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Perham High School one of 5 in nation to build custom motorcycle

Perham High School will be one of just five schools in the nation to participate in a high school motorcycle build in collaboration with S and S Cycle Incorporated's 55th Anniversary.

On completion, the custom bike will go on tour with S and S Cycle to some of the biggest motorcycle events in the country, including Sturgis. Next fall, when the tour is done, the bike will be given back to the school to be sold.

Kurt Peterson, custom bike designer at Lil' Evil Inkorpor8ted in Perham, brought the idea to the school board at a meeting last week. S and S Cycle contacted Peterson directly because of his past experience with the company.

The excitement among school board members was obvious as the plan was unveiled, leading to unanimous approval.

Building the Ground Up American V20 Custom motorcycle will cost the district $15,000, which is a high estimate according to Peterson. S and S Cycle donated the two most expensive parts of the bike - the motor and the chassis - saving the school an estimated $10,000. Peterson said the rest of the parts will be available at cost for the district.

Board member Sue Von Ruden said, "This is priceless. The things they will learn are priceless."

Peterson and his partner, Greg Larson, will be volunteering their time by working closely with the school during the entire process - from design to building - beginning at the start of second trimester in December. Building the bike from start to finish will take an estimated 300 hours.

Students will learn designing and engineering concepts, as well as gain welding and building experience.

"This goes beyond a motorcycle," said Peterson.

All the necessary specialty tools, such as a bike lift, will be loaned to the school by Lil' Evil. The building process will take place on school property.

"My partner and I believe that part of being a business owner is to give back," Peterson said.

Carl Aakre's advanced welding class will be the main class involved, however many other classes will have opportunities to help, turning this into a school-wide project.

The Perham FFA group, which has experience building high mileage cars, will be helping, as will students from the Alternative Learning Center. Students in the introduction to engineering, marketing, accounting and website design classes will also be involved.

Although the bike is being built for S and S Cycle's 55th Anniversary event in Viola, Wis. in June, it will also compete in the Donnie Smith Bike Show in Saint Paul, Minn. in March. Students that helped build the bike will have the opportunity to go on field trips to both events.

While building for S and S Cycle is a one-time opportunity, building to compete at the Donnie Smith Show could be an annual event. That's something the school board may consider later, depending on how this first year goes.

Board member Jim Rieber said adding this bike build to the curriculum will be another thing Perham offers that other schools don't.

Other businesses in the community can support the bike-building event by purchasing bike parts or donating funds toward the two field trips.