Though motorcyclists typically associate desmodromics with Italian Ducatis, the term doesn’t have Latin roots.
WORDS: Alan Cathcart
PHOTOS: Kel Edge
Though motorcyclists typically associate desmodromics with Italian Ducatis, the term doesn’t have Latin roots. It’s actually derived from two Greek words: desmos, meaning controlled, and dromos, for the run, or track, an object follows. In engineering terms, it refers to a valvetrain that opens and closes its valves positively, using a solid lever mechanism instead of a spring. British engineer F. H. Arnott obtained the frst patents for a desmodromic valve system in 1910, and the frst practical application of the technology appeared in the Peugeot L76 racer that won the 1913 Indianapolis 500. But Ducati remains the only frm on two wheels or four to have successfully applied desmodromics to mass production.
It therefore makes sense that “Desmo Story,” a year-long exhibit chronicling the history of desmodromic valve actuation, is hosted by the Museo Prunaro in Budrio, 15 miles east of Ducati’s factory in Bologna. “Bologna was the Città Desmodromica in the 1950s, when no fewer than six different car and bike manufacturers in this area were working on desmo engine designs,” says Ducati’s Technical Director Gianluigi Mengoli, organizer of this exhibit. “I regarded it as a duty as well as a pleasure to help Ducati enthusiasts understand the history and development of the desmo concept.”