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Motor Mentors: BUILD Program Brings Motorcycle Restoration Into Milwaukee High Schools


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Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Iron Horse Hotel, in cooperation with a team of dedicated volunteers and motorcycle enthusiasts, kicked off the second season of the BUILD Motor Mentor Program this spring. 


Six teams comprised of five students each from area high schools and youth organizations were chosen to fully restore a “barn-find condition” vintage motorcycle to American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) standards during a 100-day build. Each team was provided with a pre-restoration condition vintage Honda CB 160/175 and a total of $2,000 in cash for parts.


By connecting high school students with skilled mentors and faculty advisors, this after-school program offers students the opportunity to learn vintage bike restoration while developing important business, trade and interpersonal skills.



Through a formal and very visible competition, students are rewarded for their efforts with incentives given along the way, recognition through display and the eventual racing of their bikes.


“We’re losing our youth to keyboards and joysticks,” laments program mentor Mark Hoedel. Hoedel, a 17-year powersport veteran, is a vintage restoration expert and has experience as a dealership GM. 


Hoedel was enthusiastic when he heard about the program launch and is proud to lead team Tech Motor Heads at his alma mater, Bradley Tech.


“The motorcycle in itself is a perfect vessel: Everybody thinks a motorcycle is cool — it draws the kids in. BUILD is so inclusive because it gives the kids the opportunity to not only learn the history of the motorcycle that we’re building, but we get into design, engineering, fabrication, the mechanics and machining. We also talk about budgeting and racing and sportsmanship.”



“The kids are so proud when they’re done. They’ve never dreamt that they’d ever do something like this,” he concludes.


In addition to the support of the schools and the community, Hoedel is thankful to the motorcycle industry for their support of the projects providing free or greatly reduced parts to the BUILD teams. 


The bikes embarked on a summer tour starting May 31, and the program culminates with a reception at the Iron Horse Hotel featuring a live bike auction on August 30. 

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