With motorcycle sales steadily growing over the last several years and one-off customs accounting for an ever increasing segment of the market, originality and individuality are becoming more and more elusive. With mainstream attention from both the Discovery and Speed Channels, the custom motorcycle industry has attracted more players than the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This, in turn, has significantly diminished the wow-factor of the custom-built V-twin.
In earlier times, the owner of a truly custom motorcycle could step from the local coffeehouse frequented by two-wheeled enthusiasts and have no problem identifying his bike from a stable of more traditional offerings. But no more. What turned heads just a few years ago, has now become run of the mill. Some custom builders have responded with over-the-top bikes, some of which are more akin to Santa’s sleigh than a motorcycle you would actually take pleasure in riding or being seen on. However, Russell Mitchell, president and founder of Exile Cycles, has created a line of decidedly different custom bikes that generate the positive visceral response both builders and riders crave.
Mitchell, who started in his home garage in 1995, now operates out of a 20,000-square-foot facility in North Hollywood, Calif., and continues to build hard-edged motorcycles that, while aesthetically appealing, serve function more than fashion. Exile motorcycles tend to sport subdued paint tones, brushed metal surfaces and heavy gauge exhaust pipes that are more howitzer than peashooter. Most of Mitchell’s bikes eschew the traditional high-neck chopper style, and instead carry the Exile signature look of shortened front forks and a fat front tire. The combined result exudes an attitude of brute force and undeniable machismo.
The Exile RX-Streetfighter, whose genesis can be traced to Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off competition, is a motorcycle that finds its styling origins on Great Britain’s city streets, where naked hooligan-style bikes have spawned an entire social subculture. Much of the RX-Streetfighter, including wheels, front fender, gas tank, air filter cover, muffler, side panels and tail section, is featherweight, high-quality carbon fiber finished with high-gloss clearcoat. A healthy 120 cu in JIMS Twin Cam motor, with an accompanying silky-smooth shifting JIMS 6-speed gearbox, provides and transmits power. This enables the relatively lightweight motorcycle to produce solid acceleration through every gear. Add an inverted fork, adjustable rear shocks, dual front rotors with four piston calipers and Exile’s trademark sprocket brake kit (the rear sprocket and brake rotor are one and the same) and you have a motorcycle that spins up the rear tire in a straight line and handles like a sportbike in the corners. Unlike most customs, there’s not a single part that does not contribute to the function and performance of this truly unique motorcycle.
A turn of the key and the RX-Streetfighter comes to life with a roar. The muffler, strategically placed under the bike, provides a pleasant rumble at idle, that can be described as distant thunder. A quick twist of the wrist puts you in the cat-bird seat for the rest of the story. From a slow cruise to a flat-out trophy run, whether in a straight line or negotiating a long sweeper, the bike remains dead-on stable with no hint of losing composure. Thanks to the upright seating position and short reach to upper and lower controls, the distance traveled in a single outing is limited only by the amount of fuel in the tank and the flexibility of the right wrist when cracking open the throttle. (Click image to enlarge)
Each stop on a ride will turn drivers’ heads, stop pedestrians in their tracks, and cause untold numbers of smudged windows from sticky-fingered kids pressing their hands and faces against the side windows of mom’s SUV. The Exile Cycles RX-Streetfighter is a motorcycle that remains true to Mitchell’s philosophy of keeping it simple, and stunning to the eye.
www.exilecycles.com | 818.255.3330
JIMS 120 cu in Twin Cam 120 hp; 121 ft lbs torque
Exile open primary, chain final
Exile hand-fabricated headers and carbon fiber muffler
Front: Storz Performance
Rear: Works Performance
Front: Exile calipers with dual 11.5 in stainless steel rotors
Rear: Exile sprocket/brake kit