The Secret Life Of Russell Mitchell

California based Exile Cycles is synonymous with tough and minimalist industrial styling. And its founder, Englishman Russell Mitchell, with his full-body tattoo and mohawk (blonde most of the time) is one of the most recognizable Custom Builders of our industry. Backstage, learn a little bit more about the man who continues to preach against over-chromed and over-painted motorcycles (photography copyright Christian Holzknecht)

Cyril. In High School, what your teachers said about you? Russell. That I wasn’t smart enough to become a veterinarian. So I did.

Cyril. Who were your childhood heroes? Russell. Evel Knievel, Tony Alva and Marc Bolan from T-rex.

Cyril. What was your 1st vehicle? Russell. Vespa 50cc scooter.

Cyril. If you were not working in the motorcycle industry, what would you do? Russell. I’d like to be an architect when I grow up.

Cyril. What is your favorite way to relax? Russell. Red wine and Vicodin.

Cyril. What are you afraid of? Russell. Outliving my son.

Cyril. Which film made you cry? Russell. Is this a trick question? The Boxer.

Cyril. Name five things you hate. Russell. Bigotry, olives, violence towards women, that spiderman bike, ignorance.

Cyril. What was the last book you read? Russell. Tale of two cities.

Cyril. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Russell. Cuppa tea.

Cyril. Do you collect anything? Russell. Not really.

Cyril. What was your worst buy? Russell. That crappy low temperature welding rod that’s supposed to work on thin metal plate.

Cyril. How do you take your coffee? Russell. Milk, no sugar.

Cyril. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever made? Russell. A coffee mug at Elementary school that said “Mom” on it. We spell it “Mum” in England!

Cyril. What is the best thing you can cook? Russell. Spaghetti bolognese.

Cyril. When was the time you were really angry? Russell. Halfway through “Schindler’s List”

Cyril. What is your perfect weekend when you are at home? Russell. Poolside with my fiancée and son, and the afore-mentioned relaxants.

Cyril. What is your preferred rally? Russell. Gotta love Sturgis, although the Chianti Hills HOG Chapter Rally in Italy is pretty epic!

Cyril. What is the worst question a journalist asked you? Russell. “Which film made me cry?”

32 Responses to “The Secret Life Of Russell Mitchell”

  1. 1 Jeremy Sep 16th, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Nice pic. Some great answers. More, Cyril.

  2. 2 Blue Sep 16th, 2010 at 7:37 am

    So, what film DID make Russ cry? 😉

  3. 3 Kris Sep 16th, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Blue. Russell answered the question. The film that made him cry is The Boxer. I guess he said that it was the worst question because it was for him the most difficult to answer to. Why men are so afraid to say that they cry?

  4. 4 Gearhead Sep 16th, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Nice bikes, nice tattoos, nice hair cut.

  5. 5 Ray Sep 16th, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Hey Russell. No more doing shows?

  6. 6 m switzer Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    on another subject-what happen to “Ma Roadhouse”?

  7. 7 Greco Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Like the answers. But red wine and Vicodin! Do they mix well?

  8. 8 mad$andy Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Hey Russell, Thank you for not jumping on the Bagger bandwagon………

  9. 9 1550tc Sep 16th, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Of all the ex-tv builders Russell is probably the most genuine guy i met.

    ditto on the spider bike

  10. 10 Blue Sep 16th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve given Russ a pretty rough time over the years, but he’s alright. And he looks good in wellington boots.

  11. 11 Curtis Lanza Sep 16th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    The Englishman got some style!

  12. 12 ODee Sep 16th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Love the new feature Cyril, it’s always seemed like Russell’s a pretty straight shooter with a good sense of humor, so it’s no surprise he gave some thoughtfull answers -wouldn’t have minded if it went a lot longer.
    2-for-two so far, can’t wait to see who you interview next!

  13. 13 Christian Sep 16th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Russell builds nice bikes and offers great parties in his N. Hollywood home. Ask Cyril, he went there…

  14. 14 nicker Sep 16th, 2010 at 3:02 pm


    “…..Poolside with my fiancée and son, and [Red wine and Vicodin] relaxants…”

    Hell of a role model, dad.


  15. 15 Dar - Brass Balls Bobbers & Choppers Sep 16th, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Russ, I’ve always been a fan of your work and your demeanor. Had to laugh at “spider bike”. All the best to you. Nice one Cyril.

  16. 16 Kyle Sep 17th, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Russell, the red wine by itself … and the Vicodin ONLY AS NEEDED with the cup of tea.

  17. 17 Otis Sep 17th, 2010 at 7:33 am

    When trying to make our break into the industry, Russell was one of the nicest, helpful, and encouraging guys we met. Thanks Russell!

  18. 18 jim Sep 17th, 2010 at 7:34 am

    always loved exile… thank you russ for supporting LL society…

  19. 19 Angry Inch Sep 17th, 2010 at 7:50 am

    mad$andy- Ain’t nothing wrong with a nice bagger.

  20. 20 Evsway Sep 17th, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Not bad for a Pommy Lol

  21. 21 ger Sep 18th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    good interview..
    who you going to do next??
    ps, i do like mr mitchell,s bikes.

  22. 22 Englishman Sep 20th, 2010 at 7:50 am

    He can’t fool me, I know he was getting misty when he saw ‘Bambi’!

  23. 23 steeltown choppers Sep 20th, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Any chance of a behind bars interview with Billy Lane? Alot of people would like to know if he will continue to build bikes publicly on his release, and how he is doin inside.

  24. 24 me Sep 20th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    steeltown choppers

    Billy is doin well in jail. His spirits are good. Just to let ya know

  25. 25 Darby Sep 20th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    @nicker….. Russ is one of the BEST parents I have ever seen. No matter where he is at and what he is doing, I have seen first hand that Lucas comes first. So hopefully you were just giving him a hard time and not serious.

  26. 26 GRIP ACE - DIGITAL SWITCHES Sep 20th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Great Father, Great Bikes, Great Individual who believes in himself and his products. We need more like him.

  27. 27 nicker Sep 23rd, 2010 at 12:25 am


    “…hopefully you were just giving him a hard time and not serious….”

    Just an observation.
    No more, no less.

    Hope the “Red wine and Vicodin” was also “not serious.”
    Industry’s got enough “image challenges” as it is.


  28. 28 simon normandin Sep 24th, 2010 at 7:33 am

    flat black ugly bikes with nothing legal for the street were out and build by the weird brothers in arizona before we heard exile,s name. new bikers make me smile, and shake my head but hey thats me.

  29. 29 Steve Kelly Sep 25th, 2010 at 10:14 am


    Russell had been up and running long before Jason and Drew de-Weerd came onto the scene. All are good friends though, and when the Weerd Bros closed their doors for the last time, Russell took on the import of the Dutch SJP products that they had been selling. He also took on Jason de-Weerd as a fabricator at Exile. You are however right, they have built some flat black bikes, but ugly and illegal, come on???? Choppers are questionable in many states, the, you can only have your handlebars this high, or you must run a front brake changes from place to place, as it does where I live in Europe, it is something that we deal with as the custom bikes are our passion. I have ridden, and photographed Russell’s bikes for magazines around the world for the past fourteen years, there has never been anything questionable about their safety or quality, it was the same while the Weerd Bros were in action. (NOT Weird as you wrote). For anyone who is interested, Drew now runs a company called, Bank Owned Properties and has remained in Phoenix, while younger brother Jason is CEO of a company called Actiforce International in Penang Malaysia.

  30. 30 simon normandin Sep 26th, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    thanks for the info steve but flashers and mirrors and front fender are a must everywhere i think i build bikes for 29 years and now we have laws up the ass because all so call builders have push to the limit picture bikes on the streets. but i like the look of exile bike but over the years it seem like he only built one i have yet to see a real chopper and that means a long frot end. simon

  31. 31 Dee Oct 17th, 2010 at 2:48 am

    What really amazes me is how much publicity some of the worst builders have gotten with the evolution of reality tv and biker builds ie; the detroit bros, and some people have really lost alot of money and given a false impression, Russel does not seem to go in that category but a truly innovative builder ie; his throttle that has a hidden mechanism among one item.
    the fact that he is still in business prove it

  32. 32 Rick Oct 19th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Nicker sounds likd a dick. No more, no less.

Comments are currently closed.
Cyril Huze