Bicycling (South Africa)


- Photograph by JOSÉ MANDOJANA

WHEN JENNIFER KRISKE couldn't find a comfortabl­e pair of bib shorts, she decided to create her own. With no experience in clothing design or the bike industry, she faced long odds. But since 2014, her brand – Machines For Freedom – has made cycling clothing that fits and flatters women of all builds. “I was working in restaurant design, and it was really stressful. Riding was an hour or two a day that I had peace and quiet. As I started training for a big ride in the Pyrenees, I had this persistent problem with shorts. “I went to a bike shop, and I bought every single pair of bibs they sold. And then whatever they didn’t sell, I went directly to the manufactur­ers for them. I ended up with two pairs I thought might be good enough. They weren’t. “My sit-bones were always on the edge of, or outside, the chamois, so I didn’t have padding where I needed it. I have an hourglass figure, so I had to size up to find a leg band that fit, which left the rest of the bib too big and led to chafing. Plus, they were just unflatteri­ng on a body like mine! Everything was suited to a very specific body type – lean, not too tall, road-racer body. “I had never heard of men having the same problem. The whole thing just made me so frustrated. I thought, ‘This cannot be rocket science.’ I set out to make a better bib short. “There was a new roadblock around every corner. Everyone said, ‘We don’t want to help you, because we don’t think your project is going to go anywhere.’ But when we launched, there was a huge desire for women’s products, and the industry wasn’t responding yet. “I got the name when I started looking at women’s relationsh­ips with the bike. For us, it really goes back to the Victorian era, when the bike was invented. There’s this quote from Susan B. Anthony: ‘[Bicycling] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.’ “That was the premise of the name Machines For Freedom. It captures the visceral feeling of riding a bike, but for women. The bike was this life-changing vehicle for them. It’s definitely brought positive change in my life.”

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