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Kelowna resident takes lawnmowers from backyard to backcountry

Kelowna group builds custom lawnmowers for off-road fun

Imagine finding your passion and turning it into your full-time job in the midst of a global pandemic. That’s what Kelowna resident Ryley Kesslar did when he began building custom off-road lawnmowers in 2019.

What once was simply used for a household chore is now being taken apart and rebuilt into an adventure vehicle that offers an off-road experience like no other.

“The idea came about as a kid seeing a few videos of guys in the forest riding lawnmowers,” explained Kesslar. “It sparked something in me, and when I moved out with my buddy in 2019, we decided to get some projects to work on. Low and behold, some mowers came up for sale, so we scooped them up and started modifying.”

With a background of working in the garage on Jeeps and race trucks, Kesslar had the experience needed to build these adventure vehicles. After his third year of college, where he was training as an electrician, Kesslar was laid off from his job, which allowed him the time to invest in building, buying and selling lawnmowers.

Ryley Kesslar takes off up a hill in a customized off-road lawnmower. (YouTube photo)
Ryley Kesslar takes off up a hill in a customized off-road lawnmower. (YouTube photo)

Kesslar says a mower build consists of taking key off-roading aspects and applying them to his own builds. “We install bigger off-road tires, lock the transaxle so both tires spin together, add front axle articulation to flex over rocks, ungovern the motors, add foot throttles, full skid plates and winches. We also do custom vivid lumen LEDs and custom tube work. A lot goes into our rigs to make them work the way they do and look the part.”

In an effort to share his passion with others, Kesslar created a community called the OK Offroad Mowers. The group has a Facebook page, website and YouTube channel to share off-road mower adventures (nearly all on private property) and the building process. The YouTube channel now has over 80 videos and over 3,000 subscribers, and Kesslar is able to sell merchandise such as hoodies, hats and t-shirts on the website.

“Our vision is to grow our brand more and get more people building mowers and having fun. Off-road mowing is a very honest, fun sport that almost anyone can do.

“Everyone has a 30-year-old mower sitting in the backyard that could use some work.”

Kesslar has turned this venture into his full-time gig since COVID hit, and he doesn’t plan on going back to work.

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