I have just had the most wonderful and refreshing conversation with Graeme Brightmore of D2D Cycle Clothing. We chatted all about proper cycle clothing for large bodied cyclists!
Launched in 2014, D2D are a small, independent retailer based just outside Sheffield on the edge of the Peak District and they make cycling apparel for folks that like to ride from ‘Dawn to Dusk’!
I Am A Cyclist
I am also large! 115ish kg squished into just 163cm. Large chest, large waist, larger hips! At 46 years of age I am unlikely to change without some major life compromises (or surgery) that I’m not sure I have the time, money, or inclination to make. Believe me I have tried.
The 1980s taught us to be on permanent diets. Fat was bad whether you were eating it or were it, and being fat was all your fault because you were gluttonous, unhealthy and lazy! People were shamed for being big! By the time the 1990s rolled around we were well into: “you can’t be famous, successful or serious if you are fat” territory, thanks to the burgeoning reality music scene. All of this reinforced by a lack of companies catering for bigger folk and media campaigns using unrealistic and photoshopped versions of people.
Rarely do big cycling brands cater for larger bodies appropriately. Or worse; they cater for larger bodies but assume that large women want pink, swirling patterns and large men want practical and blue. There is the custom route but aside from the expense and no returns, I have found the patterns are re-hashes of the mens version and scaled accordingly; wider translates to – taller.
Companies say they are demand driven, but I think it is more like; lack of availability is translated as lack of demand, and that is driving a vicious cycle.
Thankfully attitudes are starting to shift. Larger cyclists are starting to speak up and, there are companies out there that are starting to listen.
The Right Clothes for the Job
There is no doubt that if you want to ride a bike, especially if you want to ride outdoors, long distances or adventure off-road you need some comfortable clothing that is going to reduce problems such as sweating & chaffing and help you deal with the weather.
There still only ONE manufacturer in the UK of cycle specific clothing that I can comfortably purchase from and that is D2D. I don’t remember how I found them. I am always scouring the cycling industry for suitable clothing as it is so bloody hard/impossible to find. What a relief to finally have a place to shop. Up to 4XL in sizes for both Men & Women and a ‘Max’ size for those requiring larger. Sensible colours with the same designs available in both men and womens cut.
I’ll save the product descriptions and reviews for another time and get to how I ended up chatting to Graeme, and the point of this post.
Measure Twice. Cut Once.
I like to think my 20 years experience as business owner and retailer makes me a conscientious consumer. I try to pay attention to instruction, to avoid wasting mine and the retailers time with returns and exchanges. I have also learnt over the years that, if you find something that fits; buy as many as you can because you can guarantee you won’t get them again.
I purchased a pair of bib shorts from D2D some time back and have worn them to death. They are so comfy & they wash well. The front stretches low enough for me to use my shee wee. My only issue with them, with any lycra in fact is that they are see through when stretched around my ample backside so I have to pair them with shorts to avoid looking like “a full moon in a fog”, as my nan would say. I broke my own rule and purchased only 1 pair.
Not to worry. They were still available on the website so I ordered another pair. I could get them on, but JC they were tight. I measured me and the garment again but sadly, in the end I had to return them. A slight design change had lost the inch that would have made them perfect.
Fortunately D2D have a really good and efficient returns/exchange policy and excellent customer service. I emailed my intention to return the bibs with a description of the issue.
The Point – Finally!
Graeme replied to my email. Not only did he appologise but he went out of his way to suggest and offer alternatives! He was really keen to hear my feedback on the D2D products and we scheduled a telephone call.
Speaking to Graeme was refreshing. A small company, navigating difficult trading times yet still invested and interested in the thoughts and experiences of it’s customers with a desire to improve and move forward. It was clear he cared. Cared about his customers and cared about his company. Massive kudos to Graeme and the team at D2D for courting and catering for the XL Community.
Graeme has asked if I would help to try some of their new XL products and I have said I will. I will do my best and be honest. It’s not about advertising, or remuneration. It is about working together to grow together, and leaving the cycling world a little better and more inclusive that we found it. The cycling industry has a long way to go but with folks like Graeme and companies like D2D I think us larger bods can dare to hope!
I’ll keep you posted!
Thank you for reading.
A cup of tea for Mary & me
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