Ducati Superbike 1199 Will Have Gear-Driven Cams

08/22/2011 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Our sources close to the development of the Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata have confirmed the rumors that the new Bologna bullet will do away with the tradition belt-driven camshaft and instead feature a gear-driven cam configuration. The same type of technology that Aprilia used to cheat win the 2010 World Superbike Championship title, a gear-driven camshaft configuration should help increase power by 3-5hp throughout the rev range on the Superquadrata motor, as compared to Ducati’s traditional belt configuration.

Widely used in MotoGP, the 1199’s gear-driven camshaft will be a carryover from the Ducati Desmosedici (a point we’re sure Ducati will include in its marketing material), which should help ease the transition for some hardcore enthusiasts who see Ducati’s belt-driven camshaft as an iconic part of the Italian company’s v-twin motor. With seemingly no sacred cows when it comes to the Superbike 1199‘s development, the highly over-square v-twin motor will be nestled in a “frameless” chassis, departing from Ducati’s famous steel trellis designs of the past.

As the Ducati Superbike 1199 expected to lose about 20 lbs of weight with its new frame and other designs, the Superquadrata motor is rumored to be up 20hp over the 1198, reaching the 200hp mark in its highest trim form. With so much tech coming over from the Ducati Corse race team, it’s only a matter of time before we hear whispers of a Valentino Rossi race replica edition (rendered above).

Source: Bothan Spies; Photo: Auto Cars Review via Ducati News Today

  • Giles

    I wonder how this will alter maintenance requirements?

  • 305ed

    Bout time. If by “iconic part of the Italian company’s v-twin motor”, you mean the single most ridiculous part requiring frequent and expensive replacement, yeah, i agree. Having sold both my Monster and 996 due to the exceptionally short service intervals, I applaud Ducati’s move to gear driven cams.

  • I don’t think it’s going to change servicing too much, the issue with Ducatis are their frequent valve adjustments.

  • 305ed

    Jensen – My dealer (Ducati Miami) was emphatic that the belts be changed every 10,000 miles (or every two years). That’s every 5-6 months with the amount of riding I do. And don’t even get me started on the 6,000 mile valve adjustment intervals….

  • Westward

    Of course the Dealer is going to be very conservative on the maintenance schedule, but like any other vehicle, it is meant to be driven, and to last…

    I change the oil in my Ducati Monster somewhere between 3k-5k miles, but usually not much over 5k… as for valves, I will stretch that service to 10k-12k.

    I have two Ducati’s and one has over 40k miles on it while the other has over 10k… My bikes are immaculate, I clean areas on the bike I know you will never see with the naked eye, at a glance, or in passing…

    I was at MGP Ducati Island last year, and one guy had a Ducati Monster with over 193,000 miles on it and rode it there from another state…

    Most of maintaining a bike or a Ducati for that matter is mostly a little common sense… On a Monster, I bet you could stretch the oil/valve services to 6k/12k…

  • Westward

    Supposedly, Ducati started a campaign back in 2007, that future models of their bikes would require 50% less in cost to maintenance…

  • smoke4ndmears

    according to that mockup it will also have an 18″ front wheel!

  • Motoputs

    Two belts have a mass of about 200-300 grams. TWO sets of gears to turn the camshafts to two separate heads will probably come in between 2000-5000 grams. If the goal is to build a light mass motorcycle I do not understand the move away from the light and reliable belts. Maybe they will go back to bevel gear driven cams.

  • Damo

    Wish I could get one with Checa livery, that would be tits.

  • Dan

    Being an RC51 owner I am admittedly a sucker for gear driven cams. The Ducati looks to be as exotic as it will be expensive. But then motorcycles are rarely a rational purchase ;)

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  • ML

    Maybe I’ll buy another ducati after all…

  • Bjorn

    When I worked for a Ducati dealer back in the ’90s we recommended strict adherence to the factory schedule of 15,000 km for 4 valve motors and 10,000 km for 2 valve motors. For our harder riding 4 valve customers we recommended a belt change at 10,000 km as cheap insurance. All belts should be changed once a year if not done more frequently due to the cracking that occurs at the base of the teeth. At the time, Gates belts were$50 a throw; while the parts and labour to repair the rear head of a four valve that had a belt failure (due to an overdue belt parting) was in excess of $760.
    If you beetle around on a Ducati you can probably stretch the service intervals; if you regularly flog it to the redline, then prudence dictates changing the belts regularly.
    Disclaimer: I haven’t been privy to the altered service intervals of the previous decade.

  • Tom

    “The same type of technology that Aprilia used to cheat win the 2010 World Superbike Championship title, a gear-driven camshaft configuration should help increase power by 3-5hp throughout the rev range on the Superquadrata motor, as compared to Ducati’s traditional belt configuration.”

    Back again on my jihad pointing out how motorcycle racing retards motorcycle development. Belt driven cams are old and inferior tech (the car world has known this for a long time) and Aprilia had to “cheat” by using a simply better (and smarter) design. Why should a street bike suffer with a belt drive? Oh that’s right, the racing rules….again.

  • Kevin

    FWIW: The current maintenance schedule for Ducatis is every 7500 miles with the exception of the 11 degree motor in the Multistrada and Diavel where the intervals are every 15k miles.

  • Other Sean

    Belt changes are not cheap, it’s like $100 a belt for an OEM 4 valve belt. Yes, the conventional wisdom is change those belts ever two years at least. But starting with the Multistroodle 1200, the belt changes were lengthened to 15,000 miles (along with the valve changes). I have an 848 which recommends more frequent belt changes, but guess what folks, it’s the same belt. Same part number.

    Still, Gear driven cams are also cool, and will be FAR less to worry about. Much more reliable. I’m a fan.

  • buellracerx

    @Motoputs – decreases in parasitic losses through gears vs. belt as well as increases in reliability most likely outweigh the slight increase in weight. (You can also “pay” for it w/ weight losses in other areas)

    I applaud Ducati for taking more of a function-over-form approach with their engineering while still maintaining one of the most aesthetically pleasing packages on the market. They’re quickly becoming one of my fave mfg.

    @Jensen – your journalism is, as always, transparent as to your ducati bias ;P

  • MikeD

    2 Reasons why i have always stayed away from Ducs even tho i like them A LOT.

    1: Timing Belts (like is not enough with the one i have to replace every 50k miles on that P.O.S Eclipse i drive)…and i don’t know about Ducs, but on the car U SHOULD replace all related components (idlers, tensioner,etc)…MAJOR $$$. Just did a 1998 Honda CR-V recently, the timing kit was something like 300$.

    2: Desmo…(probably cause i don’t understand the procedure)…people tend to fear and keep a distance from stuff they “don’t get it”.

    Back to the gears, I would take the gears even if it were made out of unobtanium and it’s related whine and extra heft just for the peace of mind of something less to adjust or “easely” fail.
    Im not a GP Racer who needs every ounce of HP out my joy ride and have a CREW to take care of Bike’s mood swings or mechanical bitchings nor do i want to be wrenching on it every so often. My bike is just an xpensive toy…or a sexual organ extender…LMAO…w/e happens to be ur opinion…i just want to hop on it and ride…not keeping count of miles and how much is going to hurt my bank account.

    Or maybe im just a cheap lazy Fudge who should stick to Japan Inc…LOL.

  • Cpt.Slow

    Simple… wanna play? Then pay!

    Can’t afford, then get something else.

  • MikeD

    Indeed…my cheap/ancient K3 SV1000N has been Anvil reliable so far. Clutch basket rattling and all. LMFAO. Those D&D cans sure help masking that last flaw and then some (^_^ ).

  • Tom


    Why pay extra for inferior tech? That’s what Harleys are for!

  • Bucks Miaggi

    @Tom: “Why should a street bike suffer with a belt drive? Oh that’s right, the racing rules….again.”

    Not true in this case. The street version of the RSV4 uses belt driven camshaft. Gear driven camshaft is more expensive, too expensive for the road bike apparently.
    If the street bikes would use gear driven camshaft, it could be used in WSBK as well.

  • eric

    I’m happy to see ducati move to gear-driven cams; as someone who lost the rear cylinder, piston, head, valves, etc. on my (now departed) ’97 m750 monster, AFTER TAKING IT IN TO HAVE THE BELTS REPLACED, I think this was a smart move. I think this will allow higher RPM operation, with greater engine longevity. Hopefully, it’ll trickle down to the rest of their bikes, but I doubt it.

  • Cpt. Slow


    Maybe you did not understand my past post. It states that if one wanted the product, he/she would then have to hand over the green. If one made a decision that he/she did not want to play, then no captinal need be exchanged.

    As for “having” to paying for “inferior” tech (do you view motorcycles in the same light as a playstation? That a motorcycle is only the sum of its wiz-bang 3D gizmos?! What happen to the joy of the ride, knee dragging over tarmac, mechanical/human syphony, the drama?! It’s suppose to be an event not some flavor of the month product from a company with a half bitten fruit as its logo) You or anyone else does not have to in the free world, simply buy something else…

  • Judas

    Are we all forgetting the VFRs?! 1986-2002, Honda VFRs sported gear-driven cams, as did the RC30 and RC45. Gear-driven cams mean no chain tensioning, no belt replacement, and constant, precise valve timing. I’m all for that ish

    Applause for Ducati for embracing the genius that is gear-driven cams

  • Yup, gear driven cams will not need any adjustments, and there will not be any “creep” of valve timing at high rpm, ensuring safe valve clearances.

    I own a 1989 VFR400R NC30, and it has gear driven cams. Don’t have any belt change, no valve adjustments at all in my ownership.

    Disadvantage? Will be sensitive to gasket thickness/head or barrel skimming.

  • sburns2421

    The stock Aprilia V4 uses a hybrid chain/gear drive for the cams. Chain from crank area to intake cam, then gear driven off that to drive the exhaust cam. No belts at all. The controversial gear drive Biaggi used last year replaced the chain portion.

    As for the Ducati, I will probably wait a model year to let them work out the bugs in the new engine. Just a guess, but I would think they will strive to lengthen the valve adjustment intervals like they did on the Multistrada.

    People go on about the belt changes and valve adjustment on the desmos but they are not a big deal for a competent DIY mechainic. Pay for a valve adjustment on a VTEC Honda V-4 and the Ducati will not be any more expensive at a dealer.

  • GDC

    I love gear driven cams! I own an Honda NC30 and a CBR400 both with gear driven cams. They run great. You do have to check valve clearances every 24,000km. I’ve stayed clear from duc’s just because of their high maintenance schedule but I’m sort of liking the way the 1199 is turning out.