Mama Tried: The Coolest Bike Show Of The Year

Photos and story by Brian Radway
BTR Digital Media

It’s February in Milwaukee, WI and a winter storm is covering the city with a blanket of snow and ice. Not exactly the ideal setting for a kustom motorcycle show. But inside the historic Rave / Eagles Club is something to take your mind off the freezing temperatures and slushy roads. Mama Tried: the coolest bike show of the year.

I’ve been wanting to attend this show for years and finally made it out last month. The Rave / Eagles Club is my favorite venue in Wisconsin to see a concert, so when I heard about this show held in the ballroom I knew it had to go on my list of events to catch. Builders and spectators alike travel from all over the world to show their bikes, take in the art, and experience the kulture and events surrounding the show.

As the doors opened on the morning of February 18th, I walked into the building and worked my way through vendor areas, bikes, and mingling crowds. Two flights of stairs later, I reached the main floor where the show was in full swing. All of the paint, chrome, and spokes complimented the space perfectly. It was awesome to see the building used in such a unique way.

I’m always drawn to the paint on cars and motorcycles - particularly pinstriping, flake, and flames. There was plenty to go around at Mama Tried. I found myself circling the show several times just to take everything in. There were all kinds of bikes on display. From American-made choppers to European and Japanese classics, and even a few race bikes there was a little bit of everything to see. A few notable bikes were Matty Matheson’s 1969 shovelhead chopper, Maxwell Hazan’s Supercharged Ironhead, and Fonzie’s knucklehead from season one of Happy Days.

In addition, the night before Mama Tried each year is its sister event: Flat Out Friday - a flat track race night also held downtown at Fiserv Forum. The Milwaukee Bucks were out of town so the bikes took over. The cement floor of the stadium is prepped with Dr. Pepper syrup in attempts to keep the riders from sliding out.

Classes range from pull-start “boonie bikes” all the way up to professional flat-track racers and even a goofball class just for fun. Although I was unable to cover the racing this year, my goal is to bring my camera next winter and report back! Overall, year after year the weekend of Flat out Friday and Mama tried is one filled with fun, camaraderie, and two-wheeled greatness.

A huge thank you to Johnny and Gnarly Magazine for their continued support! If you’d like to check out more of my work, head over to my website and follow me on social media @btrdigitalmedia.

Visit: Mama Tried Show

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