Kickboxer – Subaru WRX Powered Motorcycle Concept

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Suppose you had an engine from a Subaru WRX and suppose further, you wanted to build a motorcycle, what would it look like? Ian McElroy was thinking about just that and started putting his ideas into Solidworks to see what he could do. One minor problem, though, Ian didn't know how to use Solidworks, so he set about the task of learning the software as he went, taking his ideas and putting them into the computer. What you see here is the result and he thought we might like to take a look.

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

It's radical, to be sure, but no more so than, say, building a motorcycle around a radial engine or any of the other motorcycle and engine combinations we've seen here. But, beyond the concept itself, I really like the fact that Ian decided to jump in and learn the software so he could show everyone what was on his mind and clarify his ideas to see if they would work. It's so easy to say, "I don't know how" and leave it at that, Ian decided to learn it and forge ahead. Nice work!

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX powered concept motorcycle

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX engine

Kickboxer - Subaru WRX engine

Link: Flickr photos of Kickboxer

Related: Solidworks manuals, just in case you want to give it a try yourself ...


  1. Joe says

    As much as i LOVE the idea of Subaru being involved in a motorcycle in any way, shape, or form, I question the practicality of the engine layout. While in a car it allows for really low center of gravity, i feel like you’d have to lift it up far enough to get decent lean angles as to negate that benefit. Then again, i suppose it works for BMW so… I also really dig the twin single-sided swingarms and the insectoid face, though im not sure about the squared off seat. Other than being a little leery of getting my shoelaces caught in all the exposed pulleys, I’d definitely take it for a spin.

  2. JC says

    I’ve always liked older naked goldwings, so I really like this which I guess could be considered similar engine styling.

    Goes from not knowing how to use Solidworks to results like this? Major props for that alone, and this is a better result than many designers efforts to boot!

  3. Dielectric says

    I wonder if he’s got any torque roll countermeasures? Romping on my WRX always resulted in a nice little body wiggle. That’s moving 3000lbs of steel and aluminum on 4 stiff springs. What’s it going to do on a bike? The reciprocating mass and flywheel inertia of a 2 or 2.5 liter engine is nothing to take lightly…

  4. Wave says

    Brilliant concept and very nicely executed! I think the design of the bike looks excellent, and would love to see it built. Well done to the designer for having a go.

  5. Wave says

    Oh, and I love the two little intercoolers above each cylinder bank. A terrible place for them to function, but it links back to the engine’s WRX heritage beautifully and looks quite cool.

  6. says

    The subaru engines are often swapped into old volkswagen camper vans (about to do this myself with a 2.5L non-turbo engine). When one does this, the oil pan ends up hanging down too low. An aftermarket oil pan has just become available to allow the engine to be mounted much lower. It’s available from

    Pretty cool concept. It couldn’t really be all that practical i don’t think, but like the author states, no worse than a radial, or boss hoss, or whatever else in the world of crazy-engined-customs. And obviously, practicality is not the #1 priority of something like this! I love the rivet lines. I’d like to see a version with conventional forks.

  7. says

    Sort of Suzuki Katana meets Tesi meets Terminator, I love the look–esp the rivets, though I agree with Joe, that’s a pretty high center of gravity and any lower would reduce kneesliding potential…

  8. Tin Man 2 says

    Nice Electronic sketch, Its good to air out your ideas. But to compare this to a real Motorcycle is unfair. The Boss Hog, Radial Bikes, even the Chrysler Tomahawk all exist and actaully move under their own power. Is this the 1st step in actaully building this bike? That would really be something! Fantasy is good, You must 1st Dream before you can achieve, Lets hope this project continues to a running bike!!!

  9. SteveD says

    Jeez, I enjoy this engine in a car. in a bike? You may need a reverse seatbelt, especially with that little seat.

  10. kneeslider says

    Tin Man 2, many designers work in CAD and let others build. Motorcycle and auto companies have entire departments filled with designers. The design itself is the work. Whether Ian takes the next step and builds the bike or not, he has already done a lot, especially since he had to learn Solidworks before he could even make this “electronic sketch.”

  11. Stjohn says

    Not that practicality enters into it at all, but this would be better suited to a shaft-drive configuration. The next exercise I’d like to see would be a digital prototype built with as many off-the-shelf and recycled parts as possible. But like someone else said, as a learning exercise for Solidworks (and V-ray, it looks like), it’s really nice work.

  12. says

    Good work with the Subaru mill – really nice bike.

    My recipe for a more reasonable alternative would be to take a GL1800 and strip it naked. Engineer & install a pair of DOHC 12-valve heads, and maybe add twin turbos for even more spice. That ought to up the output into the 200hp range. Add cafe racer tank & seat. Major aftermarket sales of the new heads, in non-turbo bolt-on form, would be a great, and ongoing, revenue source.

  13. Kenny says

    I’m interested in how he modeled the engine, is there existing solidworks files of the engine or did he do it himself, and how much detail went into it…i.e. is it just the external dimensions.
    Really nice concept

  14. pabsyboots says

    tho i vote for a proper front end
    its great when the KS brings us stuff we dont see elsehwere

  15. Tin Man 2 says

    Kneeslider, The design is the work??? I could not disagree more. The building of the bike is the work! Both Design and Build are important,Someone has to Dream, but the actaul build is where the Rubber meets the Road. Im sure this Gentleman put a lot of time and effort into this Concept, and it is bold and beautifull. But to downplay the actaul builders by comparing a rendering to a real bike is Fantasy.

  16. MikeC says

    Tin Man 2,

    As a designer and builder/fabricator of many things (complete snowmobiles, engines as well as an upcoming bike), the way I keep my costs down to something I can realistically justify is to put the work into the design. The more details that are defined and confirmed (through experience and partner knowledge) the simpler and quicker the build. Trust me, I have gone from sketches to build, as well as sketch to proper design to build, and the latter is far quicker, cheaper, and more accurate. I would never downplay the builder’s abilities and skill (i am one), but proper mechanical 3D design is not fantasy, it is reality on the computer if done properly. The key is taking the reams of data from the computer models and outputting that to NC milling machines, laser cutting tables, NC lathes, paper drawings and fabrication notes.

  17. anon says

    Completely impractical in a ‘Gotta Have It’ sort of way! Fantastic!

    This is the guys first foray into SolidWorks? Damn!

  18. says

    I like it! Sure you could criticize the feasability of it or what it might ride like, but it provokes mucho thought and that’s why people build projects like this! I could look at stuff like this all day long! Keep em comin’.

    Not sure about the red tipped fienders or the played out “Streetfighter approach though.

  19. kneeslider says

    Tin Man 2, when I said “The design is the work,” I was referring to the prior sentence about design departments where that is certainly true. You are taking my words out of context. Anyone who can actually do something, whether creating a design of this caliber or building a real motorcycle, has my respect.

  20. says

    Hello, my name is Ian McElroy, and I am the designer.

    My goal was to simply build an awesome bike around the Subaru engine. Of course there would have to be compromises, but Subaru Boxer is very light weight and has a very low CG for a car motor.
    I have built custom bikes before. In fact you can see them on my Flickr account cited in the article. I would have to say that building this model was harder and more expensive than any “real bike” I’ve built before. I modeled every part myself, down to the bolt’s, wires, and bearings. I couldn’t find a model for the engine so I actually bought a used JDM WRX engine and modeled it myself. This model isn’t like all those other bike designs you see out there. I designed the model to be accurate and realistic enough to build a real bike from. If I had the money I could take the CAD files strait to a machinist, and have the parts made today.
    Thanks for your comments guy’s. I’m just happy to have my bike on The Kneeslider!

  21. Kenny says

    I have to say I am very impressed, I have done a lot of Autodesk Inventor modeling for coursework.
    How long did it take you to do everything?
    Hope you can get it built someday, maybe get a hold of Jay Leno and see if he’ll fund it!

  22. says

    It took a long time. Solid modeling with Solidworks is very easy to learn, but surfaces has a steeper learning curve. I worked on and off for over a year and a half. The final month I was working about ten hours a day seven days week. Details take a lot of work.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to having Some place like “Travertson Motorcycles” doing what they did for Tim Cameron’s Vrex, for my design.

  23. says

    A nice update on an old idea. First there were a long series – hundreds, by a few manufacturers – of VW powered /2 BMW’s with 2″ frame extensions, and later there was the Amazonas behemoth. But of course they weren’t just computer generated images.

  24. says

    haha, this is seriously fun looking, has to weigh a ton though!!! i know that some shipping weights, with pallet of EJ20 engines are about 500 lbs, so this would what, probably end up being a 650 or 620 lbs bike? out, but with 265 to 305 stock hp, 165 hp in the NA model, i’m betting it could move that around pretty easily 😉

    curious about the torque roll as well Dielectric, i know there’s a lot of it even in my little TS wagon.

  25. Nicolas says

    It actually looks like Stellan’s Beamer, but with twice the engine in it …

    Ian, you should ask Stellan if he can build a frame for your used WRX engine ? (unless you already fit it up into some bug or van)

  26. MadBueller says

    Ian, beautiful concept! I love the lines, choice of motor and the suspension…wow! And to be self taught and do this yourself on Solidworks, congrats. I work for an engineering company, though not an engineer myself, I have dabbled with Solidworks and know it is some very complex software.

    I’m sure if you ever build this, you’ll be the center of any bike night! Again, congrats and great job.

  27. Hobo Mike says

    I am a huge fan of the WRX and of Subarus in general. And I think the bike looks spectacular. What a great design exercise. Well done!

    But, if you’re going to the trouble of designing and modeling everything from scratch, why not go the extra step and design a flat-four engine that is specifically intended for motorcycles? You seem capable! Start with the desirable characteristics of the Subie engine, turbo-charge it, etc. but reconfigure it (aesthetically and otherwise) so it is a motorcycle intended engine.

  28. says

    Weight isn’t as bad as you might think. Those palleted EJ20’s have ac, ps, and emissions. The cast iron header alone weighs about 50 pounds. I’m not a big guy but I was able to lift the motor minus all that stuff by myself, though not very high.
    I love Stellan Egeland’s beamer. The steering on my design is kind of a hybrid between whats on his bike and the Bimota Tesi.

  29. todd says

    This is great. A low center of gravity is not good in a performance motorcycle.

    I love Solidworks. One can put as much time and effort as he wishes into building something like this. The more time spent the more closer it is to reality. Like Ian suggested about his bike I’ve designed a number of things in Solidworks that were taken directly to metal. No need for the fabricator (sometimes myself) to find any solutions, everything is already figured out in the virtual model. Too bad I haven’t modeled up a motorcycle, that would be my ultimate goal, but I have designed an electric car for a start up company. The model was built down to each and every fastener and where and how harnesses and brake lines etc. were run. If they ever get the funding anyone can take the plans and build the car – NOTHING was left to the imagination. Now, whether or not it would work…

    I have been saving up to put a Subaru SVX 3.0 six in my Vanagon Westfalia. Maybe I’ll model up the motor before I put it in so i can do my own virtual motorcycle build.


  30. FREEMAN says

    I’ve also got experience working with CAD software (catia) and it’s no easy task going from scratch to a deign like Ian’s here. Impressive work.

  31. z says

    Todd – this post is about Ian’s work, not yours.

    “A low center of gravity is not good in a performance motorcycle.”

    The BMW HP2 Sport has a low cofg and does quite well, so I’m not buying your comment 100%.

    Best wishes Ian in this project. It will be a thrill to see it completed.

  32. pabsyboots says

    chrysler ? made a bike from their viper engine for marketing purposes
    try calling subaru’s us marketing dept and ask who to talk to at head office with an idea for build-sponsorship and they have the bike for marketing purposes

    i use sw most days and the modelling detailing is stunning congrats

  33. Marneyman says

    This is very cool. I am all about something new, however, I would put that engine in a Westy before I wrapped a motorcycle around it.

    Let me get this straight though, those images are CG? The rendering is awesome and I applaude the dude who decided to plow into new software and make this happen.

  34. Prestons says

    Nice design exercise especially for a new to Solidworks guy. I wonder where he found the Subaru engine 3d model? If you have to enter all the parts into the computer model by hand, it takes a long time. The exception is using a 3d scanner but that’s expensive. One beauty of CAD is reusing parts from an prior design.

    I did CAD for computer printers starting in ’88. It’s a great tool but it’s no assurance of good engineering.

  35. Phoenix827 says

    Love it !!! I’m get so tired of same old, same old. This is thinking out of the box. Great look, great ideas. Would love to see a real one built.

  36. Tim says

    I love it. It pushes all the right fantastic buttons, yet it looks ride-able. Great showcase of your skills. Just one question; where do the machine guns go?

  37. Paulinator says

    That’s a GREAT model – easily convertable into a build (if the CNC resources are available). I use SldWks in my line of work…a good model looks just like the finished prototype. It’s like magic.

    I occasionally make mistakes that show themselves in testing. I’ve learned not to trust results of FEA unless I get the answer that I was expecting anyway – then test to validate. I’ve seen designers rely on the results of COSMOS simulations and get burned because they didn’t visualize the load-path correctly – thus the constraints or forces were wrong. Garbage in = garbage out.

  38. grayband says

    I’m learning solidworks as well and it is amazing software that is not hard to learn at all…aside from that, I really want to pull the mill from my ’05 wrx and make a 2 wheeled beast out of it! great inspiration!

  39. Scott says

    Uh, Joe… ever heard of a Gold Wing? Grand tourers now, but when introduced in ’75 – as an l-c flat 4 – they were intended to be performance bikes.

    Keep at it, Ian.

  40. says

    I’ll have to consider making the Engine model available.
    The riders heels are actually pretty far from the rear wheel. Because the riding position is so far back, and the width of the rear wheel, I had to place the foot pegs wider than the swingarm. That and there are heel guards too.

  41. Steve says

    Very, very cool. In the spirit of the WRX, it would be interesting if there was some way to send power to both the front and back wheels. Perhaps a hub electric motor in front juiced by the boxer ICE.

  42. OMMAG says

    From the Vento to this !!!

    That’s covering a lot of ground man.

    One thing I’m getting from the widely divergent posts here is that there is NO shortage of ideas or opinions about bikes.

  43. C.P.T.L. says

    Congratulations to you Mr. McElroy, this is a Tour de force. Thank-you for sharing it with us.

    A year and a half of computer modeling down to the last bolt!, hundreds of hours: that’s work.

    There is no contest between builders and modelers, both ‘do.’ Perhaps no one understands the essential difference more than the modeler, with the thing fully realized but it doesn’t yet exist.

    And when an idea is pushing the bounds of possibility and requires great means to make it exist, this kind of model may be just what it takes to convince someone it’s worthwhile to fund.

  44. says

    Much respect. Gr8 job. – I personally think that to use a watercooled motor in a motorcycle is silly thoo. What about some nice aircooled Porsche flat sixes? Seem pretty well sorted for motorcycle use…good balance/vibrations, light, dry sump…The monster fan on those motors take away alot of power and add weight. Also the big metal shroud over the whole engine looks shieeet….Have you ever seen a stripped down ally flat six? Its gorgeous to behold. Iam sure a Beemer drive-train could handle the 180 – 200 bhp..and if you use the newer BMW donor bikes the motor will sit much higher in the frame…wonT be a SPRINT BIKE , BUT 200 + – BHP IN A 550LBS BIKE AINT BAD FOR SOME NICE CRUIZING AND WILL bustle along nicely…and LOOK GR8!!…aNYONE OUT THERE DONE THIS???

  45. says

    I actually toyed with the idea of two wheel drive. With the swingarm front end it wouldn’t have been too difficult, but the front hub, wheel, u-joints would have been pretty bulky.

    I didn’t model the bike down to the bolts, and forget the radiator. I did forget the kickstand though, oops. I thought I’d get more flack for not having heat shields on the intercooler pipes, or air scoops for the intercoolers. Truth is I though the model looked a little better without those, that and I got a little burnt out on the details at the end. Besides all those Suby guys need something to talk about.:)

  46. Kbake says

    Cool design as a motorcycle. I think a sidecar version is in order next. No ground clearance issues because of no leaning. Car tires of an appropriate size , Sidecar steering and how about two wheel drive? Make it a little more comfy and with cargo capacity and sell me one for under $20,000. Please.

  47. alex says

    very cool. i am currently a subaru technician and have built choppers ground up and rebuilt some sport bikes seems like a pretty feesable idea. although a traditional front fork with a shaft driven rear end would make it a lot easier to come to life. And i’m not sure why so many are freaking out about ground clearance. bmw has been doin it for years, and while i haven’t ever measured them it doesn’t seem like it would be much longer. A turbo version would be scary fast. I really like it, it’s fine italian meets american chopper, meets mad max. i probably know a handfull of people who would be willing to get together and help make something like this a reality in spare time. thanks for putting your thoughts out there

  48. DARRELL J. COOK says

    I am both humbled and inspired by this beautiful piece of machinery and hope one day to be able to own one when they put it in to production. Someone must have a enough brains to build this piece of work!

  49. zeeohsix says

    you should check out that subaru-powered quad. they probably know much of the engineering aspects.
    as far as the kickboxer design even if it wasn’t subaru-powered the design is great and rendering excellent such as the lines behind the front wheel.

  50. says

    Hi Ian,
    Is it possible to download the SolidWorks KickBoxer assembly file (without the part and sub assemblies) ?
    Like that, we can’t modify your job, but I will be very interesting to see it running on SolidWorks…
    Or perhaps an eDrawings file?

    Nice Job!

  51. says

    great concept, looks fantastic, does it go round corners? hope there’s room for a spare pare of undercrackers…………. if you were nut’s enough to ride the thing and open it up………………… Jeeeeeez

  52. says

    I posted this concept in my site too. Absolutely fantastic Solid Works desing.
    Kind regards fron Tenerife!

    P.d. fantastic website

  53. dan maltby says

    nice idea, yet if you took the gas tank and made it lower in the bike you’d have a better center of gravity

  54. patrick leahy says

    No matter how you slice @ dice it, it all starts with your MIND!!!

    ‘If you build it, they will want one”

    I own a 06′ Subie Baja and to VW’s. 67′ Bug and a 65’ Squareback

  55. Ben says

    Exposed belt right next to your left leg… This thing needs some ironing out. Definitely a cool starting point.

  56. Eric says

    I think it`s awesome,I just wonder about the center of gravity.I think it`s quite high,and that will “floor you” in the rain.It`s a nice bike for straight roads but I would never want to drive it flat out !!!

  57. matt says

    gentlemen this is no gp racer nor is it a EU dampened mas produced bike this bike is RAW and i like it
    if we had the front view you could tell how far it would lean
    would probably ride like a bmw or a b-king for that matter but with bags more torque

    judging by the height of the cylinder heads it would have a good enough lean angle for those road racers in us all and have the brute force to chase the hyper sports bikes out there
    im one special builder who would love to help make it a reality

  58. Crazy Steve says

    I think think this motorcycle is just as cool if not cooler than the Dodge Tomahawk. Who ever designed this is freaking amazing!

  59. Alex says

    its a very nice design, duel exhaust would keep the subaru engine sound and allow for greater airflow. just my two cents.

  60. jake says

    fix these problems and its a good bike: The gas tank….. It looks like one gas tank on top of another,If it was in any other spot or just smaller it would look better and feel better too drive. Also If the back fender was attached to the frame and back wheel was attached too the frame on both sides it would be a way better bike too dirve

  61. Arto Del Funko says

    Turbo a Triumph Rocket III and bore it out to 2.5ltr, at least you know that’d work. Nice drawing all the same

  62. says

    As a fans of the drivers there is something as important as motorcycles—- Alpinestars motorcycle boots, Alpinestars motorcycle jackets, Alpinestars motorcycle gloves.

  63. says

    Hey Ian, how sheepish I feel now after reading all this?
    I had the audacity to email you and ask you to “share” the 3d Soob files for my gyrocopter illustrations without knowing how famous you are now and that people are prepared to pay for those files.
    Let everyone know what a gentleman Ian is.
    South Africa

  64. John says

    There is no doubt that I would personally venture to own one of these bikes if it ever came to fruition. However there is an inconstitency that after reading the comments still has yet to come to light.
    You cannot use that Mitsubishi transfer case for the simple reason that you’ve modeled a mirror opposite of what acutally exists in real life.

    The retort to my commet is invariably, “well then mount it on the opposite side.” Problem there is then it’d spin in a backwards driving direction and require a jackshaft between it and the transmission.