In the small French commune of Saint-André-de-la-Roche, just a few miles inland from Nice, you’ll find the brothers Olivier and Gilles Ortolani. Their business is restoring vintage cars, and doing the occasional custom motorcycle paint job.
After increasing pressure from customers, the pair decided it was time to branch out: it was time to start building motorcycles. After all, there’s no better way to enjoy the balmy Mediterranean climate than on two wheels.
But the Ortolani brothers weren’t going to do it the easy way. They decided that their first custom bike would use as few aftermarket parts as possible. And it’d be a showpiece for their considerable skills in welding, fabrication and metal shaping.
So here we have the Ortolani BMW R100 RS—and it’s clear that we’re going to be seeing many good things from these Frenchmen!
With the help of the third member of the Ortolani team, Maxime, they’ve reengineered the R100RS frame. Aiming to reduce the overall weight, they’ve devised a monoshock rear suspension system, controlled by an energy-absorbing Fournales gas suspension strut.
To hold the shock in place, a trellis support has been added to the stock BMW shaft-drive swingarm. And the rear subframe has been replaced by a shorter structure, to tighten the bike’s proportions.
The original front forks remain, but they’ve been shortened by (just under three inches) and sheathed in custom-made sleeves that beef up the front end.
The fuel tank is vintage—it’s from the now defunct German motorcycle manufacturer MZ, and stripped of its original badges. Aluminum side panels with hand-engraved BMW emblems were fabricated in house.
Aluminum also forms the wasp-like tail unit, the custom rearsets and control levers, and the specially designed bracket supporting a Motogadget speedometer.
The unique stainless steel exhaust is another Ortolani original item, snaking its way around the engine and venting through grilled openings beneath the seat. The larger sections midway hide integrated silencers, providing backpressure for the engine and keeping noise levels within French legal limits.
But weight reduction alone wasn’t enough to get the bike moving as quickly as desired. So the brothers have rebuilt the boxer motor with all-new internals.
Dell’Orto 38mm PHM carbs have been added to each cylinder—an R90S fitment that is a popular upgrade for the R100 engine.
The Ortolanis are big fans of the Rockabilly counterculture, and that shines through in the finishing of the bike. The deep blue paint and oxblood leather seat is a tasteful combination, but it’s the Von Dutch style pinstriping that really gives this bike its character.
It’s a paint technique we don’t often see applied to this style of build—and it adds an subtle American twist to this French-built German machine. We reckon it’s fabuleux.