1960s Ducati Desmodromic | Motorcycle History

Desmodromic Emerges

The narrow case Ducati single cylinders were selling well and known worldwide through out the decade. Later in the decade when Ducati introduced the wide-case production models they represented the pinnacle of Ducati singles for the times. A single camshaft that was driven by bevel gears characterized the wide-case Ducati motorcycles.

As a direct descendent of the narrow-case family, the Ducati 250cc and 350cc versions of the wide-case models were first produced in the spring of 1968. The Ducati 450cc was added in the following year. The performance and elegant mechanics of the motorcycles immediately caught the attention of motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide.

Perhaps the most famous wide-case Ducati was the Scrambler. The Ducati Scrambler motorcycle sold tens of thousands around the world, leading to its legendary status. The fast and agile Ducati Mark 3 sports model was soon joined by the Ducati Mark 3D – the first Ducati with the now famous Desmodromic valve gear on a production model.

The word ‘Desmodromic’ is not actually derived from Italian but rather from two Greek roots, desmos (meaning – linked) and dromos (meaning – track). The Ducati Desmodromic system is unique in that the valves are positively closed and opened by a cam and leverage system, rather than relying on standard valve springs. The same basic Desmodromic layout continues to win world championships today and is deeply seated in the Ducati Brand identify.