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Relatively Normal Student
Towanda High School
Daily and Sunday Review - Towanda native takes inventions from AWD bicycles to motorcycles
Steve Christini of Philadelphia, formerly of Towanda, asked those questions.In the search for an answer, he has acquired a small business, multiple U.S. patents and so much more.Christini invented a system that allows both the front and back wheels of a motorcycle to be powered simultaneously.It could be said that his story starts with making all-wheel drive mountain bikes.Before Christini knew much of anything about mountain biking, he was a relatively normal student at Towanda High School.He graduated in 1990, with plans to attend Villanova University with a major in mechanical engineering and a minor in business.First, however, Christini studied in Italy through the Rotary Exchange program for one year.There, he was introduced to a new sport known as mountain biking.This was in 1990, about two years before the mountain biking revolution, according to Christini."College campuses started filling up with mountain bikes," said Christini, describing what he called the "mountain biking revolution" in the summer of 1994.In order to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, Christini had to design and build a project.Most graduates took ideas for their projects from other people.Christini, however, wasn't like most graduates.Christini's idea was relatively simple: a system that would send power to both the front and back wheels of a mountain bike."I convinced my professors I could do it, and they let me." Thus was, in 1995, the first Christini All-wheel drive Bicycle.The project helped Christini realize that he could make an all-wheel drive mountain bike.Oh, the possibilities.Starting SmallWhat Christini wanted to make from the beginning, he said, was a motorcycle.But such an endeavor "could be huge," he realized, to mass produce all-wheel drive motorcycles.Mountain bikes, though, were easier.After all, Christini had already made one back at Villanova."We thought it'd be simpler," to produce mountain bikes.Furthermore, the all-wheel drive motorcycle had already been attempted.Honda and Suzuki tried in the early 1990s, but had technical issues.Perhaps starting with mountain bikes would make motorcycles easier, he thought.Christini decided to start a company for his all-wheel drive mountain bikes.Along with the financial support of his brother Michael and his father Jim, Christini started a partnership called Christini Technologies in 1998.Armed with this financial support, as well as the legal support from his brother Michael, an attorney, Christini attained U.S. patents on his all-wheel drive mountain bike system.Without the support from his father and brother, Christini said, he wouldn't have had nearly enough money for the fees associated with attaining a patent.Now that Christini had a working all-wheel drive mountain bike, patents and a small partnership, all he needed was a company to which to market the technology.That was much easier said than done, according to Christini.Luckily, he finally found Cycle Source Group of Jeep Bikes.Cycle Source Group gave him an ever-valuable letter to intent to show that they wanted to market this bike.MoneyUsing his letter of intent, Christini came back to his friends and family in Towanda, the people who knew him and knew that he could do this if he wanted to.He needed investors.He needed enough money to get his company - now incorporated as Christini Technologies, Inc. - off the ground.And did he ever find investors.With investments from his family and friends in Towanda, as well as some help from Ben Franklin Technology partners in Philadelphia, Christini raised a total of $350,000 in investments during the summer of 1999."I couldn't have done it without the help from Towanda," said Christini.Other than a tight financial situation, things were looking good for Christini.A Last-Minute DecisionIn the financial rut of 2002, Christini decided to see if his original idea of an all-wheel drive motorcycle would work.He designed and built the parts in less than a month, borrowing around $5,000, just for a last-minute idea.In 2003, Christini made a few all-wheel drive motorcycles to take to shows.The response was fantastic; much bigger than any response he received from his mountain bikes.So, Christini decided to make a transition from mountain bikes to motorcycles.While other companies had intrusive, bulky systems that didn't work very well, Christini's system was, basically, a drive train.It just worked."A Promising Future"As shows like EICMA (in Italy) and Interbike, and publications like The Philadelphia Inquirer, Business Week and Popular Science continue to give Christini Technologies, Inc., more and more positive publicity, the future is looking bright for Steve Christini.Christini sees three possibilities for his company within the next two or three years.First, a larger company may enter a licensing agreement with Christini Technologies to produce their all-wheel drive system.Or a similar company may even buy Christini Technologies, making them a part of their larger company.The riskiest possibility for Christini would be for them to expand and make their own motorcycles, remaining as a separate company.Whatever happens, Christini most definitely will have a lasting effect on the motorcycle industry.Taking the road less traveled, Christini successfully found a relatively easy way to produce a system that can greatly improve the traction of a motorcycle in a way that most thought could not be done.