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Christini AWD 300

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Technical Knockout

Photography by Adam Booth

Persistence and innovation. No two words better describe Christini's corporate philosophy than these. More than five years ago, the Pennsylvania-based company developed a revolutionary non-hydraulic all-wheel-drive system that simultaneously created and dominated a new segment of the off-road market. A consistent race effort and a dedicated customer base both helped improve performance and raise awareness of Christini technology, but when the economy tanked, the brand failed to explode in popularity like everyone predicted. Still, Christini kept pushing. The AWD system began finding a successful niche in military applications, though Christini's dream of selling an all-wheel-drive stock motorcycle through one of the major OEMs struggled to gain traction but remained alive. As a result, Christini did what any like-minded entrepreneurial brand would do: It built its own bike.

The all-new Christini AWD 300 is just that: a Christini. This complete machine is not a Honda or a KTM but rather a blend of components that make the bike uniquely Christini-like. Sure, the AWD uses a 300cc Gas Gas two-stroke engine, but that doesn't mean it has much in common with anything you've seen on dealer floors. A hydraulic clutch, Paioli front suspension, six-speed transmission, and optional electric start are some of the main features of the AWD 300, not to mention the fact that power is delivered to the front wheel when the rear loses traction via an all-mechanical system.

If you haven't ridden the AWD setup before, here's a bit of background: The Christini system feels very different on the trail compared to a rear-wheel-drive bike. Due to the unfamiliar handling, some riders click with the Christini, while others struggle to get used to it. We think it is awesome off road, so long as you know how to ride it and don't fight the front end. The biggest downside we notice is that the Christini's front wheel will try to crawl out of ruts when the shoulder knobs of the tire grab traction, and this — along with a feeling of the front end “pulling” — means the bike will sometimes just go where it wants, much like how a traditional rear-drive bike feels in sand. Minor unweighting of the front end and continually bringing it back down with the wheel slightly cocked are responsible for a huge part of this sensation. This is not a big deal on a traditional bike but can be very consequential on the AWD, since the front will grab and send you off in whatever direction the handlebar is pointing. Additionally, the added weight of the AWD components make it more difficult to get the front wheel off the ground, which leads to a tendency to slam into obstacles rather than pop over them.

With that said, the benefits of the system far outweigh the negatives. In loose rocks, tough hills, and overall nasty terrain, the Christini is magic. It truly is like having a motivated minder pulling you over obstacles with a tugger strap. You need to be aware of how you're modulating the power and the clutch in order to find the best blend of traction and rpm, but overall the Christini does an excellent job of hooking up and getting going.

If there is one thing about the AWD 300 that makes it stand above other iterations of the Christini, it's that the frame is not at all rigid and promotes a balanced overall handling feel. The chassis obviously carries the extra weight of the system near the front of the frame, but it doesn't feel like this weight is in front of the stem, like one of those awkwardly heavy auxiliary number plate fuel tanks. Instead, the weight feels forward but lower than expected, and there aren't any odd leaning or turning issues, except for those mentioned above. Even with a bulkier fuel tank to accommodate the internal gears of the AWD, the ergonomics were comfortable and easy to get used to.

As an avid two-stroke lover, this author found the 300cc Gas Gas powerplant to be a great complement to the function of the AWD. Easy to roll on and packed with torque, the engine does best in the low-to-mid rpm range and can easily be short-shifted to maintain great traction. The biggest downside we felt was that vibration got a bit heavy when the revs went too high. Starting and jetting were both where they needed to be, and the exhaust was not overly noisy. Of course, four-stroke lovers can also get a taste of Christini technology through the new AWD 450, which features an engine that is similar in appearance to a 450cc Honda.

Perhaps the coolest part of the AWD 300 is the price, which is $8,995 for the complete bike. Most riders are under the impression that a Christini costs an arm and a leg, but the reality is that riders can now get a hard enduro-ready All Wheel Drive 300 for less than the cost of a new KTM. The AWD 450 is even cheaper at an astonishing $6,895. For something this advanced, the complete package is great. For a trail bike, the AWD 300 is a very awesome option for the average rider. It used to be that riders would buy Christinis as a second bike, but given how far the technology has come, this bike definitely deserves consideration as a primary machine.


Twin Spar Aluminum Frame

Gas Gas 300cc Liquid-Cooled


Kick Start (Electronic Start Optional for $600)

Hydraulic Clutch

Paioli Open Chamber Front Suspension

CSR Single Shock with Linkage and High Speed, Low Speed and Rebound Adjustability

Suspension: 305 mm (12-inch) Front & Rear

Front Tire: 21-inch Kings Tire Tube Type

Tank: 9.8L (2.6-gallon)

AWD Engagement Switch

FMF Pipe and Silencer with Spark Arrestor

Six-Speed Wide-Ratio Transmission

AWD Drive Ratio: 0.64:1 (9:16 tooth)

Final Drive Ratio: 13:48 tooth

Black Anodized Rims and Billet Hubs

Ground Clearance: 356 mm (14-inch)

Wheelbase: 1,478mm (58.2-inch)

Rear Tire: 18-inch Kings Tire Tube Type

Front and Rear Brake: Single-Disc 240mm (9.4-inch)

Seat Height: 952 mm (37.5-inches)

Make: Christini

Model: AWD 300

Seat height: 37.5 in

Claimed dry weight: 239 lbs

Ground clearance: 14.0 in

Fuel capacity: 2.6 gal

MSRP: $8,995 includes one-year AWD warranty


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