Machines for Freedom
Words by Anna Maria
Shopping for cycling apparel is a lot like shopping for jeans or a swim suit. It’s a daunting activity, but hopefully at the end, you’ve found something great and have that solid staple in your wardrobe to wear for ages. Similarly, if you end up spending a lot on jeans or swimwear, it feels worth it, because ideally these things make you look good. That’s where the comparison ends, because in cycling apparel it’s possible to search for ages, spend a ton of money, and still have something that falls short in performance and appearance. A friend of ours clued us in to Machines for Freedom, and we have been huge fans from day one. The product is beautiful. And it is really different from anything else out there. MFF is one of the only brands that launched exclusively as a women’s line. It’s total focus on the female cyclist is apparent in every last detail. We tested out their bibs and jerseys here in New York and were super impressed with the gear.
If there is an area where MFF is truly innovating, its definitely with their bibs. The cut is incredibly figure flattering with v-shaped panels across the hips that are visually slimming. The fabric has a lot less give than most bibs, so it has this great compressing effect. MFF calls the bib fit, “spanx on the bike” and the comparison is on point. The legs have a very wide band of tiny gripper dots and they absolutely do not give you sausage legs. Possibly best of all, they are short. So if you love tanned legs and short skirts in the summer, these bibs are an absolute must. It is a very different fit and feel, so here are a few things to keep in mind. The fabric will feel less stretchy. If you are curvier, you might have to shimmy a bit more to get into the bibs, but the net effect is awesome and the fabric very supportive. If you are in the habit of wearing larger sizes to try to avoid sausage legs, there is no need to do that here. Fortunately, MFF provides free shipping both ways and its possible to order more than one size to try on and keep the one that fits best.
The jersey is just as lovely as it is technical. It has everything you’d expect from a premium jersey; great seams, pockets and zippers. It fits well and has great dropped in raglan sleeves for a beautiful, comfortable fit at the arms and shoulders. Panels of vented and more durable fabric alternate for maximum breathability, and the fabric has an SPF of 50. The fabrics, currently available in two patterns. Designed by the textile designer behind Herve Leger and Current/Elliot they are decidedly feminine without being girly. They read as athletic, but still have the lightness you’d expect from a southern california design.
Fully dressed in Machines for Freedom one feels both fashionable, athletic and well prepared for endurance riding. Machines for Freedom describes themselves as “The Little Black Dress” in your cycling wardrobe, and the fashion conscious cyclist would most certainly agree.
The exceptional support of the fabric means that most riders will wear a much snugger fit than they have grown accustomed to. For any woman who logs serious hours on a bike, it feels great to wear clothes that fit well. As New Yorkers who dress in black and neutral colors we can’t help but hope that MFF releases a greater variety of fabric designs in 2015. And we would love to see MFF offerings in the vest/windbreaker/light jacket department.
Any review of Machines for Freedom wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their awesome blog, and their founder Jennifer Hannon. The blog is updated frequently with amazing travel stories, inspiring personal histories, and just great sunny bike ride photos (they are in Santa Monica!) Jennifer is just as inspiring in her own right, new to cycling but incredibly passionate, she left a career in hotel and restaurant design to start MFF. We look forward to sharing her story about how she came to launch this line, and about the challenges in creating women’s cycling apparel at a later date. If you happen to find yourself in sunny southern California this winter, you just might want to ride with Jennifer and Machines for Freedom yourself.