|1973||DOB: august 31, 1973.|
Birthplace: Ann Arbor, MI.
Taj Mihelich: My mom was at a drive in movie while she was very pregnant with me and the old blues singer Taj Mahal was in the movie. She liked his work and decided that I should have the name.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: My mom was a hippy – she called me Taj. She raised me on her own in Michigan. There would be a different step dad every few years. The cycle would be; she’d be single, we’d move, she’d meet someone and we’d move in with them, she’d divorce them and we’d move on again. The last stepfather I lived with was psychotic. My mom and him had a kid when I was 14. He didn’t want me in the same room as my half brother. Often the family would sit in the living room watching TV and I’d be told to stay in my room. My step dad didn’t want me to be a part of the family. He thought I ate too much but I felt like I was starving. It would be so bad I would steal dog food, I was that hungry… it was brutal. My mom saw what was happening but wouldn’t do anything to help. She’d told me, ‘I love you both, don’t fight back when he yells at you so we can all be happy.’ I wasn’t getting physically beaten, but he wanted an excuse to beat the shit out of me. He would get two inches from my face and yell I’m worthless and everything I did sucked. I believed him. The only thing I could do was stand there and fucking cry. The only strength I could find was from just standing there and taking it. It was brutal. I wet the bed until I was 16! I even went to the doctor about it but they couldn’t understand it. “I didn’t have anyone to share my problems with. Our dog was my only friend. I felt a connection with animals, I thought: this dog is awesome – he likes me and wants to hang out with me, and how is he any different from a cow or a pig, or any animal we eat? I couldn’t separate the two, so I didn’t eat meat. My step dad used to force me to eat meat, which me made me associate that with him. “I was closed off as a kid. I couldn’t look anyone else in the eye. I just walked around with my head down. I’ve always been shy by nature, but it was made worse by having to show up at a new school every year. I didn’t have any friends growing up. All that stuff is what drove me to bikes and I guess the upside to it is that it’s what made me focus on riding. Most of the time riding was something I could do alone and where ever I was, and get away from my situation. BMX was always something I could lose myself in. I started out racing but it was dirt jumping I really loved. When I hit a jump I just wanted to go as high as I could and land hard. I had all this angst to get out. I rode with all my emotions on my sleeve. I think that’s why people noticed me riding. I didn’t know how to express my emotions in any other way. I had no one to talk to. “One night I scraped the dinner fork on my teenager buckteeth. My step dad freaked over table manners and threw the kitchen table at me with all the food on. It was a pinnacle moment and I thought ‘fuck this– I’ve got to get out of here.’ I had no idea things could be better, I just I couldn’t take it anymore. I left the house and walked down the street and into the country. I stayed with my aunt for a bit and then I left town. The bed wetting stopped the day I left the house...
|early years||FIRST BMX BIKE.
Taj: In my fourth grade class some girl raced BMX, and I thought she was the coolest thing in the world. She wore a jersey to school. That and my cousin, He had an Evel Kneivel bike that he gave me at one point. He was really into riding, he taught me about how cool it was. I rode, I guess, since I was about three. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to race, and when I was about thirteen there were a couple of kids in my neighborhood that did, so l saved up money and bought a real bike. A Mongoose California Pro; Blue tires, blue pads, that was my first bike.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: Around the age of 13 I went to my first BMX race on a "real" BMX bike (and I was so afraid it wouldn't pass the track inspection to become "race certified"). From that point on BMX was in my life, all the time. I raced for a few years but almost always I have mostly been just into jumping. Around that time some of the first, street and dirt, contests started happening and I couldn't get enough of them. My friend, Ron Kimler, and I are from the same town, White Lake, Michigan. Ron started taking me to street comps around the country. I mostly focused on box jumps at the comps. There was nothing better than jumping as high as I could to some crappy flat wedged landing. Now-a-days I cringe at the sight of those flat harsh landings!
Taj Mihelich, www.ridebmx.com, september 2008: This is me from 20 years ago… I find that so hard to believe! Not just that I had a UNI seat/seat post combo 16 inches high out of my Robinson Pro race bike, but that I’m still having fun doing this!
Letter published in Super BMX and Freestyle october 1988.
Taj "Toe Jam" Mihelich, Union Lake, Ml.: Dear Greg, I am 14, 110 lbs. and gladly racing my bank account away, but I've always had bad luck with rims and I can't remember a pair lasting more than a month or so. What I wanted to ask you about is high-pressure wheels and tires - I rode on them and thought they rode nice. If I wanted to buy a new wheel set-up, do you think high-pressure wheels are worth the price? Can you recommend a good rims/ hubs/spokes set-up that might last longer for me?
Greg, Super BMX: To begin with, you need a good, Japanese rim (like an Araya 7X), short, steel nipples, 6080 gauge doublebutted spokes (they're good for racing and will hold up to jumping and stuff), and any good, high-performance sealed-bearing hub should do the job.
As far as the high-pressure wheels go, a good set of 36-spoke wheels will hold up just about as well. Even more important than the wheels you use is maintenance, you need to get a spoke wrench and learn how to true your rims and keep the spokes tight.
OAKLEY RAZER BLADES.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: When I was racing all the pro racers were sponsored by Oakley and all wore Oakley Razer Blades. I was convinced you had to have a pair. I was 13 years old, poor as shit and spent $130 on a pair. I get to the track and realised you sure as hell didn’t need them. It sunk in. I’d been duped. The guys in the magazine wore them only because they were sponsored. When I started getting in the magazines and getting sponsors I decided I would never want to do that to little kids, I would ride for companies that made shit I would actually buy. It’s funny looking back now. Oakley got its start in BMX and is now huge. They even helped me put on the Texas Toast Jam and made me special Toast Oakleys for the event. It’s growing up I guess… a company like that can still be a part of and help BMX even if you don’t really need to wear sunglasses to ride. I just couldn’t get it back then.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: When I was 16, Albe's Bike Shop started helping me out early on. That ended up being an amazing help to me.
NBL GRANDS KENTUCKI.
During that time I put everything into riding. I have no idea what gave me the confidence to, but I entered my first dirt jump contest at 17. It was at the NBL Grands race in Kentucky. Fuzzy [Hall] was in it, he was an idol of mine. He was wearing full race kit. I was wearing torn up shorts, mismatched knee-pads, two different water skiing gloves and I had two odd tyres. I came second in the contest and BMX Plus ran a full page photo of me doing a Grizz. It blew my mind. You’d never see a photo of a kid dressed so ratty in BMX Plus. That contest started things for me, not long after my ‘5% discount bro’ deal with Albes, it turned into a real sponsor.
PIC IN GO.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, november 2008: I got one of my first pictures in a magazine at that Rampage contest in the last ever issue of Freestylin’ Mag’s short lived off shoot “Go Magazine”. I was the only kid there on a race bike and I had never used pegs before. I was 16 or 17 and I just gotten a co-sponsor deal with Airwalk through Albe’s. At the time (1989 or 1990) Airwalk was pretty much the only shoe sponsor in Freestyle. Van’s helped out some BMX racers, but there was just no money in Freestyle and there was also next to no sponsors.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: Ron Kimler practically adopted me in the beginning and started to take me to my first contests even though I had no money to help pay for the trips.
|1991||KING OF ART.
Taj "Toe Jam" Mihelich is the BMX Plus! King of Art in january 1991.
Taj Mihelich showed major style on his way to first place in saturday night's UGP jumping contest at the NBL Christmas Classic, Colombus, Ohio. Photo from BMX Plus! april 1992.
|1992||ALBE'S BIKE SHOP.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: Albe's Bike Shop took me on my first trip to California back in 1992, which landed me an interview in the first Dig Magazine and the newly formed Ride BMX Magazine. From there things started to roll for me. I had spent some time living out at Rampage Skatepark and riding for Standard Bikes.
FEW GOOD MEN.
Section in a Few Good Men video.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: This is the first video effort by the guys who later started Props. Oh how video editing technology has changed. I used to think wearing a Santa Claus hat was really cool… I’m actually serious.
tajlucas, www.youtube.com, january 2009: Taj Mihelich's part in a Few Good Men BMX video.
Interview in Ride BMX US #4 april may 1993.
Section in Standard Happy Days video.
Taj has an interview in Dig #1.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: I headed south down I-35 with the idea that I wouldn't stop driving ‘till it got warm. I was friends with the Hoffman Bikes guys and thought maybe I would move to Oklahoma, but OKC in February is really cold, so I kept on going. The weather broke when I reached Austin, TX and my new home was found.
krtschmidt.com, december 2008: Taj Mihelich - "Happy Days".
Taj is riding for Family Bikes.
3rd place stuntman street @ 1994 BS round 2, Kansas, may 1994
Taj Mihelich turned Pro. Big and powerful are two words to sum up his runs. He did all his jumps a couple of fett higher than anyone else, almost pulled a downside tailwhip over the hip, pulled a one handed tailwhip, powered a superman seat grab pushed nacnac style, and made a 540 tailtap on the coping of the sub box - third place.
Section in Dirty Deeds video.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: When I moved to Austin in 93 or 94 or whatever James Shepard just sort of started taking me out riding and bringing a video camera. I never really understood what I was filming for, but it ended up being such an honor to be in a Dave Parrick video from back in the day. The long rail at the end sits right in the center of UT’s campus here in Austin and is actually curvered but the cameras lens makes it so you can’t tell. Such a bust now!
Interview in Props #4 september 1994.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: I still get embarrassed watching this… so corny.
Part in Poor Boy Heavy Metal Thunder video.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: To be entirely honest I was always a little embarrassed by this video part. It was one of those parts where my friends just got kind of scabbed it together out of footage from us riding and contests. Not a very serious part since I rode for UGP instead of Poorboy. Pretty funny clip of me falling on the deck of a ramp and mashing poor Mel Cody’s groceries though.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: Within a year of being in Austin I started riding for Hoffman Bikes and quit my job as a juice maker to ride BMX full time. In those days being a pro rider meant you did shows at fairs and carnivals to make enough money so you didn’t have to work. It was very surreal being around all the carnies at fairs, but it taught me to ride vert and it kept me on my bike. I also got to do shows with the most amazing riders of the time like; Dennis McCoy, Jay Miron, Dave Mirra and of course, Mat Hoffman. Vert became my focus for a while, but after I got burned out on doing shows (and started making enough money to not have to do them anymore) I sort of lost interest. To this day I miss the feeling of flying on vert. That feeling isn't equaled in any other type of riding. I don't, however, miss all the concussions, or loads of pads and full-face helmets.
Taj gapping the 10 ft. deep bowl at the legendary Burnside skatepark. Photo from Ride BMX US december 1994.
tajlucas, www.youtube.com, january 2009: Taj Mihelich's interview in Props issue 4.
Hoffman Bikes makes "TAJ" signature frame.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: My first pro contest was the B.S. in Kansas . In practice I jumped the box and crashed head on with Leigh Ramsdell, ripping my head tube off my Holmes. As it happens a guy called Paul Murray was moving to Oklahoma to weld for Hoffman Bikes, and had all welding gear in his van. In the middle of the contest floor there was the 220v plug socket he needed to run his welding torch. Fifteen minutes before the contest starts, he grabbed his gear and welded my head tube back on right in the middle of the contest. I did my run with my head tube so hot it burnt my legs when I did no handers. Afterwards Mat bought me a new Holmes and we built the Taj frame based around that.”
The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: Thanks to Taj’s growing popularity, a race inspired geometry and American Made quality, The Hoffman Taj frame was a hotly sought after frame on the market that Taj could be proud of. Taking inspiration from racing and adapting it to Freestyle was an evolutionary idea. Taj later continued to draw from racing, sparking the move to 36 spoke wheels, the introduction of cassette hubs and smaller sprocket sizes. At a time of 40lb bikes, four pegs, front brakes, platform frame designs and triple bolt seat clamps, Taj led a decade long movement toward refined, light-weight design.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: On Hoffman you got to go on the Sprocket Jockey tours with Mirra, McCoy, Hoffman and Miron. We’d earn money doing shows at hill billy state fairs four or five times a day. You’d make 75 to 100 dollars a day. I’d go on the road for a month and make a few thousand bucks. At my first Sprocket Jockeys show, Mirra hung up and blew up his spleen. They needed someone to fill in and that was me, even though I didn’t ride vert. I learnt to ride vert on those shows. Doing shows all day you get beat up. You start doing tricks you know you can pull because you don’t want to get hurt. I could do pedal to pedal tailwhips, back then not many people could do them. That was my hard trick for the show. I had two ways of doing them; burley and land 50% of the time, and this other way I could pull them every time but they felt stupid and robotic. “All of sudden I realized doing shows made riding feel really contrived and it felt like it was becoming a job. I quit doing shows because I realised I was riding in this formulaic way. It was my only income but I liked riding to feel completely on theedge, sketchy and loose. I wasn’t going to turn it into a job. It was a lesson in standing up for myself… right or wrong, I was starting to be strong enough to follow what I thought was best.
2nd place pro dirt @ Extreme Games.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: When Mat worked with the TV companies, he did it with the best intentions. It was good to ride on a big stage at those first Extreme Games and show people what BMX was. But we shared that stage with freestyle bungee jumping, a dude jumped off a building wearing a Kayak, another jumped dressed as a cow. They were making up sports. It was embarrassing. I remember being disgusted to see BMX turned into a ‘sport’ that you could win. They were making a joke out of riding in my eyes. “They were manipulating contests so they could make it presentable for TV. They took out so much of what I thought was awesome. No longer could someone try the same trick 45 times with the crowd cheering and pushing him on. The cameras needed to change tape and everything had to be on a schedule. They stopped the riding between each run to wait for the commercials to end. You’d be cold and the crowd would be bored. There was no energy, it was cold and calculated…it became a challenge of: ‘if you could ride your best in the absence of all that energy. If you fall, you lost.’ “I remember I was winning Dirt by a good amount at the first Extreme Games. I knew on my last jump that if I pretty much did anything and landed it, I would have gold. In my brain I thought it would be a total cop out. It made sense to me to try a trick I had never done before. So I tried something new, fell and got second. It probably doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but to me it felt like I would be letting myself down if I took the easy way out. I wanted events like that to give me the energy to push myself and be creative. It would be worthless if I just did what I had to do in order to ‘win’. In that way the big contests have hurt BMX, they reward consistency, playing it safe, practising in a foam pit over that magic no one can replicate. I would never want to say anything bad about the contest riders but no one goes into the X Games to try something they’ve never tried before, they do dialed runs… I miss that wildness of contests.
Section in Madd Matt (Hoffman Bikes) video.
Taj Mihelich, transworld.net, january 2009: I think it was a week after I got on Hoffman Bikes that this video was due so we were really in a rush. Still, for just a few days filming I remember thinking it turned out ok.
Taj Mihelich's clip from Madd Matt.
Music: G. Love & Special Sauce - Cold Beverage.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: I left Austin for a while and moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to ride the amazing trails up there. I moved into a house with a bunch of great riders; Mel Cody, Luc-E, Sandy Carson and Joe Rich to name a few. Most of the PA years I was traveling and going to tons of contests, but whenever I was home and the weather was ok, I was down at the trails. Dirt quickly became my focus and I was happier than ever just riding the same lines all day long. The trails in PA really are that good!
RIDE BMX US COVER.
Cover and interview in Ride BMX US june 1996.
ESPN BS contest round 1.
9th place pro dirt @ X-Games.
Multiprise # 2 automne 1996. Taj Mihelich en fufanu à la Backyard jam. Photo par Jean-Philippe Lale.
Downside tailwhip at the Backyard jam.
Photo by Kay Clauberg.
Section in the UGP's Face Value video.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: These were my rail days I guess. My favorite part of this video is the first clip. At the bottom of the rail is Pete Augustin making sure I don’t flip over the edge. Pete was so cool to ride with and he acted as my coach for some of this video. I still remember him telling me, “You don’t have to do what everyone else does, you can do stuff they can’t think of”.
Jeff Zielinski, bmx.transworld.net, august 2015: When it comes to all around riders—freestyle riders, if you will—Taj Mihelich was one of the most influential, progressive, and stylish. During the late ’90s BMX riders were commonly covered head to toe with so many pads they looked like gladiators and the bikes were a tangle of brakes, levers, Gyros, and four pegs. Meanwhile, Taj kept it simple with two pegs and a rear brake—yet managed to push riding to new levels and influence a whole new generation of riders—everyone from Ruben Alcantara to Bob Scerbo to Gary Young picked up a trait or two from Taj. When it comes to video parts, Taj had many, but one of my personal favorites was when he closed out UGP’s 1996 release, Face Value. Riding to the score of Black Sabbath, with a well-rounded combo of dirt, technical ramp combos and high speed transfers, as well as a bunch of huge rails—including the first ever pegless rail (filmed in 1994)
UNTIL MONKEY'S FLY.
Section in Hoffman Bikes Until Monkey's Fly video.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: Monkey boy????? I seriously don’t know what to say about this. Monkey boy! Clips cut off in the middle of tricks I’m obviously not going to pull. Monkey boy! If only you could have been there (to stop us).
Section in Anthem video.
Taj left Hoffman Bikes during summer 1997.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: I left Hoffman Bikes and on one cold night in PA I got frustrated by not being able to ride in the icy weather again and convinced Joe Rich to move down to Austin with me. We agreed to move down to where it was warm and start our new project, in a new city. This was late 1997 and Terrible One was about to be born.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: Mat moved the production of Hoffman Bikes to Taiwan. The first bikes I got from there were terrible, the geometry was really fucked up. They were really inconsistent and badly made. I was against the move to Taiwan, Mat was convinced he could make good bikes there. In the end he did it and opened that door for the entire industry, but at the time I was too impatient to wait around for things to get fixed. I couldn’t deal with the fact there was product with my name on that I wouldn’t buy. I have all the respect in the world for Hoffman, but I knew I had to move on. Mat knew too, he is a lifelong friend and told me he knew I had to do things on my own. I left Hoffman with the intention of never being sponsored ever again, to not be a part of the industry and just ride my bike.
RIDE BMX US COVER.
Cover and interview in Ride BMX US #29 august september 1997.
Dig #6 autumn 1997.
Taj Mihelich on home soil. Posh Trails in Bethleham, PA. Photo Keith Mulligan.
Taj Mihelich on home soil. Posh Trails in Bethleham, PA. Photo Keith Mulligan.
Props Road Fools 1 rider.
Section in Fox Expendable Youth video.
Interview in Ride BMX US June 1998.
The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: Whilst on the much celebrated and groundbreaking video Props Road Fools 1, Taj announced the start of his new company Terrible One, with long-term friend Joe Rich, who shared the same values and outlook as Taj.
Taj Mihelich, The Albion Issue 14, april 2013: We wanted to show that BMX isn’t all about competition. T1 was always more of a vehicle to show what BMX could be, rather than an actually functioning company. T1 was more of a symbol than a company or a business. We were making money from our sponsors, so we didn’t have to rely on T1 to pay our rent. We certainly didn’t pay ourselves. From my past experiences we wanted to pay our riders, make the best bikes we could and show the world BMX isn’t just what you see on TV. We supported riders such as Paul Buchanan and Garrett Byrnes who were amazing but as far from podiums as you got. Through all of this, Joe and I would occasionally go to some of those ESPN contests, maybe we’d do well, but that was not to be our focus. I think we did accomplish our ideas with T1. We inspired a lot of people to open up doors… to make BMX how they wanted it to be.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: Running T-1 turned out to be a huge change in my life and moving back to Austin turned my riding focus to street. These were the days when you could ride all over town grinding rails and ledges without anyone saying anything. I vividly remember Joe and I being so confident with doing rails that we would follow each other around town and jump on rails that we'd never even seen before, even without knowing what was at the bottom. How long they were or even what kind of rails they were was something we always found out. T-1 was amazing too. We were so over our heads, but it was fun and took all our extra time.
Taj left Airwalk to ride for Etnies.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: For the first time in my riding career I had shoes that offered some support and protection for my feet. I know ALL shoes are supposed to do that, but etnies were the first shoes that were actually designed decently. Etnies was always so cool with me about shoes. They always allowed me to have all my shoes made in non-leather, since I was a vegetarian and they all worked hard to help me get the shoes exactly how I liked.
Tailwhip at Woodward on the cover of Props #27 september october 1998.
CONVENTION CENTER RAIL.
Mark Losey, www.ridebmx.com: While at the Interbike tradeshow in 1998, I saw a rail behind the convention center and asked Taj Mihelich if he was interested. Taj gave the rail a go, and his third attempt resulted in a serious crash. When I asked if he was okay Taj looked up and said, "I can feel blood rushing through my stomach." Mat Hoffman had told him what a busted spleen felt like, so Taj knew exactly what was up. I ran inside the convention center and found Brad McDonald's wife and she got her car so we could get to the emergency room. Taj figured he was okay with medical insurance, but unfortunately his policy had just lapsed, leaving him with a $35,000 medical bill. Thank God for Medicaid.
1st place pro street @ FISE 1999, Palavas, France.
Wall tap on the cover of Dig #10.
RIDE BMX US COVER.
Rail fufanu on the cover and interview in Ride BMX US august 1999.
Interview in Soul video magazine #11.
Favorite Rider by Ride BMX Magazine.
MADE IN TAIWAN.
Section in Primo Made In Taiwan video.
Taj, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: I got to be in another Dave Parrick video here which is always a treat. I always liked this part and the song by Team Dresch. 9th street is so small. The funniest part is the shot where I land a tailwhip and for a split second my back tire pulls my pants down.
FISE 1999 tailwhip one hand. Photo par Gervais.
Interview in Ride BMX US #49 june 2000.
Dirt world champion @ 2000 Worlds, Cologne, Germany.
Taj: I just entered because the jumps looked fun to ride. I haven't really been riding too much dirt lately, and I wasn't taking it seriously at all. Anyway, when the contest came around I just decided to throw caution into the wind and try a bunch of old tricks I haven't done in years. I kept getting luckier and luckier and it seemed like no matter what I tried I somehow landed on my bike riding away. It was fun and a good laugh, but I hardly feel like the "world champ".
DIG IT COVER.
Tailwhip one hand at the 2000 worlds in Germany on the cover of Dig-It august 2000.
Double pegs tap at the same worlds on the cover of Cream #8 september 2000.
Favorite Rider by Ride BMX Magazine.
EXPENDABLE YOURTH 2.
Section in Fox Expendable Youth 2 video.
Taj Mihelich, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: There was a few Expendable videos, but this is the only one I had a real part in. Pretty good fun… makes me miss the east coast trails thats for sure.
BMX ACTION COVER.
Taj Mihelich, www.collateralbmx.com, march 2013: During a stop at Collateral HQ's John Paul showed me an old BMX Action cover Ane Jens shot of me. Aside from the usual two-headed security guard giggle I get every time I see that cover, it jarred loose a whole bunch of memories that concussions and time had hidden from me. I was suddenly flooded with how good I felt on my bike in that photo. I can feel flashes of being completely connected with my bike and totally confident in what we could do together.
At the time of the photo I think I had the skatepark up in Olympia and I was riding tons. That’s when I always felt best on my bike, during those times where I was riding hours and hours every single day. At the time of this photo it was one of those especially good times. I can feel my bike through my forearms just from seeing the photo. There’s this sort of solid balanced feeling I had where nothing was going to surprise me about what my bike might do. Not sure if that makes sense, but when I haven’t been riding a lot, I don’t trust the grip of my tires or my balance. I feel almost like I could end up falling without expecting it. At the high points like this cover I just knew the bike and nothing was gonna’ shake me.
The photo is from a contest where I rode like I always did in contests. I’d get it in my head that all that mattered was doing something I hadn’t seen anyone else do AND something that I wasn’t sure I could do. I remember seeing a wedge ramp and not really being able to see what was behind it. I felt so confident I took off at full sprint with no real plan for where or what I’d land on. As it turned out I started coming down on to a grind ledge at an awkward angle. It was like closing your eyes off a jump and then opening them right before you land to see if you could still ride away. As the landing zone came into view it was clearly going to be a disaster - there was really no way I could ride out of it and I was in danger of getting sent over the bars from clipping my back wheel, casing sprocket or slipping on the heavily waxed ledge. I felt so good on my bike I wasn’t afraid at all, kind of felt this calm assurance that it was going to be fine. I twisted myself around until I landed manualing a bit of the ledge until I crashed off the side because of the impossible angle. I know this can’t make sense, but it seemed even like I crashed in control. It felt like what I had done was the only thing I could have done to not get completely destroyed… a near catastrophe turned into a nice soft slide out because my bike control was so on point. Such a cool sensation to feel so confident on my bike that I could just throw myself out into the unknown and know everything was going to be just fine.
Taj Mihelich's section in Fox Expendable 2.
Etnies Trauma shoe released: Taj Mihelich signature shoe.
Ride BMX US april 2001
Primo, Etnies, Fox, Terrible-1, Albe's.
Section in Etnies Forward video.
Taj Mihelich, taj.transworld.net, january 2009: This was probably the most focused video part I’ve ever had. Dave Parrick behind the lens again and the quality shows (when you aren’t watching it on crappy ole’ youtube).
Taj and Joe are moving their T1 warehouse on March 1st, to a bigger, better location that will allow them to have a skatepark.
Interview in Transworld BMX #67 may 2002.
#2 street Rider Ride BMX Mag.
Taj signature Primo grips released.
Taj Mihelich's section in Etnies Forward video.
|2003||Props Megatour 2 in june.|
New Primo Taj tires available in august.
Props #50 october 2003.
Taj: This is the issue that takes a look back at the last 49 issues of Props. I went through and picked out a few clips from every issue and on this bonus DVD all those clips are organized chronologically from issue 1 to issue 49. There is some funny stuff for sure, and some really amazing footage of course. Well, in any case, it made me laugh a lot....
Etnies Trauma 2 shoe released.
Taj, etniesbmx.com, december 2007: I got to design my second shoe, the Trauma 2, which was a pretty tech shoe that had air- pocket heels and all that. I remember I drew this design for the outsole (the bottom tread of the shoe) and it looked really cool. But when it got reversed for the left shoe the design looked so much like a Nike logo that the whole outsole had to be scrapped and re-done. Molds are so expensive, I felt terrible. Oh well...that's how it goes.
Taj has put up a store to sell hard to find magazines, books and ZINES.
March 2004, after 6 years of riding for and supporting this brand, Taj quits Primo.
Taj: They screwed things up real bad though with the surprise termination of the Primo team manager, TIP Product Manager and good friend Greg Walsh. I just can't support this brand after the way they treated Greg. Although lots of people work very hard and are very talented over at Primo, Greg Walsh was the key person who made a lot of the good things happen. In his time there he has helped build the Primo brand in to one of the best component companies in the world. He was also responsible for bringing T-1 over to TIP Distribution and building TIP Distribution into the powerhouse of BMX products that it is. [Tip Distribution and Primo are both owned by the same parent corporation Gallop Cycle Corp.] The hardest part of leaving Primo for me is all the signature products that I have put work into helping design. Apparently there are still a lot of Taj grips and tires in stock and we are still working out how to handle this remaining stock. If like me, you like those products you should get them quick because they won't be around much longer. The same goes for the patented T-1 pegs made by Primo. T-1 will be also be leaving TIP Distribution very soon as well.
|2005||Taj signature Coalition grips released.|
|2006||Taj Mihelich leaves T1 and Coalition.
Taj, www.terribleone.com, march 2006: Hello everyone! Ok, lets see, from what I’ve heard the rumors are getting out of hand. I have indeed made some major changes in the last few days, but nothing as dramatic as the leaving Austin to take Roscoe to race the Iditarod Arctic Tundra race! I’ve decided after a few months of deep thought and consideration that I am going to officially leave the business side of Terrible One...
What that means is that I am giving up my half ownership of the company to Joe. From here on out I won’t be involved in the day to day running of the company or the business side of it. Joe has asked me to stay on as a team rider and so I will still be riding T-1 frames and parts. In fact he put in a order yesterday for another prototype Taj frame. Eventually we might even release it (but not anytime soon as there are several big projects in the pipeline ahead of mine). So why would I want to give up my part of T-1? Probably anyone who’s ever had their own business would know the answer to this… it’s a lot of work! For me its been a matter of not being able to do a good job at shutting things off when the work days over. I tend to take matters home and obsess over them. The result is that I feel like I never stop working, and I start neglecting everything else in my life. We’ve done T-1 for almost 8 years now and I felt like it was time for me to move on to something else. Another factor in this is how much of a test it’s been to work with a close friend on the company. I love Joe, but the business has made things a bit rough for us at times and I value our friendship far more then the company. I finally felt like walking away from T-1’s inner workings was the best thing for me. For now I’m making an effort to NOT take on any more big projects, so no new companies or business plans for me. My plans for now are to focus on just riding my bike. We have the Etnies video coming up and I’m putting a lot of energy into filming for that. I should be traveling a bit more then usual this summer and on my bike more then I have been in years. Good times for me! Joe has decided to keep T-1 running and is heading up everything by himself here in the office (so don’t worry, T-1’s not going anywhere). In unrelated news, I also quit Coalition. I guess just being swept up in the big changes over at T-1 I thought I would also rearrange some other aspects of my life. Greg (Coalition owner) and I are getting on well still and all is good on that front. Thanks to everyone for all the years of support. I hope all your support continues and helps Joe keep this all going for many more years.
September, Taj Mihelich is now on Odyssey.
Etnies Grounded video.
Section in Odyssey Electronical Video.
Taj Mihelich on Giant Bicycles, december 2007.
Taj Mihelich, www.ridebmx.com, december 2007: It came partially out of a joke and partially out of a lot of thought. Through the years my focus has gone from only BMX bikes to now, where I really truly love riding all types of bikes. I was friends with Kevin Dana who works at Giant and he helped me get a mountain bike, a track bike and later a road bike. It's really struck me how much I love all these other forms of cycling. I guess I feel like my eyes have been opened in a way. To me, having fun on a bike is the same, no matter what bike I'm on. I joked with Giant about sponsoring me since I was getting so many bikes from them, and they took me seriously. I've thought about it immensely and in a way, it was about me swallowing my past feelings and realizing that I do enjoy theses other types of cycling. Riding for Giant affords me to explore all of these other types of riding as well. That's not to say I am motivated to be competitive in road biking or something, but I do like doing it sometimes and with Giant, I have that option. BMX is where my heart is and where my focus stays. Its really strange, but I see it as a natural progression for me, even though its not one I thought I would make years ago. However, I had to admit to myself that I liked their bikes after I'd gotten my third Giant bike just for fun.
I feel like this is an amazing opportunity for me. My main focus is still BMX and I love pushing myself and trying to be creative in that world. With this deal through Giant is down to support me in that effort and any other type of riding I might want to do. There's absolutely no pressures or expectations from me as a rider, and they are willing to trust me to do my job as a sponsored rider however I choose to do it. So, for me, I get to ride BMX the way I always have, without any sponsor expecting me to go to this contest or to ride this certain way. I just do what I want how I want. That's very important for me in BMX. Also with Giant, I get support in other forms of cycling as well. From my beach cruiser I use to go to the grocery store, to my track bike I ride downtown to the bars, to my road bike, or to my mountain bike. It's like being sponsored for all those other types of riding even though I'm not even any good at them or even trying to focus on them.
Interview in The Albion #14, april 2013.