Which road cycling socks are right for you?

Getting the most from your foot-pedal interface will help you ride, train or race harder and longer – and the right cycling socks have a big part to play. There’s plenty of science built into cycling socks to help you go harder, faster and longer on your bike, not to mention stylish designs to enhance your look. Here’s how to choose the right sock for your riding all year round.

Why your socks can give you the edge

If you’re to produce your best performance on the bike, you’ve got to be comfortable, and socks have a vital role to play in your set-up. You need to make sure your feet are not only at the right temperature but also free from pressure points and chafing, because you’re relying on them to transfer power from your legs to the bike’s drivetrain.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of a well fitting cycling sock that’s specifically made for the season you’re riding in, but as one (or strictly speaking two) of your contact points you should pay as much attention to choosing the right socks as you would to choosing the right bibshorts.

Fabrics

Cycling socks can be made from manmade fibres or fine natural wool such as merino or blends of both depending on the season and accompanying weather conditions they’re designed for. Cotton is not ideal for cycling socks because it holds on to moisture and loses its softness and its shape.

Summer v Winter

Synthetic polyamide allows socks to be made lightweight, quick drying and thin for perfect moisture management. The Van Rysel 900 Road Sport is a technical summer sock that’s made from a very fine 95% polyamide knit with a 5% elastane mix that keeps it stretchy and close fitting. It’s perfect for keeping feet cool and comfortable during sustained efforts in hot weather.


Merino wool is a fantastic natural fibre for adding insulation, and it’s also prized for its odour-eliminating properties. In the Van Rysel 500 winter sock, merino makes up 26% of the fabric, blended with 27% polyamide, 27% Thermolite polyester, 18% acrylic and 2% elastane for a perfect mix of warmth and breathability.

Our warmest winter sock, the Van Rysel 900 Winter Sock is made with 29% merino plus a synthetic Primloft acrylic fibre for ultimate thermal comfort in cold weather. Combining these fabrics creates a formidable sock that traps a layer of warm air next to the skin, is lightweight, doesn't hold on to moisture and doesn't itch.

Keeping your feet dry

For 100% waterproofing and windproofing yet supplying superb breathability and moisture wicking, the SealSkinz Super Thin Mid sock is the ultimate. With its waterproof membrane and natural eco-friendly soft bamboo lining, it offers exceptional foul-weather performance with a high level of comfort. StretchDry patented technology and flat seams reduce chafing.

Fit

Just as the fabrics in cycling socks are designed for the particular demands of cycling, so is the fit. A generic sports sock might be great for the gym, but if you want to maximise comfort it’s a good idea to go for a sock that’s made specifically for cycling. A running or gym sock might have a thickly padded footbed whereas a cycling sock is more likely to have a reinforced toe and heel to reduce bulk in the shoe, often teamed with a central band for support as used by the Van Rysel RoadR 500 sock.

Including a small percentage of elastane in the mix introduces some stretch and a semi-compressive fit, so that socks can support and stabilise the arch, the ankle and the lower calf.

To stop cycling socks falling down or rucking untidily on your ankle, you’ll find wide elasticated grippers at the top that hold them securely without digging in.

Sock height

Sock height is a topic almost as hotly debated as Campagnolo v Shimano. The pro road racers in recent years have gone higher and higher, and a sock like the Van Rysel 900 Road Sport was developed with our sponsored Ag2r-La Mondiale U19 team and has the unmistakable ‘pro’ look, topping out at the base of the calf.

If you prefer the shorter length, the Van Rysel RoadR 500 has more of an ankle sock look.

In winter, a longer cuff keeps out the draughts and you’ll be glad of the extra insulation regardless of your summer sartorial preferences.

Design

Traditionally it’s white socks for racing or summer riding and black for winter training, but why not break the rules and add some colour to your kit with the Van Rysel RoadR 520 , which comes in fluorescent lime yellow/lime green, red/Bordeaux, teal blue/turquoise and dark ivy green.

Conclusion

The right pair of socks will not only keep your feet comfortable, dry and at the right temperature to help you perform at your best on the bike but they can also add style and personality to your look.