Tarck bike

Last night, Preston in Wisconsin asked me about “tarck bike,” which I mentioned in this post about Sturmey Archer’s 2 speed hub.

A tarck bike is to a track bike what a modern Sport Utility Vehicle is to a Jeep CJ. One is designed for looks, while the other has a specific utility.

Track bikes are meant to go fast on a velodrome — an oval track with banked turns designed specifically for bicycle races. They have a single, fixed gear, no brakes, and a stiff geometry that favors acceleration over ride comfort. The venerable Bianchi Pista is your standard track bike, and is often the bike available as a rental at your local velodrome.

2009 Bianchi Pista

Tarck bikes aren’t necessarily true track bikes — they can start from track frames like the Pista, they can be conversions from other styles of bike frames, or they can even be designed as fixed/singlespeed “urban” bicycles complete with bling components, top tube pads, BMX grips, and brightly colored deep dish rims. Some outfit their bikes for trick riding with upgraded components — BMX bars, beefier forks, fatter tires and so on. I think you know the look.

Nate in San Jose

“Tarck” used to be pronounced with a certain sardonic snarl, but these days tarck can be an affectionate shorthand for these kinds of bikes favored by young people all around the world. In the UK, I’m told they call this a “Hip Hop Slave Bike,” or HHSB, and usage is similar.


  1. This is actually the first place I’ve read/heard “Tarck” outside of Bike Snob. I would like it to become less of a derogatory term, as its a pretty hilarious word to say.

    I love my Tarck bike though, its bright as hell but its gorgeous. And my colors actually match as opposed to our example above. If his rear wheel was any of the colors on the frame, his bike would be much better.

    Spoke cards are silly though.

  2. Did BSNYC use “tarck” before this year? I was trying to figure out where the word first came into use. I’ve been hearing it in San Jose for a couple of years now — at first snide, but now a little less derogatory and more just a style of bike.

  3. I was curious, so I googled tarck (google tried to correct me to track) tarckbike.com went through a forum refresh in May 2008, so the term had to originate at least a little while before that since it was obviously an already established community.

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