2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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Call it the ultimate American partnership: the Ford F-150 pickup truck, and the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Even bald eagles and apple pie can’t compete with a red-white-and-blue combination like that.

The two companies have joined forces since 1999 to produce the Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson, an annual limited-edition trim package that turns Ford’s popular pickup into a pretty impressive-looking boulevard cruiser. Indeed, I was very surprised at the number of heads my tester turned, most of them based in four-wheeled vehicles, rather than on motorcycles themselves. People took this truck seriously, and I couldn’t leave it anywhere without drawing a few over to look at it. The H-D F-150 is a pretty decent looker, what with all the extras on it, but I think there’s also a cachet to the name that makes even non-motorcyclists take a second glance when they see a Harley on the street.

Part of my surprise, frankly, is because so many branded items are more about posing than about being involved: there are a lot more Ferrari sunglasses out there than there are Ferraris, for example. (Likewise, there are a lot more Harley T-shirts than there are Harley owners.) But a friend pointed out a possibility: plenty of people can scrape together bike money and not have enough left over for this particular Ford package, but if you can afford the truck, chances are good the bike’s within reach. It’s obvious the guy in the flea-market sunglasses doesn’t own an Enzo, but people might think I have a Sportster at home in the garage.

2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge

The Harley-Davidson edition doesn’t come cheap: it’s a $4,995 option that’s added to the top-of-the-line F-150 SuperCab Lariat with six-foot-five box, in two- or four-wheel drive. Of course, there’s a lot included: chrome billet-style grille, 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, sport-tuned front and rear shocks, heated and power-adjustable leather captain’s chairs, rubber bed mat, power pedals, leather-wrapped wheel with stereo and heater controls, exterior heated mirrors with integrated signals and puddle lamps, ground-effect side tubes (which don’t flip out to use as steps, although they look like they might), 3.73 limited-slip axle and V-rated tires which, on my four-wheel drive tester, were Pirelli P-Zeros. Paint- and interior-wise, you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black.

And then there are the Harley badges, and there are a lot of them.

2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge

They’re on the fenders, the wheels, the bed mat, sunk into all the seats, in the speedo, in the windshield, in the centre console (along with the VIN, in keeping with the truck’s limited edition status), on the key, and even embossed into the wallet that holds the owner’s manual. The metallic gauges mimic those found on a Harley motorcycle, and they glow an attractive green at night, but unfortunately the red Harley logo is not backlit and disappears when the lights come on. Having it light up red would have been pretty cool.

This is a big truck, and it comes with Ford’s biggest gasoline engine, a 5.4-litre three-valve V8 that delivers 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, mated to a four-speed automatic. For the most part it works very well, although acceleration under hard throttle isn’t instantaneous, and a return of 22.4 L/100 km in combined driving wasn’t particularly pleasant given gas prices (although regular-grade fuel is recommended, thankfully). Should you need to haul a few Harleys around, though, the F-150 Super Cab can go as high as 4309 kg (9500 lbs) of trailer weight. It’s still an F-150, which means it’s made for work, although the only possible reason I can figure for the availability of four-wheel drive is for the bragging rights, and because it makes this already oversized truck even taller. It certainly isn’t going to be doing much off-roading clad in 22-inch P-Zeros.

Those low-profile tires, and my tester’s four-wheel configuration, made for a very firm ride, especially over road imperfections.

2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge

One thing they seldom tell you about big rims is that while they look great, they’re easily damaged by potholes and bumps, and you need to pay attention to where you’re aiming. And the replacement cost on the rubber is just a bonus.

The F-150 has been the best-selling pickup truck for an incredible 40 years, which is quite an accomplishment in light of worthy competition from long-time rivals General Motors and Dodge, and more recently from Japanese companies. Ford claims the F-150’s fully-boxed frame is the strongest in its class; when this beast is clad in regular tires, the ride is smoother and quieter than you’d expect from a pickup truck. Steering is a beefy rack-and-pinion system, and it responds quickly and accurately to commands from the wheel. You still feel this truck’s weight – 2450 kg, or 5400 lbs on my tester – but the direct steering and the big engine’s ability to move it prevents it from feeling bloated.

2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge

I like Ford trucks for their simplicity: no matter how fancy their trim, there’s a working-truck straightforwardness to the controls (all of them backlit, as all vehicle controls should be), a huge amount of small-item storage space, an uncluttered dash, vents and buttons that can be twisted and operated while wearing winter or work gloves, and a comforting heft to everything. The gearshift lever, for example, looks like a leather-wrapped 45-gallon drum.

The Harley package is a lovely interior: carbon fibre-style trim and piano-key finish on the console, leather-covered console box, chrome vent-surround rings, and black carpet.

2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge

But while the seats are gorgeous and almost ridiculously thick, they are surprisingly uncomfortable: they’re so thickly padded that it’s tough to sit all the way back in them, and if your posterior is positioned between the bolsters, you feel like you’re sitting offside in the seat. And it wasn’t just me; a variety of passengers, from four-foot-ten to six-foot-six, all had the same complaint. Perhaps the seats are heavenly if you get into them after vibrating for a few hours on a Harley, but I found them very disappointing.

The rear seat cushions flip up to provide a bit of rear-seat storage; oddly, the rear seatbacks don’t fold down, even though they’re carpeted on the back.

2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition
2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. Click image to enlarge

There’s sufficient legroom for rear-seat passengers and the rear windows go down all the way, while my tester was further optioned with a power sliding rear window for extra ventilation. I’ve never been fond of them – I discovered, when I ordered one on my own truck, that any dirt or leaves in the box quickly become one with the interior – but they can come in handy if you want to haul long cargo, such as lumber, without having it hang out the open tailgate.

Harley-Davidson is one of those rare company names that can sell just about anything: you see it on riding boots and baby bibs, ashtrays and dog collars, Christmas ornaments and beer. You can even buy a Harley-Davidson pool table and foosball game, for the games-room guy who has everything.

Mating this well-loved truck with this two-wheeled icon is a stroke of marketing genius, and it’s hard to imagine Ford having any trouble moving them, despite the hefty price. Even if you don’t own a hog, this is one very attractive package on a truck that’s already nicely styled. And if you do own a Harley, well, you really need to accessorize, and this certainly has a presence that no toy diecast Fat Boy can come near.

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