A closer look at the collection of unique and radical customs and restored classics of Shawn Seelan Creations.
Over the last few years, we at Bikes Republic have observed the significant growth of the custom bikes movement here in Malaysia. More and more enthusiasts are getting into the movement, explaining the rising numbers of custom bike competitions all over the country.
A good number of these folks have successfully monetised their efforts in building one-off creations, but a handful remain as serious hobbyists. One of which happens to be a collective known as Shawn Seelan Creations.
The collective is comprised of builders Shawn Seelan and his father Seelan Arianayagam. You may have seen some of the duo’s creations being featured in our extensive gallery of KL Bike Week 2015 not too long ago, and highlights there include several custom street cubs and one radical ‘Modenas Kriss Hypermotard’.
What sets the duo at Shawn Seelan Creations apart from other serious hobbyist are two things. Firstly, its their philosophy of “built not bought” with their customs, followed secondly by their philosophy of “rebuild, restore, reuse” for their restoration efforts.
To get a better understanding, our team visited the duo recently in their home that’s located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to get a first-hand view of things. Suffice to say, the four hours or so we spent with the duo cataloguing their collection of close to 20 bikes (both customs and restored classics) was an experience unlike any other.
Customs – Small but exquisite
If there’s one common theme about all of Shawn Seelan Creation’s custom bikes collection is that they are all ‘small capacity’ bikes non bigger than 150cc. What is truly impressive is the fact that all of them were hand-crafted and built by Shawn.
Don’t let his hip beard fool you, Shawn’s only 17 and is still waiting for his SPM results as we write this before pursuing his studies further in veterinary sciences. The wonder kid has been building custom bikes over the last few years since age 14 during his spare time in between his school work.
What also took us aback was Shawn’s supportive dad. But once you grasp the 50-year-old retired teacher’s history as a former race car driver, it becomes easy to see why. Adding to that were some of the unique custom-built furniture made using disused car and bike parts decorating their home, inside and out.
Back to the customs and what Uncle Seelan (as we referred to him) explained was plain and simple. “You see, customising big bikes requires big money. Naturally, smaller bikes don’t require such huge budgets. Why we chose to build custom small bikes is because we want to be able to relate to the masses with them.” Given that close to 90% of bikes sales in Malaysia revolve around mopeds and cubs, Uncle Seelan’s words makes a lot sense and he humbly says that he is merely the ‘financier’ of the operation whilst Shawn is the master builder.
The collection itself is unique in many different ways. Some speak for themselves like Shawn’s “Modenas Kriss Hypermotard” whilst others require a second look. The custom Modenas Kriss motard is as beastly on the inside as it is on the outside. Shawn has kept the original underbone frame and base engine intact, but all else were customised.
Besides the self-built and fabricated extended swingarm, it features a custom rear monoshock, front forks lifted from a Yamaha TZM, the front brake kit from a Kawasaki Kips 150R, as well as a custom-built restrictor plate. Shawn has even spiced up the engine with a stainless steel straight pipe exhaust and added a racing fast throttle.
At first glance, this chromed up and straight piped street cub looked like any other street cub, until you realise it started out life as a Honda EX5. Most street cubs are built based on a classic Honda C70 cub chassis, but Shawn and his dad managed to break free from that trend when they used an EX5 for this build instead.
If you though that wasn’t unique enough, then this ruckus style café racer is even more astonishing. Again, both Shawn and his dad broke free from the norm with this build as it started off life as a Demak Spark! For those of you who don’t know, Demak is an ‘alternative’ manufacturer brand that produces a series of commuter bikes including the Spark – a moped identical in design to the classic Honda C70 Cub.
This Demak-based ruckus was a devilish thing. Even when idling from a cold start, this beast spits flames from its straight pipe exhaust! What we really loved was the level of craftsmanship applied here, as well as the rest of Shawn’s other custom builds. Don’t be fooled by the sloppy-looking weld marks, Shawn says: “This was intentional. I wanted to give all my custom works the ‘home-built’ look.” Shawn further stated that he has honed his metal work skills through trial and error over the years in a family friend’s workshop not too far away.
Another signature with Shawn’s works is the fact that most of the base bike’s original chassis structures remains untouched. None were chopped or cut, with a few exceptions of having extensions welded on. By doing so, Shawn is technically not breaking any laws, and almost the entire collection of customs are road-legal and registered as they have the necessary bits – plates, lights, side mirrors, etc.
For the custom cubs and the Modenas motard, what was really surprising was the fact that almost all the base bikes started out life as abandoned ones or dumpster finds. In more ways than one, both Shawn and his dad have given these bikes, which would’ve otherwise been scrapped, a second chance at life.
The duo also stated that the only challenge with these dumpster finds was legalising their ownership paperwork. The process is as simple as tracking the original owner and locating the original deed, just that some bikes take longer in this process than the actual build, which by the way takes an average of two months or so for Shawn to complete.
The case of the three Honda Z-series (2 Monkeys and a Gorilla) and that slammed Honda Zoomer low rider are slightly different though. All chassis were bought legally either online or in shops, but the end results are unique in each and every way.
This writer’s favourite is the high-riding classic scrambler Monkey with the chromed hub wheels. It may be small, but a 125cc race engine swap complete with a straight pipe meant that this one mini bike that wasn’t slow. Again, Shawn’s craftsmanship and attention to detail remains high here, especially when you consider the fact that this classic mini scrambler has got custom suspension all-round including a pair of gas-charged twin-tower shocks at the rear.
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Our editor, on the other hand, had a whale of a time when he took the low-riding Honda Zoomer out for a spin. Besides the custom wheelbase extension, Shawn again fitted a straight pipe on this low rider, giving it an appropriately commanding soundtrack to go along with its slammed outlooks.
We’ve seen low rider custom bikes before in KL, but never one based on a simple scooter like the Honda Zoomer. The amount of work done to this slammed scooter is exceptional to say the least. Some components has to be repositioned to accommodate the extended wheelbase, but believe us when we say that it looked and felt very solid in real life. For a 17-year-old, Shawn’s intimate knowledge in welding and metal works are impressive to say the least.
Restored classics – Rebuild, Restore, Reuse
Despite the radical levels of customising their customs, it was also surprising to see that both Shawn and his dad are just as brilliant with restoring classics. The duo have four classic Hondas in their collection presently, each rarer than the last.
Perhaps the ‘newest’ of the lot is the Honda Motocompo foldable micromoped. The Motocompo was found on the internet and fully restored by Shawn and his dad into excellent condition. Enthusiasts would know of this microbike’s history of being a standard accessory in the Honda City Turbo hatchback in the 1980s. This is perhaps one of the few fully restored Motocompos that is also running we’ve seen in the greater KL area.
Next comes another super rare classic – the Honda S110. This is a pristine example of an early 1970s model that Shawn and his dad found abandoned and subsequently bought after a lengthy paper trail. The quality of work in restoring this classic lightweight is exceptional, but the fact that each part and component was refurbished by hand by the father-son duo is also commendable. See this bike in person and you’d think it rightfully belongs in a museum.
Next comes a pair of classic Honda C70 Cubs. The treatment with both is the same as the S110, having all of its original parts refurbished and restored by hand. All three had plenty of shiny chrome bits that, according to Shawn, were hand-stripped back to bare metal and hand-polished back to near-factory condition.
Low costs, high satisfaction
With their collection, both Shawn and his dad have proven that you don’t need big money to indulge in the fine arts of building custom bikes. “For our first two builds, we were unsure about parts pricing and what not, so we ended up spending RM5,000 and RM8,000 each. But as we went along, our builds became cheaper,” said Uncle Seelan.
After the first two projects, the duo got better in sourcing for parts and materials, as well as the all-important art of bargaining for lower prices. Shawn added, “One example is the Kriss Hypermotard. We spent just a little over RM1,200 to complete the conversion from moped to twist-and-go motard.” Suffice to say, the end result was nothing short of sheer brilliance and excellent ingenuity.
“Some people may think I’m mad for having the need to tinker with my builds at 2am in the morning, but it is something I enjoy doing. For me, it is an expression of who I am,” explained Shawn passionately over a few cups of tea with his dad after wrapping up our shoot. It just goes to show that if you incubate a deep passion, it would indeed go a long way.
Shawn and his dad haven’t had the opportunity to monetise their skills in building custom bikes for customers yet, but they did state that their restored classics are up for grabs at the right price. We reckon that it is only a matter of time before this father and son duo will be able to make a solid business out of their ingenious yet highly unique creations.
You can follow Shawn and his dad’s exploits on Facebook via their official Facebook page – Shawn Seelan Creations @ Facebook. Alternatively, you can also follow this young master builder on Instagram ( @shawnseelan ). You can also get in touch with the father-son duo via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can check out more images in the extensive gallery we’ve prepared below.
Shawn Seelan Creations