Sunday, 1 August 2010

Desmodromics and Harley Davidson

This experimental Harley engine was supposed to make it into the 1970 XLHCR as “an answer to Ducati’s V-twin” according HD’s chief conservator, Dr. Martin Rosenblum. Maybe they were onto something, because as the legendary Cook Neilson told us in Benzina #1 all Ducatis are, "are XLCHs that don't vibrate, don't blow up, start, go fast, handle and stop". Frankly the design was already dated in prototype form and the project was binned, for Harley to do what they always do - put style over substance. The result was the cafe racer XLCR, a mean and moody looker, but no match for a Le Mans or 900SS. It bombed.

But that needn't have been the American way - in 1914 the US Condor motorcycle company built a successful board racer with a 1000cc V twin engine that used overhead desmodromic valve gear 40 years before Taglioni tried it at Mondial, again as per Benzina #1. More on that Mondial soon

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