ROKA in collaboration with Machines for Freedom has released a limited edition capsule collection, consisting of two popular ROKA sunglasses, and a summer weight, long sleeve cycling jersey from Machines. We all know ROKA, but if you’re not familiar with Machines, as I regrettably wasn’t until this Tuesday, it’s a “high-performance womxn’s cycling brand, based out of California” and owned by Specialized, but “womxn founded and led.” This collaboration between ROKA and Machines – two top-quality brands dedicated to style as well as substance — has created an outstanding product.
I don’t mind telling you that I squealed when I opened the box.
The capsule pieces are built around a gorgeous “Palmera Print" that –inexplicably but successfully— melds together pastels (the palest baby blue and lilac purple), Earth tones (a Kelly-ish green they’re calling “Palmera,” and rust accents), and a beautiful neon coral. We’ve seen a lot of large-scale floral prints going around, but the colors here are really unique, in that they neither scream Hawaii nor I was designed for girls and all girls like pink, probably, unlike so much of womxn’s sport gear. Also, everyone is into houseplants these days, but it’s nice to see something that plays to that without looking like something sold on Etsy. Kudos to the design team.
The Palmera Print is a fantastic embodiment of Machines’ inclusive credo: it is genderless and unlimited by season and sport: the colorway brings together the best of spring, summer, and fall, and can be worn year-round. I also contend it’s a great crossover print that can be all things to all people: it’s camouflage for a coffee ride, floral for gravel, muted for MTB. It’s both serious and light-hearted enough for your favorite weekly peloton, on whatever medium it takes place.
The Glasses, by ROKA
There are two offerings from ROKA with customized details just for the collection. The high performance GP-1, with its classic wraparound lens, and the stylish and minimal round frame OSLO. As with all of ROKA’s eyewear, either is a lightweight addition to your stash of sportif sunnies. (I’m not the only one with a pyramid of glasses cases by the door, am I?)
For the purposes of this endemic review, we’ll only look through the ROKA x Machines GP-1 in Palmera, (MSRP $250). Like all ROKA GP-1s, these feature a 53mm high and 140 mm wide lens, set in a solo bottom rocker. ROKA’s lenses offer fantastic, clear optics. Additionally, with no top frame to limit the field of vision while in aero, the GP-1 is a great choice for all triathletes.
I find the width of ROKA glasses too broad for my face: there’s a large gap between my temples and the lens/frame. However, with that form comes a function; the gap works nicely for ventilation when wearing with a helmet—or a facemask. I’ve never had my lenses fog up at a stoplight wearing the SL-1s or CPs in my aforementioned stash, nor with this GP-1. The gap just looks a little silly on smaller faces, especially without headgear to conceal it.
Style-wise, though, GP-1 offers the benefit of the now-popular ski mask look without its hideous, bulky drawbacks. There’s no horizontal line drawn straight across your forehead, accentuating said gap. All in all, I think this is the best frame in ROKA’s Advanced Performance lineup for womxn’s or narrower faces.
The ROKA x Machines GP-1 frames feature a shrunken version of the Palmera Print, across both the bottom rocker with all the benefits of its versatile colorway, and an eye-catching rose gold inset Machines’ “MFF” logo at the temples. The lens is finished in a rose gold mirror that I don’t believe is offered anywhere else in the ROKA lineup, but should be. I feared the tint wouldn’t be dark enough, but after riding and walking around in early morning, high noon, and head-on afternoon sun, my fear was dispelled.
I wasn’t too self conscious about being That Lady walking around in wraparound glasses because the subtle rose gold mirror and the Palmera Print are both oh-so flattering. I know I derided pink, above, but the trendy rose gold touches scratch that itch. Will these sunnies match any of my bold helmets with their chrome touches, outright? No. But matching is overrated, and one can only hope the next collab will bring in a Specialized helmet.
The Machines for Freedom Summerweight Long Sleeve in Palmera
One wouldn’t be blamed for wondering why a limited edition, summer weight jersey was released on the first day of fall. First, one “great” thing about the global climate is our second summers. Between the weather and the season-less print, one could wear this into November in plenty of areas of the country. Second, as a lightweight piece, the Machines jersey is infinitely layerable. Try a base layer and a vest to extend its life into cooler temps, or wear it as your base layer in the cold. It’s now a pop of color under your black winter ninja gear. Third, the summer weight jersey is intended to provide an SPF of 50+ and sun protection is a year-round thing.
The jersey, my first from Machines, is the most flattering single item of clothing I’ve put on in several months (that’s mainly thanks to COVID-19). It’s certainly the highest quality jersey in my closet. It features silky soft fabrics, self-locking zippers, three huge back pockets, plus a side-zip, moisture resistant pocket. I’m currently resisting the urge to wear it around the house, to the grocery store, and on an afternoon ride. At the risk of sounding like the dorkiest triathlete, I could easily wear this cycling jersey on a cool morning run, and mourn that there will be no Turkey Trot 10k at which I could show it off, this year.
Constructed with mostly-flat and flattering seams, there is no pulling, gaping, or ruching, anywhere. The full-length, fully-lined zipper lays flat and doesn’t ripple or roll like a body of water on race morning (people with breasts know how rare this is). There are no sticky or scratchy spots, not even under the “MFF” badge at the hip. The seams are so flat, I didn’t notice two seams on the interior of each arm, running around the writs, though the pit, and down to the bottom hem, inserting mesh fabric to cool these hot spots. Raglan sleeves are infinitely more flattering and comfortable than inset sleeves, in my opinion, and work for me here, too. (I made a call to Aero Camp guru Heath Dotson to see if I could claim raglan sleeve seaming as more aero, too, but he said things like “it depends” and “they’re generally more forgiving.”) If you’ve been struggling to find a flattering jersey, I highly recommend looking to Machines for your fix.
Where to buy
The entire ROKA x Machines capsule is available at the Machines for Freedom website, and the limited edition will last only as long as supplies will. Both ROKA glasses are available at Roka’s website, under “Women’s Sunglasses.”
I urge anyone to check out the Machines for Freedom website to see the positivity, diversity, and inclusivity many are asking to see in this and all industries. Gone should be the days of interchangeable fan-blown size XS models leaping around photo studios.