Lynn Bye: Founder of Fat Lad At The Back
If you follow us on social media, you might have already heard about our new partnership with the brilliant cycling brand, Fat Lad At The Back. This thoroughly Yorkshire, tongue-in-cheek business is going to be supporting our charity over the next year, so we thought it was the perfect time to get to know a bit more about Fat Lad At The Back (or FLAB, as it’s affectionately known!) via a chat with its founder, Lynn Bye.
How did the brand come about?
It’s really the brainchild of my husband, Richard. Weighing in at around 120 kilos, it was a struggle for Richard to find cycle wear which fit, so he just wore an old t-shirt and some baggy mountain bike shorts with a pad that he’d had for years – not ideal gear for road cycling!
Being a big lad Richard found the uphills a struggle and there are plenty of uphills around here so he always got dropped by his thinner cycling mates – who used to affectionately refer to him as the Fat Lad At The Back. One day, it occurred to him that he wasn’t the only Fat Lad cyclist out there and that he had seen hundreds of people just like him, in ill-fitting unsuitable gear, and he decided to set up a cyclewear business. The rest, as they say, is history!
What does your brand stand for?
We make cyclewear in all sizes because all types and shapes of people cycle. Sometimes people say, ‘but I’m not fat and I’m not at the back so I can’t wear your stuff’, but they have missed the point. You don’t have to be fat to be a Fat Lad, just like you don’t have to be a virgin to travel on Virgin Trains! FLAB is a people’s brand, for everyone who wants to be part of a community which encourages people to get on their bike and feel the enormous benefits the sport gang bring. As a result, we have a total cross section of people wearing the brand – from total novice cyclists in our largest sizes, to skinny semi-pros, race teams and endurance cyclists who altruistically encourage others into the sport.
The brand empowers thousands of people who previously felt excluded or unable to join in because they didn’t fit the cycling stereotype. What can an obnoxious ‘white van man’ say to you when you already know you’re a fat lad on a bike, because you’re literally wearing the jersey?
How important is wearing technical cycle wear?
Wearing the right gear can make such a difference to your enjoyment of cycling, not only do you start to feel like a proper cyclist and get a sense of belonging to the ‘cycling fraternity’, but it also allows you to cycle throughout the seasons (especially the winter) which means you just get better and don’t have to start again from scratch each spring.
For some of our larger riders with health issues, the benefits are enormous as often they heat up and cool down really quickly, they can even get hypothermia in a very short space of time, so the technical fabrics we use moderate their temperature, keep them dry and comfortable and in the saddle for longer.
How has the brand grown over the past 5 years?
We’ve expanded into women’s gear (Fat Lass At The Back) and have launched a non branded rage for those who don’t want the F word all over their jersey and this year we launched a small collection of men’s MTB gear. We have customers in 42 countries and have an active and engaged cycling community which really encourages and inspires all levels of cyclist, celebrating their achievements and promoting cycling as a social and fun way to a healthier life. Richard says, ‘when you put on a Fat Lad jersey you instantly get 40,000 friends, and if you’re out in a FLAB jersey and you see another FLAB, you’ll instantly strike up a conversation – no other brand does that.’
Why did you decide to partner with Prevent Breast Cancer?
We’ve talked to a few charities about working together but Prevent Breast Cancer were the first to recognise that we are already helping many of the same people they want to engage with at grass-roots level. Our community is full of people who are using cycling as a way of improving their mental and physical health.
Prevent Breast Cancer has done such a lot of work to raise awareness and encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle, helping them overcome barriers and feel able to get involved in something new – and that’s exactly what we’ve always tried to do with FLAB. As soon as we met the team at Prevent, everything just clicked into place.
What’s next for Fat Lad At the Back?
We just keep doing what we are doing. Inclusivity is very fashionable at the moment but it’s something we have been drilling home for the past five years. We have broken the mould of the typical cyclist and are literally creating new ones, allowing people to own the joke, providing them with the emotional encouragement they want as well as the educational support they need.
We are looking forward to 2019. Our Big Fat Bike Ride – the Up North Sportive – will be in its fourth year and it’s an opportunity to bring the community together and enjoy a great day of social cycling.
Who would be in your dream cycling team?
I’ve already got a dream team – it’s affectionately referred to as The Bulge and it’s made up of the thousands of FLAB cyclists around the world.