As far as the eye can see, there's nothing friendly about South Dakota's Badlands. The size of an ocean, it stretches across the horizon. There is only rock that God Himself sculpted into canyons with mazes and lots of ways in but seemingly no way out. Legend has it that even the tough Native Americans of the region stayed out of this place.
But today, if you're a guy toting fat salami or a girl with big twins, The Badlands are the place you head every August. The event is the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and it's right up with Bike Week in Daytona, if you're into the Harley-Davidson thing. In its 66th year, the event draws 500,000 people to the western side of South Dakota. This increases the state's population by 75 percent and literally transforms towns like Sturgis, Spearfish, and Deadwood into temporary HOG heaven or hell, depending on your point of view. For non-bikers, HOG stands for Harley Owners Group, fat salamis are exhaust pipes, and big twins are large-displacement V-twin engines.
The instrument cluster has a machined metal look that is old-school, done new. Chrome and
Town main streets are lined with bikes, bikers, and babes. Campgrounds and hotels are filled, and locals even rent out space in their front yards for bikers to pitch tents. Commercial commerce followed the two-wheeled crowd to the rally, so anything related to the biker lifestyle is available for purchase. Plunk down your cash for everything from temporary tattoos to custom bikes and tricked-out semi-trucks with enclosed bike haulers.
It was this environment that Ford chose to introduce its latest edition wearing the Harley-Davidson shield. Unlike so much of what happens in Sturgis every August, this new '07 Ford relies on tasteful custom touches to make the scene. The base for the Harley-Davidson edition is the four-door SuperCrew, equipped with the Triton 5.4L V-8 engine that produces 300 hp.
The jack on the top of the dash is an input for an MP3 player. Look closely and you'll see
The truck stands tall on forged and polished 22-inch rims-the first production use of wheels so large on a pickup. Chrome letters stretch the length of the 5-1/2-foot bed and spell out Harley- Davidson. Weighty cast HD shields appear on the tailgate and on the front quarters. A unique grille, blacked-out surfaces within the headlights, and a black chin spoiler give the truck a decidedly menacing look from the front.\ Smoked rear lamps carry the look to the back of the vehicle. Slash-cut chrome exhaust pipes finish off the exterior transformation.
Inside, custom touches include an instrument cluster that has the look of machined steel. Designers placed a chrome outline of the shield on the seatbacks. Ebony trim, glints of chrome, and surfaces textured with the shield graphic significantly alter the appearance of the otherwise stock F-150 interior. It's rich. It's slick. It's totally custom. As a finishing touch, you'll find a classy VIN plate on the lower edge of the center stack.
Mechanically, the HD-edition F-150 can be had in 4x2 or AWD configurations. The AWD system is borrowed from the Lincoln Navigator. The suspension is tightened up, as well, with firmer shock valving.
At a Ford display just outside Sturgis, one of Ford's finest showed off the matching Harle
Our ride for Sturgis-what the bikers call the event-was a two-wheel-drive model in Dark Amethyst, the color of a ripe and polished eggplant. It stood out from the stark browns of the Badlands, almost as much as the pretend-bikers walking the streets of Sturgis, trying to look like they belonged. Everywhere the truck stopped, it drew the kind of stares that the coolest custom bikes got-nothing but respect.
One of the reasons people do the rally is because of the variety of roads and the unbelievable scenery that are all within an easy day's ride. Head north to arid high plains. The Black Hills, south of Sturgis, is densely forested. All around Mt. Rushmore are roads so curvy you have to look out your side window to seewhere you're going. Some tunnels cut through the hills are barely one lane wide, and their walls are striped with the colors of mirrors that sacri- ficed their exterior finish, acting as an expensive curb feeler.