2015 Ford F-150: Tackles Tahoe With Ease
July 27, 2015
In a strange twist of fate, a girl I mountain-bike with in Orange County got engaged to a guy I went to high school with in Connecticut. He lives in Lake Tahoe these days and they decided to get married there. How does this affect us? Road trip in the 2015 Ford F-150!
Shockingly, I'd never been to Lake Tahoe, whether for skiing or mountain biking. But I heard that in addition to the obvious lake activities, the hiking and mountain biking are pretty good there. So a lady friend (also buds with the girl getting married) and I loaded up our mountain bikes and hit the road for Tahoe.
Hauling two carbon-fiber cross-country mountain bikes is no big deal for the new F-150 and its EcoBoost 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6. Getting my Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er and her Juliana Joplin 29er into the 5.5-foot bed is another story. My personal feeling: If you can't fit a cross-country mountain bike in the back of a pickup without having to angle it, maybe the bed is too small. Pickups are big. They're supposed to be. I would never get a bed this size if I could possibly help it. But that's just me.
Not a huge deal, just an annoyance that there was more angling and finagling every time I took the bikes in or out of the bed.
At this point I'm sure you've moved on from the Great Edmunds Pickup Bed Debate, and are asking, "What's a Juliana mountain bike?" And by that I mean none of you are probably asking, but here's the answer anyway: It's basically a women's-specific version of my Tallboy. So yes, we were in fact "those dorks" with "his and hers" mountain bikes in the back of the F-150.
The Juliana brand is owned by Santa Cruz and the bike named after Juli Furtado, arguably America's greatest female mountain bike racer. Interestingly, Joplin is the name of one of the more awesome downhill singletracks in Orange County.
But enough about the mountain bikes. How'd the truck do? Fantastic, of course. The front seats are comfy, if a bit heavy-handed on the lumbar support. The ride is surprisingly smooth almost all of the time and the V6's passing power is faultless, making easy work of getting around cars and trucks on the two-lane sections of U.S. Route 395.
This in spite of the fact that America's least-efficient packer (yep, this guy) nearly filled the entire back part of the cab with clothes, mountain bike gear, a cooler, and chairs, among other things. Even still, this light of a load meant nothing to the truck.
The trip flew by with no hiccups, other than not being able to pair my iPhone for some reason. This was odd, as I'd done so before with this F-150.
Not only had I never been to Tahoe, I realized as we were driving along that I'd never been north of the Mammoth Lakes exit on 395. Turns out, the scenery only gets better from that point forward.
Some 470 miles and zero stops for fuel later, we got to our bed-and-breakfast on top of a hill at Zephyr Heights Friday evening. First order of business the next day: Mountain biking on the Corral/Sidewinder singletrack trails. It was a beautiful morning.
Then the skies opened up. It poured. Then it poured some more. The F-150 sloshed through the water and flowing mud like it was nothing. I was thankful to be in a pickup with good ground clearance and auto 4WD, if needed. In a rare twist of me being lucky for once, the rain stopped by the time we got to the trailhead.
The trails were super fun, with plenty of traction thanks to the rain, some good woods-riding up top, flowing into a lower "play" section with berms, double jumps and tabletops toward the bottom. You guessed it: "Big Air Monty" didn't clear a single tabletop. I blame my friend. She rides slower than me, and because of that I simply didn't have any momentum built up when we got to the jumps. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Oh yeah, we should probably get to that wedding thing we came here for, right?
Mike Monticello, Senior Road Test Editor @ 12,879 miles