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Mitchell Technical Institute Chopper Class profile

By John Galvin

ST. PAUL, MINN.—The second expanded feature from the 2014 Donnie Smith Chopper Class Challenge (DSCCC) highlights the Mitchell Technical Institute chopper club from Mitchell, South Dakota.

The Mitchell chopper club started in 2008, and has competed in the DSCCC every year since. The club is a mix of both high school and technical school students, with the only stipulation being that members must be age 19 or under. The club has a little bit of a budget that comes from the powersports program at Mitchell Tech, but the students also do a lot of work on local resident’s four-wheelers, motorcycles and snowmobiles, and some of the “donations” from that work goes toward the build, which is all done right at the technical school. For this year’s DSCCC, the students from Mitchell came to a consensus by taking a junkyard-donated ’79 Honda CB650 and turning it into an amazingly clean café racer.

Members of the Mitchell Technical Institute's chopper club with their CB650 café build

Members of the Mitchell Technical Institute’s chopper club with their CB650 café build

First-year instructor Chris Degen led the students on this year’s build. “We have a good time and the guys really enjoy working on it,” said Degen. “We get to go through the whole process of stripping the bike down to bare metal and recreating it the way we want, and then we really get fired up when we start to get the bike looking like something. The kids get really get excited and everyone wants to buy it and take it home.”

Mitchell started the café build by tearing down the CB650 engine and replacing the gaskets before handling minor maintenance issues to get the motor running. The bike features a Harley-Davidson Sportster tank cut down and fit with knee cut-ins, slash-cut wrapped exhaust, clip-on bars, a café quarter fairing and a remarkably clean maroon base with white racing stripes paint scheme. It screamed, “I’M FAST!” and couldn’t have weighed much more than 400 pounds. In a nod to the school, a #68 number plate was added and pays tribute to the year Mitchell Technical Institute was founded (1968).

This year the Mitchell club had a total of 31 first-year students participating. When asked what coming to the Twin Cities and participating in the annual Donnie Smith Bike + Car Show means to the students, Degen summed it up best by saying, “Some of our kids are pretty young and haven’t been to a city as big as Saint Paul before, so this experience is pretty rewarding for them. It’s a new adventure and this is a great way to break them in since it’s just an awesome show with a great turnout annually.”

*(The next student-build profile from this year’s Donnie Smith Chopper Class Challenge will feature the students from Sturgis Brown High School and the 2014 Custom Street Glide they completely overhauled for a benefit auction held at the annual Legends Ride in Sturgis.)

**Pick up a copy of the June North, South and/or West issues for full coverage from the 2014 Donnie Smith Car + Bike Show, featuring coverage from this year’s DSCCC.

***CLICK HERE  FOR THE EDEN HIGH SCHOOL CHOPPER CLUB PROFILE

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