Tarform Motorcycles: Back to the Future
Walk into Tarform Motorcycles in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the vibe is that of a custom bike shop. Employees are getting stuff done at their stations, parts wait patiently on metal shelves, and music bounces off the industrially-high ceiling and hard concrete floor. Founder Taras Kravtchouk fires up the espresso machine and we chat.
Kravtchouk fits his role, with his story encompassing a passion for motorcycles, the gap in the marketplace he couldn’t ignore, the tilting at windmills of starting a motorcycle company, and the long nights problem-solving and building prototypes. He has a clear vision for what a motorcycle in this day and age should be, which he articulates not only in words but with the bikes in front of me. The Tarfom is built up from shapes and forms cognizant of the past but not tied to it. The materials and design decisions create a unique, visceral experience. And the technology is pure Tron. It’s like steampunk but cooler. Batterypunk?
Let’s ride. I twist the throttle and my helmet fills with a cosmic hum. A guitar-like pickup near the electric motor picks up its rotational frequencies and sends a signal to a ducted speaker near the headstock. The aluminum “tank” resonates and amplifies the sound. Kravtchouk and I ride down the hallway and into a freight elevator, descend eight floors, and exit through a narrow loading dock door to the navy yard.
The diamond-stitched leather seat sits 33 inches off the deck. The 440-pound weight feels low. With a slight forward lean, I reach for the sensuously sculpted handlebar. The bike feels dense and firm, stiff even, like a tightly wound high-end standard or streetfighter. The brake lever is firm too. A clean, round digital display shows the speed, ride mode, battery charge, and other essential information.
The torque is as expected—torrential. Twists of the wrist yield instantaneous thrust accompanied by that preternatural howl. It’s not a booming V-twin or a screaming in-line four—it’s its own thing, and I can imagine younger riders raised on Discord and TikTok nodding their heads in approval. Tarform claims the bike goes 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and based on impromptu pulls, that seems about right. Handling is quick but not nervous, well tuned for the city. And that’s what this is, a city bike for the well-heeled.
Tarform is not an inexpensive bike—the astronomically-priced Founders Edition is already sold out and the first production models (Luna Scrambler and Luna Racer) are expected to start at $28,000. It’s wrong to compare the Luna to a Zero or an Energica or even a Harley-Davidson or BMW. This is more like a Keanu Reeves’ Arch or a Vyrus motorcycle—a two-wheeled toy for collectors or fintech bros.
We’re at a transition point. California has set 2035 as the last year gas-powered cars and trucks will be sold there. Washington state has followed suit and many car companies are on similar timelines. Not a lot is said about the sunset of gasoline-powered motorcycles.
What will replace it and, more importantly, what kind of enthusiast culture will we see? Will future generations nerd out over the small details that make one bike different from the next? Will they bench race, talk passionately about bikes they’ve owned and bikes they’ve desired? Will they use bikes as their way of navigating through life and the world? Based on what I’ve seen on the eighth floor loft in the Brooklyn Navy Yards, the answer is a reassuring “yes.”