Best Western’s Rider-Friendly Program

By Joe Gresh, Photography by Joe Gresh

After Cherney managed to convince young Eric Ellis of Hot Bike magazine into riding the Softail, a round of musical bikes ensued wherein I lost my sweetheart Street Glide. On a red Road Glide I railed through Arkansas' twisty hills in pursuit of nine other well-rested riders. Each night spent in a Best Western property makes you feel as if you've turned back time. Eric the Young has regressed so far he can't ride the Softail in a straight line. I feel like I'm 20 years old. Somewhere in America there must be my ancient, horribly disfigured doppelgänger banging away at a Motel 6 night registration bell.

Going for the Best Western Hat Trick, we head toward Little Rock, AR, to experience a Best Western Premier hotel. Eric the Young's Heritage is slewing down the road like a short-shaft BMW R75/5. The Softails rear spokes have worked themselves loose. Why? No clue. Could be a rental-bike thing. Pitting our combined 352 years of riding experience against the question of which way to turn the spoke nipples brings no resolution. Several of the guys take turns spinning the nipples first one direction, then the other until the futility gets to grizzled moto veteran Dexter Ford. Ford crawls under the Softail for about an hour finally pronouncing the wheel done.

Except that now the wheel, while tight, is way out of round. Eric, who wasn't overly concerned that his bike was coming apart in the first place, felt the wheel was good enough so we rolled on to our Premier destination on the outskirts of Little Rock.

And Premier it was. At 4700 cubic feet, Little Rock's Governors Suites had the largest load capacity of all the rooms tested. Using the highest wattage (1875!) sock dryer, I had my laundry done and cooked a nice rib-eye steak in less time than it took to bend a half-inch PVC conduit in those other hotels. Unlike lower-rent Best Westerns, the dryer wasn't bolted to the wall. This leads me to conclude your average Premier guest has more appliances than he needs at home and that Bread 'n' Butter or Plus guests aren't to be trusted. The list goes on: a Hamilton Beach coffee-maker stocked with Wolfgang Puck coffee, a closet safe, drive-in-movie-sized television, lip balm, rags, a wheel balancer, brass knuckles, voter's registration card--the joint was slammed with hotel trickery.

Except for the bathroom. In an unfortunate collision between Americans with Disability Act rules and Best Western Premier dividing the space into galley, salon, bedroom, and bath several quirks occurred.

Sightlines from the entrance door lead directly into the bathroom, drawing a visitor's eye to the Flushmate-equipped pressure-vessel toilet. If I left the front door open I could sit on the throne and count passing journalists. Tempting, I know. That inward-swinging bathroom door will be open because its so wide it barely clears the pouting lip of the toilet, requiring a user intent on privacy to squeeze into the small area between the tub and throne to close the door. None of this weirdness spoils the Best Western Premier experience. Who needs privacy anyway? The place was nicer than anywhere I've lived.

So which Best Western is best? For me, Bread 'n' Butter. I like saving money and the standard Best Western's traditional parking-lot entry door. I can leap out of bed every few hours to check my motorcycle, do engine rebuilds in the parking lot without getting funny looks, and the working-class heroes that patronize these old-school lodgings are my kind of Americans.

As for the Harley-Davidsons, that's easy: Get the Street Glide and live happily ever after. By the way, it wouldn't hurt if you Softail owners went out to the garage and gave a quick rap on your spokes.

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