Fat Lad At The Back - the Yorkshire clothing company helping people get fit
- Credit: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
A couple from Ilkley are helping people of all shapes and sizes look the part as they follow in the tracks of the Tour riders
The London Olympics pledged to inspire a generation and subsequent major sporting events have encouraged many more people to get involved, none more so than last year’s Tour de France. Millions of people lined the route through the Dales and since the peloton moved on there has been a marked increase in the number of people getting in the saddle and exploring Yorkshire on two wheels. This month’s Tour de Yorkshire is likely to encourage even more people on to their bikes but while Bradley Wiggins and the rest might have the ideal build for speedy cycling, not all of the people inspired to give it a go are so slender.
But for the majority of amateur cyclists, help is at hand in the shape of a couple from Ikley. Richard and Lynn Bye have created a range of cycle wear similar to the kit worn by the top international cyclists, but designed to fit larger riders.
The company was the brainchild of Richard, a keen cyclist who was given the nickname the Fat Lad at the Back by his biking friends. ‘He had been cycling for about 20 years, but had never been able to find kit that fitted properly,’ said Lynn. ‘He was fed up with not wearing the right gear, he’d be out there in mountain bike cycling shorts and cotton t-shirts.
‘He was about a 46 inch chest at the time, so not that big but he couldn’t find anything that suited him and he couldn’t believe the difference it made when we started. He was more comfortable and his confidence got a boost and it was clear to us that there were lots of other people who would benefit too.
‘Not being able to find the right gear to wear has been another hurdle for larger people to overcome. The name Fat Lad at the Back gives them the ownership of the joke, rather them being the butt of other peoples jokes.’
The Fat Lad at the Back clothing range will expand this month into running wear and triathlon kit, but Lynn – a self-confessed fair weather cyclist – sees no end to the possibilities. ‘We have had requests for mountain bike gear too, and then I guess we’ll look at the conquering the rest of the sporting world.’
When they launched the brand in late 2013 Richard – now down from 114 kilos to 92 – put them forward for Dragon’s Den. Although they appeared on the show, none of the business gurus wanted to invest and Lynn added: ‘We were genuinely surprised none of them wanted to invest and we were a bit dejected but we soon realised it was probably the best thing that could have happened.
‘If they had invested they would have wanted to add their own tweak to what we do and that could have diluted our brand and detract from the honest Yorkshire attitude of the brand and we were relieved not to be in that situation.
‘Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength. We had projections for the first two or three years but we are ahead of the curve, we are about 150 per cent up on what we expected.
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‘The key thing when we first started looking at this was that the kit had to be good quality. It needed to be bigger and longer and to have more room in the arms. And when it came to cycle wear for the lasses, it was mostly for the androgynous female cyclist and very much like mens. We have put proper curves into it and made it fit.
‘I’m not a cyclist and I think that’s been quite useful. I’ve always been a bit of a fashionista and it’s been handy to come at it from that angle, without any pre-conceived notions of what cycling clothes should be.’
* For more information about Fat Lad at the Back, go to fatladatthe back.com