c.1958 Ducati 125cc 'Trialbero' Desmodromic Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. DM125 03
Engine no. DM125 02
Designed by newly arrived engineer, Fabio Taglioni, Ducati's first overhead-camshaft single - the 100 Gran Sport - appeared on the racetrack in 1955 and soon proved unbeatable in its class. The Gran Sport's overhead cam was driven by a vertical shaft and bevel gears, and this method was carried over to Ducati's next racer, the '125'. A landmark design in the history of motorcycle engineering, the newcomer debuted Taglioni's famous 'desmodromic' method of valve actuation that dispensed with springs, the valves being closed by a third set of cams, an arrangement that spawned the sobriquet 'trialbero' (three shafts). Positive valve closure was not a new idea, but Taglioni was the first to make it work on a motorcycle engine, and Ducati remains the only manufacturer to have offered this innovation for public sale. The new 125 racer debuted in the Swedish Grand Prix at Hedemora in July 1956 when, with factory rider Degli Antoni aboard, it lapped the entire field, romping away to a fairytale victory.
Immediately prior to the desmo's arrival, the new 125 racer had appeared fitted with two camshafts and conventional hairpin valve-springs, and in this form was later sold to customers. Burdened with the task of bringing new road-going models to fruition, the factory did not campaign the desmo racer in earnest again until 1958. Luigi Taveri and Romolo Ferri were signed from MV and Gilera respectively, joining Albert Gandossi, while for the Isle of Man TT, home-grown stars Dave Chadwick and Sammy Miller were drafted into the factory squad. MV's Carlo Ubbiali won despite a strong challenge from Taveri, who retired, leaving Ferri to finish second with Chadwick third and Miller in fourth place. Taveri finished a close second to Ubbiali in the Dutch TT and then scored his first win for Ducati at the Belgian Grand Prix. The rest of the season had its ups and downs, but highlights included a 1-2 in the Swedish Grand Prix and a staggering first five places in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza..
Rising star Mike Hailwood, whose father Stan owned the UK Ducati concessionaires, joined the factory squad for 1959, scoring the marque's sole classic victory that year, in the Ulster Grand Prix.
We are advised that this rare Ducati 125cc trialbero was restored circa 2005. The engine bottom end is original trialbero, fitted with the side cases and bevel drive cover from a 125cc roadster, while the cylinder head is not to the works pattern and was almost certainly made by the late owner, one Giacomo Agostini (not to be confused with the 15-times World Champion of the same name). The machine incorporates the frame of a 125cc desmo racer - number '03', fitted with the engine from '02' - while the fairing is a modern replica. Recently tested, the machine is reported to perform well.
- Offered on a Bill of Sale.