Fat Lad/Lass at the Back have divided opinion since they arrived on the market in 2013. Their slightly Marmite approach to the 'F' word is refreshing to some, whilst others are less keen to fly the flag and embrace the designs.
In answer, FLAB have continued to create their outspoken Fat Lad and Fat Lass kit, as well as adding a 'Stealth' range that is less outspoken. Available in sizes from 8 to 26, all of the gear is designed to cater for curvier frames and FLAB offer detailed sizing guides to ensure customers find the right fit.
We set regular club rider, Liz, up with a jersey and shorts combo to test out in size 14-16. Here's how she got on....
I have seen riders wearing the Fat Lad/Lass At The Back jerseys and shorts on numerous occasions. The kit is bold and the logo brazen but personally I wouldn't want 'Fat Lass at the Back' written across my back.
I know I am bigger than a lot of my female ride buddies and I'm reminded constantly when tackling the climbs alongside my skinnier counterparts, I don't need to be branded the 'FLAB'.
I like the name of the new range of cycling apparel from this company - 'Stealth'. I see it as a brand of clothing to help cyclists not blessed with the traditional cycling physique to 'blend in' with the slimmer riders.
The kit is predominantly black, with distinctive red, white and blue reflective stripes around the cuffs of the arms and the legs. It's smart and nowhere does this kit mention the 'F' word.
FLAB Stealth Bib Shorts - £79.99
My first impression of the bib shorts was that the fabric on the lower part of the bib was thick - meaning there would be no hint of it becoming see through as happens when some lycra is stretched.
The bright pink chamois pad was a good thickness and shape, providing comfort without waddle inducing over zealousness.
In terms of the body, the bib was an 'all in one' design. The top section, covering the chest and back, was made of a mesh material that was breathable and kept me cool. This design means stripping off top layers of clothing when needing access for loo breaks , but it also meant it was a comfortable fit as the mesh fabric continued into the shoulder straps that sat softly on the skin.
I found the bib shorts a good fit in my size, the chamois pad when riding was as comfy as that in my Assos shorts - which it has to be noted are renowned for their quality.
Probably my favourite feature, the leg cuffs were not tight elastic, the reflective stripes sat snug on the skin and stayed in place during the ride.
FLAB Stealth Short Sleeve Jersey - £69.99
My first impression of the jersey was that the fabric was soft and shiny to touch. I also thought it looked quite long in the body. This was confirmed once I had tried it on, compared to other jerseys I own this was significantly longer. This wasn't a real issue as I folded the excess under whilst riding - but I am 5' 7" so I'm not sure how shorter riders would find this. Sizing is determined by waist, bust and hip measurements so height wouldn't be taken into account, but perhaps a smaller size would have left me with less extra material.
There were three deep pockets to the rear of the jersey with another section of reflective fabric across the pockets - I found this a good addition as the jersey is black so without the extra detail it could be in danger of lacking visibility.
The only downside to the soft fabric is that when the pockets were in use they sagged down a little as they stretched. I was carrying an iPhone, multi tool, keys and cash - these bounced a little when riding. Again, however, a smaller size might have meant the jersey sat closer to my skin, therefore reducing the bounce.
The top had a full length zip that was easy to use throughout the ride according to how warm I was feeling.
The top is described as having slightly longer sleeves to enable a decent overlap if wearing arm warmers - thus reducing any chance of that unfashionable gap. It's true, the sleeves are long long and came close to the start of my elbow. The cuff was of the same design as the legs and sat snug on the arm without any elastic cutting in.
I really like the style, fit and comfort of the bib shorts. They have been washed many times and there is no distortion to the shape or colour at all.
I would definitely recommend these to other riders who are looking for comfortable bib shorts but don't like the halter neck strap designs that other brands offer.
I was not as keen on the jersey for style of fit, this might be rectified if I went for a size smaller than I usually would. I sometimes order a bigger size in other brands as cycling apparel tends to be tight fitting, with the Fat Lass At The Back range I feel that the sizing is generous so going up a size is not required.
In terms of style, FLAB have done a great job producing the Stealth range: it's a smart, professional looking cycling kit for ladies that might feel a little self conscious wearing the traditional bright FLAB range emblazoned with the 'F' word. I know which I prefer whilst still being part of the FLAB club.
Interested in checking out the range? See all the options here.