Just Past the Moon

Phil Steiner loves to ride and his mileage is proof

“Roger, Houston, that’s one small step for Phil, one giant leap for Wingkind!” Phil Steiner said as he planted the GWRRA flag in the Sea of Tranquility. Then he proceeded to ride back to Earth on his titanium 2002 Wing.

Well, sorta. The moon’s average distance from the earth is 238,857 miles. Phil has ridden more than enough miles to make a lunar roundtrip — a jaw-dropping 512,000 miles in 12 years. Many of those miles were racked up between his main home in Lima, Ohio, and a winter nest in Lakeland, Florida, where he rides with a group of buddies he dubs “The Geezers,” who like to ride their Wings with him. He makes the 1,050-mile trek in 17-19 hours usually. His girlfriend of 35 years quit riding on the back in 1991, due to the heat, he said. So he’s been Han Solo ever since.

Maybe even more amazing than the total miles that Steiner has driven, is the longevity Phil gets from the Dunlap Elite 3s tires — 40,000 miles or more is the norm. The rear tire he had on this bike July 21, 2014, when he rode 450 miles from Lima to St. Louis for this interview, had 48,000 miles on it. “No one ever believes me, they all think I’m a liar!” he bemoaned.

He runs 42 psi in the rear and 41 in the front, rides solo and weighs 175 pounds. He claims he doesn’t take off hard and rides an indicated 65 mph (61-62 actually), and so therefore, also gets phenomenal gas mileage. He showed me two gas receipts. One receipt showed that 280.4 miles took 5.839 gallons of gas. That works out to 48.02 mpg. The other was 167.7 miles per 3.465 gallons equaling 48.39 mpg. Wow.

Phil uses iridium plugs, which he changes every 10,000 miles and gaps every 50,000. He changes the Amsoil every 10,000, using a quart every 5,000 or so.

A self-described loner at age 72, he rides the highways and byways around Lima to the tune of about a tank of gas a day because “the others in the local Chapter just don’t like to ride as much as I do.”

Mr. Steiner loves his 1800 today as much as the day he took it home 12 years ago. It’s only stranded him once, the OEM alternator quit at 248,000.

The Wing’s water pump has been replaced at 283,470 and 473,883, the drive shaft at 447,722. New Progressive fork springs were installed at 252,140, and the stock rear shock was leaking at 154,525, so it was replaced with another Honda shock. The clutch is the original one. A measly one valve has needed shimming in a half million miles.

Phil’s love affair with the Gold Wing goes back to the Dawn of Wingdom. He was riding his ’74 Moto Guzzi for a year when a friend let him take a spin on his new 1975 GL 1000. “After a two-mile ride, I was sold, and I went out and got one too! I rode that one 30,000 miles, then a black ’77, 88,000; then a black 1980 Interstate, 148,000; rode an ’85 Aspencade, 208,000; and a 1991 just past the moon at 269,000.”

Yikes. That’s 743,000 Wing-miles prior to ’02.

Even with over 1,400,000 miles of riding motorcycles, he still hasn’t ridden in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont and New Jersey. His top three favorite National Parks are No. 1: Glacier, No. 2: Yellowstone, and No. 3: Yosemite.

Phil says he loves his 1800, but “if Honda comes out with a new Wing, I’d probably get one. I’d like a six-speed transmission and better forks.” Next time you look up at a full moon, it won’t be the same anymore. Neil Armstrong was a pantywaist compared to Phil Steiner.

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