand which is really pretty standard in terms of size for off-road and it’s a pain in the ass to go without unless you’re strictly a racer. This system really benefits the non-racing crowd most. Anyone from your basic recreational rider to hardcore aggressive trail types will enjoy the improved handling provided by having the front wheel powered.

  • Brammofan

    Some genius should figure out a way to use that front wheel drive gizmo on one of those newfangled electric bikes, but in reverse as a way to regenerate power to a battery through a front hub motor. And then patent it. Oh… done, and … pending.

  • Sasha Pave

    This is great news! There needs to be more American dirt bikes, right now it’s only Highland and ATK I believe.

    Does anyone know where the 450 engines are sourced from?

    Looks like the perfect woods weapon. Throw in an auto clutch and there’s Probably nothing this bike can’t do.

    • vigor

      saw these at the indy show saturday. i’m 99% sure they are both Gas Gas with the fwd system slapped on. every time i tried to stop by and talk they were swamped with gawkers.

      very competitively priced next to lame, one wheel drive, japanese bikes ;)

      • vigor

        memory check. the more i think about it, i’m 99% sure the two stroke was Gas Gas. not sure at all about the four, as i didn’t get to look at it or talk to anyone about them.

        • Wes Siler

          It’s Gas Gas.

          • Sasha Pave

            Thanks y’all.

            Interesting that Christini would pick the GasGas 450 engine considering it’s probably the most exotic 4 stroke 450 around.

            Personally I’d rather see them OEM engines from Kymco a-la BMW.

  • rohorn

    “1% loss and +15lbs”

    Not a problem at all – in fact, that sounds like what I have to put up with every year I get older…

  • fasterfaster

    These bikes are spectacular. I haven’t ridden the new ones, but even on the older conversions front wheel drive really does turn you into a hero in the dirt. especially if you’re a hack like me.

    Very excited to see them building the bikes themselves. Having Christina as a factory option lowers the price almost to a no brainer. BTW, do you have the pricing backwards? I would expect the 4-stroke to be the more expensive option.

    • Wes Siler

      Me too, but this is the pricing as they sent it out. I think the 2T gets some nicer components, but there’s no details. We’ll be speaking to Steve soon and bringing more details.

  • seanslides

    Are those prices for a CRF450X motor and a KTM 300? You guys should get out to thumper racing sometimes and persuade the guys out there to let you take out the christiini’d 600cc 530.

  • Roman

    Holy shit, these guys are from Philly? First Hammarhead now, this…so proud of local guys doing big things!

  • Erica

    I think they’ve been producing their own bikes for a little while now… I have a friend who has owned one for going on two years now.

    • Wes Siler

      Custom. News is production.

      • Erica


      • Erica

        and of course now that I go back and look, his bike is a Christini Honda CRF250 that just has all Christini bodywork on it so I assumed it was all Christini, oops.

  • Nick

    This is totally awesome. AWD can cost thousands on a cage, but when there are 8 inches of snow on the ground and the whole city is my truck’s playground, I’d say it’s completely worth it. Would love to try a 2wd bike!

  • Mike

    It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Can I get that installed on my Monster? kthxbye

  • Trent

    Wonder if that wouldn’t improve lap times on a MotoGP bike?

  • brutus

    thats so amazingly clean compared to that awd kickboxer prototype, really classy shit!

  • dux

    I’m lovin’ it! I think they need to get these into people’s hands and it should sell itself pretty fast. Or give one away on the ADV rider forums. Hehe

  • David

    The thinking on my enduro forum is that the 450 uses a Chinese cloned Honda motor, thus the large price difference between it and the genuine Gas Gas motored 300. All speculation, however.

  • Bronson

    America, Fuck Yeah!!