The bike: 2005 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide
Profession: Radio host
Hometown: Etobicoke, Ont.
- Open Mike with Mike Bullard debuted on The Comedy Network in 1997; CTV picked it up in 1998. It ran for six seasons.
- Won the Gemini award for Best Talk Information Series in 1999 and Best Music Variety Program Series in 2001.
- Moved to Global to host The Mike Bullard Show in 2003, but it was cancelled in 2004.
- Published a book called Open Book: Little Thoughts from a Big Head; recorded a CD, Stick 2 Comedy.
- His one-hour radio talk show, Beyond the Mic with Mike Bullard, is on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010, weekdays at noon.
Mike Bullard took a risk, ditching his stuffy management job to pursue his true love – comedy. He survived as a stand-up on Canada’s comedy club circuit before landing his big break hosting Open Mike, the Gemini award-winning late-night TV talk show more than a decade ago.
Nowadays, he’s moved from TV to a radio gig on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010. Bullard is a risk-taker on the road as well as in his career; he drives a 2005 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle.
What’s so special about this Electra Glide?
I got it off the Markdale OPP – it’s an OPP bike.
I bought it because they come with a different engine, a different transmission, and an air compressor in the seat. They come with a 96-inch engine instead of an 88 – the only place inches are important is a motorcycle engine. It’s a V-twin – it’s rubber mounted, so they’re better bikes all around.
They got a thing called a hockey puck lock on top of the saddlebag. Your locks are on top of the saddlebags instead of the side, so when you’re riding you can reach back and open it if you need something and keep riding.
They’re probably the heaviest bike – they weigh 820 pounds and I think that’s without the fairing. With the fairing, they’re probably another 100 pounds. They’re heavy bikes, but the centre of gravity is fantastic.
Comfort means everything when you hit 45. When you’re over 45, you worry about back issues.
Did you get a good deal on it?
Markdale OPP had a budget cut. It only had 19,000 km on it when I got it and it was only a year-and-a-half old.
It was the find of the century because they usually don’t get rid of them until they hit 80,000 km and by then you don’t know if it has been dropped on street car tracks or whatever. OPP bikes are all highway miles, so they’re great.
Are you mechanically inclined – do you tinker with it?
I can do low-grade maintenance, but not anything major.
I would never change a tire because your braking is too dependent on it. You don’t screw around with it. I would never work on the tranny or clutch, either, but anything else I’ll do. Changing the oil is a snap.
What does a Harley say about you?
Anybody who is buying a bike because it says something about them is an idiot and I don’t want to see those people when I’m riding.
You should buy a bike because you can handle it. You should work your way up – start small and work up.
Anytime I buy a bike, I say to myself, ‘This is the bike I want for the rest of my life.’ I’ve said it a million times but now, in this case, I’m serious. I’m not getting rid of this one. I will keep it running no matter what.
It’s not so much that it says you, but it is you. You get on it and you’re so comfortable, but never to the point where you’re careless. Once you become so comfortable with it that you know what it’s going to do no matter what, that’s when the bike is you. It’s not about the look. It’s about the handling.
When it comes to looks, do Harleys get a bad rap as bad-boy bikes?
Chances are the more menacing the guy looks, the more chance he’s a doctor, dentist, or accountant.
That is the way it is now.
Have you always been a motorcycle guy?
Yeah. Since I was 18, I have had my car and motorcycle licence.
The first vehicle I ever had was a Yamaha 650 Special. It was the stupidest thing ever. It was 1981 and I never stopped to think most of the time in Ontario it’s cold and I only had that as my primary vehicle. It was the dumbest thing I ever did, buying a bike before a car.
I’ve had other Yamahas and I had a Stratoliner – that was my last non-Harley. The thing was amazing.
But there’s something about an Electra Glide. There’s a romance to it. With the way they’re building them now, they’re bullet-proof. And 2005 was one of the best model years ever –that’s why I wanted it.
What’s your most embarrassing motorcycle moment?
I have satellite radio in there and I was listening to the ’70s channel on Sirius.
They played two Steppenwolf songs in a row – fantastic – all the stuff from Easy Rider. There were Para-Dice riders at a railway crossing and a train was coming by. Just as I pulled up, Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman, came on. These guys turned and looked at me.
I tried to turn it down and I got all flustered. I wound up hitting the button that flips the radio right out so you can lock it up and I ended up disconnecting the radio completely.
Have you had any close calls on your bike?
I’ve had mishaps and they’re usually caused by transport drivers.
Transport drivers used to be the best – now you see these guys on the highway and they’re a nightmare. Closest call is with a transport truck two weeks ago when he didn’t see me and came into my lane on the Gardiner and I was against the rail. I had to panic-stop and look behind me to make sure no one was there – someone can hit you at 30 km/h and you’re dead. I got lucky – the guy behind me saw it and he stopped.
Did I lean on my horn and call the guy every name in the book? Yeah.
You’ve got to be very careful to stay in everybody’s mirrors. If you don’t stay in everybody’s mirrors, something is going to happen.
But a motorcycle makes you a better driver all around. You become so cognizant of everybody else that you can’t help carry it over to your car.
Any speeding tickets on your bike?
I have not had a conviction, let’s put it that way.
If I can bring you the keys to any bike what would it be?
The new Indian Chief, just to try. …
I’m not entirely sure on the dependability issue, but when it comes to looks I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s beautiful.
This interview has been edited and condensed.