You know those commercials on TV that show smiling people with glinting, bleached teeth, skipping through prairie fields, answering conference calls in meeting rooms with the zeal of innocent children, jogging through Central Park without breaking a sweat? A narrator follows all this with emphasis on words like PE ratio, turnover per share, and dividend. Then the company logo springs up over a pathetic strap such as "We care".
That's nice, but what do you actually do? Do you sell teeth bleach? Are you fitness instructors? I've just watched a minute-long commercial on which millions were spent to express the client's message, and as far as I'm concerned that message is, "Huh?"
Whatever ad agency is responsible for that kind of rubbish, I think they should pitch an idea for a Harley-Davidson campaign. That company is just as unsure about what it actually does. Do they manufacture motorcycles? Do they sell skull bandanas and leather jackets? Are they a beauty product and toiletries maker?
A typical Harley rider, such as our photographer Stefan, will tell you the storied brand actually sells you a lifestyle. It's about being an individual, a rebel, not conforming to the norm. Unless that norm is dressing exactly the same as millions of other Harley riders.
Do I sound bitter? Yes, I fell off a motorcycle once and we've been suspicious of each other ever since. I'll take my bikes with four wheels, thank you very much. (I hear they call them quads, although they're not safe for me either, as KTM Middle East found out when they decided it would be a good idea to lend me a Dakar-style quad for a spot of dune bashing, or as it turned out to be, quad smashing.)
And even if you wouldn't get me on a Harley if Amber Heard was the rider, my test subject for the week, thankfully, is the ultimate Harley. It's got four wheels, which is always a good start, and a round steering wheel, instead of a rudimentary stick like you'd find on a bike.
It's called the 2012 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 and it continues the Blue Oval's successful themed truck line. You can thank your lucky stars for Harley-Davidson F-Series trucks, because they've brought us pioneering truck innovations such as 22in wheels, wet-on-wet paint, badges as interior ornamentation, and power deployable running boards.
It makes you wonder, how did we ever manage to survive before trucks with badges as interior ornamentation? Thank you Harley-Davidson, my truck is now complete.
On a serious note, this really is one complete truck. The theme is merely a utilitarian vehicle with some cool thrown in, but one of my fellow truck-driving friends took one look at the glittery bonnet stripes and exclaimed, "It's not heterosexual." And not in those words.
The special edition does get some neat 22in machined-aluminium wheels with painted accents and unique centre caps, and they really do look good.
Unfortunately there isn't much room on 22in wheels in the well for proper off-roading tyres, so the Harley truck gets low-profile road rubber. They're quiet though, and ride just fine, although I've no idea if this f-150 can go off-road or not. My glitter-discriminating buddy says it's fine in the desert.
Underneath it's just an F-150, which is to say it's an excellent workhorse. The 6.2-litre V8 engine shoves 411 horsepower through a silky six-speed transmission, and this thing can really haul. Your fuel economy will suffer (17 litres-per-100km and you're doing well), but it's OK because you can carry the Exxon Valdez in the truck bed. With 588Nm of torque at 4,500rpm you can also tow over 3.4-tonnes.
Think of the rest of the Harley-Davidson package as simply an equipment pack. That way even if you have absolutely no fondness for the bike brand, it can start to make sense.
The pack includes a memory, leather-wrapped steering wheel, some nice exterior accents in the headlights and taillamps, unique two-tone interior, snakeskin leather inserts, power seats, ambient lighting, Sony sound system, reversing camera, adjustable pedals, 3.73 limited-slip axle, sportier shock absorbers, and a trailer-brake controller.
The Harley bits are those body graphics, tailgate and rear fender badges, scuff plate logos, and a massive machined logo on the arm rest that renders the ‘rest' part of ‘armrest' deceitful.
I should probably add that with these sporty damper settings and performance tyres, this F-150 rides amiably, until you hit a bump at which point the rear axle (leaf springs) bounces like a pogo stick. I guess that's a ladder-frame thing. Driving it otherwise is like manoeuvring a normal car: the sight lines are great, the huge mirrors especially useful (there are no such things as blind spots when your wing mirrors are from a dressing table), the assisted steering light, and the seating position lounge-like. Rear passenger room in this double-cab is absolutely massive too.
It was surprising to learn that the F-150 line-up ranges in price from the Dh119,000 base 3.7-litre V6 model, up to Dh270K for the 6.2-litre V8 Super Crew fully loaded model. I was ready to rip the Harley edition apart, but at Dh195,000 you really can't knock it.
Just, please, leave the bandana at home, go easy on the cologne, it's way too hot for a leather jacket, and however huge this F-150's cupholder is, it won't take your Harley-Davidson mug.