That Ducati took the entire paddock by surprise with the horsepower of the GP7 was obvious from the opening race of the season. Since then, Ducati's competitors have been scrambling to find more power from their own engines, in an attempt to keep up. Perhaps the worst affected were pre-season favorites Honda, who were widely expected to sweep the 2007 championship, under the new rules.
One of the avenues of engine development explored was the type of valve actuation used, as conventional steel springs were not thought to be capable of handling the higher engine speeds needed to produce the extra horsepower. Only Honda and Yamaha were the only manufacturers left using steel springs, but Yamaha experimented with pneumatic valves at post-race test at Brno, debuting the engine in Misano, only to send the project back for further testing and development after Valentino Rossi's engine expired during the race. But Yamaha have clearly decided that pneumatic valves are the way of the future.
That left Honda as the only manufacturer still using conventional valve springs. It's clear that they cannot continue with steel springs, as they need the extra horsepower, but the big question was which system of valve actuation they would use for the new engine, pneumatic valves or desmodromic valve operation. Now, the Italian weekly magazine MotoSprint has revealed that Honda have decided not to make a choice, and are currently testing both systems in Japan. The results of the tests will be used to decide which system will be used for the final 2008 RC212V, but this decision may not come until the new year.
Both systems have advantages and disadvantages, but electing to use the desmodromic system has some extra advantages. Ducati has had a great deal of success with the system, and simply deciding to use desmodromic valves will put Honda on equal footing from the start. The system is closely associated with Ducati, but desmodromic valves have been around since the late 19th century, leaving Honda completely free to use such a system as they see fit.