When you get bored out of your life and want to have some adventure, what can be more interesting than riding a bike in Antartica? B.U.T., can you ride the bike in Antarctica that you bought from a shop that is in the next block? I guess not. Just like cars have Land Rover, bikes have Christini AWD Bike.
Below are the excerpts of the interview between I Innovate Magazine and Steve from Christini
The name Christini sounds pretty interesting. How did you land with such a cool name?
Steve – I wish I could come up with something more exciting, but I can’t. It’s my last name! We tried various names that would represent the company like 2-Trac or 2X2 or something of that nature. But everything was taken or trademarked. So, as it’s a very uncommon last name and has the feel of Italian racing sound, we stuck with it.
Tell us more about Christini.
Steve – In the summer of 1994, Steve Christini went out for a mountain bike ride and came back with an idea. It had rained earlier that day making the conditions a bit slippery, though nothing that many riders don’t face on a regular basis. After losing traction on his rear wheel a couple of times Steve, a senior Mechanical Engineer at Villanova at the time, started thinking: why not power both wheels?
After a few sketches and a lot of thinking, it came to him: an internal drive shaft to the front wheel. Seems pretty simple, right? To make a longer story short, Steve, along with co-inventor Mike Dunn, made this their senior design project and turned a lot of heads. Several years, tons of sleepless nights and some great stories later, here we are.
Years later, Christini is now one of the premier design and development companies in the motorcycle industry. With the launch of their AWD Motorcycles in 2006 and the first production of their OEM motorcycles in 2012, they now supply bikes to customers, dealers, and the US and international military around the world.
Christini Technologies, Inc., located in Philadelphia, was formed in June of 1999 and is now the world’s leading developer of All-Wheel Drive Mountain Bikes and Motorcycles. Each member of the Christini Team lends their own special qualities which gel together to create a truly unique company that brings to you the next great innovation in mountain biking.
Who are the persons behind Christini? (Please provide co-founders’ photos)
Steve – I am the inventor and founder.
Tell us more about your Kickstarter campaign.
Steve – After a ten-year break in production of All Wheel Drive mountain bikes, Christini’s re-launch of their original design concepts has taken the company into the popular Fatbike segment. Initially offering both a 4″ split frame and a 5″ wide tire design, the bikes will feature Christini’s patented AWD system providing unmatched traction and control while enabling a rider to conquer the toughest conditions. These two models will also have an electric assist option utilizing a mid drive motor and high capacity battery.
“We are excited to get back to our roots in the bicycle industry and provide Fatbike enthusiasts with the unmatched traction of AWD,” said Steve Christini “Kate Leeming has been testing the AWD Fat bike prototypes for several years now, and her success has proven that our AWD design will offer something truly unique to the Fatbike market.”
Kate Leeming is one of the world’s most accomplished athletes having cycled across every continent except Antarctica. She intends to be the first person to accomplish this amazing journey on board this unique AWD Fatbike. To assist with this effort, Christini AWD has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support Kate’s expedition. We welcome anyone to join in this effort.
Christini mountain bikes were first introduced back in 2001 with production AWD hardtail and full suspension models. The company partnered with several small builders and some larger companies to make a unique, all-purpose, trail bike that could traverse even the most difficult trails. The proprietary AWD system is entirely enclosed within the frame and head tube of the bike and is extremely efficient, resulting in less than 1% power loss while adding less than 2.5 lbs total weight to the bike. Traction and safety in wet and treacherous terrain are dramatically improved by AWD.
What does a day at Christini look like?
Steve – We are a very small company. Everyone here does a little bit of everything. On any given day we could be building a bicycle, a motorcycle, testing something for the military or working on our snow track bikes. Everyone answers the phone and I do it all from design to sales to sourcing to logistics. I also do design for other people so we can do custom projects as well.
Tell us about the entrepreneurial journey you guys undertook.
Steve – We started the company almost 20 years ago. Our story is long and quite a ride for sure. I could give you a quick overview, but the details could probably be made into a documentary. But here are the cliff notes.
CHRISTINI AWD Timeline
- 1995: AWD Mountain bike concept envisioned and the first prototype was tested
- 1998: AWD concept was further developed and tested showing the feasibility on AWD Mountain Bikes and the potential for AWD Motorcycle
- 1999: Christini Technologies, Inc. is established, tested, and manufactured based on original prototypes and international patents
- 2001: CHRISTINI sells the first production AWD Mountain Bike
- 2001: AWD bicycle technology was licensed to Jeep Bicycles for mass production
- 2001: Deal with Raleigh/Diamondback to go into full production fell apart after 9/11
- 2002: First AWD motorcycle was designed , built and tested
- 2004: First Magazine testing is done in California
- 2007: First consumer CHRISTINI AWD Motorcycle sold
- 2008: CHRISTINI upgraded KTM motorcycle competed in the inaugural Extreme Enduro Race placing 2ndestablishing the AWD technology as a viable and competitive on the worldwide racing stage
- 2008-2009: Deal to go into production with Husaberg (KTM) fell apart after financial collapse
- 2009: First road tests on CHRISTINI AWD motorcycles conducted – road lap times proven to be faster with CHRISTINI AWD technology than traditional signal wheel drive motorcycles
- 2010: US Military tests conducted with exceptional results.
- 2011: US Military adapts the CHRISTINI AWD platform for use in worldwide operations
- 2011: CHRISTINI races in the inaugural Enduro X at X games 17 with two of the top 20 riders
- 2011: US Border Patrol adapts the CHRISTINI AWD platform for operations
- 2011: CHRISTINI launches its branded line of motorcycles for worldwide distribution
- 2013: CHRISTINI completes its first full year of production motorcycles
- 2015: CHRISTINI receives California Air Resource Board approval for the AWD 450DS motorcycle
- 2016: Re-launch of the AWD Bicycle platform in the form of the world’s first AWD Fat Bike
You guys did an amazing job with the campaign. We’d love to hear more about how you went about it, what were the opportunities, the challenges, the roadblocks etc.
Steve – Our mission with this campaign is to get exposure for Kate’s expedition to Antarctica. We hope to find an investor or supporter that has a passion for biking and wants to help Kate become the first person to cross Antarctica on a bike. We believe that the opportunity here for a unique and exciting documentary is just a sponsor away. So with that, we have embarked on getting the word out through Kickstarter and other media outlets.
What would be your guru mantra that you’d like to give to budding entrepreneurs for funding?
Steve – Believe in yourself and never ever give up! People will always doubt you, think you’re crazy and will tell you it’s impossible or a waste. But these are the majority that has no vision or will take risks. A true entrepreneur is one that risks it all for what they believe in.
What’s your favorite quote?
Steve – Never, never, never give up. – Winston Churchill
And finally, if given a chance to reach out to all the entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs out there, what will you tell them?
Steve – Investors (and backers) will invest in the entrepreneur first and the idea or product second. So you must convince people that you will never quit. Then surround yourself with believers and positive people. They are the ones that will pull you through and help you reach your goal.
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