- Yoga style waistband keeps shorts in place and provides a smooth silhouette under jersey
- Seamless leg band stays in place with silicon grippers
- Soft, breathable, and comfortable chamois is great for endurance rides
- Moisture wicking fabric keeps you dry
- Wide range of sizing to fit every body type
- Prefer longer than 8.5” inseam
- No reflective elements
Price: $148 MSRP
How Obtained: Company sample
RBR Advertiser: No
Machines for Freedom First Ever Cycling Short
Machines for Freedom has had success with their bibs, but seems many of their customers still weren’t ready to make the switch from shorts to bibs. So, they developed The Essential Cycling Short and added it to their line. They hit the mark right on most everything from the yoga style waistband that is flattering and stays put, to the extremely comfortable chamois that you hardly know is there.
The company also expanded their sizes to provide a range from XS to 3XL. These shorts are truly for every body type. By expanding their sizes, Machines acknowledges that cyclists come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which many other brands seem to forget. In addition, their marketing images include a diverse selection of races and body types, further embracing the view that cycling is for everyone.
A while back I reviewed Machine for Freedom’s summerweight long sleeve jersey and was supposed to test their Essential Cycling Shorts at the same time. But the shorts have been so popular, it sold out as quickly as they got them in stock. Thus, I’m just finishing my testing/review now.
What most women will like most about these shorts is the yoga style waistband and the chamois. The waistband does not dig in but instead sits high on the waist providing a clean silhouette under a jersey. The wide waistband keeps the shorts in place, along with the seamless leg bands with silicon grippers. I had no issue with the chamois moving around and zero chafing.
Another nice feature of the high waistband is there’s plenty of coverage when you go into the drops. Being 6 feet tall, I hate when there’s a gap between the bottom of the jersey and the waistband. Not a problem here.
The chamois is next to skin and soft with no extra bulk — just added cushion to support the sit bones. According to the company’s web site, the chamois is bacteriostatic and reduces heat gain. My first test ride, I threw on the shorts and went for a 45-mile trail ride. They were breathable and totally comfortable for the whole ride. I’ve since worn them several more times on both road (longest ride 62 miles) and trail with positive results.
There are two areas I feel these shorts could improve on — leg length and adding reflective elements. The inseam measures 8.5” and hits my leg mid-thigh. While some women may like this length to avoid long tan lines, I prefer an inseam 9.5”-10.5”. Machines offer a longer inseam on their bibs, which would be a welcome option in the future for the Essential Shorts.
The second improvement would be the addition of reflective elements on the leg, which is something standard on most cycling shorts. It would be easy enough for them to add the logo on the front and back of the leg in a reflective ink and problem solved.
Machines for Freedom’s first attempt at cycling shorts is a success with key comfort and fit features. Since the $148 price tag puts these shorts on the higher end of the spectrum, I’d imagine newbie riders might shy away from spending so much, but they wouldn’t be disappointed. The comfort and quality construction would give them miles of cycling bliss.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio.