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Ducati Introduces Testastretta DVT-Desmodromic Variable Timing (with videos)


Before introducing the new Multistrada featuring the system, Ducati has disclosed the details regarding its variable valve timing technology. The engine specs are clearly focused on an adventure bike or tourer, as both peak horsepower and torque arrive at relatively low rpm levels. By the way, the torque figure you would be more familiar with is 98 foot/pounds at 7,000 rpm. As you can see, Ducati is also claiming an 8% increase in fuel economy.

In order to achieve the variable valve timing, Ducati has incorporated a new valve overlap system, which is best understood by watching the following two videos.


  1. Jim says:

    This is a good effort from Ducati, but there is certainly nothing revolutionary about it. The first VCP system (two position) was used on a 1989 Alfa. Now-a-days, every V6 minivan has four of these rascals exactly as shown here. (Doesn’t the Concours14 have an intake phaser?) These phasers have a pretty limited range, looking at the machined from billet prototype they are showing in these pictures. Wiper seals, locking pin, vane shape – all is standard automotive design.
    There are challenges in a V engine application, which Ducati are not mentioning here. For one, valve event timing is very critical in an engine at this performance level, and introducing four hydraulic actuators under the control of spool valves and in turn controlled by cam and crank position sensors… (whew) does not exactly enhance timing precision. (Desmo’s real advantage is timing precision, and this would seem to fuzz that up a bit, no matter how good the control system is.) Another is the simple matter of getting the locking pin to re-engage it’s hole as the engine loses RPM (and oil pressure) as it spools down and stops. That’s a non-trivial problem it turns out and the automotive suppliers that design these things (certainly not the car companies themselves) have very specific strategies to make that simple action happen every time in all situations. Sorry, forgot to say that if you don’t re-engage the pin on shutdown, then likely no starting for you next time.
    Moral of the story, unless you’re a VVT designer, it’s hard to appreciate how complex a job like this really is, and second, although complex, it’s not NEW. (Ducati no doubt benefited from the experience of their new cousins in Ingolstadt)
    And yes, I was there when these systems were developed.
    PS: For those of you who plan to buy one, I’d suggest changing the oil pretty frequently. And never fail to use the best oil filter money can buy. Trust me.

  2. Kentucky Red says:

    I wonder if Ducati has worked out the issue of smoothness switching from 2 to 4 valves per cylinder. That problem plagued Honda for years developing the system on their VFR800.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The Ducati system is a true variable valve timing application, not a pretend one like on the Honda.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I wonder if Ducati has worked out the issue of smoothness switching from 2 to 4 valves per cylinder”

      it’s like butta… (Mike Myers as Linda Richman)

  3. skybullet says:

    Face it, competition is driving technology. Unless you are Moto Guzzi or Harley, making bikes better is what sells. Sure some of the new tech is released prematurely, but we would still be riding kick start, three speed, rigid frame Harleys without it. (Oh yeah, my first new bike was a Harley 165 but that dates me and discredits future comments.) That KTM 1290 Adventure looks pretty good to me so far.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “we would still be riding kick start, three speed, rigid frame Harleys…”

      …that polluted like FREIGHT TRAINS.

    • mickey says:

      Technology for technology’s sake is often not necessary, needed or wanted. Honda in particular seems to have that problem ie: the answer to a question no one asked. Some technology is useful, good, cost saving, efficient. Like disc brakes, ABS, electronic ignitions, fuel injection. Some is expensive, not needed, unnecessary and unwelcome VTEC, DCT, oval pistons etc.

      The consumer generally decides which is which with their wallet

  4. Sentinel says:

    As if the valve services on these engines weren’t already outrageously expensive and painful enough already!

    • Norm G. says:

      hi sentinel, my name is Norm G. I don’t think we’ve met…?

      • Sentinel says:

        Hello, glad to meet you. I see there are many well experienced and knowledgeable riders commenting here. I feel right at home.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I feel right at home.”

          give it time.

          • Michael says:

            Maybe you should find another website to write all your complaining and negative comments.
            Are you really so unhappy?

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Maybe you should find another website to write all your complaining and negative comments.

            don’t change that channel… I’m on ALL of them.

            re: “Are you really so unhappy?”

            uh oh, someone’s interpretive skills aren’t where they need to be.

          • Sentinel says:

            Oh, I see there are trolls like Micheal here as well, that’s really too bad.

          • Ed says:

            Uh oh. I thought our society stampeding like frightened wildebeast toward a more “sensitive” and “enlightened” “metropolitan” type of man. Now I’m confused…and I’m prolly more of the Norm model than the Michael model of sensitivity. In the old less enlightened days, he’d be called “Mike” and only “Michael” when being bullied. But I heard bullying is going out of style too.

        • xlayn says:

          You are right, more parts… more difficult, but Ducatistas Officialis will love it anyway.
          Let’s see if this interpretation works better than Honda one.
          But cool, tech is used on GP, Superbikes, Suzuka endurance…. wait a sec… is it?

    • Ralph says:

      Ok, so service will be expensive, so what? When I bought my ’10 MTS1200 I knew I didn’t want to do the valves myself and service would be expensive. The major service at 15k intervals is about $1200. Big deal, I take the bike to the dealer and get it done. If the service costs bother you, buy something else.

      I am austere in other areas such that I can enjoy riding a nice bike.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “When I bought my ’10 MTS1200 I knew I didn’t want to do the valves myself and service would be expensive”

        observe his proper use of the word “knew”. that’s prolly the most POWERFUL verb in the human language. with a “prepared mind”, he stepped onto the battle field eyes wide open, not eyes WIDE SHUT.

        re: “I am austere in other areas such that I can enjoy riding a nice bike.”

        ladies and gentlemen, there are worse things you could do than follow the shining example set forth here. I’ve sent in scanning crew armed with “free lunch detectors”. they report this area clean… NO CONTAMINATION.

        Ralph you are ALREADY a General…!!! now hand your weapon over to one of the Privates and have THEM disassemble…

        they need the practice.

      • TF says:

        There is a lot of misinformation regarding scheduled service on Ducati’s. I wish I had a dollar for every forum post I read about $1500.00 valve adjustments. First of all, the 15K service includes many items beyond a valve clearance check. For my recent 15K service, I reviewed the list and did as much of it as I could which left the valve check and belt replacement for the dealer to do ($610.00). I did the same with my other bike (an 1100 Hyper) at 7.5K miles (approx $400.00). Two different dealers and neither one had a problem with me doing part of the work when calling my scheduled service complete.

        Yeah, if you want the dealer to change your oil, flush your brake and clutch fluids, replace your spark plugs and air filter, etc. they are more than happy to do so but it’s going to cost you a bunch of money. I choose to save money and do those things myself. You save the labor cost and save on the part pricing if your half way smart.

        Part of the reason for the bad rap is that some dealers like to charge time to changing things like belts or plugs when doing a valve check when these items have to be removed to do the valve check. Check your invoice and make sure they are charging only for parts in cases like that.

        I am curious never having owned one, what is the cost for a valve clearance check/adjustment on the typical Japanese sport bike? I know as a former YZ250F owner that a valve adjustment was not a thirty minute job. I got pretty good at swapping shims and replacing worn timing chains on those engines but it still took me 3 or 4 hours so that would be a $400.00 bill done by a dealer (including parts)……on a single cylinder dirt bike no less.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “it’s going to cost you a bunch of money”

          Ferrari owners let out big belly laughs when we say stuff like this. according to them, we don’t KNOW from bunches of anything.

          re: “it still took me 3 or 4 hours so that would be a $400.00 bill done by a dealer (including parts)……on a single cylinder dirt bike no less.”

          and there it is.

          • TF says:

            So six bills for checking a system with 16 shims doesn’t sound so bad, eh? Oh, and that price includes a buck-fifty for belts!

  5. Jdilpkle says:

    I’ve ridden since 1974, and the most enjoyable bikes I’ve ever had were simple as rocks compared to the latest laser-guided, ABS wired, 21 step traction-controled, multiple variable-ratio electronic quickshift transmissioned motorcycles of today. I do fully understand that the continual techno march forward must happen, without which we would still be cooking over fires and falling off a flat earth. There is a satisfaction for me starting and watching the big twin warm up at idle with just the right amount of noise and visceral input as I am putting on my gloves getting ready to push out of the garage onto the street. Just enough rumble to chirp a few car alarms as you roll by without being too loud. The course individual vibes felt throughout the whole bike and up into your arms as the clutch in first gear is just now fully let out and the bike is now rolling and pulling towards a deliberate upshift into second. Then the slowly rolling to a stop between lanes of stopped cars at a light – the presence and personality of the machine adding something to whole atmosphere that the caged drivers may not admit, but cannot deny. Then getting to your destination, turning off the key, pulling off the gear while walking away from your mechanical friend – and you cannot resist turning and taking a look back over your shoulder. The wife enjoys the mall, and the make-up stores, the corvette drivers really enjoy their sleek cars, as they well should – but the idle, the sounds, the personality of my simple as a rock motorcycle just pushes the right buttons, and holds them down until that last look over my shoulder back at home. Every bike has it’s place – and you have to admit – it sure is a joy to simply ride a motorcycle, simple or not. Cheers.

    • Oscar says:

      You can’t squeeze modern performance out of technology from 1974, but if you prefer simple motorcycles, manufacturers still produce them.

      • TF says:

        I have to wonder what old guys were saying about high tech innovations like overhead cams, electronic ignitions, and rear shock absorbers back in 1974?

        • Hot Dog says:

          I think we, opps I mean they were wondering about the durability, ability to make power and are rear shocks really necessary? One of the big questions back then was who can use such big engines? A 450 was huge and a 750? INSANE!

          • TF says:

            Lol! I was riding a ’69 mini trail in ’74. I didn’t need no stinking rear shocks either……until the frame broke.

    • TimC says:

      If you edit your post and break it into paragraphs, I’ll consider reading it. Cheers.

  6. TF says:

    Very cool. By the time they get the bugs worked out I’ll have a lot of miles on my 2011 and will be looking for a suitable replacement. What a great idea…..I have always wished the 11 degree engine would rev out more like the 41 degree engine does.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I have always wished the 11 degree engine would rev out more like the 41 degree engine does.”

      ironically, what everybody else wished for were superbike engines that ran better at idle and just off idle…

      particularly the EPA.

  7. Norm G. says:

    ok they automated the pulleys. clever. that’s a minimum of muss, minimum of fuss. some of the pulleys were already manually adjustable iirc, so they simply put them under Skynet control.

  8. Tik says:

    More moving parts, more variables that can go wrong. Gone are the days when a screwdriver and pliers were all needed to fix a two stroke engine.

    • Dave says:

      Gone are the days when a car was junk before it reached 100k/mi. too, despite their mechanisms becoming more complicated.

      • mickey says:

        Tell that to GM owners

        • Tom K. says:

          You’re gonna need a Ouija Board to tell a lot of ’em…
          Hard to believe there isn’t a Test Driver’s e-mail somewhere, that says, “I had my miniature brass knuckles, can opener and naked troll action figure on my key chain today, and while driving laps hit a bump and the ignition switch rotated off. Lucky to be alive, LOL”.
          If GM made a motorcycle, would you buy one?

          • TimC says:

            If GM made dirt, I wouldn’t buy it

          • MGNorge says:

            Actually GM does build some very good cars (some dogs too) which then get tainted by a management that needed overhauling years ago. I think their new boss is on the right track but she’s fighting an uphill battle.

          • Norm G. says:

            Q: “If GM made a motorcycle, would you buy one?”

            A: sort the LT1 from the C7 and I’m in.

    • andy1300 says:

      They do all ready, its callied a Harly

    • HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

      If you remember, the good old two stroke days had plenty of their own issues. You didn’t need a lot of tools, but you needed them a lot of the time. Valve adjustment intervals now exceed the life of the upper ends on many of those.

  9. -D says:

    I wonder if this new Ducati variable valve timing technology will be used in future Ducati Superbikes? How attractive would a Ducati R Superbike be to everyday riders if it had this new valve timing system?? I think VERY ATTRACTIVE!

  10. YellowDuck says:

    Is the “hydraulic device” that rotates the cam relative to the timing gear using the bulk engine oil, or is some other dedicated fluid involved?

    This is pretty cool, but I laugh a bit at this level of technological sophistication, when at the same time Ducati has a history of failure in providing simple things like proper closed-loop fuel mapping that provides acceptable fueling for their 2-V air-cooled motors. I worry when the technology gets so complicated that after-market tuners might not (immediately) have the capacity to correct the factory’s errors to make the new bikes run properly. Waiting for the factory / dealer network to acknowledge real problems and then implement effective solutions can get old pretty fast.

    • jim says:

      As In S2R1000 owner I can agree with this assessment.

      • Joe says:

        +1 and the bulging/melting plastic gas tank was the last straw for me. Brilliant bike in many ways, but I got rid of mine 3 years after buying it. The least amount of time I’ve owned a bike.

  11. Starmag says:

    Could this be the most complex two cylinder engine to date?

    Add in the extensive electronics and could the MS be the most complex two cylinder motorcycle to date?

    • Norm G. says:

      yes… and… yes.

      • Dave says:

        This reminds me of when they engineered/made a new superbike (the 1098) that was better in every way than the old one, but didn’t sell because it didn’t “look” right (didn’t have an SS swing arm).

        Here we are again, VVT providing the most compellling reason to make an in-line engine so as to consolidate the entire valve train to a single head, but we can’t because it’s a Ducati and must have a V/L-Twin and two of everything to go with it.

        Oh well, if this works well, everyone else will follow suit and this will become more of a standard feature. I bet there are a few embarrassed engineers over at Honda though..

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “This reminds me of when they engineered/made a new superbike (the 1098)”


          re: “I bet there are a few embarrassed engineers over at Honda”

          bingo. (Oracle voice)

    • Ed says:

      I’d think the old Hondaoval piston race engines had their technical challenges also.

  12. Hellcat68 says:

    Not a new idea, even for motorcycles. The Honda VFR with VTEC (Valve Timing Electronically Controlled)addressed overlap.

    • Vince says:

      The Honda motorcycle version of their VTEC doesn’t modulate valve overlap . It simply disables 2 of 4 valves per cylinder its lower rpm range and then transitions to 4 valves per cylinder at (I think) 7000 rpm . Honda’s VTEC in their cars does have true variable valve timing. The motorcycle version of VTEC has been deemed a gimmick by some motorcycle review publications. Common comments include “no effect noticed” to “noisy”.

    • Cyclemotorist says:

      This is more like Kawasaki’s version.

    • Jack says:

      A common opinion is that instead of the VFR V-Tec adding extra power above 7000 rpm it’s more a case of lowering power below 7000 rpm.

  13. Sam says:

    Ducati, how about hydraulic valve lifters like in the Honda 4 cyl Hawk of years past that had a redline of about 10-11,000 rpm’s.

    All of the available sportsbikes have to be taken in have the valves adjusted by some pre-delivery mechanic just barely out of puberty:(

    I do applaud Ducati for their innovative engineering. I’ve had 2 Duck’s and loved them.

    Oh, Ducati, how about more dealers in the good -ol-USA.


    • Joe Bogusheimer says:

      Unlikely. I was just looking at the pictures of the new engine and marvelling at how tightly packaged the cylinder, head, and valve drive (belt?) system is. I don’t think hydraulic valve adjusters/lifters would fit in very well. Not really what Ducati’s all about, anyway.

      • mickey says:

        One does have to wonder however, how popular a motorcycle would be that lets say had multiple cylinders ( 2 or 3) with counter balancer, that got 60 mpg, had 100 HP, 75 ft lbs of torque, efi, a 6 gallon gas tank, belt drive, dual disc brakes with abs, unside down forks, single sided swingarm, a 6 speed trans with 6 th being a true over drive, an easily accessible, battery, air cleaner and spark plugs and the promise that if you could change your own oil and filter you would virtually never have to take it to the shop for service except for tires?

        • Peter says:

          It would be love at first sight for me. Imagine, maintaining your own machine. Do you think they could also manage separate speedometer and tachometer, each with a needle and numbers in a circle?

          • mickey says:

            Yup..sounds good to me

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “It would be love at first sight for me.”

            no doubt… (King Schultz)

            it’d also be our first clue that the “vision” contained a critical flaw, and that we had missed something.

        • Tom K. says:

          While reading your post, I found myself thinking, “Man, I just read a review of a bike that hit most of those waymarks”. I went back and read it, and it only met about ten of the fifteen you mentioned, and I’m assuming on a few of them. But who knows, their next at-bat may hit the home run you’re looking for, who knows?

        • Dave says:

          All you have to give up is the 60mpg, belt drive, and about a gallon of gas and I think Triumph made your bike a few years back. Drop the as swing arm and the world is practically your oyster.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “One does have to wonder however, how popular a motorcycle would be…you would virtually never have to take it to the shop for service except for tires?”

          popular for whom…?

          consumers whose myopia would sooner see them cut off their nose to spite their face…? or manufacturers holding up their end of contracts held by franchisees…?

          • mickey says:

            Yes popular for consumers.

            Hasn’t seemed to affect Harley Dealers all that much, plus it’s been good for the Harley buying public. They can then spend their money on aftermarket clothing and accessories.

            Also didn’t seem to affect Honda during the decade and a half they sold the 650/700/750 Nighthawk series of bikes.

            Considering the reputation most dealership service departments have, the manufacturer would be ahead reputation wise Imo, if the consumer had less dealings with that department in most dealerships.

            See complaints of excessive cost of servicing for BMW and Ducati motorcycles. ( but really should be a complaint against most motorcycles)

        • MGNorge says:

          Don’t forget a round headlight and no beak! 🙂

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