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The other hybrid: Ford meets Harley

We've got the whole biker thing going with this one:

Tight-fitting, stitched black leather. Gleaming chrome. A grumbling, rumbling exhaust burble sure to elicit stares from neighbors and fellow road hogs.

It is late winter, spitting snow, temperature at 13 degrees, and we are hauling in a Harley-Davidson. A tough biker spitting into the wind of a New England winter?

Not exactly. We are at the wheel of the 2006 Ford F-150 Harley-Davidson pickup truck, the seventh generation Ford to get that Milwaukee badge since 1999, when Ford and Harley decided to cross-sell their products.

The F-Series Ford truck has long been an obvious choice for this biker betrothal, given that trucks and Harleys go together, and that the F-Series offers more possible model constructions than any other single-line vehicle on the market.

We've had a Harley-Davidson Lightning, F-250 and F-350 biker-bodied trucks, and now there's an F-150 SuperCab, meaning that not only can biker dad and biker mama ride up front, but the little rug rats can ride safely in the rear, having been placed there through a pair of full-size rear doors.

This model has 22-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, all-wheel drive (2WD is available), and -- did I mention this already? -- a very loud exhaust note. Enthusiasts might love the exhaust for its momentary outside bursts of attention-grabbing percussion, but the noise would be hard to take on a long, hard cruise.

But make no mistake, this is a designer Harley.

A chrome billet grille with tar-tinted headlights, Harley badging, a low-riding front air spoil on a tall truck, tar-tinted tail-lights, and a chrome exhaust tip give this Ford/Harley a shade of menace.

A 5.4-liter, Triton V-8 produces a respectable 300 horsepower and a whomping 365 lb.-ft. of torque.

The electronic four-speed automatic transmission handles the torque with no hint of trouble, shifting up and down on climbs and in sudden slowdowns on highway entrance ramps with quiet ease.

On the highway, it seemed hard to not feel like a threat to other motorists -- we were sitting so high, rumbling so loud, and taking up so much space. For the most part, we stuck to the middle lane.

We did drive it in some snow and found it solid, if a bit twitchy at the rear. With a rear that stretches back as far as this one does, it's only natural for the driver to sense some loss of control.

Overall, this is one big truck -- almost 230 inches long. And it felt that big when we tried to get into and out of Boston or even find a parking space at the shopping center. Keen maneuvering skills are required, given that the driver has spacious seating for five in the cab and a full 6 1/2 feet of bed between him and the back of the vehicle.

Inside, black-leather captain's chairs are wide and flat and quite comfortable in their firmness. The rear seat holds three adults with ample roominess. And with all the Harley badging and black trim, it's easy to see this is one well thought out interior.

This is a great truck for the Harley fan who may want to load bikes in the rear. And it's a good truck for the folks who have Harley T-shirts, but not an actual bike. At least they can look the part as fellow travelers think that, well, the Harley itself must be home in the garage or out for new gaskets.

And this is a Harley with cup holders, too. Never thought I'd see the day.

Of course, a Harley with satellite radio was also new to me, but that feature was found on a real bike -- not on a pickup truck -- rambling across the Nevada desert a few months ago.

Royal Ford can be reached at ford@globe.com.



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