When Steve Christini spins his wheels, he gets somewhere.
The Villanova alum (ME '95) and founder and president of Christini Technologies, Inc., has designed and developed the world’s first all-wheel-drive motorcycle. In July, Dirt Rider magazine singled out his innovative vehicle from among a fleet of worldwide competitors, naming it the 2008 Bike of the Year.
The Christini AWD fulfills a dream that first took form as Christini's senior project in the basement of Tolentine Hall in fall 1994. Then, however, the engineering student’s focus was not on motorcycles. A mountain bike enthusiast, Christini was hooked on the idea of designing a prototype of an AWD bicycle.
"It started out with just a bunch of guys hacking on aluminum tubing," said Christini, who was joined by several other seniors. At the year-end competition, the project earned top honors, and the judges advised Christini to apply for a patent. In 2002, after seven years of developing his prototype, securing investments, and growing his company, Christini delivered 50 AWD mountain bikes to Jeep® Bicycles.
That same year, Christini built his first AWD motorcycle and, by 2004, had a functioning prototype. The bike went into production in 2007. "Now it is making magazine covers and getting recognized by riders all over the world," Christini said. In May, two Christini AWD riders finished fifth and sixth at the 2008 Erzberg Rodeo, one of the most challenging enduro races in the world.
Christini credits much of his success to his years at Villanova. First, his professors encouraged creativity and innovation. Second, the University’s strong support network provided Christini with much of his funding. Finally, his education—a combination of engineering and business curricula—played a critical role. "You can’t design without thinking about the market. In addition, if you want to raise money and run a business, you need to be able to communicate, and Villanova students learn to do that."