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Verdict: 
High performing, sensibly priced mid-range bib shorts
Weight: 
196g
Fat Lad At The Back Stealth Reflective Bib Shorts
7 10

The Fat Lad At The Back (FLAB) Stealth bib shorts have a timeless, understated design and perform really well, although I'd recommend paying close attention to the sizing chart, as the pair I had on test should – on paper – have fitted me perfectly but were a little loose around the leg.

Materials-wise, they're pretty much what I'd expect in this price bracket. Essentially these boil down to our old friends nylon/polyamide (80%) and elastane (20%). There's a lot more to a garment than raw materials, mind.

> Buy these online here

The bib section is a perforated mesh designed to encourage speedy moisture-trafficking. They also employ a compression system for additional support and, theoretically, reduced fatigue when the miles rack up. It's a very compliant, tactile middleweight weave that hugs rather than squeezes your contours.

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5.jpg

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5.jpg

Big, stripy 'Pixel 300' reflective leg grippers add a splash of colour and the safety element seems genuinely effective too. Flat seams are beautifully executed and lay unobtrusively against the skin with no hint of unwanted compression, discomfort or branding.

Pad

FLAB's 'Enerdy' pad is another winner as far as I'm concerned. It's described as high-density with variable thickness to provide support and prevent painful chafing. A wicking element and antibacterial components keep things socially acceptable and prevent infection.

Despite the high density tag, it doesn't feel like the proverbial loaf of bread and quickly assumes your shape. I've been blissfully comfortable for several hours at a time, regardless of saddle type – even while breaking in a Brooks Swift.

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5 - back.jpg

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5 - back.jpg

I did experience some slight gathering around the legs which I attribute more to sizing than materials or quality of construction. It never became uncomfortable but the 'size 5s' are clearly aimed at bigger lads with more prodigious thighs. FLAB does have a helpful guide and enquiries line, so follow these and chances are you'll get it bang on.

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5 - reflective.jpg

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5 - reflective.jpg

Anatomical is one of those phrases that has been hurled around to the point of becoming meaningless, but here the cut and materials are very conducive to natural, unrestricted movement. The bib straps are a particular plus, holding everything in alignment yet being super-compliant, permitting seamless movement from tops to drops and tri bars – or just swooping down to retrieve an ejected mini pump and bottle along unmade roads.

Though primarily intended as a road garment, the shorts perform well off the beaten track too. I've escaped the madding crowd on 'cross and rough stuff tourer alike and the pad has earned its stripes here, while the outer fabric has shrugged at the inevitable brushes with brambles, with no hint of bobbling or similar damage to date.

Temperature control

Fat Lad At The Back makes quite a big fuss about the shorts' wicking prowess and climate control. It's certainly good, but with the temperature rising close to 30 on some outings, even allowing for black's heat-retaining properties I felt notably sweatier around the lower back after 30 minutes' intense climbing/descending than when wearing some white BTwin 700 bibs – consistently so, regardless of jersey type.

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5 - side.jpg

Fat Lad At The Back Lads Stealth Bib Shorts-5 - side.jpg

To give them their due, the shorts did respond fairly swiftly, getting things down to a misty glow within 15 minutes or so, and it does bode well for autumn/early spring when you can team them up with leg warmers to combat chilly starts or evenings when the temperature can suddenly dip.

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best cycling bib shorts

As I've said, the Stealths include an anti-bacterial treatment, and despite wearing them for several days – rinsing the pad in between – nothing dodgy occurred. The Stealths also machine wash beautifully at 30 degrees with minimal detergent.

Conclusion

Some minor misgivings aside, the Stealths are really capable, sensibly priced shorts. True, some store brands pack theirs with more sophisticated yarns and a slightly higher spec for less cash, but these are very nicely made and flatter those who love their riding but are, perhaps, carrying a few extra pounds.

Verdict

High performing, sensibly priced mid-range bib shorts

road.cc test report

Make and model: Fat Lad At The Back Stealth Reflective Bib Shorts

Size tested: 5 - 38/40in

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Fat Lad At The Back says: "For the lad who prefers to go undetected, but still enjoys the finer things in life like the open road, the wind in his face, the silky smooth feeling of top quality lycra against his skin, the perfect fit, Italian manufacture, cake.

"We give you Stealth, with just the faintest rumble of Fat Lad At The Back, you are no longer alone, you are one of us. Join us and be proud."

"With a higher spec than our regular Ey Up's, these premium bib shorts have a more anatomical cut and are made from one of the latest Sports Lycra fabrics, giving additional support, durability and compression. We have also added reflective elastic to the leg and removed our famous FLAB branding!"

I'd say they're comfortable mid range bib shorts, but the leg grippers are a little too relaxed for me.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

FEATURES:

* Anatomical fit

* Stretch fabric ensures comfort whilst riding

* mesh bib keeps you cool

* Enerdy® our high density foam pad gets great reviews! It gives transitional support and thickness where it is needed and it's antibacterial and wicking so it and you stay dry and comfortable!

* Pixel 300 reflective elastic to legs gives good all round visibility and keeps shorts in place

FABRIC:

* Lycra® mesh bib

* Renew® short giving additional support, compression and durability;

* Enerdy® high density foam pad giving transitional support and thickness where it is needed, antibacterial and wicking

* Anti-pill

* Muscle control

* Outstanding breathability and wicking

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
7/10

Comfort remains high but my thighs were a little slender relative to the shorts, hence the grippers were less effective. That said, this didn't lead to chafing or discomfort. I put this down to sizing – just check with the customer service team before adding to the cart if you're in doubt.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10

A bit too generous in the thigh for me.

Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Well made, decent materials, great insert.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Machine washes beautifully at 30 degrees.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Well conceived, stylish and very comfortable bib shorts. The pad is a real winner, allowing me to eat up the miles while breaking in a traditional leather saddle with no hint of blistering, chafing or sores. Anti-bacterial and wicking prowess is similarly dependable. Even though the leg grippers were a little baggy for my thighs, resulting in them creeping up slightly, this wasn't uncomfortable – just looked a touch old school.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Pad, materials, construction and clever use of reflectives.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing in particular – the shorter aesthetic wasn't particularly to my tastes.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

They're well made and nicely designed – just double check the sizing before purchasing.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

13 comments

Avatar
BarryBianchi [178 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

Got to love the New World of cycling where £80 get's you "mid range" shorts about which there are "misgivings", but they are still "sensibly priced".

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [1183 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

May buy a pair in a 40W and see if I can get fat enough to wear them. Or stay a 32w and be ironic.

 

 

Avatar
guyrwood [903 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
BarryBianchi wrote:

Got to love the New World of cycling where £80 get's you "mid range" shorts about which there are "misgivings", but they are still "sensibly priced".

 

Agree. I'm going to need to trim a carbon steerer for the first time in the near future. My dilemma is do I buy a bike 'specific' one for £15 or do I use the exact same blade from a DIY store for a couple of quid  ?

Avatar
drosco [296 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

Too right. My 'cycling' glasses come from a boutique cycle shop called Screwfix.

Avatar
Woldsman [133 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
drosco wrote:

Too right. My 'cycling' glasses come from a boutique cycle shop called Screwfix.

Granted I've just ordered a JIS screwdriver from Amazon in America, but for my cycling glasses I am an unpaid brand ambassador for Home Bargains. 

Avatar
Chris Hayes [126 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Morning Shaun.  These shorts have the same rating as the GBP150 Ale R-EV1 shorts reviewed by Ash.  Given the price difference,  are you saying that they are objectively the same quality?  I wonder....Do you guys talk to each other or have a review panel to benchmark the ratings given to the items you review?  

When it comes to this particular brand, I don't think I would ever be tempted to buy something from 'Fat Lad at the Back'.  It's one thing being there, but its another entirely having plastered all over your gear... And to pay for it, well... 

Avatar
MandaiMetric [123 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:

 

When it comes to this particular brand, I don't think I would ever be tempted to buy something from 'Fat Lad at the Back'.  It's one thing being there, but its another entirely having plastered all over your gear... And to pay for it, well... 

Where is it plastered all over these shorts? 

Avatar
Chris Hayes [126 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
MandaiMetric wrote:
Chris Hayes wrote:

 

When it comes to this particular brand, I don't think I would ever be tempted to buy something from 'Fat Lad at the Back'.  It's one thing being there, but its another entirely having plastered all over your gear... And to pay for it, well... 

Where is it plastered all over these shorts? 

It's plastered all over the matching shirt....and every one I've seen to date. 

Avatar
BarryBianchi [178 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

More to the point:

"B'Twin continually manages to impress us and these Aerofit Cycling Bib Shorts are no different. Ridden in the pro ranks by FDJ, these bibs offer a great fit, superb comfort, and just all-round excellence, all for a penny under 55 pounds. Astounding."

Avatar
Looper35uk [20 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:

When it comes to this particular brand, I don't think I would ever be tempted to buy something from 'Fat Lad at the Back'.  It's one thing being there, but its another entirely having plastered all over your gear... And to pay for it, well... 

 

The clues in the product name "Fat Lad At The Back Stealth Reflective Bib Shorts" . Refers to there being non or very (small logo) little branding on the garment.  

Avatar
Awavey [303 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
BarryBianchi wrote:

Got to love the New World of cycling where £80 get's you "mid range" shorts about which there are "misgivings", but they are still "sensibly priced".

their cost is what it is because they are a small company who dont shift the volume of sales to get the discounts from suppliers other "mid range" providers might be able to sell at, and the size range is totally different it doesnt treat XL as a Size 0, or "pro" fit sizes, its realistic sizes for realistically sized people, fwiw the equivalent Fat Lass versions are some of the comfiest shorts Ive got for long distance rides, and although I was slightly unsure on the branding at first, actually Im quite comfortable with it now, its kit I generally get the most positive reactions to out riding in, and "oh where did you get that from" questions.

Avatar
BarryBianchi [178 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Their size range isn't "totally different" from many providers.  Endura and Altura etc size "normally", where XL mean what it does in the normal word,  as does B'Twin, Adidas and Nike.  If you order from Italians or Chinese knock off suppliers of course, you have to be prepared to re-paint your "X" key from time to time.

 

Avatar
MandaiMetric [123 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:
MandaiMetric wrote:
Chris Hayes wrote:

 

When it comes to this particular brand, I don't think I would ever be tempted to buy something from 'Fat Lad at the Back'.  It's one thing being there, but its another entirely having plastered all over your gear... And to pay for it, well... 

Where is it plastered all over these shorts? 

It's plastered all over the matching shirt....and every one I've seen to date. 

But this is a review of the shorts, not the shirt. Your comment is a bit like complaining about Cannondale on a review of the new Synapse, because you don't like their mountain bike lefty forks.