Wick High School teacher sets up a motorcycle mechanics club for kids as young as 11

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You’re never too young to get into bikes – as a group of kids at a Scottish school discovered when one of their teachers set up an after-school club where they could learn how to strip, rebuild and maintain motorcycles.

With youngsters aged as young as 11 getting their hands dirty every week, the club was founded two years ago by Ewan Mackay, who works within the Technical Department at Wick High School in Scotland, after he purchased a Kawasaki GPZ600.

Ewan now has a dedicated group of enthusiastic students aged 11-18 working across three bikes – with the jobs getting more complex as the students get older.

Kids working on Suzuki TS185 at school

We’ve got a 1990s Suzuki GS500, and the senior lads are working on that,” he told MCN. “We’ve then got our middle-set of third years who’ve been working on a TS185, which they’ve done a complete rebuild on after a top end seizure.

“The first-year lads, so 11- to 12-year-olds, are working on an old French Mobylette scooter at the minute. They had to change engine mounts, clean out the carb, drive chain, front suspension. So they get the opportunity to work on a range of stuff and they just love it.”

Although Ewan purchased the original GPZ, bikes since then have been donated by local riders – with the kids then giving them a fresh lease of life under the supervision of their teacher.

School teacher Ewan Mackay

“The GS500 belongs to the dad of one of the maths teachers,” Ewan explained. “It dropped a valve and hydraulically locked. The boys have taken that apart – absolute nut and bolt job – cleaned out the bottom end, fitted new bearings, and it’s just in the process of having the bottom end rebuilt, and then putting the top on.”

Alongside the after-school activities, the kids will be heading to Knockhill on Friday, June 14 for the opening day of the British Superbike championship weekend. After a recent fundraiser among the motorcycle community raised £1100, the students will be able to attend completely free of charge.

“I want them to get the opportunity to see and talk to the professional race teams, to the engineers, to the mechanics and talk about opportunities in the motorbike industry. I want to open their eyes to what’s outside of Wick because a lot of them can get stuck in a rut,” Ewan said.

Kids as young as 11 work on the bikes at school

On top of this, he’d also like to see motorcycle mechanics added to the curriculum and is actively encouraging more female students to attend the weekly motorcycle club, too.

“School wasn’t really for me. I left at 17 and joined the Royal Navy as a marine engineer and I was away for 20 years before I came into the teaching profession, so I know how a lot of these kids feel and how life can be challenging for them,” Ewan continued.

“I’m just trying to provide them with something that I really enjoyed as a kid growing up. It was my route into engineering – working on my motorcycles. I’m just trying to provide an opportunity.”