A Tribute to Mike Tag

A little over two weeks have passed since Mike “Tag” Tagliavento lost his battle with cancer. While his closest friends—and BMX as a whole—will never get over the sadness of Tag’s passing, we can always look back and think of the good times that went down and the influence his riding had on BMX. For this tribute we went through our photo archives to put together a gallery of photos—both printed and unseen—throughout the years we got to spend riding, hanging out, and shooting with Tag. We’ve also pulled some words from some of Tag’s friends that have been posted in a few places, and assembled a number of legendary video parts Tag was in over the years. We hope you’ll leave comments, stories, and good words about Tag here in the comments section at the bottom of this page for the rest of the world to see. And look for more photos and words in our print tribute to Mike Tag in the July 2012 issue of Ride BMX.
R.I.P. Mike Tag. We miss ya. —Keith Mulligan

Steve Crandall posted the following on his Facebook page days after Tag’s passing. Lifelong friends—since meeting in the seventh grade—Steve and Tag had countless adventures and good times together.
“Friday the Thirteenth. 2012. Mike Tag is a name that will live forever in bright lights. Mike is a legend, and as the saying goes, legends never die. Mike Tag made his mark, as a son, a brother, a bike rider, as a friend, and as an Icon. FBM started in 93, give or take. It really started about 25 years ago when I met Mike in 7th grade Spanish class, and it started showing itself, rolling down the streets of Ithaca with Gilly, Ham Bone, and the gang, riding our bikes, and raising hell. Yesterday, at age 37 Mike passed after over a year fighting a long hard battle. 37 years might not seem like a long time, but in those years, Mike lived harder, faster, tougher and with more purpose than almost anyone, even in a hundred years. His legend was born in his travels, his unique perspective, his fearlessness, through all the people he met, the lives he touched, the friends he made throughout. His influence and inspiration reached beyond that of an ordinary man.
Mike lived life on his own terms, and he made the people who’s lives he touched, better. Friday the 13th marked the end of a journey, a wild adventure, made with great friends, on kids bikes, rolling through life. Today I am sad, but I am also proud of who Mike was, and the impact he made. I am humbled by the outpouring on Mike’s behalf today. Thank you everyone on behalf of Mike, and his loved ones. Roll on Mike. We love you brother! Thank you my friend, forever!” —Steve Crandall

Friend and business partner with Shitluck, Leland Thurman and Mike Tag were as close as good friends get. Leland put these thoughts into words on his Facebook page…
“I tried to stop myself from writing this but here it goes… If I’ve ever learned anything more about life from another person it was Mike Tag. I can’t thank you guys enough for the amount of support from text, e-mails, and phone calls that I have received in the last 12 hours. It’s weird being best friends with your hero. I think that’s why it makes it ten times harder to deal with. One of the craziest dudes I have ever come across. I can’t even count the adventures, now that I think about it, our entire friendship was an adventure. You will be missed my friend in the most indescribable way. You were my partner and my best friend, you’ve made me the person I am today. He always told me, your nothing without your friends… Well my friend, it’s a whole different world without you. You will be missed and never forgotten. R.I.P. MIKE TAG. I love you buddy.” —Leland Thurman

There was a memorial gathering at the bar Tag worked at with a number of longtime close friends telling stories, having one for Tag, and celebrating his life and the times everyone shared together. Another post from Steve Crandall after that day of remembrance…
“There was no somber burial for our loved one Michael Tagliavento, rather a gathering, where we raised short glasses of Jim Beam, to honor the spirit of a great man. Generations of outlaws, artists, pioneers, fearless hearts, parents, children, hardworking hard men who shed tears, all influenced by Mike, and traveling from the farthest stretches, the fringes of someone else’s reality, to pay tribute.
The brightest and the best from a world Mike helped create! His Friends… A vikings funeral, for a man we all love. Instead of some vast sea, and burning ship, we sent Mike to sail with tear soaked smiles, over the hard wood Bar top with cold beers, bourbon, hugs and shared memories…” —Crandall

From burly and technical jumping tricks, to grinding the longest and steepest rails and roughest of ledges, these photos are only small sample Mike Tag’s powerhouse riding style. There’s a ton of Tag history here, so dig in…


Here’s Ralph Sinisi and Mike Tag’s split part from our 1999 Through the Lens video:


Here is a collection of FBM classics online featuring Tag:

FBM’s 1995 Ring of Fire

FBM’s 1996 The Bar is Closed

FBM’s 1997 Live Fast Die

FBM’s 2001 All Time Low

Mike Tag’s Obituary, published in the Ithaca Journal on April 16, 2012…
Tagliavento, Michael (Mike “Tag”)
Ithaca: Michael (Mike “Tag”) Tagliavento, 37, of Ithaca, died Friday, April 13, 2012, at Cayuga Medical Center after a long battle with lymphoma. Born in Ithaca, he was the son of Jim and Judy Tagliavento, who survive him. Mike worked for Bumblebee Painters. He was the co-owner of Sh*tLuck Clothing and the Rhine House Bar. He was an all-around amazing bike rider on street and dirt, and was an avid golfer and pool player. “Tag” was part of the BMX community since his teens. He was a lifelong member of the FBM BMX team and was a co-creator of BMX videos such as “1201”. Mike was a special person to all who knew him. He always lived his life the way he wanted to, traveling the world and making many friends along the way. In addition to his parents, Mike is survived by his sister and best friend, Marlene; special friend, Kate Conroy; close special friends, Leland, Fisher, Steve, Bones and Jeremy; and his faithful dog, Bella. A special thanks to all of his worldwide friends for their generosity and support over the last year. In respecting the wishes of Mike, there will be no calling hours or formal services. The family is being assisted by the Wagner Funeral Home.

Words from friends via Animal’s website:
“The world is officially a much shittier place as of April 13th. Thanks for giving a random kid from New Jersey a chance to see the world and experience the kind of stuff most people dream of. Quitting college to attend the Mike Tag School of Traveling On A Budget was the best decision I ever made, and I know plenty of your other students feel the same. I would not have wanted to grow up any other way. There will never be another Mike Tag. R.I.P buddy.” —Bob Scerbo

“In 1992 a skatepark opened up in Newburg NY. It was a super sick underground spot in this sketchy warehouse. It was the first indoor skatepark anywhere near me and it was still almost 2 hours away. We had some other abandoned warehouses with some ramps but this spot was legit. I went to a skate contest with some friends to check it out soon after it opened. At the time there were not too many bmx riders and I mostly sessioned with skaters. The park had never had anyone even bring a bmx into the place before. A skateboard photographer told me he rode bmx and was so psyched to see me there sessioning with the skaters. This was Rob Kucharek (from American Icon who to this day does our screeenprinting). He told me he rode with this amazing rider Mike Tagliavento. I was real hyped since I had recently seen a real crazy flick in a local zine of him doing a crazy limbless jumping variation that had never been done before. I don’t remember exactly what trick it was since he had so many, but it was a crazy flick that really stood out when I saw it.

A few weeks later we met back up at the skatepark and Rob brought his bike and Tag. It was such a great day and session. Tag rode with control and power like none other. He was strong as all hell and blasted the ramps all over the place.

A few months later I went to a contest at Shimersvile, Skatepark in PA. It was pretty big one and all the big pros were there. I saw Tag outside just hangin out on the curb watching everyone else warm up on a boxjump. They brought it in special to have a separate jumpbox contest outside the park. Everyone was killing this thing with crazy tricks I had only seen in magazines. All of a sudden the contest starts and Tag gets up and jumps on his bike and starts blasting way higher then anyone else. The he started to bring out his repertoire of crazy limbless jumps still at the greatest heights and with the best style and extension. He was up against the best in the world and ended up 3rd place in Pro right after Jay Miron and Dennis McCoy who were obviously doing godlike tricks also. This was obviously a wakeup to everyone on what was about to happen and where he was going to take riding.

Tag destroyed everything, but he was the first person I met who wanted to search for street spots more then me. I was always the one throwing a bunch of bikes in the car to get people to new spots, but now he was picking me up to go on crazy missions and showing me spots I could have never imagined. He really liked to grind ledges as much as I did and it was so awesome to ride any spot with him.

I learned many things from him over the years we traveled around and rode together. He lived by his own rules and made his life how he wanted it. He was always ready to scheme against society and enjoyed the challenge. Whether it was an illegal phone dialer to make free calls (this was before cell phones), or a dollar bill on a string to steal from a vending machine, he was always up on the latest and greatest way to not deal with the rules of society.

His crew of riders that was FBM were some of the craziest toughest guys in riding. I loved to visit him and Crandall in Ithaca. It was a constant party with plenty of riding mixed in. The days at Baker’s jumps seeing how Tag and his crew burned and blew things up while riding some of the craziest jumps at the same time are some of my best memories in riding.

He liked the way I rode and put me on the FBM team also. That was such a great honor to ride on the same bike company with him and the other lunatics on the team. I was real proud to represent for them and did my best.

When I told the next generation at the time that I knew Mike Tag they were so hyped to meet him and go riding with him. Once he met the crew, he took them with him all over also. He put Bob Scerbo and George Dossantos on FBM right away. We all traveled together with the goal of riding the best spots and having as much fun as possible.

Tag was with me when I got the idea to start animal. We were on a trip to Florida and stopped to ride at a college in Georgia. Being the ledge lovers we are we both attacked this brand new marble ledge down some stairs. Then we went to an amazing kinked curved rail and started to get busy on that with Bob and George giving it some work also. Cops rolled up and before we knew it were all in county jail in orange suits for the weekend. The college pressed charges for destruction of property since we really fucked up the marble ledge that they had just put in. When we got out we all went camping and after all the stress from the weekend and still being so hyped on riding I started animal.

Tag was a huge influence on my riding and my whole life in general. I know he had profound positive effects on many peoples lives. He really stood for what I found the most important in riding which was being tough as hell. Throughout his last year of life he gave toughness a whole new meaning. He faced his life head on and fought the fight with a smirk till the end. He will be severely missed and celebrated as a person and rider forever.” —Ralph Sinisi

“Finding out the news a few minutes ago that Mike Tag has passed away has been a tough one to process. Sure, we all know Mike has been battling a terminal illness for a while now. But we’re talking about Tag. He’s always done things his own way, whether it was double pegging virtually un-grindable cement kinked ledges, or having a nonchalant attitude towards dealing with a situation that would have most people just feeling sorry for themselves. It’s hard to believe that he’s gone.  Mike is an inspiration to all, and his influence will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace, Mike.” —Rob Dolecki