Machines For Freedom is a specialist brand dedicated to making cycle clothing for women. They started making clothing in 2013 in Los Angeles with a mission to design flattering streamlined garments using high-performance materials. The MFF clothing range has clothing for every two-wheeled occasion, whether you’re looking for your new best MTB pants, a women’s specific jersey for a gravel ride, or an outfit for when you hit the singletracks on your trail bike. When looking at updating your cycle-specific wardrobe, there are many things to consider, such as the fit, materials, features and style, and MFF has covered every eventuality.
Design and features
With MFF being women-only clothing, the focus has gone into designing each garment to fit the female form. As soon as I popped my legs into these tights, they easily molded around my curves, shaped in places to follow the body's contours without rearranging them or causing me to wince at any area digging in. The material is designed to be skin-tight, providing compression and a definite snug fit. Compression is excellent for blood circulation and helps muscle performance and recovery. Plus, it satisfyingly slides onto the body for a streamlined silhouette.
The chamois is super soft and cleverly padded in specific zones, suited for long hours in the saddle. Mesh inserts are sewn into the tights into places where the body tends to get a little hot while riding – the stomach, lower back and the back of the knee. These mesh-zoned areas offer a simple solution to ventilation, keeping you cool and less sweaty. A couple of nifty open-style mesh pockets are added to the back and positioned perfectly to reach behind and grab your bits. They are spacious, and during a ride, I carried a multi-tool, an energy bar and my phone, and I didn't notice anything inside the pockets. No uncomfortable digging in while in the riding position.
The tights are ankle length as claimed by MFF, but this is only true if you are a leggy person. So please be aware that there may be a better style for you if this is an issue. For standard to petite leg-sized women, they come up to the top of the foot – ideal for the colder month when you want that full length to cover the ankle and pull over the top of your warm socks.
The bib straps are wide and soft with some stretch, and the flat, low-profile material offers comfort against the skin. There is some subtle reflective detailing at the lower leg for when visibility is low and a small MFF logo on the left thigh.
I can see why Machines For Freedom branded these as its most versatile cycling pant, as the fabric is suitable for any weather, from cool early morning summer rides to cold frosty winter adventures. They offer protection all year round except for toasty warm temperatures the UK only sees a few weeks of the year.
I used them during a four-hour gravel ride in 5 degrees, and the mesh panels behind the knee and around the tummy area offered enough ventilation. The all-over compression helped to keep the tights in position and felt comfortable without being restrictive, although, around the middle, it sometimes felt too tight, especially after hours of being crunched up riding. I did wear a base layer underneath, so that may have taken up some space. The leg length was too long for my little legs. They are not overly baggy, but I had to make sure I pulled them as high as possible to avoid the ‘Nora Batty’ look.
The bib straps are very comfortable as they are wide with no bulky seams making the straps bunch up and move position from where they should be. There is little room for movement with the straps. Even though there is a stretch when pulling over my shoulders, I found them too restrictive and slightly pulled down onto my shoulders. From experience of riding many bib tights over the years, I’m used to having a little more room for maneuver in that area, but this hasn't always been positive as straps tend to move or material will twist. I have a short upper body compared to my legs, so somebody taller or with a longer upper body would find the fit too short. On the other hand, it was less noticeable when in a typical learning forward riding position, so this could be a clever intentional design. The chamois was supportive and didn't chafe much, considering how long it cycled in one go, and it had even better performance when paired with chamois cream for a full day of riding.
Something new for me is the pocket being part of the bib tights. I have used shorts and tights that feature a cargo thigh style open pocket, usually ideal for a phone, but the rear pockets were a first – easy to reach and spacious to grab items out and put them back in a while on the move. Nothing fell out, or felt like it was on the verge of coming out of the pockets, as they were just deep enough for no sign of that happening.
Super comfortable bib tights that offer enough warmth even in the winter but are equally breathable for warmer months thanks to the perforated area on the leg for ventilation. Materials are soft next to the skin, with patches around the midriff that give extra weather protection. The construction is high-quality with chamois comfort for hours in the saddle, and the rear stash pockets are helpful and securely hold storage.
The length fits spot on, but being only 5’ 2”, they are full length on me rather than the ankle length that they are described as if you’re a taller rider. A great fit, but if I were a little taller, the bib straps would start to feel too tight. Luckily this afforded me a little extra ‘leg room’ with my petite legs.
Price-wise, at $245 / £200, they are not the cheapest on the market, that's for sure, but you get what you pay for in all areas of the tights. Others at the same price, such as the Castelli Womens Sorpasso ROS Bib Tights, feature extra weather protection panels plus are water repellent, but lack that handy pocket you get with MFF.
The Versatile Pant 2.0 by MFF provides intricate design detailing that makes a massive difference in the long run. Chamois quality is superb, materials are placed in dedicated areas, and the female cut makes slipping into them a real treat so you can focus on your ride. For more info, head to machinesforfreedom.com.
Tech specs: Machines For Freedom The Most Versatile Pant 2.0
- Price: $245 / £200
- Materials: Polyester
- Colors: Black
- Size availability: XS - XXXL