There are some amazing niche products available for those that like to ride offroad such as AJP, Beta, Gas Gas – but potentially the Christini 450DS is the best yet. That so many people haven’t heard of it before (including dual sport aficionados) is a crying shame but let’s try and rectify that. The Christini 450DS is an all-wheel-drive(!) dual sport based upon a Honda CRF450X that you can road register – and it only costs $8,995.
Christini actually started out as a mountain bike company, developing AWD technology for bicycles back in the 90s before selling the first model in 2001. In 2007, Christini sold their first AWD motorcycle and now offers a range of two and four stroke bikes – both competition only and street legal. So good is the technology that the US military employs the technology on many of the motorcycles they use overseas.
Christini’s patented mechanical All Wheel Drive system delivers power from the motorcycle transmission to the front wheel through a series of chains and shafts. There is no energy-robbing hydraulics involved. It can be turned off at any stage, too – should you wish to show your dirt riding prowess without additional assistance.
The lightweight all-mechanical system works similar to that of AWD systems found on four wheeled vehicles. The AWD system (powering the front wheel) is driven at a slightly lower rate than the rear wheel (approximately 80%). Under optimum traction conditions, the rear wheel is actually driving faster than the front AWD system. One-way clutches within the front hub allow the front wheel to freewheel under these conditions. At this point, the AWD system is effectively passive. Though the front AWD system is turning, it is not actually transferring power to the front wheel. When the rear wheel loses traction, the drive ratio, relative to your forward speed, changes. The AWD system engages, transferring power to the front wheel until traction is reestablished at the rear wheel.
The way the front system works is like pedaling a bicycle down hill. You are pedaling, but because of gravity (acting like the rear drive) the bike is traveling faster than you are delivering power. When you get to the bottom of the hill and slow down (similar to what happens when the rear wheel spins), you will begin to power the bike again.
An added benefit of AWD is that the front wheel does not want to wash out. When a front end tucks, the wheel stalls, stops turning, and begins to push. With the AWD system, as soon as the wheel begins to stall, power is delivered to the front wheel, forcing it to turn. With the front wheel under power, it is nearly impossible to wash out the front end.
The 450DS chassis and frame is based on the Honda CRF450x, modified to accommodate the required components for powering the front wheel. The engine is also based on the Honda and built by AsiaWing motors in China. We’ve talked to a few owners of the bike and they say it’s rock solid, engine included. In fact, Christini has kept things so in line with Honda that if a Christini dealer isn’t nearby, you can get the bike serviced at a Honda dealership.
The AWD 450 Dual Sport is an EPA approved street legal bike and includes DOT tires, lights, turn signals and mirrors. It uses the same motor and suspension as the off road, but is more geared towards adventure. You can cruise the roads, hit the trails and explore.
We’ve been in contact with local Christini dealers and actually hope to ride and review much of their range in the very near future.