Put pedal to the metal
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 9 August 2018)
SHAWN SEELAN started tinkering with motorbikes and cars from a very young age, and it is easy to see where he got that passion from, taking after his father Seelan Arianayagam, who was active in the local motorsports scene in the 1970s and 80s.
Shawn has always had an enthusiasm for motorbikes and cars running through his veins, and at the age of five, his father got him his first set of wheels, in the form of a pocket bike with a 50cc engine.
At the age of 14, Shawn began customising and restoring motorbikes, which led to the start of Shawn Seelan Creations. Today, 20-year-old Shawn has collection of 34 custom and restored motorbikes.
Shawn said: “Motorbikes [are more] than just a mode of transportation. They are an expression of who I am and what I am about. They represent what goes on in my mind and how I feel at that moment.
“Motorbikes are rolling pieces of art and [despite] the fact they once used to be battered, made me realise they are more than just pieces of junk.”
Where do you get your motorbikes, the parts and funding to restore them?
“The motorbikes are usually trash finds, and are often pretty battered. We bring [one] back and trace [its] owner to make sure it isn’t stolen. Then we proceed to make contact with the owner to obtain the motorbike.
“The parts are all custom-made by me, while some parts may have to be purchased. But if I have the chance, I would rather make those parts on my own. My father is my right hand man in terms of funding, and from there we gain clients who help keep the funds rolling for other motorbikes.”
What drives you to restore motorbikes to their former glory?
“I don’t accept the belief that trash motorbikes cannot be saved. They are more than just a wreck, and all motorbikes can be saved if you have a burning desire like I do.”
It seems that you don’t actively sell your motorbikes, but when you do, what is the reason?
“We don’t advertise our motorbikes, but like everything else that has a price, so do my motorbikes. I want to sell them because I know there is someone out there who would love to have something that is [one-of-a-kind], and also because space around my house is running out!”
What is the custom market like, and what makes you different?
“I am definitely not the only one out there. The custom scene is growing at an exponential rate, but the market is subjective because not everyone wants something custom-made, or a ‘make-a-statement’ motorbike.
“Nonetheless, the market is still large and people do purchase and order motorbikes.
“I feel my way of building motorbikes is rather ‘old skool’. I built my first motorbike and the following ones with just a bucket of tools. I feel my designs are something out of the ordinary ... combining different elements from different places, and getting a product like none other at the end.”
You also did motocross from the age of five, as well as go-kart.
“Motocross shaped me into a person who doesn’t easily give up. The number of falls I experienced taught me to get up and brush it off.
“On the other hand, go-kart shaped my driving style in many ways. It taught me discipline, and to take calculated risks in certain situations.”
Do you own any racing cars?
“We own two race cars – a Proton Saga LMST, and Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg Ralliart Edition. We used to have a Hondo Civic EK9, but it was sold.”
You are currently studying veterinary medicine abroad, does that mean putting Shawn Seelan Creations in the backseat?
“I am taking some time off to get back on track and focus on my studies, so I can take the next step to achieving my dreams.
“I have plans to continue (Shawn Seelan Creations) in the future as a side venture, according to my time and pace. I plan to venture into the international market with different products for different motorbikes for easy customisation.”
Veterinary medicine is something totally different from restoring and customising motorbikes. What compelled you to take that path?
“Growing up, my parents always taught my sister and I that animals and their welfare are greatly important. As animals can’t talk and are in need of a person to understand them physically and emotionally, it has always been my dream to become a veterinarian and help those who cannot express pain through words.”
How do you plan to juggle both passions in the future?
“I plan to make veterinary medicine my [main] job, and motorbikes as something I can do in my free time or during weekends. If there is a way to combine them both, I would definitely welcome it.”