Abstract Success of a bulk forming process is significantly affected by several operative parameters, such as dies and workpiece temperature, friction factor, preformed dimensions and its initial positioning. In the paper the hot extrusion forging of an half shaft of a two stroke motorcycle engine has been investigated. The combined effect of the most influent operative parameters has been determined by means of a consistent factorial plan. A sensitivity analysis was performed using an advanced numerical finite element code as a powerful CAE tool able to assist the analyst in the design of the process. The geometry of the part has allowed a combined 2D-3D numerical analysis; in fact, the influence of some parameters has required a full 3D analysis very expensive in terms of numerical computations.