Specialized pulls the plug on female cycling clothing brand Machines For Freedom

Machines For Freedom kit on female mountain biker
(Image credit: Machines For Freedom)

After an announcement at the start of January that saw Specialized laying offeight percent of its workforce across the company globally, in what the company called a “transformation". Specialized has now shut down its women’s clothing brand Machines For Freedom, after acquiring the brand just five years ago.

The decision to end the brand comes at a time when the industry is becoming more aware of the need to make clothing to fit people of all sizes and Specialized have issued a statement expressing gratitude for the brand and its inspiration to serve women riders. “While dissolving the brand was a tough decision on both parties, the lessons learned during this partnership will continue to influence and guide the way Specialized makes women’s products for the years to come.”

Female rider in Machines For Freedom kit

Machines For Freedom was seen as an inspiration to women riders (Image credit: Machines For Freedom)

From her living room in Malibu, Jennifer Kriske founded the Machines For Freedom brand in 2014. After her frustrations in finding the best womens cycling kit, with the lack of quality and properly fitting female cycling kit inspiring her to do better. "Forget this, I'm doing it myself" became the brand's motto as they redefined the approach and thinking about women’s cycling. Delivering a range of clothing that worked the way female riders’ needed it to.

In an Instagram announcement Jennifer said, “I am saddened by this news but hopeful that the legacy will live on. I have been cycling through feelings of both grief and gratitude. For the past decade, Machines’ influence in the cycling industry has been undeniable. Our industry-leading fit process changed the game for women of all shapes and sizes, and we challenged the industry to consider riders that have been overlooked for generations.” And added, “By leading the progressive revolution of size, inclusivity, representation, and diversity within the cycling space, and focusing on the underrepresented women’s category, Machines was a beacon of inspiration.”

Female gravel rider on her bike

Machines For Freedom stood for the strength, athleticism, and femininity of athletes (Image credit: Machines For Freedom)

In a story that mimics hundreds of similar anecdotes, Marley Blonsky, co-founder of All Bodies on Bikes, credits Machines For Freedom for enhancing her cycling enjoyment.

“Machines For Freedom sent me a kit in March 2020, and it was the first kit I wore, after nearly 10 years of riding that fitted. Losing them leaves a lot of folks at a loss for where to find a good-fitting kit, especially for people on both the bigger and smaller end of the size spectrum.”

However, Blonsky said she has been considering starting a clothing brand even before Machines For Freedom shut down. “The timing is quite fortuitous, I’m still in the idea development/customer research phase, but there is a decided lack of plus-size bike clothing out there. And I have a platform to make it happen.”

With Specialized remaining tight-lipped on its plans to possibly continue the ethos of the Machines For Freedom brand, hopefully, Marley can pick up the torch and launch her size inclusive female brand, it's a sad indictment of the current global financial crisis to see a much loved and inspiring brand just disappear.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm