Machines for Freedom Key Short – by Thumbelena

As a relatively new company Machines for Freedom has been designing cycling apparel since 2014. Owner Jennifer Kriske launched the company from her living room using this statement as her guide: built on confidence, on freedom, and on a game-changing product that (*shocker*) actually worked the way riders’ need it to.

Initially, their focus was road style clothing (fitted jerseys with rear pockets and spandex bib shorts), until now. This year they launched their first off-road collection which is full of tech tees, crew necks, and technical shorts. I got the chance to test out both pairs of shorts. 

Technical Bits

Material: 100% polyester

Size: 24 – 38 

Inseam: 5.5” or 11”

Color: Black, Citronelle, Utility Green

Sun protection: UPF 50+

Price: $108 USD


The first thought that went through my mind when unpacking these was… luscious! The material has this buttery soft feel that my fingers want to keep touching yet seems quite durable and strong at the same time. 

Second thought: lots of pockets. Five in total to be exact. Two front scoop pockets and three secure zip back pockets w/ pullers for easy access. One of which is hidden in the waistband. You can’t quite fit a phone (since they’re so big now adays) and zipper it closed, but the hidden pocket is quite roomy compared to other brands. My multi tool, plug kit, and a CO2 fit with room to spare.

Designed for cyclists so on the bike fit was in mind, but I found these shorts just as great for off the bike. Whether that be another outdoor activity like hiking or a quick ride into town to catch up with friends over a cold one is up to you, but these shorts transition between it all wonderfully.

The material is water resistant, moisture wicking, quick dry, and has 4-way mechanical stretch. I rode in these shorts in all sorts of conditions from dry and severely dusty to a heavy rain (don’t trust the weathermen) and I’d say all ring true. 

The most notable being when I found myself in a rain storm. As we all know (probably a little too well) dirt + water = mud, mud + riding bicycle = wet, dirty gear. The key shorts were just that in this scenario, key. They aren’t waterproof so some water did start to absorb eventually, but they repelled enough to keep the “privy parts” dry and comfortable. Let’s be honest, if those are taken care of anything else is manageable. Once they take a turn for the worst my ride, day, week, sometimes even existence seems to be at stake. 

After a muddy ride comes my least favorite part…. laundry. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures for you but believe me when I say these shorts are durable. Even the light color of the citronelle shorts mud did not stain. 

As most bottoms are now adays these shorts are high waisted. For me they cover to just below my belly button. Personally, I prefer lower waist bands but the coverage you get while on bike is appealing and I actually didn’t notice the band digging into my stomach when I breathe deeply which is what I typically don’t like about high waistbands. 

My only complaint with the design is specifically with the 11” inseam version. It has a contoured hem to reduce excess fabric at your knees which in theory sounds wonderful! In reality, it means on the upward part of your pedal stroke the shorts ride up a tad at the bottom hem and get stuck around the bottom of your quad. Not the end of the world and could easily be prevented by going one size up. Just keep in mind the rest of the short will then be roomier, as well. 

With my slender, curveless body type I like my clothes more on the fitted end of the spectrum so I decided to stick with my true size and found that if you just let it be before you know it you don’t notice it anymore. 

Yayy!! Or Nayy…

With this being the companies first take on “baggies” there is some minor room for improvement, but overall, I am very impressed. The price tag is a little hefty especially since a liner is not included, but they are also a very well-made piece of clothing that I think will last for several years. So, I don’t think they are asking too much, either. That combined with the versatility, comfort, and thoughtful features of these shorts I would give them 4/5 blinky disco stars, and a definite yayy! 

To get yourself a pair, or check out MFF’s other awesome apparel check out their website:  


One Response to Machines for Freedom Key Short – by Thumbelena

  1. Erv Spanks June 29, 2021 at 10:46 pm #

    Great write up, and please give Cujo a hug from me!


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