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MCTEA, MTI team up for award-winning motorcycle

Students from both Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy and Mitchell Technical Institute teamed up to refurbish a 1979 Honda CB650 motorcycle. Some of the students to work on the project, from left to right are Brady Temple, Billy Charnell, Damon Wagerin, Josh Quinn, Spencer James, Austin Scut, Matt Huber and Austin Taylor. (Submitted Photo from Chris Degen)

Rebuilt from scratch, the award-winning work of students from the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy and Mitchell Technical Institute looks good and goes fast.

It also recently brought home four highly coveted awards from a regional custom motorcycle show.

The group had four first-place finishes in the "Chopper Challenge" contest at the 27th Annual Donnie Smith Bike and Car Show March 29 and 30 in St. Paul, Minn., including first-place awards for most innovative bike, technical skills, presentation and the people's choice award. On its website, the show boasts it is the largest custom bike show in the Midwest, and MTI group adviser Chris Degen said it was a big deal for the students.

"I think they had 10,000 people there for each day of the show," he said. "It was just really cool."

The show class the motorcycle was entered in was for high-school and first-year technical school students younger than 19. Students from MCTEA primarily did the welding on the project, while the construction of the frame and rebuilding of the motorcycle were done by the MTI students.

The work on the 1979 Honda CB650 motorcycle started from the frame, and the group decided it wanted to build what is called a "cafe racer," a style of motorcycle known for quick rides that was popular in Europe. The work had to be documented by hand and the group had to keep a Facebook page updated with its progress.

"It's really just a great collaboration between MTI and the CTE academy, and the students really do get that hands-on experience that is really important," Mitchell High School welding instructor Jed Schoenfelder said.

Degen said the project started in January and estimated the students put in about 250 hours working on the motorcycle over the three-month span.

The bike was also displayed April 5 during a benefit event for Greg "Moses" Miller at the Moose Lodge in Mitchell as part of a local bike show.

The students have worked on motorcycles before this year, but none has been this highly regarded.

"I was super excited," Degen said. "I was really proud of the way our kids handled themselves. They did a great job."