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ADV BikesChristini 450 Explorer: Best Dual Sport You’ve Never Heard Of?

Christini 450 Explorer: Best Dual Sport You’ve Never Heard Of?

The AWD Christini Explorer can go anywhere and it's for sale in the USA.

Published on 06.04.2015

Close your eyes and picture the ultimate adventure bike. What do you see? Something light, reliable, powerful and efficient? A bike that has enough range to take you well beyond the boundaries of civilization, and is so good off road that it can turn an average rider into a hill-climbing, mud-bogging, sand-slinging hero?

If you tried imagining something along those lines, here’s some good news: The bike already exists. And it’s from an American company, no less, one you may never have heard of before.


The bike is called the Explorer, and it’s built by Christini Motorcycles. While it looks very much like a modified Honda CRF450x, it’s actually got a secret weapon you won’t find on any other production bike in the world: all-wheel drive.

All-Wheel Drive System

Christini Motorcycles has built its reputation on an innovative method of delivering power to both wheels. The system that accomplishes this isn’t a bolt-on afterthought; it’s engineered into the bike in an almost seamless manner.

Christini Motorcycles AWD chain drive

Power runs from a secondary chain to a frame-mounted gearbox. A chain cover is one of the few visible clues to the bike’s capabilities

Power from the engine runs from a secondary countershaft sprocket, through a chain and up to a gearbox located inside the frame. The cover that hides the secondary chain is one of the few visible clues that the Christini is unique.

A drive shaft running under the gas tank connects the gearbox with the head tube, where bevel gears send power to the lower triple clamp. There, two counter-rotating chains take the power to drive shafts running down the front of the fork tubes and into the front-axle gearboxes. The drive shafts are a ball-spline design and can move up and down freely under torque. In fact, the front suspension has a full 12 inches of travel and is not limited by the drive shafts.

Christini Motorcycles AWD drive shafts

Counter rotating drive shafts eliminate the torque effect and slide to allow full suspension travel.

Power is fed from the front-axle gearboxes to the hub, which incorporates two one-way clutches, allowing the front wheel to transfer power when needed and freewheel otherwise. The whole system, which adds 12 pounds to the weight of the bike, is designed to transfer power to the front wheel only when the back wheel slips. In automotive terms, it’s more like traction control between the front and rear wheels rather than standard four-wheel drive with both axles being turned at the same speed.

The system is fully sealed, lubricated and maintenance free, and can be disengaged with the flip of a switch turning the Christini back into a conventional bike.

Sure Footed

But disengaging the front wheel drive would defeat the purpose of having the world’s only true all-wheel drive production bike. And in addition to bragging rights, there are real advantages to powering both wheels.

The most obvious reason is that all-wheel drive makes the bike much more capable off road. It’s so good that Christini bikes are used by the U.S. military as scout and reconnaissance vehicles, and by Border Patrol agents. Both users need exceptional capability in sand, mud, rocks and hills. According to government testing, the Christini is 30 percent less fatiguing to ride off-road than a traditional motorcycle.

christini-motorcycles awd 450 military edition
Christini AWD 450 Military Edition being used by the U.S. Army as a scout and reconnaissance vehicle.

In practice, that means experts can go through tough terrain like mud and sand much faster, and average riders can tackle surfaces they would normally avoid. That’s a huge plus for a dual sport or adventure bike, where the whole idea is to get off the beaten path and onto a more interesting one. All-wheel drive can take you places you might not otherwise have the confidence to go.

All-wheel drive also works well on pavement, which is evident by the fact that Christini offers a supermoto version of its 450. Benefits include increased traction in wet conditions, better high-speed stability, and increased cornering capabilities.

The Explorer

Christini’s first all-wheel drive two wheelers were actually bicycles. Even with pedal power the advantages were obvious, so the company began building off-road, All-wheel drive motorcycles in their Philadelphia factory 10 years ago. Their first street legal models—450cc dual sport and supermoto bikes—came in 2012.

2015-Christini Motorcycles AWD 450 DS
The Christini AWD 450 Explorer shares the same chassis and frame as the existing 450DS model, which are both based on the CRF450x.

The Explorer, which is 49-state legal as of this writing and will be certified for sale in California soon, builds on the existing dual sport model. It shares the same chassis and frame, which are both based on the Honda CRF450x. Christini modifies the frame to accommodate the additional drive components, while the engine is produced by AsiaWing Motors in China. It is so close in design to the Honda that it can be serviced by a Honda dealer if there’s no Christini dealer where you live.

Christini Motorcycles 450 Explorer tank luggage

Saddlebags with MOLLE attachments and a 1.5 gallon auxiliary tank expand the long-distance touring capabilities of this dual sport.

With the Explorer, Christini adds gas capacity, hand guards, a skid plate and a standard luggage system. While its front 2.3-gallon gas tank is identical to that found on the dual sport model, it has additional gas capacity thanks to a 1 gallon tank mounted on a custom tail rack. The auxiliary tank gravity feeds into the main tank and can be shut off with a separate petcock. And you can stack the auxiliary tanks for even more gas capacity. Christini is also developing a four-gallon main tank for the Explorer, and removable radiator-shroud attachment tanks that can be used with the standard tank.

The luggage is a set of High Ground Gear Molle saddlebags mounted on aluminum side racks integrated into the tail rack. The Explorer weighs in at a light 278 pounds and has 13 inches of ground clearance. It’s fuel injected, gets 45 to 50 mpg, and lists at $9,595, which is less than a KTM 500 EXC. And the KTM, of course, is only one-wheel drive.

If there’s no dealer in your area, Christini will deliver a new bike to your door. Then all you’d have to do is put it in all-wheel drive and find some gnarly terrain to conquer.

Christini AWD 450 Explorer Specifications:

Engine: 450cc liquid-cooled four stroke, single-cyclinder
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection
Starting: Electric and kickstart
Transmission: Five speed, wide ratio, disengageable all-wheel drive
Final drive ratio: 13:46
All-wheel drive ratio: 0.70:1 (9:16 tooth)
Wheelbase: 59 inches (150 cm)
Seat height: 37.8 inches (96 cm)
Suspension Travel Front and Rear: 12 inches (305 mm)
Front Tire: 80/100-21, Kenda DOT Knobby
Rear Tire: 110/100-18, Kenda DOT Knobby
Dry Weight: 278 pounds (126 kg)
Ground clearance: 13 inches (330 mm)
Fuel capacity: 2.3 gallons (main tank), 1 gallon auxiliary tank (45 mpg)
Warranty: Engine 6 months, all-wheel drive system 1 year
Price: $9,595 USD

See the Christini AWD System in Action:

For more information on the Christini AWD 450 Explorer visit the Christini Motorcycles website.

Photos Courtesy Christini Motorcycles

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby

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mike vinsen
mike vinsen
June 4, 2015 7:33 pm

Can it be lowered?

June 6, 2015 8:28 am
Reply to  mike vinsen

Yes it can. In fact, Christini says they lower about half of the bikes they sell. Any lowering link that works with a Honda CRF 450x will also work on this bike. There are several available that lower the bike 1-2 inches. Then you slide the forks up in the triple clamps to bring down the front end. A low seat (Seat Concepts builds one for the 450x) will give you another two inches.

June 5, 2015 7:41 am

Is it diesel engine powered?

Bob Whitby
Bob Whitby
June 5, 2015 9:15 am
Reply to  ron

No. It’s a gasoline engine.

June 5, 2015 4:23 pm

37.8 inch seat height? Lol.

June 6, 2015 5:27 pm

I’ve known about these for a while but never read much about ’em. I’d love to have one, but like others have said… 37″??? Yikes. Yeah it’d have to come down at least 3″ for me to be able to get a leg over it.

Tim Harrison
Tim Harrison
June 8, 2015 4:34 am

Any chance this will be sold in the UK?

Bob Whitby
Bob Whitby
June 9, 2015 1:37 pm
Reply to  Tim Harrison

The bikes are being imported into the UK. And if there isn’t a dealer/importer near you, remember that Christini can ship you a bike anywhere in the world.

June 28, 2015 3:27 pm

Is there any plans or options for a larger long range fuel tank for adventure riding?

Matt P.
Matt P.
June 30, 2015 4:04 pm
Reply to  Jared

They mention that in the article. It definitely seems like a great option but I’m vertically challenged so would need to order the bike at the lowest setting…hopefully they can go really low lol

Anthony Lucente
Anthony Lucente
August 3, 2015 12:37 pm

If you’re in the Philly area come out and see Steve Christini do a presentation about the bikes and technology on August 21, 8:00 PM at the new showroom at 611 N 2nd Street Phila, PA

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