Machines For Freedom is a women’s cycling brand that was started by Jenn Kriske in 2013 to create bib shorts designed for women by women. What started as a one-item line has expanded into other well-received items including shorts, jerseys, and outer layers. “Inspired by the intersection of athleticism and femininity, we strive for a balance between technical performance and streamlined, flattering shapes. Machines gear feels like nothing you’ve tried before because it’s designed to boost your confidence. How you feel in this kit isn’t an afterthought; it’s the whole point.”
Machines for Freedom is all about inclusiveness and attitude, and getting out there cycling no matter who you are. I tested out their Pebble Print Jersey, Summerweight Long Sleeve Jersey, and Essential Short.
The Pebble Print
The Pebble Print jersey is a form-fitting zip up classic short sleeve, designed for short or long gravel rides. The company is donating 10% of the jersey’s cost to The Okra Project, an organization dedicated to providing healthy, home-cooked meals and mental health services to Black Trans people in need.
I took the Pebble Print jersey for a scenic ride along the coast on a hot summer day. It’s incredibly lightweight, and made entirely of high quality polyester and elastane threads. It’s tailored so well that it fits like a second skin. Pair this jersey with their Essential Cycling shorts and you’ve got an all day performance riding kit that will make you want to keep on riding.
The jersey has great moisture-wicking properties. Using their COLDBLACK technology throughout, it’s no surprise that this jersey is meant to keep the rider cool and dry on the hottest and sweatiest days. Not to mention it has UPF 50+ for sun protection.
For size reference, I tested a size medium. I’m a 36″ bust, 5’7″, and 155lbs and the jersey fit perfectly snug and gave me a sleek look and feel. This jersey has a tighter compression fit for sure, so if you’re coming from looser style MTB jerseys, you may want to size up for more comfort. Machines for Freedom has a pretty comprehensive Sizing Guide, and you can even type your measurements into the fit calculator for a personalized recommendation. I was impressed that the jersey did not feel too tight or restrict my range of motion while out riding.
One small inconvenience is the rubber grip is only located on the back of the jersey. It would be helpful to have the rubber grip all around to help secure it even better, but like I said, it’s just a small inconvenience as this didn’t affect my riding or the comfort of the jersey.
If you like to carry snacks, hydration gels, and other small essential items, you will really appreciate the three large and deep pockets in the back, in addition to a hidden zippered pocket on the right side. The three full-size pockets can hold a water bottle, or three if that’s your jam, or a variety of other items like hydration packs, gels, or even a rolled up jacket for those chilly evening rides.
Whether you’re on a gravel bike or road bike, this great-looking, lightweight, and incredibly comfortable jersey will make your rides more enjoyable and keep you stylish at the same time. The fun pebble pattern, body molding fit, and spacious pockets make it my go-to for gravel bike rides. I wanted to bring up the high price tag of this jersey, but honestly, I was blown away by the high quality materials and women-tailored designs. This jersey is truly worth every penny. Especially when it comes with a one-year crash replacement warranty. As the company states, “Happiness Guaranteed.”
MSRP: $178. Available at Competitive Cyclist.
The Summerweight Long Sleeve In Palmera
The second jersey I tested was the Summerweight Long Sleeve jersey. Machines for Freedom introduced this piece to break from the traditional short-sleeve jersey style. The company created a long sleeve jersey to help riders stay protected from the sun all while keeping cool on hot days.
This jersey fits like a second skin and offers great moisture wicking properties featuring ultra lightweight perforated fabric that allows the breeze to pass right through. The fabric stays cool and offers sun protection without overheating the rider. You won’t have to worry if you forget your sunscreen because the long sleeves keep arms safe from UV rays with UPF 50+ for sun protection.
Like the short-sleeve jersey, the Summerweight has nice details like a zipper garage under your chin, three large and deep pockets at the back of the shirt, and a zippered side pocket.
MSRP: $168. Available at Competitive Cyclist.
Essential Cycling Short
After perfecting their bib shorts, and over a year of development, Machines for Freedom released the first cycling short. Machines for Freedom founder Jenn Kriske’s goal was to redefine the classic cycling short. The result? A high-performance short with the technical benefits of a bib, but with the convenience of being shorts!
The Essential Shorts are designed for women and endurance riders who simply prefer wearing a short. These are meant to keep you riding in comfort and style for short or longer rides. The compressed fit is comfortable and sleek, complete with a yoga-inspired waistband, and these shorts stay put without cutting into the rider’s mid section.
I personally have not been a bib-short person, and I’m sure we’ve all heard at least one horror story of delayering and the extra hassle involved with bibs. When I learned about these Essential Shorts, I was more than ecstatic to give them a try.
The high waistband sits around the midsection of the stomach, providing a sleek and trim look and feel – almost like a bib minus the extra fuss. I was impressed that the waistband did not roll down during my ride, and I never felt it cut into my midsection. Double win! The fabric is very breathable and stretchy, despite the high temperatures when I was out testing these. I almost felt like I wasn’t wearing them.
The Essential Shorts have a seamless silicon leg band with elastic grips that stay in place around your thighs. Finally, there’s no thick band at the leg opening which means no ‘sausage leg’ effect, and no worries about chafing, squeezing or pinching off your leg circulation. These shorts stay in place during long rides.
The chamois pad definitely checks off the comfortable and moisture wicking boxes, and Machines for Freedom states the chamois is graded for 6+ hours in the saddle and is bacteriostatic to inhibit infections. After riding around in 90+ degree heat, these shorts dried off sweat very quickly. They stayed cool during my ride and I didn’t feel sweaty post-ride.
The Essential Shorts fit true to size, so be sure to take careful measurements with their handy sizing guide to get your perfect fit. For sizing reference, I tested out a medium size pair of shorts and they fit perfectly snug. When I first received the shorts, they looked so small and compact that I almost thought they were not going to fit. However, they proved to be very stretchy and feel nice and snug without being constricting.
The cool bonus in this design is being able to relieve yourself without worrying about entirely taking off layers out on the side of the trail or at a porta potty – which is something you’d have to do with bibs.
These are high-quality cycling shorts that provide many of the benefits of bibs, with extreme comfort that makes a difference in enjoyment and performance on the trail. Plus, they fit underneath a pair of baggies if you want to take advantage of the comfort while mountain biking!
MSRP: $148. Available at Competitive Cyclist.
Machines for Freedom is an excellent brand that has supportive, inclusive, and encouraging core values that drive their innovative cycling apparel for women forward. It’s worth mentioning that they have a “Happiness Guaranteed” policy. Machines for Freedom stands by their products and offers a guarantee program to protect your purchase: you can try their products for 30 days and if they’re rubbing you the wrong way you can send them back. If your kit becomes unridable they’ll replace it up to one year from purchase, and if you notice a manufacturer’s defect in your shorts or jersey within six months of purchase you can send them back for exchange. Machines for Freedom has opened up a community for women of all shapes and sizes on bikes all over the world.
Thank you Machines for Freedom for providing these items for testing.
The Feel Good, Ride Good series is an effort to help women find mountain bike gear and clothing that just feels right. We recognize women have different body shapes, styles, and needs so we hope to help them discover women’s products that fit those unique requirements so we can just focus on the ride. While we are all different, we all want gear that fits, that works, and matches the energy and personality we bring to the bike. We’ll be back on #FeelGoodFriday with more women’s MTB products