Riding Tips

Tall socks vs. short socks – which is better?

The controversial debate that separates opinions like an election. There is nothing worse than wearing a stylish kit and then messing up the look with a substandard sock. Socks can make a bad kit look good and a good kit look bad. Whether you are a new to cycling or have been in the game for a while, you probably have a preference of whether to go long or short.

Long socks (deemed as 6 inches or more)

The long sock is currently in vogue, with the majority of the pro peloton sporting the 6- to 8-inch look. According to some, although the jury is out on this one, there is a performance benefit to wearing these longer socks (which appears to be the reason why UCI has regulations on sock height, “limit the impact of equipment on performance”).

Is there a formula for calculating the correct length of sock? According to Taylor Phinney of Cannondale Drapac, there is. As Phinney suggests, the mathematical formula to keep your style on trend is as follows:

“To calculate your best sock length, first flex your knee to 35 degrees. Phinney believes your socks should fall one inch below the calf with a 35-degree knee bend.” Not entirely mathematical, but Phinney is renowned as a stylish fella in the pro field.

If you are not quite up to using Phinney’s methodology, then perhaps the standard 6-inch standard that does not extend past the belly of your calf muscle is the way to go.

Short socks (generally lower than 4 inches above the ankle)

The short sock, iconised by the late and great Fausto Coppi. Traditionally, the peloton’s style icon wore a 7.5cm sock. The sock was always white and always short, the cuff sitting just above the ankle. Classics and one day specialist, Phillipe Gilbert of Quick Step is certainly in the minority of the pro peloton, but when you are a ‘classics’ man, you go for that classic look I suppose.

Whilst the general trend is towards a long sock in road cycling and time trialing, there is an element of classic style that will never fade with the more traditional approach of the short sock. Just make sure your sock (whatever height they may be) matches your cycling kit, and never wear white socks with a black shoe, because that is just wrong (sorry Fausto). Whatever your choice, make sure you love it, because the more you do, the more you will ride.

By Ricky Swindale – Pushys Sponsored Athlete

Categories: Riding Tips

2 replies »

  1. Much a do about very little. Such a first world problem. Fashion is a pain inflicted on society by inadequate people who want to be seen as better than they are. Put a sock in it.


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