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Mitchell Tech Students Unveil Custom Motorcycle

Re-built Motorcycle Headed for Elite Auction Later this Month


Students, faculty, staff and supporters of Mitchell Technical College gathered for the Power Sports Technology students’ pit stop before with their custom-built motorcycle Friday afternoon.

Since late September, the program’s six second-year students, along with representatives of Helping with Horsepower, a Mitchell-area nonprofit providing opportunities for purpose, well-being and growth through projects such as bike rebuilds, worked tirelessly to tear down and rebuild the 2018 Harley-Davidson Road Glide for the City of Sturgis, who purchased the bike. The finished bike is scheduled to go up for bids on an elite Mecum Auction in Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 24-28.

“We wanted to be 90 percent done when they left (for Christmas break), so we were on a pretty tight deadline,” said Laura Klock, President and Founder of Helping with Horsepower.

In just over three months, the students “got to be involved all the way from tearing the bike down, building some custom stuff and putting it back together,” according to Power Sports Program Director Chris Degen.

From the very beginning, it was a team effort.

Bike Reveal 1
Bike Reveal 3
Bike prep 1

“Everyone kind of had their own … design ideas,”Degen recalled. “We sat around and figured out color schemes and what we wanted the bike to look like and what we were going for, ”then transformed the touring-style Road Glide into a “race-like bagger.”

The cosmetic transformation is apparent at first glance and brought cheers from the approximately 100 people in attendance Friday.

Most obviously, the solid-colored pearl paint was replaced with a white base and racing strips of blue, bronze and black with barely-noticeable monochromatic Sturgis emblems. The solid black factory seat was replaced with a sporty black and white leather seat embroidered in a diamond pattern with the City of Sturgis emblem displayed prominently at the top. Just below the gas cap, the official coin for the 2023 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was inset into the modified gas tank, and students fabricated a custom shift linkage bearing the Sturgis logo. A majority of the chrome was replaced with metallic bronze or high-gloss black-painted pieces. In homage to the students who invested their class periods into the build, the motor mount dons a black Mitchell Tech logo set on a bronze base.

“There are a lot of (subtle) custom parts that the students got to” add to the bike to commemorate the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and to honor the involvement of Mitchell Tech, Helping with Horsepower and the project’s many corporate sponsors, Degen said, adding that the students were able to use some of the skills they’re learning in their welding class on the project.

And the mechanics were overhauled, too. Degen said the engine horsepower and torque were increased by 50 percent. Various standard parts were replaced with performance parts to make the bike race-ready, but it is enough like the original to still be used as a road rider.

Although the turnaround on the project was quick for such an expansive project, Klock said the process was “beautiful.”

“These guys were so fast and so responsive. The motor mount –they talked about it, and then one of them was out the door, making it. (They) did a great job. (They) should all be very proud of (themselves),” she said. “They have such a great base from the school and Chris’s instruction. They understand how it all works. …This is the future of power sports standing here.”

The experience was unique for everyone involved. For students, it was a first custom build. And, for Degen and Klock, it was the first project they’ve had that will be sold to a national audience.

“It was awesome to be able to add the design and marketing concept to the students’ mechanical coursework that they’re already learning,” she said.

The bike departed Mitchell Monday afternoon, with another unveiling pit stop scheduled for Sturgis on Tuesday at 4 p.m. From there, the bike will be Vegas-bound.

The final day of the bike’s time at auction will be televised Sat., Jan. 28 at The winner of the auction will purchase the custom motorcycle, an autographed concept drawing from designer Tex McDorman and a VIP package to the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, to be held this August in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

“We hope that whomever the purchaser is, really embraces the story” of the Rally and Helping with Horsepower.

About Helping With Horsepower Bike Rebuild Program
Helping with Horsepower Bike Rebuild Program began in 2011 by President and Founder of HWH, Laura Klock, who wrote a curriculum because of her desire to share motorcycles as an effective tool to teach life lessons to youth ages 7-17 in residential treatment. The Abbott House in Mitchell, South Dakota, was the first location, and the program was so successful that five projects, which completed six custom motorcycles hands-on in the classroom with youth in care, had a significant financial impact (nearly $500,000) for the Abbott House, and produced measurable results in personal growth and reduced critical incidents while the girls were participating. Inquiries came in so Klock taught and licensed the curriculum to other centers. At its peak, there were eight Helping with Horsepower Bike Rebuild Programs in residential treatment centers across the U.S. Helping with Horsepower offers additional programming, including equine therapy through a partnership with Crystal Young and Reclamation Ranch in Mitchell, S.D.

About the City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Clarence “Pappy” Hoel purchased an Indian Motorcycle franchise during the Great Depression. In 1938, Hoel, his wife, Pearl and the rest of the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club hosted the first motorcycle race featuring nine participants and 200 spectators. Today, the City of Sturgis Motocycle Rally, held in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, is one of the largest gatherings of motorcycle enthusiasts in the world, turning the town of 7,020 into a city of more than 450,000 for one week each August. In 2015, the 75th Annual Rally was attended by an estimated 739,000 people. The 2023 Rally, Aug. 4-13, celebrates the 83rd anniversary of an event known to motorcycle enthusiasts around the world as the “granddaddy of ’em all.” From the governor of South Dakota to entertainment and sports superstars, to motorcycle industry legends, to your friends from down the street, you are likely to find them all in Sturgis enjoying The Ride. The Roar. The Rally.


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