Mama Tried 2018

Merle Haggard said it right: Mama Tried to raise me better. She busted her ass, yet here I am drinking beer, getting tattoos, and working the ABATE booth at Mama Tried 2018.


From the site:

Mama Tried Motorcycle Show is an indoor invitational that connects motorcycles and builders to fans and riders alike. Keeping the fire stoked all winter long. The Show features over 100 motorcycles from builders of all calibers—flat-tracker, hill climber, chopper, and bar hopper.”

Last year’s show was the best kind of dumpster fire. It was in an old warehouse on the Milwaukee River and it was unseasonably warm: even fair-weather riders road in.

Rode in. February. Milwaukee.

I was sure this year would be calm and under attended by comparison. Not only was it actually cold, but the ancient and storied venue of the Eagles Ballroom is owned by an ancient and storied Milwaukee family that will never allow $2 cans of Pabst to be sold in their hallowed halls. No sir, beers were $7 and up. I was wrong about attendance: at times on Saturday the venue was at capacity: one person had to walk out before one person walks in.

The Spectacle

I try to walk into this show with my wannabe-journalist hat on. My first question is for all the vendors: Hey you in the Vance & Hines booth: do you get enough action here to make it worth it for you? No matter how I asked the question, every vendor said yes. Every “biker lifestyle” clothing seller, accessory maker, and crew there to promote their own future event was happy with the the turnout and fan feedback.

Yes, every moto brand that’s been creeping on your Facebook wall was here.


The Bikes

I just want to ride my bike. I tweak it some, I pay for parts or paint, I adjust my highway pegs. That’s me, but I can really appreciate the labor of love that goes into the custom bikes on the floor. There’s a lot of history and craftsmanship to admire. Just seeing the bikes is worth the price of admission. This is not the place to come look at the new Milwaukee 8 engine or Indian Chieftain. These are show bikes and bikes kept alive with pure love and willpower.



On top of the usual stuff, there’s some cool extras. The Build Moto guys have a great mission and they’re worth checking out. Milwaukee loves live music, we are home to one of the largest outdoor music festivals, so there’s always going to be a band at any event in Brew City.

Working the ABATE booth, trying to get people to care about motorcycle rights, drinking some microbrews. It’s not a bad night. Of course it kicked my “When will the roads be clean so I can ride?” vibe up to 11, and that’s a big part of events like this. It’s the same with any kind of conference or gathering: you may learn something, you may meet people, you may buy something useful. What you really leave with, though, is a reminder of how much you love this. And if you’re the RoadRunner, you also sew a new patch on your vest.


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