ST. PAUL, MINN., MARCH 29-30—For the past 27 years the Donnie Smith Bike Show in St. Paul has featured some of the top customs from Midwest motorcycle builders. In 2004 there was an added bonus to the usual mix of wild creations with the inaugural Donnie Smith Chopper Class Challenge (DSCCC), which pitted high school chopper classes and clubs from around the country against each other in a friendly competition that has now captivated showgoers for the past 10 years.
Only two schools were able to enter this year’s DSCCC due to a tough winter and struggling economy. However, that didn’t stop the students from Eden High School (New York) and Mitchell Tech (South Dakota) from showing off their talents with two custom builds that wowed folks at the RiverCenter in late March. Also on hand were students from Sturgis Brown High School with their 2014 Sturgis Buffalo Chip Legends Ride Auction Bike build (a stunning 2014 Street Glide), and members of the Bloomington Kennedy High School (Minn.) with a couple of their builds including the bike they built for S&S Cycle’s 55th Anniversary Student Build Challenge in June 2013.
It was amazing to see all four of these classes in action explaining their builds throughout the weekend to interested attendees. With the tutelage and direction from their instructors, all four schools built show-quality machines that would fare well in any bike competition. With only so much space in our print issue to highlight these amazing machines, I felt it necessary to expand on each of them and give the young guns their due credit. We’ll start with the students from Eden High School in New York, who built a mechanical masterpiece that was powered by a salvaged Shibura diesel tractor motor (you read that right!).
**The following is a Q&A session with Eden Chopper Class instructor Matt Saramak, president Max Schreiber and vice president Andrew Maggs as an expanded feature from the DSCCC story appearing in the June issues of Thunder Press.
TP: How long have you guys had the chopper class at Eden, and explain the difference between your chopper class and chopper club.
Max Schreiber: We’ve had the program for the last seven years. The class (during the day) is more about the building blocks and where you learn the basics. The club is where, if you feel more comfortable, you can come and really get the feel for building a bike and actually put in some hours doing so. Currently we have about 20 students in the class and 10 in the club.
TP: How do you go about raising funds and soliciting the parts needed for the build?
Max: Everything we do with the bike is up to us to get. We hold a few fundraisers throughout the year like barbecues, chinese auctions. We don’t do the paint, but we design the scheme and are there for the whole process. It’s free for us to attend and participate in the class and club, but we do need to fund our trips and have sometimes “donated” our own funds to get us to a fundraiser or event.
Matt Saramak: They start by doing the small stuff, the powder coating and all the body finish they do themselves, so besides the actual paint application, everything else is done in-house.
TP: What led you guys to use a diesel tractor motor for your build?
Max: The engine was from a tractor that was in a barn fire where the whole tractor melted around it. We had to completely tear it apart and clean it all up; it was an interesting time, that’s for sure.
Andrew: We live in a rural area and we are all into diesel engines and tractors and trucks, so we thought the diesel would be pretty cool and kind of show-stopping. We added a few other touches like railroad spikes for footpegs and iron grates for floorboards to keep the industrial theme going.”
TP: I saw you guys at last year’s S&S 55th Anniversary Student Build Challenge, how many members of this year’s group were involved in that build, and what did you guys think of the experience?
Max: It’s the same core group of students that we had last year. It was just a really cool time; a sweet experience. Especially when we got to go see their actual plant in Viola, that was awesome. We got a great reception and met some great people; it was a really cool experience.
TP: Making the trip all the way from New York to the Twin Cities, I gotta imagine it’s pretty special for you guys.
Max: Yeah, it makes it a lot more meaningful than just driving next door or across town to show off the bike.
Matt: They get to experience the fruits of their labor. They’ve worked day in and day out, 8:00 in the morning and giving up weekends, holidays—we even tried coming in on snow days, but school officials put the kibosh on that. Girlfriends are upset, parents are upset, so now at this point we stand back and this is what matters. All the people walking by and checking out the bike; it’s not about the awards, it’s about what we’ve done as a team. There’s no way that one person could’ve done it; it’s a team.
TP (to Matt): How about for you; I gotta imagine this is pretty rewarding?
Matt: Absolutely. This is my first full year, and I don’t know how Steve Jones (Eden HS engineering/chopper class instructor) did it by himself. It’s such a huge undertaking. There were plenty of nights where I wanted to scream at some of these guys, but you stand back now and look at what they’ve done and it’s very rewarding as a professional and as a teacher.
The students from Eden High School took home the following awards from this year’s DSCCC: 3R Award (Reuse, Recycle and Rebuild), Design and Innovation Award, Overall Excellence Award and the Traveling Award.
**Keep an eye out for expanded features on the rest of the student builds from this year’s Donnie Smith Bike and Car Show. And be sure to head out and pick up a copy of the June issue for the full feature and coverage from the entire weekend.