Capitol Bicycles – Peter’s Story

The gleaming frames and vibrant custom paint designs lining the walls of Capitol Bicycles in London, Kentucky represent far more than expert craftsmanship. They symbolize the quintessential American dream brought to life by founder Peter Mitchell, who left his native South Africa in 2018 at age 50 to remake his world in the United States.

“Not a day goes by where I don’t feel like a pioneer,” Mitchell remarks, his voice brimming with pride for the specialty bicycle brand built upon the back of his hard work. After an exploratory trip to the small Kentucky town captured his heart in 2017, he and his wife took an extraordinary leap of faith – pursuing new opportunities, and the American Dream in a cross-global move in 2018. After a 3 week trip to London, Kentucky, the couple decided to pack their bags and start a new life.

What struck Mitchell most was the promise of security, community, and possibility in this foreign yet welcoming sliver of rural America. London, Kentucky reminded him of what the world used to be like – back when people walked streets after dark, hitch-hiked, and lived without the fear of modern day society.

So in December 2017, Mitchell bid farewell to the only life he’d known and set out to craft his own American dream one bike at a time. With an ingrained passion for cycling sparked during childhood, he drew inspiration from taking apart and meticulously repainting a gifted bicycle, from a famous rider, using simple rattle cans.

His tireless 14-hour workdays with a permanent smile have paid off. Capitol Bicycles stands among only 83 custom frame builders in the nation, with an unparalleled commitment to individualized excellence. Their 35 distinct frame styles are each a made-to-order work of art, combining superior materials with magnificent paint designs to precisely match a customer’s vision. Only 2 builder in the country offer similar materials and painting quality.

“I take pride in what I do and do a damn good job,” Mitchell affirms. “There’s love and joy in every bike.”

Beyond building an exceptional bicycle brand from the ground up, Mitchell is determined to share his perspective and knowledge to uplift fellow entrepreneurs and give back to his adopted hometown. His journey from witnessing the harsh realities of South Africa ignited an eternal optimism about the freedoms and opportunities America offers.

“People here think we are divided – they have very little perspective,” he laments, reflecting on those who take American liberties for granted. “The poverty in Eastern Kentucky is nothing like South Africa. Unemployed people here are better off than 80% of the population there.” Speaking with Peter is a refreshing breath of fresh air – he loves what he does, loves his new adopted country, and is building his business from the ground up.

Fueled by an insatiable drive to innovate and create, Mitchell has his sights set on evolving Capitol Bicycles in the years ahead. He will always continue crafting masterful bicycles, and also hopes to grow his parts business. He dreams of one day creating bikes surrounded by the nature he loves, in a forest workshop, before touring the country in a Sprinter van to personally deliver his labors of love. Each bike is a 120-hour process of ingenuity, upholding Mitchell’s personal mantra: “If you are ever satisfied with your product, you should quit.” He is continuously innovating and raising the bar.

As this industrious entrepreneur awaits the final ceremonies bestowing him American citizenship, he’s firmly planted his roots in the Bluegrass State. “The only way I’m leaving London, Kentucky is in a pine box,” he proclaims. Although new to the country, it is hard to imagine a more American business that Capitol Bicycles – led by a modern day pioneer.

Mitchell’s spirited ambition encapsulates what makes the American dream so magnetic to immigrants seeking a better life. “Location, opportunity, friendship, attitude – it is such a joy to be alive! Anyone who is unhappy living in the USA, I will buy them a one-way plane ticket to wherever they want to go. There is no better place to be!”