At first glance, Sturgis, South Dakota -- home to one of America's biggest motorcycle rallies -- seems like an odd venue for an automaker to launch a new pickup. In reality, it's the perfect place for Ford to unwrap its updated 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150, which received both a cosmetic and mechanical makeover for the new model year.

Relationships may come and go, but it appears the bond between Ford and motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson is still as strong as it was ten years ago. After pumping out no fewer than seventeen different special-edition pickup models, the companies have partnered again to produce the 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150.

Although many exterior components, including the six-bar billet grille insert, the 22-inch forged aluminum wheels, and retractable running boards are carried over from the 2010 Harley-Davidson model, the 2011 Harley F-150 looks quite different than last year's truck. Buyers have their choice of either Tuxedo Black or Ingot Silver paint colors, each accented with tapered orange stripes that flow from the front fenders and sport a simulated engine-turned finish within. Harley-Davidson lettering lines the sides of the six-foot pickup box; like the other exterior brightwork, the letters are treated to a satin chrome finish.

Inside, last year's garish maroon-on-black interior is abandoned in favor of a more subtle décor. Dashboard and door trim pieces are painted Tuxedo Black, while the door scuff plates and center console lid wear an engine-turned pattern that matches the exterior stripes. The unique leather seating, which features lapel stripes and special cloisonne emblems, returns for 2011, although they're now trimmed entirely with charcoal leather.

Admittedly, the biggest news lurks below the hood. The aging 5.4-liter V-8 has vanished; instead, all 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150s are blessed with Ford's new 6.2-liter V-8 -- the same engine offered as an option on both the F-150 SVT Raptor and the 2011 Super Duty -- as standard equipment. The so-called Boss V-8 is rated at 411 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 434 pound-feet of torque at 4500rpm, a far cry from the 5.4-liter's 320 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission, the extra power helps two-wheel-drive 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150 models pull up to 9300 pounds -- more than enough to lug your buddies and their hogs out to Sturgis and back.

Do so, and your motorcycling posse will ride in the lap of luxury. In addition to the unique leather seating, 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150s are blessed with heated first and second-row seats, a power moonroof, a rear-view camera, a navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, and the ubiquitous Sync connectivity package as standard equipment. Also new is the productivity screen packed into the instrument cluster -- first used on the 2011 Super Duty, the high-resolution LCD display allows drivers to keep tabs on fuel economy, engine performance, and trailer configurations.

We've yet to receive final pricing from Ford for the 2011 Harley-Davidson F-150, but we'd expect the tricked-out truck to remain the king of the F-150 range, and carry a base price nearing the $44,000 mark.

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