Plus size cycling clothing is harder to find than it should be, and while this is something that affects all people regardless of gender, it’s a topic that mostly comes up in women’s cycling. Many cycling brands fall short when it comes to inclusive sizing.
On the one hand this is unsurprising. Look at 99 per cent of cycling brands’ marketing, and it’s clear that cycling is seen as a svelte person’s game, while the majority of sportswear brands cater to athletic bodies, usually capping their size range at XL, or the equivalent of a UK 16 dress size.
On the other hand, however, it makes no sense at all. While there are plenty of slim bodies in need of the best women’s cycling jerseys and best women’s cycling shorts, there are just as many on the curvier side in need of something to wear while riding a bike. From folks just getting started out in the hope of losing a bit of weight, to others who are plenty fit but naturally curvy.
Falling into the latter group, I’m often approached by people from the former, and asked how they can even get started with cycling if they can’t find cycling clothing that fits them.
This used to be much harder to navigate, and thankfully many brands have woken up to the variety of body shapes and sizes within the cycling scene. Some are offering their usual wares in a more inclusive size range, while others are truly trailblazing with unique patterns and fabrics to create kit that works for every body.
Whether you’re new to cycling and looking for something affordable that will fit around your curves, or you’re a seasoned cyclist hoping to expand your wardrobe, we’ve rounded up our favourite brands with inclusive sizing, and our picks of their best plus size cycling clothing.
Machines For Freedom
When it comes to plus size cycling clothing, Machines For Freedom is a true trailblazer. The Los Angeles-based brand was started by Jenn Kriske in 2014 after she gave up on trying to find a pair of cycling bib shorts that she could wear on an all-day ride without feeling awful in them.
Fast-forward to now, and MFF is offering its cycling clothing in sizes up to 3XL or UK size 20. It uses Luxe fabric in its kit, which is mid-to-light-weight, yet substantial enough to smooth out bumps and offer a sleek and flattering finish, regardless of size and shape.
Browsing through MFF’s website, it’s clear that the brand is committed to catering for everybody. Modelling its wares are women of all sizes, shapes, colours and age. To help you achieve the perfect fit, MFF has a size finder, whereby you input your measurements and receive a size recommendation.
Here are our top picks of MFF’s offerings.
MFF’s Summerweight LS jersey offers UPF 50+ sun protection and is super light and silky, making it an excellent summer jersey despite the long sleeves. If you’re heading out under the beating sun for hours on end, it’s the best protection you can get, plus it’s available in six gorgeous prints, from the tropical Palmera with its bold neon pink accents, to the subtle Desert Bloom with its delicate floral pattern on a black backdrop.
The jersey is complete with three full-size pockets at the rear, plus a zippered moisture-resistant pocket at the side, and a high-quality self-locking zip.
These are designed for long-distance cyclists who need all-day comfort. That means a high-quality Italian chamois sized for all sit bone widths, a silicone leg band to prevent riding up, which also has enough stretch to eliminate the dreaded ‘sausage leg’, and a sleek, smoothing cut that flatters any figure.
MFF designs all its bib shorts with a compression fit in order to get the most out of their performance, staving off muscle fatigue and helping you pedal for longer. Of course, this does mean you may have to do a fair bit of hopping and dancing about to get them on, but that’s a good sign. Once they’re on, they’re supremely comfortable and feel luxurious against the skin.
For the long-legged goddess, never fear, MFF also offers a Tall version.
Unless you live in a climate where weather patterns are largely predictable (lucky you!), then you’re most likely spending about 10 months of the year wondering what on earth to wear. That’s where MFF’s Most Versatile Pants come in.
MVP also stands for ‘most valuable player’ and we don’t think this matching abbreviation is an accident. Designed to be worn throughout the majority of the year, when weather is constantly changing, these will be your go-to for riding.
The MVP shares the same high-quality Italian chamois as the Endurance bibs listed above, and is constructed from high-performance moisture-wicking fabric with mesh inserts for breathability. They are also designed to have a compression fit in order to increase blood flow to the legs and delay fatigue while offering SPF 50 protection at the same time.
Finally, one of the most impressive – and versatile – aspects of these bib tights is the length. With a 27-inch inseam, they work perfectly for petite riders, yet for taller people, they sit at a flattering height, so they truly can work for anyone.
Launching in 2014, Velocio is an eco-conscious brand that creates beautiful, premium quality cycling kit. The vast majority of its range is available in sizes up to 3XL, or UK size 20, and to make it even easier there’s an ‘Extended sizes’ section on the website so you can avoid disappointment. Plus, Velocio has a size guide that takes height and weight into account and then offers a range of suggested sizes, to help you get the right fit.
Similarly to MFF listed above, Velocio uses a lot of Luxe fabric in its range, which gives its garments a silky and smooth texture, as well as clean lines and a flattering finish.
One of Velocio’s three pillars which it’s built upon is ‘creating better’, and this is reflected in the fact that unlike many mainstream brands who purchase standard garment patterns to turn into their own kit, Velocio designs its own patterns from the ground up. This means it has full control over how garments fit, and the types of shapes and sizes they can accommodate.
Don’t be fooled by the models in the photos either, although no plus-size models are depicted, we can vouch for the inclusivity of the size range offered by Velocio and the extremely comfortable and flattering fit offered by its wares.
For three-season layering, you can’t do much better than this long-sleeved merino mesh base layer from Velocio. It offers exceptional warmth and moisture-wicking, to help you stay comfortable on the bike regardless of fluctuations in temperature. The fit is close but thanks to the stretchy fabric, it offers plenty of freedom of movement, and it feels luxuriously soft.
It’s long enough to provide plenty of coverage and be tucked into bibs, while providing all those magical merino benefits, like preventing the build-up of bacteria and odours, therefore lasting longer between washes.
Read our Velocio Women’s Merino Mesh LS Base Layer review.
This special-edition (hence the SE) version of Velocio’s Signature Jersey shares many of its flagship garment’s features, including superior wicking and breathability, comfortable fit with compression support, and soft-to-the-touch high-gauge ultralight Italian milled fabric. What’s more, it uses recycled fabric and therefore contributes to the fight against waste.
We mentioned earlier that Velocio owns its own garment patterns and therefore has full control over them. The Signature jersey, as well as this SE version, feature size-specific patterning, which means that regardless of size, the individual garment is designed to fit a broad range of body shapes.
Before you baulk at the price, consider what an investment these bib shorts would be. Not only are they luxuriously soft and silky to the touch, with their matte finish and superb opacity, they also fit like a second skin and have quite possibly the best pee-break solution we’ve ever seen.
Let’s face it, stopping for a wild wee is the worst when you’re wearing bib shorts, because in most cases you either find yourself stripping off your top layers or doing your best pretzel impersonation while trying to clip everything back into place. Velocio’s FLYfree design is a true game-changer, so if you’re a long-distance cyclist, this feature alone is worth its weight in gold.
Quite simply, the rear panel of fabric is made with a 4-way stretch and lighter density than its surroundings. This gives it a wide lateral stretch but allows it to hold its shape afterwards. Combined with extremely stretchy straps, you can quite literally pull the back of the bib shorts down, do your business, and then pull them back up again. Genius.
Fat Lass at the Back
First things first, the name. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. For some, the word ‘fat’ carries trauma, while for others, it’s an empowering adjective they’re claiming back for themselves. Luckily, whichever camp you fall in, the vast majority of Fat Lass at the Back’s (FLAB – yes, we know) kit doesn’t have its name boldly printed all over it.
So, to focus on what’s really great about this brand, it produces a range of women’s cycling kit for all seasons, with lots of fun and bold colours and patterns. What’s more, its sizes don’t conform to the usual S/M/L or UK8-20 range, and instead it has its own sizes that allow you to choose your jersey according to your bust size (up to 50 inches) and your shorts or leggings by your waist/hip size (up to 46/55 inches).
If so far you’ve been deterred by premium prices, then you’ll be happy to know that FLAB’s offerings fall within the entry-to-mid-level of pricing. You’ll still need to spend a little to invest in some kit, but you’ll be rewarded with fun gear that you won’t see everyone else wearing.
Whether you want something for between seasons when it’s not quite warm enough for shorts, or you’d prefer not to show all of your legs, these 3/4 length ‘pedal pusher’ style leggings are a great addition to your cycling wardrobe.
They’re soft to the touch and have a side panel that offers a flattering finish, plus there are seven versions of these (many coming soon) with different colours and patterns in the side panel, so you can add a bit of flare to your cycling style.
These can also be a great option if you’re not a fan of bibs, or not ready to try them. The high waist offers all the coverage you need to keep your lower back covered and warm, while the internal drawstring allows you to secure the fit so they don’t slip down as you ride. Plus, the main benefit of not having bib straps is that you don’t need to do much wrestling when nature calls.
The Cove jersey from FLAB is a simple but effective summer jersey constructed from 135gsm Coolmax fabric, which is lightweight and soft to help you stay comfortable when the temperature rises. It does a good job of wicking away sweat to leave you feeling cool and dry, while the curve-friendly cut accommodates ample bosoms and rotund bellies.
The size range is determined by bust size in inches, which is a great solution seeing as for many plus size women, the bust can be the trickiest part to accommodate. However as you approach the largest sizes, you may want to order the next size down as well and return one later, since they have been known to size up quite large.
The jersey features three generous back pockets to store your essentials, plus a zip pocket for valuables. Most of all, we love this particular version because who among us would not ride for cake? There’s even a matching cap!
If you’re not sure you even want to be cycling around in lycra yet, you do have another option. Wearing a pair of padded under shorts like these, means you can wear whatever you want on top, but still have a foam pad to help you ride for longer before you start feeling sore down below.
These high-waisted under shorts are meant to have a snug fit so they can hold the pad securely in place, while also supporting your abdomen and keeping your lower back covered and warm. The silicone hem and waist is designed to stop them from slipping down, while a drawstring inside means you can secure them exactly where you want them.
dhb is the Wiggle-owned range that offers great value for money on cycling clothing. While the brand isn’t exactly a trailblazer for plus size clothing, we thought we’d give it a mention because its MODA range extends up to a UK size 18 (or XXL), and being available through Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles makes it a lot more accessible for some people.
MODA is dhb’s women-specific sports range, designed by an all-female team of designers and developers with the aim of giving more women the confidence to get out and ride their bikes. Seeing as the name itself means ‘fashion’ in Italian, it goes without saying that another aim of the MODA collection is to look as good as it performs.
The dhb MODA LS jersey is constructed from super soft micro Roubaix fabric, which provides a bit of warmth when it’s needed during transitionary weather. The premium Italian fabric offers excellent moisture management to keep you feeling dry and comfortable while you ride, and the different colours and patterns on offer are lovely.
Technically there are more colourways available, however for our purposes here, we’ve only included those that are extended to a size 18.
In a similar vein to its long sleeve counterpart listed above, the MODA short sleeve jersey is designed to be comfortable and stylish at the same time. More suited to warmer weather, the short sleeve version is also made from premium Italian fabrics that are super soft next to the skin, and provide enough stretch for ease of movement. There’s also the option to size down if you’d prefer a more compression fit instead.
D2D is a lesser-known UK-based cycling brand that started as a conversation between a group of friends riding in the Peak District. After continually discussing the prices of road cycling gear, the brand was launched in a bid to provide quality affordable clothing.
Amongst D2D’s main offerings is a D2D+ range of jerseys and jackets which go up to 4XL sizing, or the equivalent of UK size 22. Among all the brands listed here, D2D definitely caters to the larger end of the spectrum.
Not everyone wants a high-tech aero racing jersey, in fact when you’re on the larger side that’s the last thing you might be after. For anyone who wants a jersey with a comfortable and relaxed fit, this D2D jersey with its triple-construction forgiving fabric could be just the thing.
With its high-visibility orange panels and reflective details, it’ll help you stay visible on the roads, while the fabric breathes sufficiently to help you shed some heat while you feel the burn. It features three back pockets, a silicone gripper hem to keep everything in place, and an eight-panel design for an ergonomic fit.
If you’re looking for a jersey you can wear all year round (except perhaps in the height of summer), the D2D+ 4Season Roubaix jersey offers up the insulation, breathability and moisture management promised by Roubaix fleece.
Designed to be versatile enough to wear through most of the year, you can pair it with a baselayer and a winter jacket when temperatures hit below zero, and use it during those transitional seasons when the weather is unpredictable.
This is available in two colours and features a reflective trim and high-vis accents for road safety, three angled rear pockets, and flatlock stitching for a comfortable fit.
D2D doesn’t just do relaxed fitted cycling gear, its ProFit range is more performance-focused and designed to support and compress in the right places. These ProFit II bib shorts are women’s specific and go up to a size 4XL.
They include a 4D seamless, dimpled and vented chamois, to provide adequate comfort when you spend a long time on the saddle. The bib straps are wide for a comfortable fit, and deep cut to allow some extra room for heat to escape. Meanwhile, the Pro ergonomic fit is designed to support your body in the race position, provide some compression to help reduce fatigue, and ultimately keep you comfortable for longer, without breaking the bank.
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