Morgan Gales

Most Rideable Bikes Of The Mama Tried Motorcycle Show

Finding the function in a room full of artfully built motorcycles

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.

Analog Motorcycles put a vintage Ducati 250 in a prototype Moto3 chassisMorgan Gales

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).

Check out to see more details about next year’s show and head over to to see more photos in its general gallery.

Gunn Design kept the bones, but used the seat, wheels, and bodywork to make this flat-track racer stand out at the showMorgan Gales
Honda's 350 platform is one of the most rideable bikes of all time. CL350 for road, SL350 (seen here) for scramblin and CL350 for dual-sport.Morgan Gales
Kevin Dunworth's 1978 KZ1000 custom uses parts from EBC Brakes, Buell, and Race Tech SuspensionMorgan Gales
Most rideable at the Bonneville Salt Flats Harris Performance's land-speed racer Royal Enfield 650 twin.Morgan Gales
Nobody expected to see a stock Aprilia RS250 at the Mama Tried show, but, damn, is it rideable.Morgan Gales
PJ Grakauskas' vintage KTM Penton 400 built up in tracker dress, with engine rebuilt by his dad, Chicago Jerry.Morgan Gales
Putting a classic gas tank and a loop tail on a modern dual-sport is a great way to enjoy the best of vintage style and modern performance.Morgan Gales
Putting Husqvarna bodywork and modifying the stance on this XG750, Scott Jones of Noise Cycles may have made the most rideable Street 750 ever.Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson
Upgrading the brakes and suspension on this old Suzuki T500 gi ... letting the rider carry much higher speeds with confidence.JPGMorgan Gales
Who would have thought the guy from Church of Choppers would bring one of the most rideable bikes of the show. But this heavily modified ZX-7 is definitely that.Morgan Gales