Anything But a Driveway Queen

Anything But a Driveway Queen
First time getting a little bit of dirt on a forest road

We use a truck like a truck. It gets dirty, both inside and out. We toss a LOT of gear in the back, tow raft trailers, and sleep in the back. With four of us, we have simply outgrown our Toyota Tacoma. Hence, the F-150 Plan.

Three weeks ago, we picked up the F-150 we ordered a few months prior. We specifically ordered the XL trim. If you are not familiar, this is the absolute lowest base model you can get from Ford. This, "base model," comes with a 12-inch, "infotainment," screen including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also comes with cruise control and air conditioning. When I was growing up, an automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control and a stereo with a tape deck were considered, "luxury," upgrades. Considering what now comes with the, "base," model combined with the option to get vinyl flooring with vinyl seats, there is little reason to get anything else.

We have had it for two weeks, and it already has been on two weekends involving plenty of bikes and boats. The vinyl flooring and seats already are earning their keep, and the truck already needs a bath. This, I consider a win.

We did start the process of setting up the truck for all our outdoor recreation pursuits with the addition of Yakima's HangTight 6 bike rack. This solution fulfills a few motivations. Notably...

  • We are not loosing access through the tailgate, even with bikes loaded.
  • We can carry the kids' bikes, getting them out of the truck bed.
  • We have the option to use it on the RV if desired (rules out Lolo Racks).

We did discover the kid's Woom Off bikes have a very short stem, meaning they have to be angled slightly on the rack. Since we most frequently carry four to five bikes, I consider this a negligible issue. If we need to set up the rack to carry the bikes perfectly vertically, we can swap out a couple of the handlebar cradles for the downhill cradles...not a huge deal.

When assembling last week, although not difficult to install, there are quite a few bolts we definitely do not want rattling loose, so I added blue Locktite Threadlocker to all the bolts as we assembled the rack. The assembly time, spread over two evenings' available time was about two hours, but this takes into consideration I had the, "help," of a seven and nine year-old during the first evening. If tackling it in a hurry, it should not be hard to put it together in an hour.

This past weekend, for the inaugural trip with the rack, we brought along bikes for exploring and running around the campground. I was impressed how stable the bike rack is both on the interstate at 75 mph and on rough forest roads.

Reviews discuss how the loading process is not completely intuitive, and I will concede, the first time loading, I had to think about it. However, it is no more difficult than any other bike rack I have used. Bikes are awkward cargo to carry. Every bike rack I have used has some degree of a learning curve. The HangTight is no different. The first time, I had to think about it, but after the first time, it isn't very difficult to load up.

The F-150 plan is slowly starting to come together, and the truck, even though still mostly just a truck, is fulfilling the role we need quite well. It is easy to clean up, both inside and out after a weekend of playing, and now, with a bike rack, can easily schlep bikes with minimal difficulty.