What's in a name?

Fat Lad at the Back specialise in creating cycle clothing for all shapes and sizes. 2018 sees the introduction of the new mountain bike apparel range.

>>> The best mountain bike shorts 2017/2018

When you delve into the world of brand names inspiration can come from anywhere. For Fat Lad at the Back founder Richard Bye, it was simple. He was the big guy hanging on at the back of any ride he went on. Being 120kg made finding cycling kit a tricky proposition for Richard. Most brands he found tended to either not make anything in the right size or if they did, the proportions were so off he ended up looking like a badly packed sausage. Fed up of the lack of decent kit he decided to do something about it and set up the company to cater for real sized riders; not just racing whippets.

fat lad at the back

Who the hell is the Fat Lad at the Back?

But Richard didn’t want to just get kit made in bigger sizes, he realised that you can’t just take a jersey designed around the proportions of racing snake with a 38″ chest and upscale the pattern. There are some ‘unique’ factors that riders with larger measurements have to consider, requiring very different panel layups to cope with the differing proportions. This was no easy matter as most clothing factories either wouldn’t entertain creating different panel shapes or would want to charge a lot more for bigger sizes.

The best mountain bike jerseys

Eventually an Italian factory took on the task and the brand was born. Creating the right patterns took months of research based around the new ‘average’ rider sizing of 44″ chest and 38″ waist. This gives the kit enough length in the body and around the sleeves to accommodate any bulges. But don’t think this is just kit for the larger than average rider, Fat Lad accommodate chest sizes from 36″ to 58″ and waist sizes from 28″ to 64″. That should ensure that the majority of adult riders will find clothing to fit.

At first Fat Lad’s clothing was aimed predominately at the road market, mainly in the guise of jerseys and bib shorts but as the brand increase in popularity so too did their range. Now boasting pretty much every item to kit a cyclist out head to toe, plus a full women’s range, Fat Lad needed a new area to branch into.

The best mountain bike shorts

Fat Lad at the Back

Not so fat (anymore). Fat Lad founder Richard wearing the Cracking short and Rombalds jersey, sat atop his shiny new Santa Cruz.

Back to off-road roots

Enter the new MTB kit. Richard started riding mountain bikes over twenty years ago on the moors around Ilkley, Yorkshire. Fat Lad is still based in Ilkley and as Richard slowly saw the light and returned to mountain biking he wanted to create some kit that would suit the type of riding both himself and the typical Fat Lad customer would get up to. Wanting to get the fundamentals right has meant that the new range is pretty small; just a baggy short and single style of jersey to start with. But rather than sticking to the traditional style of baggy short, Fat Lad’s take is a tad different.

Fat Lad At The Back kit

Fat Lad at the Back

Slim cut makes the Cracking short perfect for all-day trail riding.

Cracking Short, £84.99

The Cracking short has a few features that set it apart from pretty much anything else on the market. Most obvious is the high, elasticated waistband. Made from soft and super stretchy Lycra 360, the waistband has a wide silicon gripper section at the top to keep it in place and minimise the cutting in effect a standard waistband can have. This not only accommodates and supports the lower trunk but also prevents any exposed flesh when riding – so better for everybody! The leg panels are made from a durable but supple feeling fabric that has a surprising amount of stretch. Ride storage is provided by a zipped and compartmentalised pocket on the lower right thigh.

Fat Lad at the back

Zippered and compartmentalised storage.

This first short has more of a cross country feel to it thanks to the slimmer leg profile and a cut that finishes above the knee. Perfect for bashing out the miles on all day epics over the moors. We managed to get a few hours riding in a pair during our visit to Fat Lad’s local trails and the short was incredibly comfortable. In fact, as with any good bit of kit, they were noticeable in terms of how little you thought about them. There was no need to constantly pull them up and the fabrics conformed really well to pedalling (and crashing in my case!).

The soft, high waistband can be pulled over the stomach for support and to prevent them riding down. Apologies for the pasty skin.

Our single gripe was more to do with personal preferences of leg length. If you tend to wear knee pads, the shorter length creates substantial gappage between short and pad. Fat Lad however has taken this on board and are looking to introduce a more ‘enduro’ cut at some point in the near future.

Rombalds jersey in blue…

 Rombalds Jersey, £44.99

Striking but subtle geometric designs make the Rombalds jersey stand out. Not quite as innovative as the Cracking shorts, it still uses Fat Lad’s custom panelling design to ensure that each size fits perfectly throughout the body and sleeves. The soft, wicking material keeps everything comfortable and a v-neck allows a little more air flow and less restrictive movement.

…and the green.

The relaxed fit means the jersey can accommodate body armour underneath if you so wish. Available in two colour schemes, the Rombalds has subtle logos that don’t scream brand names.