Outrider Journal

If you are a Dual Sport rider and have not heard about Outrider Journal yet….. WAKE UP!   🙂  

I met a rider, Jason Black,  last year in Moab, UT at the 2010  KTM National Rally.   He spoke of a new printed magazine he was working on about travel and racing “OFF Road”.   Sounded like a hit to me as this “Dual Sport” market is growing. 

I’ve read a few mags from other countries, but nothing here in the states had it yet. 

It would be a few months before the first issue would even be released, but just talking with Jason he was on the correct track.   I think it was that night, under the hotel parking lot lights, I put on an impromptu “Tech Session” of my NEW debuted AWD 950 ADV.   As I pulled off the tanks to reveal the “Guts’,  there was a lot of head scratching by the on lookers.   It was fun to finally show what I had been working.  I was looking forward to hitting  the trails to get some testing in over the next few days with good friends, new and old.  Jason stayed out late to get a look and I think he got his money’s worth.

We put together this submission for the Outrider Journal BLOG,  I subscribed and waited for his creation.

One of a Kind

Posted on 11/10/10

A preview of the CJ Designs 2WD KTM 950 Adventure

photos by Edward Walker

For most of us, working on our own motorcycle means doing some routine maintenance in the garage or bolting on the latest accessory. Then there’s Craig Johnson, the 31-year-old Wisconsin Wonder behind CJ Designs, LLC, who went a little beyond routine maintenance.

Craig grafted a Christini front-wheel-drive system onto his 2006 KTM 950 Adventure S.

The thing is, Christini doesn’t make a kit for the 950 Adventure. That meant Craig had to cut, tweak, machine, weld, hack and stuff all of the parts into places they were never meant to go. The amount of custom, one-off pieces on CJ’s 950 is mind-boggling.

Outrider Journal caught up with Craig and his riding buddy, Edward Walker, at the recent KTM Adventure Rally in Moab, Utah, where he handily won the technology award given out at the event. One evening, with the fairings and gas tanks removed, we were exposed to the guts of the beast (after promising to keep our cameras stowed away). That’s when it became clear that Mr. Johnson is not your ordinary outrider.

“Growing up on a farm like I did, you learn to either sit and wait until things gets fixed—which can be indefinite when both of your parents are busy running a farm and working full-time jobs—or charge head first and dig into the project,” Craig told us. “My father was always working on general machine and home repairs around the farm. Some of his skills and insight must have rubbed off on me after years of holding the trouble light for him. By the time I was in middle school I had been experimenting with welding, and had built my own custom race quad.  Soon after I got my driver’s license I was working in an aerospace CNC shop.  I’m formally educated as a machinist, with specialization in CNC programming, setup, and production.

“Then two years ago I had a chance to ride a Christini all-wheel-drive Honda 250,” continued CJ. “After that short 20-minute session, I couldn’t stop wondering how all-wheel-drive could improve my 950. The reasons to do this project—two times the pulling power to get through gnarly terrain—far outweighed the reasons not to do it.”

In simple terms, Christini’s system uses a series of chains and shafts that run from the countershaft sprocket to the steering head and down to the front, gear-driven hub. The benefits of the system include less understeer (front end push), and the increased traction afforded by the second driving wheel. The Christini never delivers more than 80 percent of the power to the front end, but when you’re dealing with the 90-plus horsepower available on the 950, that’s still a lot of stress on some very small parts.

To make the Christini system fit, Johnson had to strip the 950 down and begin cutting out entire sections of the frame to make room for the additional hardware. He purchased a second frame as a prototype piece, and slowly began designing and building the hangers and brackets from scratch.

“There were so many challenges in completing this project,” said Craig. “There were engineering and design challenges, materials choices, time—and fear! When you start cutting apart a $1,000 frame and a $1,200 set of fuel tanks, there’s no turning back.”

After hundreds of hours of labor and many head-scratching all-nighters, the AWD 950 was ready to be tested. Craig did some shorter dual sport rides and fixed a few small problems, then set out on a several thousand mile round-trip from Wisconsin to Utah. When we caught up with him last week he was encouraged by the results of his tests.

“I’m really testing durability, making sure all of the parts and modifications can withstand the power and torque delivered by the 950,” he said. “So far it’s performed almost flawlessly. I haven’t had any problems that weren’t easily fixed.”

And what’s it like to ride? “The AWD system works so well it’s hard to now ride a bike that doesn’t have it,” continued Craig. “I was riding in the sand and decided to switch off the front-drive. It immediately made the bike feel heavier and harder to control. Having the front end driving power to the ground makes controlling a motorcycle this size so much easier. It’s hard to imagine until you’ve experienced it firsthand.”

Which is exactly what we plan to do in an upcoming issue of Outrider Journal. Look for a full story and riding impression on the CJ Designs 950 in 2011. For more information, check out the company website at www.cjdesignsllc.com.

Bike Facts:

  • Year: 2006
  • Make: KTM
  • Model: 950 Adventure S
  • Trail Weight: 540 pounds
  • Miles: 76,000
  • Countries traveled: 3 (USA, Canada, Mexico)


  • CJ Designs high fender kit
  • KTM ’04 S suspension mod with .59 SE front springs
  • Aqualine 12-gallon tanks
  • Rigid Industries LED light
  • Rox bar risers
  • CJ Designs billet clutch reservoir cooler
  • CJ Designs billet instrument bezel covers
  • Symtec heated grips
  • Cycra bark busters
  • Black Dog Cycle Works skid plate
  • Renazco Racing custom suede seat
  • CJ Designs foot peg extensions
  • Oberon clutch slave
  • Rekluse clutch with CJ Designs billet basket
  • CJ Designs titanium clear clutch cover
  • CJ Designs 2 into 1 pipe with Remus titanium silencer
  • CJ Designs tool tube with fuel transfer pump opposite the silencer
  • CJ Designs tail rack
  • WARN winch with wireless remote


I don’t have much time in the day to look at magazines so I need to make it worth while when I do.   This offers great reading and pics for that end of the day wind-down.
Take a look at there BLOG, if you like it, help support this new magazine with a subscription here:  http://www.outriderjournal.com/?page_id=1310
The first issue is out and it’s amazing.   Well worth the wait.
Good luck guys, you hit the mark!
safe travels



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