I think I’m a pretty accomplished cyclist. I’ve cycle toured solo across European countries and American states. I’ve raced time trials, hill climbs and cyclocross. I’ve won an alleycat. I’ve finished more audax than I can count. I’ve even been involved in a marketing campaign for a national cycle brand.
I’ve done all this nonsense while fat.
At my slimmest, I was a sized 16. My weight was only just in the Overweight BMI bracket, instead of my usual Obese status.
I’m so fat that after the last audax I finished (200km in just over 10 hours) I had bruises on each side of my belly from where my thighs repeatedly bumped it.
Guess what? It’s a complete bitch finding kit.
Earlier this year I spent some time looking at the sizes of some of the most popular cycling brands available in the UK. And the conclusion is, unsurprisingly, that if you are over a size 16 your choices become limited.
|Brand||Their largest women's size||M&S size|
|Cafe du Cycliste||XL||14|
|Gore Bike Wear||XXL||16|
|Etxeondo||XXL||16 - 18|
|FWE / KALF||XXL||16 - 18|
|Sugoi||2XL||18 - 20|
|Corinne Dennis||22||20 +|
I compared the brands sizes to M&S sizes, because I am over 30 and middle class.
Hey Ella, there’s like six brands there you could shop with! What this table doesn’t show is that many brands do not produce women’s kit across all the sizes they list in their size guides.
For example, in my experience Endura only produce a few items in XL, with most of their lines stopping at L. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Endura XXL in the wild, and Google searches repeatedly led me to men’s items. I may be rather taken with the leopard print kit that Hackney GT produce, but from looking at their website these stop at a size 14 or 16. Either they don’t make kit in these sizes, or these larger sizes are selling out. People have recommended Alpkit cycle gear, but they stop at 14 despite listing 16 as their largest women’s size.
What’s going on here? Why don’t these brands want my money?
In the mists of time, back when the British brand Vulpine was new and shiny, they removed XL / 16 from their second or third release of gear. I tweeted the MD and asked why. His reply was something along the lines of “All that extra fabric costs money y’know?” Yeah, money I was thinking about giving them.
I’m pragmatic. I know its a mix of factors. It may be market demands and the increase in production costs of making larger items. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that brands may not want to associate with less “athletic” looking women. While, FML, many seem happy taking money from burliest MAMIL.
I’d love to know what information brands are basing their decisions on what sizes they make? I feel convinced there business decisions being made at least in part on assumptions.
If any brands mentioned in this post want to get in touch, I’ll put together a follow up post.
Finally getting this info together and releasing it into the wild is inspired by this post:
Attended the @rapha_uk Bicester Grand Opening this evening with Pauline. We parked up at New Aston and cycled the 10 miles to Bicester Village (and back). Great evening checking out the quality garms (I love the little details) and eating the finger food. It’s such a pity I can’t wear any of the lovely cycling apparel as it’s for miniscule folk not curvaceous women like me. I had my eye on a lovely merino jersey too. Such a shame. I guess it’s just caps and socks then (sigh!) @rapha you need to fix up with more generous sizes for women not just for the men. #rapha #raphabicester #womenwhoride #womenscycling #cycling #cycle #cyclist #cyclingkit
But but but…
Why don’t you lose weight? Doesn’t cycling make you lose weight? etc. etc. etc.
Shhhhhh… Did you know that losing weight is really rather difficult? That’s why weight loss is a multi-million pound industry. And surely it’s easier take my money and cut some fabric to fit the body I have than me change my body to fit some fabric? Even if someone is trying to lose weight through cycling or happening to lose weight because of their cycling, why shouldn’t they have kit that fits while they are doing it?
Why don’t you just shut up and buy from the brands who offer stuff in your size?
Yeah, I do that. But I also want, and deserve, choice. Most of the targeted adds I get for cycling stuff is for gear I can’t buy. Stop wasting your marketing spend, make something that fits me and take my hard earned cash.
Why don’t you just wear men’s stuff? LOL. Boobs, hips, vulva, no.
Where’s Dbh (Wiggles in-house brand)? Back when I was looking into this they didn’t have a consistent over-arching size guide. They list several different fits across the brand, as well as having items which don’t fall into these categories. I think it was a similar situation with Decathlons in house brand.
P.S. I know that the fact I open this by justifying myself as a cyclist and a fat women really sucks. The idea that I have to prove that I’m a “good” fat person or that I’m worthy of good kit is stupid, but still wedged in my psyche pretty firmly. Even if someone wants some nice padded shorts to just potter around the park they still deserve choice and quality.