Perhaps the most bizarre of the nine motorcycles in the Silver Anniversary Amelia Concours’ IT’S COMPLICATED Motorcycle Class is the feet-forward, hub-center steering front wheel 1922 Ner-A-Car. With its pressed steel frame the Ner-A-Car was “nearly a car”. More than 6,500 Ner-A-Cars were built in the United States and Britain.
The low slung steel channel perimeter frame and hub-center steering contributed to the Ner-A-Car’s exceptional stability. Edwin G. “Cannonball” Baker rode a Ner-A-Car from New York to Los Angeles in 1922. The 3,364.4 mile enduro took a record-setting 174 hours. Despite its unusual appearance and design, the Ner-A-Car worked mechanically and dynamically, if not commercially.
More recently, Ducati engines have enjoyed a reputation for exquisite engineering. The 125 cc Gran Prix Desmo three-cam Ducati features an unusual method that both opens and closes their valves. The desmodromic -- Desmo -- valve train system does not use springs to close or open the valves. It employs three cams and has a valve closing lobe that practically eliminates the possibility of valve float that can afflict high-revving engines. It has become a Ducati engineering trademark that has even found its way into the company’s potent marketing DNA.