Rob Newman


Mr Newman is a busy man, now more so than ever. Last year was his first co-organising Dirt Wars with Cliff Barbeary, during an even worse British summer than usual causing organisational mayhem. In the last six months he’s picked up a few new big name sponsors and has gone back to his off-road roots competing in enduro races. Don’t worry though, he’s not slacking on the trails boss front, just adding some spice.

Here getabmx table king Rob Newman talks about these events and his plans and hopes for 2013.

Photos by Michael Ferguson unless captioned.

22 April 2013

Interview date: 09 April 2013

The Nest

how’s it going?

All is good thanks, just enjoying my two week Easter holiday and getting as much time on my bike as I can before it’s back to work.

Getting hooked up with Marzocchi UK is pretty big time, how did that come about?

Well many moons ago when the Flowbikes team was leading things in the UK, we were all on the Marzocchi UK rider program and getting support with forks. At the beginning of this year my good mate and riding buddy, Freddy Pulman, gave Marzocchi UK a shout to see if they would be interested in helping him this year. He got a yes from them so a few emails later I also got a hook up. It’s been a few years since I’ve had the Italian brand on my jump bike but it’s nice to have them back on there again; and my god, their enduro fork on my full suspension bike is amazing!!

It looks like you’re doing a lot of proper mountain biking lately, been having fun in the hills then?

Yeah lots of big bike riding has been happening over winter, and in fact a lot of last summer too seeing as we didn’t have much of a dry dirt jump season. It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve had a full bounce bike and I can safely say I’m back into it with a vengeance. I’ve given myself a good number of enduro events to do this year so there have been a lot of training miles and getting my head back into the flying through tight trees mindset rather than just flying over mud lumps.

And there’s a new ghetto indoor park spot near you too now isn’t there? What’s the story behind that?

Well I wouldn’t say it’s that ghetto; I mean Ferg (Michael Ferguson) and Tim (Joiner) have shelled out a fair bit to get the setup going, but yeah there’s a crew of us who rent out a lock up with a cool spine/mini setup in it.

It all started when Tim and Ferg found a very cheap spine/mini for sale on Ebay. A few weeks later a suitable lock up had been found, the ramp had been delivered (although it was just the framework of the ramp) and a couple more weeks down the line the gents had saved enough for the ply to get it up and running. It’s a blooming god send to be able to head indoors for a nice local ramp session when the nights are dark and wet and cold.

When I spoke to (Jay) Cowley he said you’re the only one who calls it ‘The Nest’. Are you just into naming things or something? Why The Nest?

Quite simply because Tim’s business is called ’Crowsnest Carpets’ and the lockup is also used to store rolls and rolls of the finest Axminster shag pile. Haha.

Dirt Wars 2012. God that must have been a bitch to organise what with our not-so-perfect summer... Honestly, how was it from an organisers point of view? What were the highs and lows and how did you deal with event cancellations?

Well being my first year on the organisation side of things I haven’t got anything to compare it to but you’re right, it was far from plain sailing! Honestly it was a pain in the arse but there was literally nothing we could do about it, we just had to play the waiting game and hope for the weather to come good. Luckily the five round series only got shrunk to a four round series with one of the rounds having to be taken indoors at the end of the season. So we didn’t do too bad, although the continual postponements of rounds and then running events on days when we knew the weather was going to be touch and go did add to stress levels.

In the end you had to hold the final round at Motion. What were the riders reactions to having to compete on ramps?

Well the 2011 series had a park round, which was also held at Motion Ramp Park in Bristol, so it wasn’t a complete shock to the riders. It kinda goes against the ’Dirt Wars’ name and philosophy but it’s better than a complete cancellation. Some riders embrace it, for some riders it stops them from attending but it also brings other riders out of the woodwork who predominantly rider park rather than dirt.

Dirt Wars

In my view I’m all for a competition series held at trails and park locations, as I think the best riders can ride everything. What do you think?

Yeah you are totally right, the best riders CAN ride both really well. I’m a dirt rider first and foremost so am keen for Dirt Wars being all about dirt riding but park rounds make for good events and give the series a bit of variety.

Any plans to turn Dirt Wars into more of an all round dirt and park series? (I guess you’d have to change the name though haha).

No, the Spank Industries Dirt Wars is a dirt jump series so any more park rounds will be as a result of crappy weather spoiling being outside at a set of jumps.

Which riders impressed you and really stood out?

Well out of the Pro riders, Marcel Hunt and Daryl Brown stood out for me. Both of them had worked really hard to dial in their own style and work on new, bigger, better tricks. Daryl’s one-handed Superman Seatgrabs were unreal whilst Marcel rode so consistently with great technical difficulty all year.

In the Open category Wig (Lewington Booth) and Freddy (Pulman) were riding so well all year, there was literally nothing between them. Daniel Stewart from Scotland who made down all the way from Edinburgh for three of the four rounds last year showed massive dedication to his riding. The fact that he then did things that I had never seen done before on a bike was mental. At Adrenaline alley when he crossed his legs over and landed like that to then pump through to the next jump, take off then and do a no-footed can-can one-hander landing with his feet the normal way round was just bonkers! He’s definitely one to watch in 2013.

I was stoked that Freddy took the amateur win, how do you think he’ll cope in pro category this year?

I’ve got a feeling he’s gonna beat me in most of the events! Haha! But seriously if he keeps composed and doesn’t stress himself out at the events he’s going to qualify for most pro finals and maybe even grab a podium if he’s having a good day. He’s been training so hard over winter and got a lot of new progressive tricks dialed; I’m not sure how he compares to the other pro riders and their winter training but he’s definitely a man on a mission. And that’s evident in his bike; his brand new Spank Bike that he’s been riding since January is looking pretty battered already. He’s definitely hard on bikes and components when in send it, training mode!

His progression is out of control, does riding with him encourage you to try stuff you wouldn’t normally try to keep up?

Yes and no. Last year we were really pushing each other and it’s still kind of a challenge to see who will 360 a jump first but where as his progression is 100% focused on dirt jump I’m balancing between dirt jump and enduro progression. The last couple of years I have pushed my dirt riding at my own pace; I know that compared to the young guns I’m falling behind so there’s no point in hurting myself trying to catch up. If I’m still riding smooth and stylish, pushing my Inverts as far as possible both ways and developing my 360 variations at my own pace then I’m happy. Maybe this year will be the year I’ll get my head round Backflips or Tailwhips but I’d much rather stay uninjured and get a podium or two at Enduro events than end up in hospital from trying to keep up with Freddy. Saying that I do have some goals on the jump bike this year; I want to get 360 Crankflips locked down, getting Barspin variations back would be good and 360 inverts/bars/suicides are on the hit-list too!


Before moving onto 2013 things, how did last year treat you? What were the best and worst bits of 2012?

Well competition-wise not as good as 2011 but that’s life. I didn’t quite have the same head on for just doing my thing and having fun; probably the extra stresses of being an organiser having something to do with that but that’s life. I suppose the best bits were putting my seat up higher again and relearning suicide No-handers and Barspins. 

The worst bit was definitely my crash at the Corby round of Dirt Wars. I saw a fair few stars from that one, had a good bit of concussion and my shoulder is still a bit delicate from all the way back in September but that’ll teach me to decide whether I’m doing a Nac-nac or an Un-turndown before I take off!

Wildest/craziest memories of the year?

Definitely the parting at NASS seeing as the rain ruined all chances of the comp running. Freddy Pulman is a party animal! Oh and going down to Leopallooza festival in Cornwall to do a demo with Jack Gear and crew was mint. Again I did a nice job of using my head as a brake but the partying in the evenings was next level!


How are you feeling about this year’s Dirt Wars series, both as an organiser and competitor? Are there any changes this time round?

Things are looking good for this year, a few sponsor changes but an equally strong year is panning out ahead of us.  No major changes, more of the same really, just a continued effort into dialling the events in to give the best experience for the riders and put out the best media we can throughout the year. It’s really nice to have Pinkbike onboard as our main media partner and this should help the UK dirt scene reach more people worldwide. We also have a TV production company working with us this year so event highlights will be part of their extreme sports series’ that go out around the world.

Who’s going to win it?

If only I could look into a crystal ball and tell you! Haha. I think a few of the open riders have picked up sponsors so will be moving up into the pro category which will mean the current lot of pro riders will have to watch their backs but as always it depends on who can ride at a consistently high level and stay injury free for the whole year.

How has this year gone so far in terms of riding/progression?

Still learning new tricks?

As I mentioned earlier I’ve still got a few things that I’m working on but living in Devon we don’t have the same amount of sandy all-weather spots that other riders have to ride over the winter. Freddy has found a spot though and is currently digging a huge landing that’s going to have a wooden kicker running into it before long. Then we will be able to push for some new moves. Enduro wise things are going pretty well; my fitness and general riding is at a pretty good level and I just need to continue doing what I’m doing and push to get in even better shape. My two 4th place results at Enduro events so far are really encouraging (especially the second event in which I was 4th out of everyone there!) Sprint training is going to be a focus over the next month or two so lots of trips to local BMX tracks to knacker myself out.

Have you got any roadtrip plans for the summer?

Nothing set in stone yet but definitely a couple of trips round the UK hitting up some trail spots and a trip out to Morzine in the summer is also on the cards as I haven’t seen my old Flowbikes team mate, Tim Henderson, in ages and he’s now living out there.


What events will you be competing in?

Well for dirt jump it’ll be all the Dirt Wars rounds, some of the UK King of Dirt series if it reappears for 2013 and hopefully one or two of Jack Gear’s festival demos.

Its quite a tricky one balancing Dirt Jump and Enduro events, unfortunately there are some clashes but I will be racing all but one round of the X-Fusion Enduro1 series, the Mondraker Gravity MTB Rally in July and one round of the UK Gravity Enduro series which will see a trip to the grey area between mid and north Wales.

Are you still Djing at shows and doing the radio thing? How’s all that going?

Nah not so much. The radio thing has been put on halt; the website we used to do the show with stopped everything whilst the site had an update which gave us a nice break after doing it for four or five years pretty much religiously every week. Life has kind of got too busy now so DJ’ing and producing tunes has gone on the back burner for when I get chance, not that its very often now. Enduro training is very time consuming! Haha. I did play out at a night in Exeter last weekend which was good fun but I think I’m one of the only local DJs who hasn’t made the full switch to CD or digital DJ’ing and you don’t often see turntables at club nights these days.

Getting up to much else exciting off the bike?

No bugger all! Between working, riding, eating and sleeping there isn’t a lot of time for anything else. But I have got myself a better camera and a copy of Final Cut so am having fun doing little edits at the mo. I think I could get quite into that over the coming year if I’m not too careful.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Enduro! Hahahaaa! I’ve got the racing bug back and I really want to get some top results. Without flips and whips in my arsenal of tricks getting back to the top of dirt jumping isn’t going to happen, so keeping it smooth, stylish and showing the young guns how not to look like a juvenile hucker is my aim there. But my good results in the first couple of enduro events have really given me something to bite my teeth into. 

Of course I’m looking forward to some good dirt Jump events too; our rounds at Wisley and Holdshott are always ones that I look forward to and I think it’s about time we got a lush weekend for NASS to put a good comp on. And I’m definitely looking forward to honing my filming/editing skills to produce some wicked edits in 2013.

Right I’ll leave you to it then. Anything else you want to mention before you go?

Well a massive thanks to everyone supporting my riding this year – Dan @ Marzocchi UK, Symon @ Nookie Bikes plus Chris, Nick, Martin & Blake @ for getting me on their team. And of course a massive shout out to you at for having me on the team... I am still on the team for this year, right?

Photo: JD Williams

The ’Nest’

Dirt Wars round 4 at Corby before seeing stars.

K-Hole Spring

K-Hole Spring

Shredding the bouncer at Haldon forest

“When he crossed his legs over and landed like that to then pump through to the next jump, take off then and do a no-footed can-can one-hander landing with his feet the normal way round was just bonkers.”

“Maybe this year will be the year I’ll get my head round Backflips or Tailwhips but I’d much rather stay uninjured and get a podium or two at Enduro events than end up in hospital from trying to keep up with Freddy.”

“Honestly it was a pain in the arse but there was literally nothing we could do about it, we just had to play the waiting game and hope for the weather to come good.”