Recently, I checked out a kit from Machines for Freedom, a women’s cycling apparel company that I’ve had my eye on for a long time. You all know I love…
a) a kit with neutral colors and simple patterns that fits well
b) a black bib short
c) a really great long sleeve jersey that can be worn on 99% of rides. (That’s right, I would opt for a long sleeve over a short sleeve almost any time, other than when it hits over 85 degrees out, and even then, I might consider it. Why? I hate jersey tan lines and honestly, I have a family with a serious history of skin cancer and personally I don’t love wearing a ton of sunscreen. It’s why when I run I almost always wear long sleeves as well.)
So, I was PSYCHED on the Machines for Freedom longsleeve SUMMERWEIGHT jersey in Palmera print—neutral-y jewel tone palm prints with plenty of black, plus some bold neon pops (but not too much). The fabric is UPF 50 and super lightweight, so finally, I had a long sleeve that could be worn in even super-hot conditions, though I also used it in the early stages of fall without any issues. It’s super breathable, ridiculously cute, and literally the only patterned jersey that’s left standing in my otherwise very pared down cycling wardrobe.
Trying on this jersey for the first time showed me that MFF isn’t just about pretty patterns without a thought for fit: The company really does strive to find that sweet spot where aesthetic meets high-functioning… And not in a traditionally ‘sporty’ way.
This kit delivered. The bib shorts were also great—when I tried on the Endurance Bib, I was a little leery at first since you all know I love a bib short that can be pulled or zipped down for easy pee access. But the chamois was so good, and so was the stitching … I fell in reluctant love.
OK, the stitching. This is a weird thing to get excited about but seriously, look at the lines here! Instead of being horseshoe shaped and curved, these are straight diamonds and triangles, and despite the fact that, yes, these are plain black bibs, that gives them an extra je ne sai quois. I LOVED IT.
I was also SO impressed with the chamois–it’s one of the lightest, thinnest ones I’ve encountered in a long time, and I was nervous it wouldn’t be comfy. But it really was—and honestly, it was nice to have a bit less padding. (Historically, the chamois was never meant to be padding, it was meant to fight friction–that’s why it used to be deerskin leather in wool shorts. True story.) This is a big step up from leather-on-wool, but I appreciated the lack of diaper feeling that some cheaper shorts have!
Size-wise, I would say it’s all pretty true to size (and their range is SO impressive, I love how inclusive it is. It can be challenging to find women’s cycling kit for bigger sizes, but MMF runs up to 3XL!). I wear a small across the board, and it’s an ‘honest small’ that matches brands like Nike, Adidas, UnderArmour—basically, it’s in line with regular athletic clothing.
And of course, it’s worth shouting out that Machines for Freedom was started by a woman, their company philosophy is “Challenge yourself, support each other, spread good vibes,” and they’ve been doing a lot of work to add more diversity and inclusivity into their range + advertising, and women’s cycling in general. So, applause is warranted for that as well as the fact that they make a great product!