Did you see the recent appearance of Fat Lad at the Back on BBC2’s Dragon’s Den? I spotted it and watched with eagerness and couldn’t resist having a look at this brand.
While some cyclists are fortunate enough to be young, slim, slender, lean and svelt-like, Fat Lad at the Back is a brand of cycle clothing aimed at the increasingly common MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) who have a fuller figure. This, therefore, is their market: the generously sized cyclist who is perhaps returning to the saddle seeking to shed a few pounds.
For men’s shirts, jerseys etc the chest sizes range from a pretty normal 36″ to a portly 52″ (oooo ‘eck). For men’s bottoms, shorts etc the waist sizes are from a frightfully sensible 28/30″ right up to a outrageous and whopping 48/50″ (man, that’s big). According to their website the sizes really do mean that size, instead of the High Street sizing approach which could be argued as optimistic or misleading. And for ladies, these go from UK size 8/10 right up to 24/26. There are a couple of Spare Tyre products for the (even) larger cyclist. This includes bib shorts which cater for a 60″ waist and where the overall dimensions are in proportion. I was a bit surprised (and that’s pleasantly surprised) to see they cater for ordinary sized people as well – instead of a range covering XL to XXXXXL – so the ordinary sizes are for ordinary sized people as well. This got me thinking a bit: why have they done this? Surely their USP is the more generous sized cyclist and yet they’ve covered quite a range. And then the more I think about it, the more I think this is quite funny. So the point I’m making is that it could be fun for a 9 stone and slim man to wear Fat Lad at the Back gear? Could it be that the XXXXL fat lad would stick to the brand as he gets slimmer and slimmer?
The range consists of jerseys which come in either short or long sleeve versions, bib tights, jackets, technical tee shirts, buffs and so on. First impressions are “any colour you like, as long as its black” but as you flick through the pages other colours and designs greet you. Just as well really as not everyone will like blaaaaack. Ladies are well catered for, including the nicely named as the Full Fat Peachy Long Sleeved Jersey which has a nice splash of pink.
At the time of writing, there aren’t too many reviews around on the web. Included in the Spare Tyre bib shorts is a testimony from a Fat Lad called Geoff who writes “……Lynn and Richard, you made a promise to do everything possible to provide quality cycle clothing for a proper Fat Lad. I know and appreciate that you took on a difficult task, but true to your word you have worked relentlessly to fulfil that promise and you have excelled in every aspect of design, comfort and understanding, to produce the perfect solution “Fat Lad At The Back Spare Tyre” range, well done and thank you so much”. Evans stock the Fat Lad at the Back brand and on checking out the reviews from folk who have bought this gear, it’s a pretty positive story. Overwhelmingly the reviews are good stuff and people like this kit because it seems to be well made and has a good fit. Perhaps it’s easy to see why this appears welcome kit as for those who are at the taller and heavier end of the range, there’s not a lot to choose from without making compromises.
Well, the pitch was made for financial backing and they went away empty handed. The Dragons wouldn’t invest. The main problem seemed to be about the brand name and whether people would really want to ride around in something called Fat Lad at the Back. They didn’t think it was a winner. That’s not the whole story. How many people, like me, hadn’t heard of the brand until it was aired on Dragon’s Den? How many other businesses haven’t been successful in getting a cash injection from the Dragons and then gone on to be successful? Quite a few I suspect. So they’re no worse off and will have had the benefit of the “advertising”.
And what do I think?
I have mixed feelings about the name but it’s down to a personal choice. Could be that some people couldn’t care less about the name providing it does the job. Others might not appreciate wearing the humour. Going further it’s possible some cyclists who are pretty slim might enjoy wearing the slim versions of this gear for a bit of a laugh. If it helps overweight people take up cycling and who otherwise might be reluctant because of not getting the clothing right, then it has to be a good thing.
Evans – Fat Lad at the Back range
Fat Lad at the Back – home page