Home » All Issues » Issue 3 » Pedals to Plough

Pedals to Ploughs

Robbie’s Remarkable ride into farming with Kubota

Plunging down rocky slopes, a mountain bike tyre slices through the dirt at speed, leaving behind a plume of dust. Gripping the handlebars, a rush of wind slams against Robbie McNaughton’s face. This is what the Hunter Valley local lives for.


Carving up the trails brings an unparalleled sense of freedom and excitement. “My sport is mountain biking. I’ve been involved in it since I was a kid,” Robbie explains. And the undulating Eucalypt forests of Black Hill, near Maitland, provided the perfect training ground.


“My parents bought the farm with my grandparents 41 years ago, it’s always been a part of our family,” Robbie expands. “Some of my fondest memories are here. As kids we’d build tracks and have races across the property.” It wasn’t long before Robbie’s sister Emma was racing him down the dusty tracks and it became a family obsession. “We were completely immersed in the sport.”


“My parents took us to all our races and dad was on the club committee for 15 years.” For years, the McNaughton’s competed on the national and world stage. Along with an impressive collection of victories, medals and accolades, Robbie also brought home the scars of numerous injuries. “I’ve had concussions, broken wrists, broken ribs, broken my femur, my tibia and my humerus and dislocated my shoulder. It’s a fast-moving sport, you’re constantly navigating unfamiliar terrain and sometimes you come off second best.”


Before the age of 18, Robbie rode many notable courses and locations. From the 1999 UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Championships in the Scandinavian mountains of Åre in Sweden, to the untouched bushland of Derby Tasmania. “Nothing beats home turf though,” Robbie confirms.


Determined to keep his passion for mountain biking alive, Robbie decided to open Drift Bikes. Over time it has become the most successful bicycle store and service centre in the region. “Drift Bikes allowed me to keep riding part of my life and to share my passion for the sport with other people.”


Until 2020, life for Robbie had been full of thrilling adventures and challenging obstacles. But it was an unlikely turn of events that saw the rider-turned-business-owner go back to where it all began. Trading in pedals for ploughs, Robbie made the greatest leap yet – buying into the family farm.


“My parents and grandparents had always run the farm. After my grandad passed my grandma hung on to it for a while, but it became a bit too much. I was given the opportunity to buy in and continue to keep it in the family. “I bought it off her and began making it our own little two-wheel paradise. Now we hire it out to an adventure motorbike company who use it to host training courses.”


With a wealth of knowledge of running a business, a lifetime of experience on the property, Robbie knows that, like cycling, having the right gear for the job is crucial. Entering the world of farming, Robbie looked to Kubota to ease the transition.


“At the bike store we’re constantly seeing new bikes come through and always looking for the next best technology to make things faster, and it’s no different with farming,” Robbie says. “We initially had the 20-year-old tractor, but it was time for an upgrade. That’s when my neighbour, Sean introduced us to Kubota through the Kentan Machinery team in Newcastle.”


The accomplished cyclist traded in the dated tractor and his two wheels to embrace a new adventure. Manoeuvring the powerful 4-wheeled RTV-XG850 utility vehicle and navigating the sets of rollers on an excavator with finesse.


When he’s not selling bikes, Robbie is working on the farm. “We’ve completed building the frame of our shed but have a lot of work to do in fitting it out. When I get a break from the bike shop, I’ve been on the excavator digging trenches for power and stormwater. I get the best of both worlds. But it wouldn’t be possible without Kubota. Our goal is to maximise the feed potential of all the paddocks. Next steps are getting the pasture improvement down pat and really getting the whole 65 acres firing on all cylinders. We’re hoping to start breeding highland cows on the land and have purchased our breeder cows. Now we are just waiting for two to reach breeding age.”


Enjoyment and family have always been at the core of what Robbie does, and when it comes to farming there is no exception. “The best thing about the Kubota equipment is it’s easy to get in, it goes everywhere, and it can carry people,” Robbie said. “My grandma is 95 this year and with the new Kubota gear we can take her out and show her what my grandad started.”


With the right equipment and a heart full of passion, Robbie embraces his new role as a hobby farmer, creating lasting memories with his family. Together with his parents, he honours the legacy of his grandparents on the land they loved.


To receive our email newsletter and be the first to know every time a new issue is released!