At Milwaukee’s Mama Tried show, rideability isn’t the first word in anyone’s mind. Beauty, craftsmanship, history, style—these are the words flowing through the minds of the thousands of attendees as they walked the corridors of The Rave, a concert hall turned custom motorcycle display venue for the weekend. Mama Tried has gone the way of Portland, Oregon’s The One Show and Austin’s Handbuilt Show, including a wide variety of customs to appeal to all walks of two-wheeled life. Our goal: Bypass the choppers and vintage restorations to find the most rideable bikes there. What would we want in our garage isn’t the same as what we’d want on the road, and we were out to find the latter.
It’s no surprise that half the bikes on our list were trackers. Flat Out Friday is Mama Tried’s kickoff event—a short track flat-track race that happens inside the Panther Arena on a polished concrete track that has been sprayed with Dr Pepper syrup for added stickiness. Restomods were where we got really excited though. Looking at bikes like Dunworth’s KZ1000 that utilizes a strong running vintage motor, but elevates the platform as a whole by upgrading brakes, chassis, and suspension.
In a show so full of bikes built for style, putting the “function” lens over your eye will alter the way you see things. Suddenly the ironhead with a little windshield is a little cooler than the Panhead with weird ergonomics. The tracker built around a modern enduro engine is cooler than the old CB350 (but just by a little).