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Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday: a motorcycle jambalaya

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
It’s almost time for Milwaukeeans to throw the covers off their bikes and gear up for riding season…almost. Luckily, last weekend’s Mama Tried Motorcycle Show offered a brief respite from the biting cold.

Now in its fifth year, Mama Tried is an indoor ‘invitational’ that saw bikes from over 100 different builders crammed into the Eagles Club, a Milwaukee landmark. It’s also the grungiest bike show I’ve ever been to.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
The custom world has its fair share of chopper shows and cafe racer shows, but Mama Tried throws everything together to create a glorious motorcycle jambalaya. Nowhere at the show did I see any categories listed, or any sort of clear order to how the bikes were arranged.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
Flat trackers, choppers, cafe racers and machines defying any kind of label were all crammed into the colossal, high-ceilinged ballroom. And the people were just as diverse, with Midwestern hipsters rubbing shoulders with weathered chopper builders.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
And I mean rubbing shoulders in the literal sense—despite the 25,000 square foot floor area of the famous Eagle Club ballroom. This year’s Mama Tried saw record attendance, with some moto-thusiasts waiting up to two hours to get into the sold-out venue.

We played it safe, and pulled in late on Saturday once the crowds had died down a bit.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
Eagles Club (AKA The Rave) is a new venue for the show, and a pretty unique one too. Built in the 1920s, it has multiple levels, six big rooms, and décor that’s stuck somewhere in the late 70s. (Imagine lots of purple paint and gold leaf, and you’re close).

The bikes (and most of the vendors) were hosted on the main upper ballroom floor, and there was a motorcycle film festival running in one of the lower level theatres. There were also a couple of bars and restaurants in the building, and a number of doors that I was too afraid to open.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
I saw builds from the likes of Rodsmith, Analog, Federal, Biltwell Inc., Noise Cycles, Rusty Butcher, Custom Works Zon and many more.

I spotted a Vincent Rapide and a 1903 Clément among the crowd, a gorgeous Honda RC30, and more than a couple of classic Shovelheads.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
The Kramer Motorcycles HKR EVO2 R—a thoroughbred, hand-built race bike—was lurking in the middle of the floor too, not far from Threepence Moto’s gorgeous 1981 Ironhead.

Lining the outer edge of the ballroom, and the corridors around it, were stalls from companies like REV’IT!, S&S, TC Bros, Cone Engineering, Himalayan Heroes, and Choppahead. But if the bikes, the stalls and the beers weren’t enough, it was the people that really made the show.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018

Mama Tried attracts personalities from all over. I met up with some Bike EXIF alumni, bumped into people I wasn’t expecting to see, and missed people that I knew would be there.

We talked about everything at a frenetic pace—from bikes to day-to-day life, our conversations spilling out of the show and into the rest of the weekend. Because Mama Tried is really so much more than one-and-a-half days of ogling rad bikes.

It’s Milwaukee’s motorcycling personality on full display for an entire weekend.

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018
It’s also Flat Out Friday, where groms, pros and Hooligan racers duke it out on a concrete indoor track, treated with Dr Pepper syrup, while 10,000 people watch. And when it’s cold enough—which it surprisingly wasn’t this year—there’s also the Slippery Sunday ice race.

It’s also about visits to the Harley-Davidson museum. H-D was the headline sponsor for 2018, and ran a shuttle all day between the show and the museum.

Visiting the Harley-Davidson Museum
Then there are the after parties, the pre-drink hookups, and the lunch meets in one of MKE’s many eclectic eateries, bars and cafés.

Add it all up, and it makes for a helluva weekend out.

Mama Tried | Facebook | Instagram | Show sponsor Harley-Davidson

Show Report: Mama Tried and Flat Out Friday 2018

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