WAW regrets that it failed to acknowledge last July's passing of oft-overlooked motorcycle engine developer Fabio Taglioni, the engineer responsible for the adoption of desmodromic valve actuation for production motorcycle engines.
The unique desmodromic design, one of Ducati's most enduring brand features, was first installed in a production Ducati in 1957. The system uses camshaft-actuated levers to open and close the valves, eliminating valve springs and enabling the sort of high engine speeds that originally made “desmo” engines perfect for racing applications. Prior to Mr. Taglioni's Ducati application, Mercedes-Benz used desmodromically activated valves for its inline 8-cyl. Grand Prix racing engines fitted in the early '50s W196 and later in the 300 SLR road racers.
Desmodromic valves were developed primarily to allow a given engine to achieve higher operating speeds without fear of valve “float” that is typical of high-rpm operation using conventional valve springs to close the valves. Mr. Taglioni's adaptation of the design for Ducati racing and production motorcycles brought acclaim for Ducati's engineering expertise, and Ducati desmodromic engines still are a major force in many top motorcycle racing series.