When the Ducati V4 Panigale came out earlier this week, I was as giddy as a school girl.
Excited to spread the word of Panigale, I found my nearest mate to wax poetic about all the awesome technology and engineering in this new bike.
After going on for several minutes I realized they were just staring at me, with a glazed over look in their eye. It was at that moment that I realized: perhaps maybe not everyone knows what the heck I, or the press releases, were talking about.
So, in an attempt to explain some of the technology in the new Panigale – and to relive myself of the pressure from not having anyone to talk to about it all – I present to you three key engine features, what they do, and why it matters.
Now, I am not an engineer, professional mechanic, or in fact a subject matter expert in this field of any kind. I am merely an enthusiast who wants to spread some knowledge and hopefully engage in some conversation.
So, if you feel something should be discussed further, or if I get something wrong, please feel free to let me know in the comments (I’m sure you will ;p).
This is a Ducati staple and one of the most identifiable features of a Duc, so it was the most natural place to start. In a traditional Overhead valve (OHV) system, the rotating cam lobe will push open the valve. Sometimes this is done directly, other times via a rocker arm. Then, to close the valve, a valve spring shuts the valve once the cam lobe rolls past. This is where the Desmo system differs. Desmodromic valves are actually opened and closed by a rocker arm as the cams rotate.
Desmodromics were born in a time when valve springs were less than reliable. While Ducati did not invent this system, they have been using it since 1956 when Fablio Taglioni first put it in a 125cc machine. With modern technology, springs are just as reliable as the Desmo system. Ducati continues using it today because it is a large part of their heritage.
Desmodromic Ducati’s do not have a redline on the tachometer. A red line indicates valve float: the point at which the engine is moving so fast the springs can’t close the valves fast enough, causing intake and exhaust to open at the same time, ergo losing efficiency. Since Desmodromics don’t use springs = no valve float.
Twin Pulse Firing Order
This is straight out of the MotoGP handbook but has also been used in the L-Twin bikes for some time. Also know as the “Big Bang” firing order, this type of layout allows a sudden pulse of power followed by a period of rest in the crankshaft rotation. What this allows is the bike to put down massive power while also being able to maintain traction and a level of control by the rider.
Claudio Domincalli stated,
“We designed an engine with four round pistons which, thanks to a simultaneous two-by-two firing order, reproduce the working cycle of a twin.
This will generate the ‘big bang’ effect, making the rear tyre work in a way that extends its duration and improves rider feeling when exiting curves.”
For a quick visual, check out this video…
Counter Rotating crankshaft
Traditionally, a motorcycle’s engine rotates the same direction as the wheels. This makes sense for the most part because you can attach a countershaft sprocket and move the wheels forward. However, a spinning engine, much like spinning wheels, creates a gyroscopic effect. The is the very same effect that keeps you upright when riding. The gyroscopic effect can also have some some negative consequences as well, including: resistance to turn in and change direction as well as more prone to wheelie.
So in order to combat all of this gyroscopic effect, Ducati (and many other brands) have adopted an engine that basically spins backwards in comparison to the wheels. This obviously takes some additional engineering to correct the rotation to the’s wheels, but the gains to the bike’s ability to turn in and change direction at the rider’s whim are worth it.
This is far from everything the new Ducati has to offer of course. But it’s enough to start with and it would be impossible to put it all onto a single page.
However, if you have anything to share, knowledge of your own to impart of just want to point out something wildly inaccurate, then please let us know.
It’s good to talk!