as SSR) and is an ’05–’08 CRF450X clone. Just about all
CRF450X aftermarket parts will fit. In order to pass the EPA
tests, Christini had to run the Explorer for 15,000 kilometers
at the Harrison Wolf test lab without touching the engine
(only oil changes were allowed). According to Christini,
the bike ran cleaner after 15,000 kilometers than when it
was brand new. It has over 30,000 miles on it now and still
hasn’t needed any top-end work.
It starts fairly easy but likes a generous warm-up. The first
time we took off, it flamed out and died as we let the clutch
out. This is pretty much standard behavior for the bike. It’s
very lean off idle. The power surges and stalls, requiring
good throttle application and a smooth clutch finger. After
the initial roll-on, the Christini has a good hit and travels
into a decent top band of power. Two-track roads and flowing trails are the Christini’s bread and butter. Staying in the
middle of the power maintains good traction, and, when you
start twisting it hard, the front starts chewing, making for a
planted and super-tractable ride.
Once you start taking on some tight conditions with
technical obstacles that require smooth throttle control,
the machine’s tendency to cough and flame out becomes
apparent. We’re talking about first-gear situations where
you are threading your way up a rocky waterfall or dancing
on a tightrope over slippery timber. Once we overcame the
lug-it-low mode and started using more throttle, the cough-outs became less of a factor. It’s interesting, because
we know that the 450E model, which is a closed-course
machine and equipped with a more open
muffler and richer mapping, does not suffer
like the EPA-legal wagon.
HOW’S THE WP 4CS FORK, AND
WHAT KIND OF SHOCK IS A
First off, there’s going to be a running
change with the fork. Christini is switching from the WP 4CS to the WP Xlor fork. As
most of our readers know, we’re not huge fans
of the 4CS, as it tends to be harsh and dive.
But, on this machine, possibly due to the bike’s girth (it’s
Rubenesque, weighing in at a shade under 290 bills fully
fueled) and the additional hardware of the drive system,
the fork isn’t too mushy and doesn’t really offend you with
trail backlash through your hands. It seemed to work better
in the rocks in two-wheel drive, as the front end wandered
more and deflected when we went to the rear wheel only.
The Fast Ace rear damper has a very dead feeling and
rode low. We lightened up the rebound damping (one to
two clicks) and put a turn onto the rear spring. Damping-wise, it’s okay, though to be honest we didn’t spend that
much time hammering whoops. Based on our riding experience on rocky, chopped-out trails, it could be plusher.
Christini is offering an Elka Stage 5 damper as an upgrade.
It is much more sophisticated, having multi-stage adjustability and a wider range of damping options.
THE UPS-AND-DOWNS LAUNDRY LIST
The front brake is smallish at the rotor and needs to be
stronger. Kenda Trakmaster II Dual Sport tires are mounted
up fore and aft. They are a little more street-oriented than
dirt, but in SoCal during the summer they actually gripped
decently on hardpack and rocky terrain. They were painful
in the sand, however, offering little grip under acceleration
or while braking.
The bike comes with two mirrors. The left one’s glass
disappeared during our first outing. The bars are decent,
the grips are okay and the clutch is not bad. The seat is
comfortable and has nice grip; it seems well designed for
the rider who likes to explore.
This machine is complex, which makes total sense when
you consider that the front wheel is powered up. The main
drive chain (running off the countershaft
sprocket) has a nice red cover, but the
top bulge at the frame is a knee-slammer
and takes some getting used to. Mounted
on the top right of the handlebars is the
AWD on/off lever. It is a total pain going
from one mode to the other. You hold
down the lever and roll forward to dis-
lodge the AWD function. You will feel an
audible click when it pops.
The Christini has excellent drive gear
in the sprockets and chain.
It lacks handguards,
and the rear
AWD is a carb-
targets the “normal”
ADV rider looking
to explore and