Shop project has student spinning his wheels
Dustin Smith knows dirt bikes, and he knows the three factory-built ones he has weren’t quite what he wanted.
‘I wanted a bike that I could ride in the dirt then turn around and ride on the street,’ he said.
Smith has been riding for several years, going as far as E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park in Kentucky to ride trails. He also has some dirt jumps at home.
So the Corydon Central High School junior decided to use his skills to custom build one.
One way Smith customized his project, which was for metals class at CCHS, was to place a ‘dirt’ tire on the frame’s front and a ‘street’ tire on the rear.
Drawing a diagram on the computer of what he wanted to build required Smith, 16, to take ‘thousands of measurements,’ he said.
Those measurements had to be very precise.
For example, Smith said that if the bottom cross bar was ‘off by even a degree, the bike would wobble when I ride it.’
Once Smith started building his bike, he had to make a few modifications. The most difficult part in completing the bike was placing the frame in a position so it cleared the bike’s chain, he said.
‘The measurements are very precise,’ Smith said last week as he showed off his finished product, complete with ‘Smitty’ stenciled on the cross bar. The bike has a lower and longer frame than most of his other bikes.
‘The materials were a little hard to find,’ Smith said, adding that he had to make some adjustments to the parts he did purchase.
Smith saved nearly half the cost of what it would take to buy a dirt bike, which he said runs about $1,100. Materials for his custom-built bike cost about $600 (a family friend provided a free paint job).
It took Smith about one hour a day this school semester to complete the bike, which he will enter in the annual Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society contest held in Grand Rapids. It will be entered in the transportation category.
Smith, who has broken bones while skateboarding but never biking, has already taken his finished project for a spin outdoors. ‘I popped a tire the first time I rode it on the road,’ he said.
The dirt bike isn’t the only entry Smith will have in the Michigan contest. The fourth-year wood shop student will take a highboy he’s building this semester in woodworking class also. Last year, in woodworking, he built a pool table. Who knows what project Smith will decide to tackle next year. Perhaps he’ll decide to pursue that go-cart he said he considering building this year.