Unlike the automotive world, all-wheel-drive models are rare in motorcycling. The Rokon Trail Breaker has been a great AWD utility bike for decades, but never gained mass adoption. Suzuki’s Nuda concept famously featured dual shaft drives but it, unfortunately, never made it to the production line. However, Cristini All-Wheel Drive Motorcycles put all its chips down on the technology and its AWD 450DS is definitely worth a closer look.
To the untrained eye, Cristini’s flagship dual-sport resembles any street-legal dirt bike. The 13-inch ground clearance is generous and the plastics fit the style seen on most off-road machines. The twin-spar aluminum frame cradles a liquid-cooled, 450cc single derived from Honda’s CRF450X. For that reason, Cristini owners can bolt Honda OE parts directly to the Cristini platform. Despite all those similarities, one element stands out on the 450DS: the front-wheel drivetrain.
Though the system is inconspicuous, Cristini packs a lot of technology in a few square feet. From chain to bevel to gear drive, the system scavenges power from the secondary countershaft and sends it to the front wheel. After a series of chain and shaft drives under the triple clamps, the front axle gearbox transfers the power to the front hub. The front-wheel-drive isn’t always active, though.
Should the rear lose traction or the front start slipping, the system kicks into action to help maintain the motorcycle’s course and the rider’s feel. The rest of the time, the front hub is freewheeling. Ingenious features like telescopic driveshafts at the fork account for 12 inches of travel, enabling the system to handle the rigors of off-road riding. Despite all the gears, shafts, and chains, Cristini’s AWD mechanism only adds 12 pounds to the dual-sport and uses .1 horsepower.
For those interested in the Cristini AWD 450DS, a 2015 unit is currently for sale at GSA Auctions. While mileage is unknown and the six-year-old dual-sport may need repairs, AWD motos aren’t easy to come by.