The denim’d and the bearded came out to play at Mama Tried. Going into its third year, the show has cemented its place as the independent custom show of the Midwest, and is a welcome reprieve from the winter months (although this year, winter forgot to show up).
Here, under the shadow of Harley-Davidson, Mama Tried showcases a grittier side of the custom lifestyle compared to The One Show in Portland, Oregon, or the Hand Built Show in Austin, Texas. The vibe is more chill, the bikes more usable, and the crowds just as big.
Taking place on two floors of a massive warehouse, the show was stuffed with customs from all over the country. The only complaint was the lack of light for photography, which is the best first-world problem I’ve heard during my time roaming the hipster circuits of the motorcycle industry.
Being in the midwest, choppers own this show. But that’s not all that was on display. There’s more variety to be had, really. So to mix up the usual “Top-Five-Customs-Of-Mama-Tried-Please-Click-On-Me List,” we’re doing the inaugural and possibly last “Top-Five-Thrashable-Customs-Of-Mama-Tried-Please-Click-On-Me List.” Same thirsty clicks with a twist. These are the top five bikes that we would ride until we broke ourselves or destroyed them. There will be other lists covering the most choppular, but there is only one that aims to pick the best bike for mayhem.
5. Analog Scramblers
We said five but we lied. Analog Motorcycles owner Tony Prust brought two scramblers that were perfect to ramble through the blown-out streets of Milwaukee. The first is the “Royal Scrambler.” This collaborative build with Royal Enfield was built in just six weeks for the show. They created it to play off the bike’s strengths, so this is not a speed machine. It has a new subframe, suspension that is raised by an inch and a half, with fork tuning by Racetech, Fox shocks in the rear, and a custom exhaust built by Cone engineering with sneaky bits inside so it only appears like it will be loud. He also ditched the fuel injection setup for an Amal Carb, and the stock clip-ons for a dirt-tracker bar setup.
Prust also brought a modified 1975 BMW R75/6 that is dubbed R75GS. This bike was also fresh off the lift and was built to be raffled away to raise funds for the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation. The best news is you can enter all year long. The R75GS has more of an overland vibe featuring soft bags, a modified subframe, and altered suspension with a Racetech Fork, and Fox shocks.
Both have details that can only be appreciated in person, such as the custom badging on the Royal Enfield, the custom exhausts, and the fit and finish of welds and wiring.
4. Suicide Machine Co. Build
There were many bikes at Mama Tried that weren’t built specifically for the show, but were still awesome to see in person. Even though a bike may be “played out” on the internet, you don’t understand a fraction of the effort involved until you see it in person.
Take this bike for example, Aaron and Shaun Guardado of Suicide Machine Company built this Harley-Davidson Street 750 for Hot Bike’s Speed and Style Competition last year, starting with just the motor. However, for this event, not only was it a show bike, but a race bike for Aaron who rode it at the Flatout Friday event prior to the show.
This Street 750 has a chromoly frame with an adjustable swingarm pivot, Öhlins suspension front and rear, and loads of carbon fiber including BST wheels, the tail section, and tank. It weighs somewhere between nothing and nothing at all. The world needs more show bikes that race.
3. Husky 610
And now for something completely different. The only thought that crossed my mind when I peered across the darkened halls of Mama Tried at this beast was, YAAAAASSSS. It’s a Husqvarna 610, or was. The plastics have been binned, it has a cyborg number plate grafted on, and looks like something a Transformer would use to shank another Transformer. This is maximum hooligan status.
It was done up by Ryan Stephen of Pimpstar Life, which suffice it to say was the most original name in a show of ampersands iron and rust. There was also another properly setup stunt bike in the show, too. So, clearly stunt bikes are the new chopper. You heard it here first.
2. Powder Monkees
This bike is born from a cross-continental collaboration. Canadian Shaun Brandt of Federal Moto now bases his shop in Miami, while Chicago-based Mike Muller of Powdermonkees, together created this sweet little scrambler.
Their SR500 was built with short trips and maximum maneuverability in mind. The wiring has been tucked out of sight and cleaned up, while the dual shocks have been replaced with a single unit from a Street Triple, while a Yamaha TT500 tank is used. Shod with knobbies, it’s a clean, minimalist build that ticks all the boxes for city shredding–wherever that city may be.
1. Kawasaki H2 Digger
It’s Mama Tried, so we had to include something chopperish. And luckily, I found just the ticket. Eric Allard of FNA Custom Cycles is responsible for this build and your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, that is a Kawasaki H2 engine. Yes, the motor and your butt are placed mere inches from the ground, and that rake is severe. And yes, those are really awful tires for traction.
This bike sums up everything right with custom motorcycles. It’s completely bonkers, the fabrication is insane, and it’s truly built with one person in mind. What happens when you make a widowmaker H2 more widowmakery? Only Eric knows.