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By Mike Zimmerman, H.O.G.® staff writer

A visit to the Mama Tried Show, one of the Midwest’s newest – and hottest – custom bike shows.


When it first hit Milwaukee just two years ago, the Mama Tried Show was a curiosity. At first glance, they were a grungy crew of bike builders gathering to showcase the work they’ve been doing over the winter. 

Throw in some ice racing for a bit of adrenaline. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was something to do to keep the two-wheeled passion flowing through the cold.

But there was more to it than met the eye. This seemingly motley bunch was in fact carefully selected, invited to Milwaukee because they were breaking new ground. Trying new things. Refusing to get in line and follow current trends in custom motorcycle design.

Something clicked. And the show was a huge success.

In 2016, in just its third iteration, the Mama Tried Show is on a decidedly upward trajectory. Featuring builders from all across Middle America (and a bit beyond), it already ranks as one of the Midwest’s premier custom bike shows.

 Every single bike was worth stopping to look at more closely.”
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Slip and Slide

In fact, it’s more than just a motorcycle show. New this year was an official event pre-party at the Harley-Davidson Museum®. It featured live music from popular local band Moon Curse and Whips and free shuttle rides to Milwaukee’s UWM Panthers Arena for “Flat Out Friday.”

This “have-to-see-it-to-believe-it” spectacle boasted the Midwest’s first indoor flat track racing in years. Bikes of all shapes and sizes raced not on dirt but concrete soaked with … dried-up Dr. Pepper. That’s right, a carbonated sugary beverage gave the bikes the “sticky” they needed create some surprisingly exciting racing action.

In previous years, Mama Tried also included Sunday ice racing on a nearby lake. Unfortunately, with unseasonably warm February temperatures, those plans literally melted away. On the plus side, the unexpectedly warm weather meant there were more motorcycles than ever were parked outside the venue.

Inside the venue – an empty industrial building in downtown Milwaukee – the largest crowd yet enjoyed the largest show to-date. More than 100 builders entered their creations, including as wide a range of absolutely unique motorcycles as you could ever imagine.

“Every single bike was worth stopping to look at more closely,” observed one fan.

Something for Everyone

In just three short years, the Mama Tried Show has made an indelible mark on the custom bike scene. In Milwaukee. In the Midwest. And if things keep going at this pace, the whole world may soon know about this unique and exciting show.