Any cyclists who have ever struggled to squeeze into their Lycra need no longer worry as a Yorkshire-based company has launched a clothing range for the fuller-figured rider.
Fat Lad at the Back specialises in stylish cycling clothing for larger people, and aims to make cyclists feel more confident, regardless of their size.
Richard Bye, managing director and self-confessed fat lad, said: “I’ve been a fat lad at the back for over 15 years now and I know there are others out there who struggle to get into the general cycling stuff you can buy.
“We wanted a garment that was functional and gave the benefits of the fabric. But if you’re a 44in chest you still get a 44in garment as opposed to a 41in garment – which generally makes you end up looking like a shrink-wrapped chicken.”
Bye was on a cycling trip in the French Alps earlier this year with two friends, Andy Webb and Richard Simpson, when the idea for Fat Lad materialised. While climbing Alpe d’Huez and the Col du Galibier, the trio decided to put Fat Lad at the Back on a T-shirt, in the style of the lanterne rouge jersey, for the person last up the climbs.
They quickly realised they had found a gap in the market and had the acronym of FLAB as an added bonus for their name.
The garments, which include jerseys, bibshorts and jackets, are available up to 5XL in size – 55in chest and 55in waist – with larger sizes made to order. All are made from Italian fabric, although the designs are done in Yorkshire, where Bye’s wife Lynn is one of the designers.
All items come in a slimming black, with blue, white and yellow striped details and the name prominently displayed on the back. “We’re trying to create a community, almost an excuse for people to go ‘you know what, I am a fat lad, I am proud of it and I’m doing something about it.’ Hopefully people are feeling like they’re part of a pack,” Bye said.
And despite its bold name, Bye stresses the tone is far from mocking. “[It's] not to laugh at fat lads at the back,” he said. “Our strapline is join us and be proud because that’s what we want people to be.”
Already Fat Lads has customers from the USA, Canada, Greece and Norway, and plans are being made to launch a women’s line of clothing, while Bye would like to start sponsoring events for the cyclist who comes in last place – their own version of the lanterne rouge.
But the ultimate dream? “I’d absolutely love to have a Fat Lad at the Back team in the Tour de France. I can’t imagine anything better than having Fat Lad at the Back on the riders leading out the peloton – that would be my dream realised.”
This article was first published in the October 31 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!