Looking for your next favorite cycling kit? Meet Machines For Freedom. The clothing from this company is high-quality, comfortable, and designed for women (by women).
In addition to creating top-notch cycling apparel, the company has also made an effort to create clothing that works and fits women of a wide variety of sizes. If you’ve ever struggled to find a pair of shorts that fit at your local bike shop (hand raised!), you’ll appreciate that Machines For Freedom has designed their clothing for you.
In my experience, the best women’s cycling apparel comes from smaller, women-owned brands. That’s why I’ve enjoyed testing out several pieces from Machines For Freedom.
In this review, I share my experience and opinions to help you decide if this brand might be a good fit for you. (Pun totally intended).
Machines For Freedom Endurance Bib Shorts
- Come in a wide variety of sizes
- Thick, comfortable chamois
- Wide comfortable leg grippers
- Lots of compression
- No waistband to dig in / no plumbers crack
- 30 day trial period
- No halter or snaps for easy pee breaks
- Stitching on multiple panels caused some irritation
Bibs Come In A Huge Range Of Sizes
Most women’s bike shorts come in S, M, or L and don’t really fit that well regardless of what size you are. The Machines For Freedom bibs, on the other hand come in sizes ranging from XS to XXXL and fit hips from 34 inches to 54 inches.
They have a pretty good fit guide on their website, and I found that I was able to order the right size based on my measurements.
Compression Is Startling AT First…But Nice Once You Get Used To It
The first time I tried the bibs on, I thought for sure that they were too small. I had to wiggle my way into the bibs and they were TIGHT.
Then, I discovered that the “tightness” is really compression and that the shorts are intended to be that way. If you’re not used to your bibs being that compressive, it might be a bit startling at first, but you’ll quickly get used to it.
I found that the compression was supportive and felt good on long rides. In fact, once I got used to it, I really enjoyed the compression.
Chamois Is Super Comfortable, Even On Long Rides
The chamois on the MFF bibs are where this short really shines. It’s comfortable, doesn’t bunch of rub the wrong way, and is thick enough for even the very longest rides.
In recent years, I’ve become a bit of a chamois minimalist–primarily because I found that thicker chamois had a tendentcy of giving me saddle sores. No such problem with the MFF chamois.
If you’re looking for a chamois for century or all day rides, you should definitely take a look at the Machines For Freedom bib short.
Nice, Wide, Non-Restrictive Leg Bands
Unlike the leg bands on most shorts–those awful ones that dig into your legs–the ones of the Machines For Freedom bibs are comfortable. They are nice and wide and have grippy material to keep the shorts in place. With these shorts, you’ll never suffer from the dreaded sausage legs again!
I found that the legs were comfortable and stayed in place. They didn’t ride up or dig into my skin.
Why You Should Try Bibs
Compared to regular bike shorts, bibs are awesome! There is no waistband to dig in and you’ll never have to worry about your muffintop or plumbers crack spilling out.
As someone who constantly adjusts her jersey to make sure I don’t have any skin showing around my middle, I find that bibs provide me way more comfort. I don’t have to worry about clothing malfunctions, I can just ride my bike.
Not Easy To Get On….Or To Take Off For Bathroom Breaks
My only real complaint with theses bibs is that there’s no easy way to get them off to pee. I would love if they came with a halter, buckle, or snaps like many women’s bibs do, so that I could take them off without stripping all the way down.
The other issue is that the shorts take some serious finagling to get on. They are TIGHT. This made it even harder to deal with in road-side poratpotties, as I had to wiggle to get them over my hips.
Seams May Irritate Sensitive Skin
Let me preface this section by emphasizing that I have VERY sensitive skin. As in, I can’t leave tags in new clothes for an entire day without getting an awful rash.
That said, the MFF bibs really irritated my skin on longer rides. There are a bunch of panels sewn together on the shorts, and after an hour or so they would start to irritate my skin. Chamois cream DID help when I applied it on those sensitive areas.
For women without sensitive skin, you should be just fine. For ladies with delicate skin like mine, however, look for a pair of bibs with fewer seams.
30 Day Trial Period Helps Reduce Buyer’s Remorse
These bibs aren’t cheap. At $235 it might be scary to take the leap on hitting that buy button.
MFF has helped address this hang-up by offering a 30 day trial period where you can return the bibs if you don’t love them. That means if the compression is too much for you, or you end up having sensitive skin like me, then you can simply ship them back.
But chances are, you’ll keep the shorts.
Machines For Freedom Long Sleeve Summerweight Jersey
- Plenty of pocket space, including a zippered pocket
- Adorable prints
- Full-length zipper
- Protection from the sun (and road rash)
- High-end fit and fabric
- None that I could find
Provides Sun Protection On Brutal Summer Days
If you’re riding for more than an hour or so, you know how hard it can be to keep your shoulders, chest, and arms from getting fried on the bike. The Machines For Freedom summerweight jersey covers all these areas with UPF 50 protection.
But unlike most longsleeve jerseys, this one won’t make you sweat. Panels on the sides, underarms, and sidearms have small ventilation holes, and the fabric on the rest of the jersey is lightweight and feels cool to the touch.
I was easily able to wear this jersey on 80 degree rides without being uncomfortable.
Plenty Of Pocket Space For All Your Stuff
On the road bike, I want plenty of pocket space. Fortunately, the Machines For Freedom summerweight jersey has three large rear pockets with room for my phone, an energy bar, a CO2 cartridge, and more.
There is also a water-resistant zippered pocket where I can stash my driver’s license and some cash.
Prints So Cute You’ll Want Them All
The jersey comes in several beautiful prints. They are so head-turning in fact, that I’ve received multiple comments from complete strangers. Go ahead: just try and pick one.
Full-Length Zipper For Easy On And Off
The zipper is full length which makes it easy to get on and off–which is doubly important if you’re pairing it with the MFF bibs. The zipper is easy to zip and hasn’t snagged or given me any issues.
Gripper At Bottom Rear Of Jersey Keeps It In Place
The bottom rear of the jersey has a grip strip to keep the jersey from riding up. While this might not be as important with a pair of bibs underneath, it’s still nice to have things stay in place. And if I was wearing it with non-bib shorts, I’d be even more appreciative as the gripper helps you avoid the dreaded plumber’s crack.
Top-Notch Fit and Construction
Machines For Freedom hasn’t cut any corners with this jersey. It looks and feels amazing. The construction is top-notch, and the fabric is silky smooth.
I’m confident that this is a peice that will last for years. Again, the price tag isn’t cheap, but this isn’t a “cheap” looking or feeling jersey.
Machines For Freedom Trail Jersey
Sometimes mountain bike jerseys can feel a little frumpy. That’s why I was so excited when I first tried on the Machines For Freedom Trail Jersey–it was anything but frumpy!
The trail jersey (I tested it in black), felt like the little black dress of mountain biking, if you will. It was pretty, elegant, and had a flattering fit.
- Extremely soft
- Flattering cut
- Stays dry
- UPF Protection
- Rear pocket space
- Fabric felt a bit fragile for mountain biking
- No room for elbow pads
Softest Jersey EVER
I’m not even exaggerating when I say this is the softest, most comfortable jersey I’ve ever tried on. It feels amazing against your skin. Since I first tried it on, I’ve had trouble wearing anything else.
You’ll also be shocked to discover that the jersey is made of plant-based micromodal fabric. It’s an environmentally friendly, sustainable option, that still feels luxurious.
That said, the material is delicate which makes me worry about the long term durability. Most pieces I choose for mountain biking are a bit more rugged. This isn’t the jersey you want to take a big crash in or snag on a tree branch.
That said, for gravel riding or mellow trail rides the weight and durability is probably just fine. Just pick something else for big backcountry or gravity rides.
Unlike most baggy mountain bike jerseys, the Machines For Freedom Trail jersey is form fitting without being tight. The material is super stretchy and had plenty of give even on days where I had a bit too much to eat for lunch.
If you do want a bit looser of a fit, I would order up a size. I’m 125 lbs and got the size small. It fits beautifully, but doesn’t have a lot of extra room. There isn’t any space for elbow pads, for instance.
I loved the snap down henley style neckline that was flattering (and let some air in when it got hot). The overall look was feminine and lovely.
Rear Pocket Space
Mountain bike jerseys don’t always have pocket space, but the Trail jersey does! There are 3 rear pockets, and while they aren’t huge there’s plenty of room to stash a bar, car keys, and credit card.
On both sides of the pockets there are reflective strips. It’s not a lot, and might not be necessary if you’re only riding on trail, but is nice if you’re doing some gravel grinding.
Perfect For Shoulder Season Riding
For fall or spring riding, the Trail jersey is perfect. The 3/4 length sleeves provides a bit of extra warmth, but when things to start to heat up, it’s easy to pop open the snaps. The fabric also does a great job of staying dry and wicking sweat which is so important for shoulder season riding.
The fabric also has UPF 50+ protection to protect you from UV rays. I love this as I try not to put on sunscreen when I ride (I need that vitamin D and hate chemicals!), but still don’t want to get burned.
More Clothing Options!
- 9 Best Women’s Bike Shorts
- 9 Best Women’s Cycling Jerseys You’ll Love
- 9 Women’s Mountain Bike Jerseys You Will Love
About The Reviewer
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.