Taj Talks Life After T-1

Taj Mihelich has been making a major impact on BMX since the early 90s. His riding may have attracted the initial attention, but his personal style and beliefs helped cement his status as a legend in BMX. He and Joe Rich formed Terrible One in 1997, and after nine years, Taj left the company—without giving many clues as to his next move. A major change like that brings up many questions, and Taj was happy to give us some inside info.

 

 

How long did it take you to finally leave T1, and what was the most motivating factor?
Hmmm, well, once I made the decision to leave I just did it. I guess I sort of kicked around the idea, weighing all the questions and angles I could see for about eight or nine months. It was one of those things where I felt 50% this way and 50% that way for a long, long time. It took me kicking that around for a long time before I finally felt sure of a direction to go.

You and Joe have been like brothers for years. Was working together so much a drain on your relationship? Are you still pretty tight?
We are still "tight" for sure—maybe even tighter now than in a long time. It’s not so much that business made us hate each other or anything. I don't know; it’s hard to say really. I guess having a business is stressful in some degree for anyone. Perhaps I displaced a bit of that stress on him. Or maybe it’s just a common sense thing that it’s asking for trouble to put your closest friend into that potentially stressful of a place. I guess I wouldn't have wanted anyone else there, though, and it was a lot of great fun in a lot of ways.
 
Now that you're on your own, how does riding fit into your life?
Same as always I guess, but I've been doing it more. Riding has always been something I've kept separate from the business of BMX as best I can. At the moment I'm riding as much as I want pretty much when and where I want, so it couldn't be better.

Have you put much thought into sponsors or the business-side, or have you simply been riding with a smile on your face?
Just smiling as much as I can for sure. I have for sure not been spending much time thinking about any of that other stuff. The only sort of riding responsibility that I have is to film for the Etnies video. I think our deadline is around early September.

What are some things you accomplished at T-1 that you're proud of?
I really like the way we made bikes exactly how we wanted them. That was amazing, and it was cool that other people wanted them, too. I also liked the way that we made T-1 into more than a product. We put as much as we could into everything we did. Doing ‘zines and extra stuff for fun and as inspiration to other riders was really fun and cool. It was amazing how many people we touched around the world and the responses we would get from people.

Taj hand and footplant How long did it take you to finally leave T-1, and what was the most motivating factor?
Hmmm, well, once I made the decision to leave I just did it. I guess I sort of kicked around the idea, weighing all the questions and angles I could see for about eight or nine months. It was one of those things where I felt 50% this way and 50% that way for a long, long time. It took me kicking that around for a long time before I finally felt sure of a direction to go.

You and Joe have been like brothers for years. Was working together a drain on your relationship? Are you still pretty tight?
We are still "tight" for sure—maybe even tighter now than in a long time. It’s not so much that business made us hate each other or anything. I don't know; it’s hard to say really. I guess having a business isIs there anything you always wanted to do at T-1 that you were never able to?
I guess I wanted to see T-1’s potential as a dialed, business machine come to reality. Not like I wanted it to be a money-grubbing corporate robot or something, but I did want the technical, business-side of the company to stop being such a hindrance to Joe and me. I always dreamed of a time where we would have all that stuff down enough that it wouldn't feel like something that we didn't understand and was out of our reach (and holding us back). I felt like if we could get the mechanics of running a business down, then we would be able to truly move in a positive direction with T-1 uninhibited by the constant guess work we did with money. We would always be like, “This would be cool to do, but can we afford it?” The truth is that we really didn't know, we'd just do it and see. In a way being unsure is exhilarating, but a lot of times it held us back. I never wanted to feel held back the simple mechanics of running a business.

Many riders think of you as a die-hard, nothing-but-20-inch freestyle guy. Does that description really fit?
No. In my very first interview in Ride magazine back in ‘92 I talked about riding road bikes. I don't know… I love riding all kinds of bikes right now. I for sure spend most of my time on my 20", but I raced 4X MTB downhill races last year, I just got a new road bike, and I have a rad, old beach cruiser with baskets for going to the grocery store. I love bikes as an art—or whatever you want to call BMX-type riding—but I also love them as transportation and for cruising. Different bikes for different applications, you know?

Taj 360 wall-tap Do you think your views on riding and BMX have changed over the years? Did running a business make you jaded at all?
For sure, my views have changed tons—“grown” is what I would prefer, or at least hope to be able to say. In general, though, my views on riding have stayed remarkably consistent. While every other thing in my life has changed it seems like riding is still pretty close to what it was when I was a kid. It’s something I can put myself into and I enjoy doing on so many different levels. Being in the business didn't really jade me to riding, but perhaps the to the business of bikes in some ways.

Are there companies out there doing things that you admire?
Sure, I admire bits of lots of companies. Mostly I guess I admire products that some companies have come up with. It seems like companies’ ethical stance or "hearts" are all but non-existent in the BMX world. For the most part it seems like everyone's scrambling for the next new fad.

What's next for you?
I have an Etnies contract that takes me to the end of 2007. I'm continuing to ride and enjoy BMX as much as I can right now. What comes after that I'm not sure. I feel like I might like to go to school or move somewhere different or something. I don't know, maybe I will be such an old man that Etnies doesn't want me... we'll have to see.

Related:
Create New Tag
0 comments
Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment