It is certainly true that the selection of cycling kits cut specifically to suit female riders is on the rise. Throw in the fact that more companies are becoming wise to the flaws of the ‘shrink and pink’ ethos and things start to look pretty good. Unfortunately, for women with curves and plus size cyclists, the outlook is not so uplifting.
As we all know, cycling gear is notoriously weird when it comes to sizing, but if you’re on the bigger side of things, you can quickly find yourself left out completely. Many women who normally wear size L (UK 14) are finding themselves too big for many brands, and being excluded in this basic way certainly doesn’t contribute to the joy cycling should bring.
As we work to draw awareness to this problem and make an honest appeal to major cycling brands to get their act together when it comes to sizing and inclusivity, we also want to share some of the companies that understand there are plenty of women who don’t fit the ‘skinny cyclist’ stereotype but also love spending time on their bikes and deserve quality gear to ride in. There is definitely still room for improvement but here are some of the brands that are on the right track.
Fat Lass At The Back (FLAB)
A pioneer in terms of plus size cycling gear, Fat Lass is an offshoot of Fat Lad At The Back, a brand called for the nickname of its founder, Richard. When co-founder Lynn turned her attention to the women’s range, the name was a bit of a touchy subject. Nevertheless, they knew they meant it with affection and went on to design a complete female range which took into consideration women’s curves, comfort and which would flatter every size or shape of a female rider.
Their gear is not cheap, but the reviews in terms of fit and comfort are quite positive, and they use technically advanced fabrics and high-quality components. Not to mention, they claim that all their products are made ethically in Europe, in factories they have visited and by people they know—a fact worth shelling out a bit extra for, in our opinion.
Another big brand in the UK, Corinne Dennis has a pretty decent selection of plus size cycling clothing for women. Based in Somerset, this brand offers cycling apparel in sizes from UK 8-20 and offer more designs with less Lycra than a brand like FLAB. Prioritizing functionality, they also do women’s padded underwear, for commuting or riding when you don’t want to wear gear.
A sub-brand of Primal, Team Estrogen combines clothes for tall and plus sized women. Their range includes jerseys that you can convert between short-and long-sleeved and they offer their gear in all sorts of funky themes, including rock & roll, where you can find gear inspired by Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead. It’s true that there are plenty of companies having fun with hip designs, but it’s very rare they think of bigger women when they do so.
Aero Tech Designs
Based in the US, Aero Tech Designs has years of experience designing plus size cycling gear and offers a nice selection of cycling apparel for curvy women. Sizes go up to 5XL and the Women’s Century Shorts, described by the brand as the short with the ‘butt pillow,’ are said to be some of the most comfortable on the market.
Note off the top that a custom cycling kit is going to cost you, but if your budget is not too tight, there are some brands offering custom jobs with experience in plus size designs.
Founded by a couple who’ve been cycling together for almost 40 years, these products are definitely informed by a genuine passion for the sport and a real desire to provide people of all shapes and sizes with the best fit possible.
These tops are great for running, yoga or gym workouts – made from super lightweight moisture wicking Coolmax material, several awesome designs to choose from with a zipper in the back. Or order custom team singlets!https://t.co/g5Rnmd5Lm6#running #gymworkouts #yoga pic.twitter.com/q77AKF9bxf
— Artletic Apparel (@ArtleticApparel) February 1, 2019
They started out as a triathlon fashion brand and now offer custom cycling kits for all sizes. Self-described as ‘free spirited with an ultra-feminine aesthetic,’ they’ve got good reviews and seem eager to please their growing customer base.
Now that you’ve got a few options to choose from, here are some tips to make the actual buying process go more smoothly. First and foremost, if buying online, make sure they have a solid return policy for hassle-free returns if the fit is not right. Also keep in mind that sizing varies dramatically from brand to brand, so it is really worth measuring yourself carefully and taking a good look at their sizing chart. Once you’ve got the gear, make sure to actually sit on your bike to establish if it fits properly and won’t ride up.
Finally, don’t be disheartened if you don’t the right fit on the first go. Comfortable cycling clothing makes such a huge difference and it is worth finding the perfect fit for your body. As we see more cyclists of all sizes claim their rightful space on the road, we hope more brands pay attention to how diverse, big, and beautiful the cycling community really is.