French Design, American Muscle: Avinton “Black Swan”

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

Ortolani Customs transforms an S&S-powered Avinton… 

Avinton is a French motorcycle maker inspired by American muscle cars, particularly the 427 Cobra of Carroll Shelby:

“The Avinton Collector GT is handmade in France based off of the principals of the Shelby AC Cobra: small and lightweight, with lots of power.”

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

Appropriately enough, these French-American cafe racers are powered by a 100ci S&S Super Stock V-twin, an Evo-based groundpounder capable of putting out 120hp and a stump-pulling 123 ft/lbs of torque. What’s more, Avinton managed to keep their machines fairly light:

“Keanu Reeves can keep his 538lb monstrosity. Confederate can stick with forward controls, choppers, and 500+ lb bikes that look like they got in a fight with a steampunk band. Avintons have a timeless style with modern performance and handling, with our heaviest models weighing in at approximately 400 lbs.” –Avinton / Motorcycle Cruiser

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

The design of these machines is distinct, with the Keihin 41mm air intake peeking up through what would seem to be the fuel tank — in fact, the fuel tank is located under the tail of the bike, and the gas cap is in the rear cowl!

Stock Avinton Collector GT — notice the white tank beneath the tail.

Recently, we got in touch Olivier Ortolani of Nice’s Ortolani Customs, whose been building bikes since 2009. A customer brought him a 2014 Avinton for customization.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

The owner mainly wanted to remove the fuel tank from the rear of the motorcycle, while keeping the signature “tank-mounted” air filter — quite the challenge!

“The main guideline for this project was to lighten the rear of the motorcycle, which has a petrol tank — so a heavy part, visually. So I went to work repositioning the fuel tank to the front while maintaining one well-known particularity of the Avinton, the position of the air filter.”

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

Olivier was able to fabricate a new fuel tank that could be mounted in the traditional position, but which was partitioned to allow for the Keihin intake.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

Freeing up all that room in the tail allowed Olivier to mount a lightweight lithium battery, a Motogadget M-unit, and LED lighting back there. The bike is now rolling on Marchesini forged wheels and MUP suspension, and NMB Design handled the gloss leather and alcantara saddle. In our estimation, this Avinton looks far better than the original, and Olivier says it’s a beast to ride:

“My first impression during my first ride was: BESTIAL…It rumbles, it vibrates, it’s a kiff!!”

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

Below, we get the full details on the build from Olivier, along with more shots from photographer Julien Fiauffret (@juliusdesigns).

Avinton Black Swan: Builder Interview

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My workshop is based on Nice. Since 2009, I’ve continued to customize motorcycles with attention to detail while trying to bring my own personal touch.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

• How would you classify this build?

The Avinton might be classified as a Cafe Racer, although when I envisioned about the project, I didn’t try to give it any universal style. Rather, the goal was that my work would be consistent with the type of bike and the expectations of my client.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?

This model is an Avinton from 2014. It’s a French motorcycle with an S&S Engine. It’s a pretty exclusive motorcycle — one of the brand’s ambassadors is none other than Tony Parker.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

• Why was this bike built?

This bike was waiting for modifications at another bike builder, but the owner gave me the project after seeing my motorcycles.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The main guideline for this project was to lighten the rear of the motorcycle, which has a petrol tank — so a heavy part, visually.
So I went to work repositioning the fuel tank to the front while maintaining one well-known particularity of the Avinton, the position of the air filter.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

• What custom work was done to the bike?

I was able to create a lighter rear while maintaining a racy spirit. Under the seat hides the electrical components: lithium batteries, Motogadget M-unit, LED taillight, etc.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

The fork and rear shock have been replaced with MUPO (Italian brand) components. For the brakes, I used Brembo carved mass (MotoGP) with Stäubli system. The bike has a Motogadget dashboard, and the headlight is an adaptation of a Ducati Scrambler unit.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

I wanted to make an exhaust that echoed the architecture of the engine with a touch of MotoGP. So I fabricated the whole system in stainless steel with visible welds and two silencers short enough not to be too present.

The wheels are Marchesini mounted with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa slicks (for fun).


Finally, everything was painted glossy black with a few touches of red and matte black on the top to bring out the design of this aluminum body, as if it had been created from a solid block of aluminum.

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

Note the work on the saddle with the use of two materials (alcantara and gloss leather), so that it can be integral with the entire bodywork. The saddler was NMB Design, my partner for all my bikes.

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

The most complex part, and the most noteworthy, is the gas tank with integrated air filter (partitioning).

Avinton Custom Cafe Racer

What I like most about this bike are all the details that we see if we really look: the brake fluid jars that I machined in aluminum, the small fins on the headlight, the French flag on the chain link, or the integration of a Start Engine button on the air filter…

• Can you tell us what the riding experience is like?

My first impression during my first ride was: BESTIAL…It rumbles, it vibrates, it’s a kiff!!

Photos courtesy of Julius Designs.

Follow the Builder: @ortolanicustoms



  1. Elam Blacktree


  2. Keanu has more class then you ever will!

  3. Is Keanu’s class evidenced by his choice of the movies he acts in, like the John Wick franchise?
    Anyway, this build is a few years old already. Avinton is no more: the S&S engine could not pass (and could not be modified to pass) the latest Euro emission standards, so they just closed shop.
    A great pity, as the ‘bike had an incredible weight/torque ratio (it weighed ca. 390 pounds dry).
    The combination of colours on the original Avinton pictured here is about the worse you can have, highlighting the not very pretty rear; with many other colours, the rear is much less conspicuous.
    Moving the tank to the traditional position must have been a real feat of engineering, all credit to Ortolani; but I would like to know how many litres can fit in the redesigned unit (only 13 litres for the original one).
    In my eyes at least, the aesthetics of the Ortolani custom are not an improvement; and do you need a fireman’s boot on your right foot to ride that bike?

  4. Very poor form belittling other motorcycle builders in an immature attempt to inflate your place in the industry.

    • The Confederate jab was funny and warranted considering their odd, non-stop boasting and their loser, traitor name! Now they’re taking someone else’s name and still boasting. Boo!

    • An inept comment, as I have zero “place in the industry”, being neither builder nor dealer, or anything even remotely connected with the motocycle industry.

  5. Reminds me of my Buell S1W, if Erik Buell was still making bikes

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