Warbird motorcycle

Warbird: the aircraft-engined motorcycle

By guest writer Diesel of Visual Gratification. Say hello to the Warbird. I would rather call this a piece of art than a motorcycle. But this beauty is not just a piece of art, it’s a real bike. It’s the first product from the creative hands of Canadian Ian Douglas, and what separates it from other custom bikes is what’s inside this beast. It’s based on the cylinders and heads from a radial engine, and the accessories related to that motor are from a full-size aircraft engine. This monstrous V-Twin displaces 3129cc, with a bore and stroke ratio of 5.125″ x 4.625″. Ian has literally designed the whole bike—including the crankcase—to house this mammoth, and everything was built or mated or fused by Douglas in-house. He designed and made the casting patterns, and did all the required machining, while the casting itself was done by the OBCO foundry in Richmond B.C. (Many aviation components were provided by Radial Engines). It took Ian two years to create this beauty, but what a product! On the tank, you can see a pin-up girl—the creation of a “very talented local girl named Jennie Persak”—while the overall painting was done by George Kanavaros, an experienced aviation painter. On his website, Douglas says, “Warbird, my latest build, was born out of a combined love of vintage aircraft engines and similar period motorcycles. The engine is a scratch designed/built power-plant that utilizes WWII radial aircraft cylinders and a one-off hand built crank case. The response to the bike has been truly amazing. I must have struck a nerve with people, as we have been flooded with requests for more information.” Visit the Warbird website and check out the photo gallery section while you’re there. This truly is a masterpiece worth appreciating. [Photographer/image copyright Ian Douglas.]

A note from Diesel: This is the fifth and last post from me for Bike EXIF. Chris emailed me to ask if I’d be the guest editor for five days—although he wanted a break, he didn’t want the website to take one. I was more than happy to fill in, and I hope I have been able to maintain Bike EXIF’s high quality of posts. I must say it is no easy job to post something new and exciting every day, especially when the motorcycles featured are so rare and classy! My best wishes to Chris and all the Bike EXIF readers for a very prosperous New Year.

  • powermatic

    I’ve been aware of this bike for awhile, and concur that the conception and build is nothing short of amazing. However, after more than a year, there is still no (promised) vid of a running engine on the website. Not to disparage the builder or his work, but no matter how cool the idea, or how beautiful the creation, if it doesn’t run it’s just an interesting mock up, and not a real motorcycle.

    Granted, this is higher proof than generally required for custom builds viewed on the web, but since the unusual one-off motor of ‘Warbird’ is such an integral part of the the whole, this seems like fair criticism. i.e., though we may not demand to hear an S&S run in a lesser custom bike, it’s a safe assumption that it either can, or will.

  • The Phantom

    Fair point, powermatic. I’d love to hear/see it run. I’d also like it better with a wider rear wheel, the boardtrack racer look is cool but not in keeping with that motor nor the long raked out look of the bike. Maybe a 180 would fill out the rear a little better?

    Reminds me of the Merlin-based v-twin that Lucky Keizer built back in the Eighties, although that one was no work of art (and neither was his 5 litre v-twin ; )

    Thanks Diesel (and other guests) for holding the fort, excellent job!

  • Woody

    The super-fat wheels used on choppers these days are retarded, but I gotta agree that this could use some slightly wider tires for such a gigantic engine. Even a Ninja 250 has fatter tires! Thirding the “video with sound” request, I bet it sounds like god belching.

  • ggam

    now that is FANTASTIC.

    full respect to the creator!

  • heavy duty

    Thanks Diesel for your posts – they were great. Appreciate you keeping us entertained and enlightened.

  • Jay Allen

    There is some serious creativity going on here. I applaude his imagination if nothing else. Part of my appreciation for the H-D engine goes back to seeing parts of a vintage radial engine right there in front of me. Sadly, the wife vetoed me putting a pin-up girl on my tank !!