A thousand miles is the distance you have to travel from the home of Haas in Dallas, Texas, to the home of Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But as The Proclaimers sang, to walk that 500 miles and then walk 500 more, is much more about the dream, the work and the reality of what awaits, than it is simply about the trip itself. And this is the story of three of the greatest custom motorcycles ever built making that trek north to be displayed at the truly one of a kind Mama Tried Motorcycle Show. Housed in their home at the world famous Haas Moto Museum, these priceless machines took a rare journey out, as the works of Hazan, Rodsmith and Sosa were loaded into the trailer for their pilgrimage across the US of A.
For those out of the loop, the 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, this is the place to be, to catch up with old friends and marvel at the spectacular custom creations with a beer in your hand. The show is held in the stunning venue that is The Eagles Ballroom and features over a hundred motorcycles in almost every style, while also running alongside the crazy as can be Flat Out Friday event that sees all kinds of bikes hit the indoor flat track for some truly wild racing.
The show is quintessentially American in its sensibilities. From the venue to the remarkable bikes on display and the amazing lineup of sponsors who support the whole shindig. And all of these aspects of the show, plus the way it’s run, is of the highest calibre; it’s a relaxed vibe, but everything is done right.
And you can’t have the best of America’s motorcycle community come together without some bikes from the Haas Moto Museum, curated by the late legend Bobby Haas himself. And when the bikes are from Bobby, the quality is world-class, with contributions from Hazan, Rodsmith and Sosa chosen for the journey north.
It’s winter in America, but the bikes were loaded into the trailer on a beautifully mild Dallas day, before the van towing it hit the road for the long 1000-mile run to Wisconsin. At the load-in entry gate for bike builders, Craig Rodsmith lifted the trailer door to the freezing winter snow that was awaiting them, but nothing could dampen the mood. “It’s always been a favourite show of mine and this year didn’t disappoint! I believe it’s the best turnout I’ve ever seen here. It was a great feeling to have a few bikes from the Haas Museum here, it’s a show Bobby always wanted to attend so it felt like he was here in spirit!”
Built not bought is a popular sticker at shows the world over, and that is the only way to describe the Hazan bike which rolled into the ballroom. Known as “Supercharged Ironhead”, the build started with the engine from a ’65 XLH, which Max cut the tranny off, and was built from there from the ground up. “Almost every piece of the bike was made from scratch; from the rear sprocket to the front hub, this bike started off as sheets, tubes and metal billet. The goal was to make a bike for myself exactly the way that I wanted it. And that meant making everything myself,” Max told us back in 2014, the year he took out Pipeburn Bike of the Year, it is simply a work of art!
Bike number two is just as special and shares the beautifully handbuilt theme of all of the travelling Haas machines, this being “Tochtli” by Sosa Metal Works. Proprietor Christian Sosa is a master of manipulating metal, but he also has a flare for incorporating rare mechanical pieces into his builds.
And a hundred-year-old Douglas horizontally opposed twin-cylinder race engine, married to a raised ’58 Triumph gearbox and primary, pumped full of air by an AMR500 roots supercharger is about as rare it gets. It’s also a beautiful piece of functioning art, with every part of the hand-made machine showing off Christian’s extraordinary ability.
Of course, no bike made more sense to bring up north than “Mister Fahrenheit”, the runaway creation from the minds of Craig Rodsmith and his great mate Boddy Haas. The instantly recognisable Rodsmith style of flowing aluminium bodywork hugging a Moto Guzzi motor is one of the bike world’s true delights.
This was supposed to be a sidecar setup for cruising, but as you can imagine, with Craig and Bobby talking bikes, things got a little out of hand and it’s now a full-blown land speed racer. The Italian heart has been given some serious massaging, and when it’s finally unleashed in anger, it’s hard to imagine that the records won’t fall.
Then if all of that wasn’t special enough, Rodsmith had his new toy on hand to show off to the masses and this thing is mental in the best possible way. Mouths were left wide open as the crowds took in “Dr B”, with its Ducati 916/ST4 engine, which just happens to have a big f@#k off Eaton supercharger hanging from the side which is brilliantly driven by a bevel gear setup. It’s like Australia’s Summernats gate crashed Ducati Bike Week, and throw in signature Rodsmith bodywork in all of its glory, add a mix of Brembos and Magnetos and you have one of the best bikes you’re ever likely to see.
Stay tuned, as a full exclusive feature is coming soon to Pipeburn, and once people had wiped the drool from their chins over that bike, there were still a hundred odd other bikes of world-class quality to be taken in. Oh, still not satisfied? Well, the flat track racing was as insane as ever with a grim reaper on a dual sport trying to jam it up the inside of a rooster on a three-wheeler, as a big guy on a Monkey bike took the lead.
The serious race machines came out to play too, with fierce and fast racing thrilling the crowds on the tight track. You can see why the long drive to Milwaukee was worth it, and Mama Tried proves once again why there really is nothing else like it!
[ Big thanks to Grant Schwingle for capturing these great images]