Fat Lad At The Back's Hexy Hybrid Blue Cycling Jacksey, the 'Hexy Jacksey', is a long-sleeve, full-length-zip softshell that is well made and comes in a fun if slightly retro colour scheme and design. If the weather is dry and the temperature is hovering around double digits, it makes a decent outerlayer. In worse conditions, you'll have to combine it with judicious use of other under and outer layers.
- Pros: Windproof front is surprisingly effective, fun design, good fit
- Cons: Only very mildly water resistant, rear flap could be longer, my arms got chilly!
The Hexy is definitely more a general use spring/autumn jacket than a full winter garment. I took the Hexy for its first test on a day with 10°C ambient temperature, a slight breeze and intermittent drizzle – pretty much what FLATB says it can cope with. Underneath I wore just a very good baselayer.
Considering how light is the Hexy's windstopper fabric, it put up a pretty good showing. I'd say those condition lie right on the limits of the jacket's abilities when teamed with just an underlayer – a jersey underneath would have been more comfortable. However, the Tempest fabric on the front did an excellent job of keeping the wind out and the drizzle at bay.
Unfortunately, Tempest is only used on the front (great if you're a recumbent rider), while micro-fibre fleece is specified for the Hexy's back. This feels wonderful to the touch but isn't much use when you find yourself hunched on an exposed interminable climb in soggy conditions. Probably the weakest area performance-wise, though, are the sleeves. Despite my baselayer having long sleeves, I quickly noticed a chill hitting what passes for my biceps.
Because the back is so airy, breathability is good. Sweat was wicked away efficiently and any dampness I suffered was environmental, not self-produced.
The Hexy's fit is very good and it was reassuring to know that my expected size suited me perfectly. This 46in chest version (the Hexy is available in up to 52in chests) comfortably clears my torso as expected yet doesn't exhibit any signs of undue bagginess. In terms of length, the front is pretty much bang on, and the slightly dropped tail is OK, but I wouldn't have minded it being slightly more pronounced.
The details are largely good, too. There's a zipped side pocket for valuables and three open rear pockets, all with reflective piping.
A tidy zip garage stops your chin (or chins) from being caught, and the very effective flap behind the zip helps with windproofing. Try as I might to fumble things, this flap refused to get caught in the zip during use, which is far from a given on full-length zipped jackets and makes life with the Hexy a lot easier.
Topping things off, a rather pleasant FLATB soft collar keeps your neck nice and warm.
With no faults to be found in its manufacturing quality, the only detail I'd mark the Hexy down on are the soft-touch stretch Lycra cuffs. They really don't need to be stretchy, because they're already super-baggy and let cold air in with ease. On cold or breezy days, it's a case of making sure the cuffs of your full-finger gloves go on the outside.
Design and value
Design is a very personal thing, and I'm not quite sure where I stand on the Hexy. With its geometric motifs, I'd say it's retro influenced. I'm not sure if my dad actually did have a cycling jacket like this back in the '80s, but he certainly could have done. You'd make quite a statement teaming it with an old-school banana helmet. I do like the colour, though.
As a lazy incompetent, I'm a definite fan of its washing instructions – something you might have to think about quite often if you regularly subject this light blue beauty to winter weather. Thankfully, things couldn't be much simpler. Machine wash at 30°C and no tumble drying. I've given it a couple of spins and everything is still fine and dandy.
Finally, value. The Hexy is a relatively simple jacket but it does what it sets out to do well. Combining that with its unique selling point – the fact that its sizes go from small fry 36in all the way up to 52in – means that the £100 asking price is almost justified. It's not as good value as, say, the Galibier Mistral we tested recently, but then few products are. That said, at this price it's a shame the Hexy doesn't have slightly better waterproofing or some thermal qualities.
A simple but effective softshell jacket for larger lads; think of it as a comfy windproof layer and you won't go far wrong
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fat Lad At The Back Hexy Hybrid Blue Cycling Jacksey
Size tested: 46in
Tell us what the jacket 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?
The 'Hexy' is a general use softshell jacket for larger road cyclists.
Fat Lad At The Back says: "A feature driven, essential long sleeve Jacksey that combines the superb wicking qualities and warmth of our microfibre long sleeve fleecy jersey with a windproof Tempest fabric front, as we know when you are out on your bike, the wind can be a real pain in the jacksey! With a waterproof FRONT, it will keep off a little light drizzle shower."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
New premium spec
Technical Tempest windproof/waterproof fabric on the front
Lightweight, breathable and wicking so you won't feel clammy
Soft touch stretch Lycra cuffs
Microfibre fleecy back
Covered YKK ® cam lock zipper
Zip hood protects your chinny-chin-chin
Reflective piping detail on the back pockets
3 generous back pockets plus zipped pocket with cable access and reflective zip
Silicone hem keeps the jersey in place
Well made with nice details, such as the reflective piping and soft Fat Lad At The Back collar.
Good at keeping chill off your front, but the performance of the fabric used for the back and arms was slightly disappointing.
Should be fine. I've given it a couple of washes already and it's come through with no problems.
As waterproof as the manufacturer says, ie, 'not very'.
Pretty good – I experienced no build up of dampness, but then again, the back of the jacket isn't very insulating either!
Very good – it fitted very well.
Again excellent – this is my normal size and it fitted as expected.
Not bad at all – it certainly feels light to wear.
Again, very good.
With little to no waterproofing, I feel £100 is a bit steep for a fairly standard softshell, albeit one designed specifically for larger riders.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy. By following the manufacturer's instructions, road spray washed out of it well.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fairly well. I felt the front section was particularly good at guarding against the elements. The back and arms were a slight disappointment, though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Windstopping front fabric was very good.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I got cold arms!
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Not as good value or performance as the Galibier Mistral, but just about on a par with the Sportful Giara.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
I liked the Hexy – it does what it sets out to do without any bother. However, I do feel it's a little overpriced considering its technical capabilities are limited to the Tempest windstopper/water-repellent front panels.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure