Why Cycling Specific Socks?christie_zqx
Any time you are expending energy, the performance of your clothing is important. You do not want to neglect the socks!
You may be thinking that running socks or regular athletic socks work perfectly well, and in some cases they might, but please choose them with the understanding that running socks are designed to provide extra cushion on the foot pad.
A cyclist doesn’t really need this cushion for cycling, and it can cause extra problems in your cycling shoes by creating hot spots…especially on longer rides.
What Should I Consider When Choosing a Cycling Sock?
Weather Conditions, Material, and Structure
When choosing your cycling specific sock, you want to consider the weather conditions you normally ride in, and what type of material you prefer.
Wool and synthetic wool (think polyester) options tend to be a favorite with cyclists, or some blend of the two. Also be sure to consider the structure of your cycling sock. The best cycling socks, in my opinion, have no toe seams (they can be uncomfortable in your shoe) and have some kind of arch compression (think ribbing around the middle of the sock).
Sock Height and Compression
Then, there is the all-important consideration of sock height. This is where so many cyclists have VERY strong opinions. Opinions can be fashion focused opinions in terms of what looks good, or opinions based on how much or how little compression should be utilized while cycling.
I remember being told early on in cycling that ankle cycling socks were something of a cycling fashion don’t. More recently they seem to have become more acceptable, which just goes to show that cycling fashion trends are ever-changing.
Spoiler: I own several pairs of ankle-length cycling socks and I LOVE them!
My advice related to sock height and compression is to choose according to personal style preference, and what works best for you. If you hate compression and pulling on a tighter sock makes you feel like you are stuffing your poor legs into a sausage casing, then go with an ankle cycling sock or a non-compression higher sock. If you like the squeeze and like the look of a higher sock, then pick a calf/mid-leg length sock.
Speaking of compression, the jury is out, so to speak, on whether or not compression socks actually improve cycling performance. There apparently was enough evidence of this for the UCI (Union Cycliste International) to ban them from their events and enforce a maximum sock height. The thought is that they may provide a performance advantage, and that they may also assist in recovery if worn/left on after cycling