Edit: We added a second part to this and interviewed Mike Ardelean… –We’ve known Taj riding for Giant was a possibility for a while now and tried to get Taj and Giant to talk, but they resisted until they were ready. Well, due to the Internet rage of trying to get things up as quickly as possible, the word got out a wee big pre-mature. Luckily Taj was on it and sent over this interview ASAP to put all questions to rest on the message boards and comments. – An Interview With Taj Mihelich –
Hey, hope all is well. I know you were recently traveling in New Zealand; what were you doing out there?

I took a trip by myself with a road bike and all my camping gear. I just rode away from the airport and went camping. The weather turned really bad though, so I ended up mostly reading books in a hotel room.

You’ve been making some, for lack of better words, “striking” changes in the last few years…leaving behind your half of Terrible One, joining Odyssey, and now joining Giant; where do you see yourself right now at this point in your life?
I am having fun. I see myself on the tail end of a career as a pro BMXer. I don’t mean I’m done riding, I just mean that as a progressive factor in BMX my time is waning. Its been an amazing experience to be able to do what I love and ride bikes for a living. I am 34 and so I feel like I should make an effort to really enjoy my time being able to ride and nothing else. It’s a really good time for me.

How did the Giant gig come about?
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.

Besides riding the frame, what roll will you have with the brand?
No real plans for me to involved outside of that right now. I’m always down for throwing out my critic of any new product I get, but for now its pretty simple, I get a frame, and ride it.

Did you talk to your good friend/T1 owner Joe Rich about this before you finalized it? What were your conversations with him like?
Yeah, it was very intense for me. Stepping away as a part of the business was one thing, but stepping away as a rider was another. For one, I really didn’t want to make him feel like I wasn’t into supporting what he was doing with T-1. The actual conversations were really laid back though. He just said it made sense to him that I do it. If I enjoyed all these things they made, why not ride for them.

What was the main, driving force behind this move?
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 meo 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.

What are you most excited about with Giant?
Just the freedom to ride how I want, and the resources to enjoy any kind of bicycling I might have the itch to explore.

Why do you think it’s so hard to keep decisions/changes like this a secret for any length of time? (As it pertains to it leaking on the Internet, etc.)
Its sort of my fault. I didn’t really see any reason to keep it a secret. I’ve been riding a Giant BMX around for a little while and testing it to see how I liked it. Plus, I kind of bounced the idea off anyone who would talk to me just to see what they thought. It’s a pretty big departure to go from a hardcore BMX only company like T-1 to the world’s biggest bike company…

– An Interview With Mike Ardelean –
We had an interview all laid out for Mike Ardelean when we caught wind of Taj joining Giant for ’08, but right when the info was formally released Ardelean left Giant to work at Quicksilver. Since he was still part of the whole process of Taj getting on the team, we hit him up for some info about the sponsorship as well as his new position with Quicksilver.

We saw some great looking completes at Interbike that should be out this year, what else is in the works at Giant right now?
Thanks! The ’09 bikes are wrapped up, so now it’s about putting the new ads together and getting Giant out there.

Besides the newest edition (Taj Mihelich), who is on the Giant team?
Corey Bohan, Heath Pinter, and myself, with my favorite rider (Wolf Man) on flow.

How did the idea of Taj riding for Giant come about?
He’s got like eight Giant bikes, he’s calling the office all the time, his amicable split from T-1 was in the bag, so we thought, why not? It makes perfect sense.

What is Giant most excited about with the addition of Taj to the team?
There is a lot of BMX history at Giant. A lot of people here at the company are down for it. I actually sat across from Dave Clinton, the guy who invented the tabletop. No joke. Heath and I wanted Giant to be the big brand that didn’t make the big brand mistakes when it came to marketing. We wanted a team full of friends that covers all the bases; not just contests. So having Taj fits perfectly with that.

What will you be doing at Quicksilver and how did that gig come about for you?
I’ll be working in tees. Quiksilver is a really progressive brand with a lot of high-end product that people are just beginning to see. I’ve been wearing Quik denim nonstop for the last 6 months. They’re big on sustainable business practices and taking care of the environment. The way the company is run and the way they treat people is on point with what I believe. Some of my very best friends work there.

I’ve always wanted to work in clothing; it’s time to do it.

Can you explain more in detail what your roll at Giant and Mosh will be from now on?
Nothing is set in stone. All I can say is that I’m going to be involved to whatever extent I can to make sure our momentum stays up. Good things are happening at Giant and Mosh. Heath and I will do whatever it takes to keep stepping that up. That’s how we’ve always done it.

The news about Taj joining Giant has only been public for a few hours and there is already a big of backlash on the message boards and comments… It is no surprise that kids will be taken by surprise at Taj’s decision, but is there anything you want to say in response to that?
I read some of it. I’m not really chiming in, even when they say the most ignorant stuff. If anyone wants to know the truth they know where to find me. I think they’d rather speculate.

This is not a deal based on money. If people only knew… they think Giant is so big, but it’s not. It’s just big for the bike industry. People think small, so to them Giant seems big. I know every person at this company, I’ve been to the factories, I’ve seen the bikes constructed… I can tell you it’s like a family. It’s one tenth of the size of Quiksilver, if that gives you any point of reference. They let me, a dirty BMX kid, come in and do whatever I wanted with the program… and add my childhood idol to the team. How dope is that?

I can identify with some of these kids—I’m not usually into huge corporations either, but if they’re putting out quality and they’re acting responsibly, they’re making a positive difference. I love garage brands. I support them. I have one myself. But big companies can do big things to positively impact the world.

Any last words?
Thanks.

s are happening at Giant and Mosh. Heath and I will do whatever it takes to keep stepping that up. That’s how we’ve always done it.

The news about Taj joining Giant has only been public for a few hours and there is already a big of backlash on the message boards and comments… It is no surprise that kids will be taken by surprise at Taj’s decision, but is there anything you want to say in response to that?
I read some of it. I’m not really chiming in, even when they say the most ignorant stuff. If anyone wants to know the truth they know where to find me. I think they’d rather speculate.

This is not a deal based on money. If people only knew… they think Giant is so big, but it’s not. It’s just big for the bike industry. People think small, so to them Giant seems big. I know every person at this company, I’ve been to the factories, I’ve seen the bikes constructed… I can tell you it’s like a family. It’s one tenth of the size of Quiksilver, if that gives you any point of reference. They let me, a dirty BMX kid, come in and do whatever I wanted with the program… and add my childhood idol to the team. How dope is that?

I can identify with some of these kids—I’m not usually into huge corporations either, but if they’re putting out quality and they’re acting responsibly, they’re making a positive difference. I love garage brands. I support them. I have one myself. But big companies can do big things to positively impact the world.

Any last words?
Thanks.