The Ford Raptor Pickup Truck Is Every Motorcyclist's Magic Bus

It’s big. It’s tall. It’s powerful. And boy, is it expensive. But who cares?

ford raptor dirt road action
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein

A few years ago, the new Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup seemed like the best ever for motorcyclists. It had four doors and huge interior storage capacity, could haul three bikes in its 6-foot-6-inch bed, was super quiet and comfortable, and delivered 20 mpg from its 5.3-liter V-8. However, my pickup pick just changed to Ford’s second-generation Raptor. Powered by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 instead of the earlier Raptor’s 6.2-liter V-8, the latest Raptor provides nearly everything the well-regarded Silverado did—and then adds a huge additional dose of looks, performance, and attitude.

After snaring a Raptor from the Ford press fleet, four friends and I put it to test over three motorcycle trips: hauling two vintage dual-sport bikes into the High Sierras, including up and over 8,100-foot passes and off-road travel; a day trip to a local MX track with a couple of new YZs; and a combined road trip/track immersion at SoCal's Auto Club Speedway with a CBR100RR SP. My takeaway? This is the baddest, most fun pickup I've ever sampled, not counting a terrifying tube-frame Baja Trophy Truck with 3 feet of wheel travel. But that hardly counts in this case.

loading a motorcycle on ford raptor bed
STEP UP: Nice touches like the grippy bed lining and fold-out step are nice for motorcycle riders. Or at least loaders...John L. Stein

The Raptor is based on Ford’s current aluminum-body F-150 but adds a wider track, burly long-travel suspension with robust aluminum lower front suspension arms and piggyback Fox rear shocks, the aforementioned 450-hp engine, and numerous off-road and convenience features that make it just about perfect for motorcyclists—especially the dirt variety. The Raptor is a ready and mean performer. The engine and new 10-speed automatic transmission get with the program hard, and the turbos mean that the motor suffers not one bit at high altitude like a normally aspirated powerplant does. We observed a steady 17 mpg for all kinds of driving. And when you’re feeling all Hoonigan, a multi-mode system lets you select the exhaust tone, suspension settings, steering feel, and drive systems at will. Heated and cooled seats, a huge panoramic glass roof, a quiet interior, good ergonomics, and the beefy suspension and off-road rated LT315/70R17 BFG T/A tires are ready for anything.

loading a motorcycle on the ford raptor
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein

Some particular likes and dislikes: In the positive column are the drop-down tailgate step and non-slip spray-in bedliner, which grips motorcycle tires fantastically while also keeping those purloined milk crates from skittering around at every turn. On the downside, the bed height is quite tall and the bedliner is hard to clean, as we discovered when the vintage Suzuki's fork pumped oil onto it during transit. As well, none of our bike pairs fit totally inside the 5-foot-7-inch bed. Hey, truck industry, how about a 7-foot "biker bed" option?

Additional pluses include the LED automatic high beams and the Raptor’s navigation system, which includes off-road trail mapping when zoomed into 0.25-mile or closer view. (Unfortunately, however, when you zoom out to a wider view, the trail maps disappear. Half win, half fail on that one.) The fully adjustable—including four-way lumbar cushions—heated and cooled seats are brilliant, giving well-exercised motorcyclists’ backs loving comfort at the end of a long riding day.

"Combine the Raptor’s power, righteously aggro styling, on-/off-road capabilities, and comfort, and it certainly ranks among the coolest production trucks in the world."

Dynamically, the ride quality can be set for anything from Cadillac (okay, make that Lincoln) comfort to off-roady. And when the drivetrain is in 4WD low, a front-mounted camera provides a screen view of the rock piles, ravines, or drop-offs ahead, which is a huge benefit for safely navigating technical sections. Nice add there. The BFG tires grip the dirt well and are surprisingly quiet on the highway. However, the truck’s high CG and tall, springy tire sidewalls contribute to a persistent lateral rocking moment on uneven or undulating surfaces like sand whoops.

ford raptor loaded with motorcycles
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein

With an MSRP of $65,965 with all options included, our test Raptor was hardly cheap; instead, it’s priced similarly to a high-status Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat or Mustang Shelby GT350R. So, yes, there’s certainly better retail “value” to be found in various other new pickups. But combine the Raptor’s power, righteously aggro styling, on- and off-road capabilities, and comfort, and it certainly ranks among the coolest production trucks in the world. And so, to quote The Who’s “Magic Bus,” “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it!”

ford.com
Price: $65,965

Ford Raptor front section view
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein
Ford Raptor loaded with motorcycles in back
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein
Ford Raptor loaded with vintage motorcycles
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein
Ford Raptor side view
Ford RaptorJohn L. Stein