Made in Italy, the Fat Lad At The Back Men's Short Sleeve Union Jack Cycling Jersey is a good middleweight top – a little warm for our hottest summer days perhaps, but it's versatile and well designed, with a decent price and a flattering fit, especially for the less svelte among us.
As well as a 21st century reworking of the national colours, it has a host of subtle touches that lend itself handsomely to our changeable climate. Fat Lad At The Back (FLAB) describes it as being slightly closer fitting than the long-sleeve version, and it's ideal for layering, allowing comfortable transition between the seasons.
It's made of 100% polyester and slightly heavier than some I've tested recently, which was noticeable on the very hottest rides. Given 20 minutes at a steady 20-23mph, that familiar clamminess creeps in, especially at the lower back, but the fibres respond quickly and from then on tend to keep pace.
There's no mention of anti-bacterials in the fabric, but while on paper that seems a missed opportunity, after three days' constant wear things didn't smell too funky. This bodes well for endurance events and touring. It bucket washes pretty well too and I was surprised by the 40°C recommended machine setting; I've washed it at 30, with minimal detergent and excellent results – and it's line dry in around 20 minutes, less when it's stonking hot.
The sleeves are a raglan cut, which means a single section running from the neck, offering good freedom of movement here. Although I'd never consider myself a big lad, I'm broad shouldered, so this tailoring instantly curried favour with me.
As the brand name implies, there's a bit more room for mere mortals, especially around the belly. While fortunate in that I can get away with a second-skin, racing snake cut, this fractionally looser style is extremely flattering and works very well with messenger and similar street-style longs.
Flat seams are pretty much a given at this price point, and there's been no hint of unsightly branding after a day's riding. Most polyesters are pretty tough and this one's no exception, resisting the usual prickly advances without any hint of bobbling several weeks in.
I was delighted to discover three massive pockets round the back, probably the biggest I've come across. "Room for northern portions there lad!" as my mother would put it.
Crude regional stereotypes aside, they're perfect for bottles, bigger 'mini' pumps, spare tubes, several bananas, smartphones and so on, and suitably secure. My large bunch of keys were bounding around like a playful labrador puppy, but no ejections from the open terrace to date. A fourth zippered valuables/waste pocket is built into the right-hand pocket and is secure yet easy enough to access when required.
A suitably tacky silicone hem keeps the jersey from gathering and performs well, even on really slippery, shiny Lycra.
Up front, we have a full-length zipper for climate control and, apparently, 'easy on/off with your helmet on'. The tab is easy to find while riding along and I've yet to get it snagged in the main fabric.
This wouldn't be my first choice for a training camp or similarly hot Continental riding, and on the face of it there are loads of jerseys offering similar, sometimes higher spec for less money. However, it is very well designed and really well thought out. It's more flattering to the fuller figure yet still sporty, and the middleweight materials make excellent transition between seasons. The zippers and other small but significant details feel like they'll last the distance too.
Classy looking jersey with nice detailing and a good fit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fat Lad At The Back Men's Short Sleeve Union Jack Cycling Jersey
Size tested: 44
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: "Inspired by our awesome British athletes.
The short sleeve jersey is a great staple garment, slightly closer fitting than our long sleeve jersey, it is ideal for layering, ensuring numerous options throughout the seasons. Wear on it's own or with our Summer baselayer in the warmer months and over a long sleeve baselayer on cooler days. Team with Bib Shorts".
My feelings: " No quibble, meets the design brief handsomely."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Fat Lad At The Back website:
* 3 large back pockets give easy access to snacks and stuff
* Zip pocket to keep valuables and cake money safe
* Full length zip gives ventilation options and is easy on and off with your helmet on
* Silicone hem keeps the jersey in place
* 100% Polyester
* Breathable and Wicking
Yarn and materials remain in rude health, despite regular off-road saunters.
Not a big lad in the commonly accepted sense, but I'm broad around the shoulders, so it fitted me handsomely.
Bang on for me.
Middleweight garment that proved a little warmer than some when temperatures soared but should port well between seasons, with appropriate baselayers/accessories.
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
Overall, it's a rugged and well thought out jersey. The subtle livery looks really classy, and the really big yet secure pockets were a winner with me, ditto the cut/fit. Middleweight weaves make easy transition between the seasons and, some would argue, are better suited to the UK in any case.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nice design, deep pockets. Well made.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Quite possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Decent jersey with some nice touches, albeit a little warmer than some during the hottest weather.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike 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)