Why should you wear aero socks? 7 benefits for your performance
A lot of people wear aero socks, but why is that? Do they really make you faster or is it just for looks? In this blog we’ll explain the science behind aero socks and give you 7 reasons to wear them!
Besides the resistance of your tires and mechanical resistance, air resistance is one of the biggest forces you have to overcome in cycling, especially when time cycling. The faster you are, the more air resistance there is and thus aerodynamics become more important. A big part of the air resistance comes from your body and can be reduced by the clothes you wear. We’ve all seen the aerodynamic helmets with time cyclers, but there are also aerodynamic shirts, pants and even socks!
The birth of aero socks
Via Computational Fluid Dynamics it’s possible to virtually test different surfaces and see what would work the best when you look at aerodynamics. Initially, this system was mostly used in aerospace engineering, but proved its value in other areas, including cycling. In the picture below you can see an example of the use of CFD with a cyclist, along with the fact that frontal airstreams cause the most friction. Because of this, the surfaces on your body where the air frontally ‘hits’ you are most important to make aerodynamic. The part you don’t see in the picture are the legs, but you could imagine that there’s a lot of wind friction at the lower legs too.
Testing with CFD yielded that lycra material causes less friction than any other surface, even less than bare skin or other light materials. Further testing in wind tunnels confirmed these findings and so the aero cycling sock was born.
Source: Trek Bikes¹
Wind tunnel test Thijs Zonneveld
Now, at Sockeloen we are not only talkers, but above all doers. So, in collaboration with Thijs Zonneveld, AD In Het Wiel and Bert Blocken from Eindhoven University of Technology (the one who also tests for Jumbo Visma), we tested our own socks in the wind tunnel. This showed that Sockeloen Aero Socks give a gain of 8 to 9 watts at 40 kilometers per hour compared to no socks and even 18 to 19 watts at 50 kilometers per hour! In addition, Sockeloen Aero Socks give a gain of about 3 to 4 watts compared to normal Sockeloen socks.
So what does it exactly do?
Aero socks not only make sure that the air resistance itself gets less which makes you faster, but it also reduces the back pull air has on you. If air frontally hits your leg for example, it doesn’t just go past it. Little swirls are created that end up behind your leg which cause a sort of suction that pulls you back which is called pressure drag. In the picture below you can see how pressure drag works.
Source: Marion Segall, 2017²
In the first instance the vertical rib was introduced as a good aerodynamic surface. The vertical ribs on the aero socks make sure the air that hits you goes past your leg more smoothly, so less swirls are created and the back pull is greatly reduced. All of our initial aero socks have a surface like this and it can save you up to 5 watts compared to normal cycling socks. The picture below shows our Aero Sock 1.0 with the vertical rib.
This year however Rule 28³ did some new research in a wind tunnel with different fabrics and surfaces. Lycra still came out as the best material, but they found a new superior surface that looks more like the surface of a golf ball which you can see in the picture below. They have proven this new surface saves you up to even 12 watts compared to normal cycling socks.
The new Sockeloen Aero Socks 2.0 which is pictured below have the same surface, although we’ll also keep the old aero socks in stock for a while. Bike Radar let us know that Rule 28 used a fixed yaw angle, which comes down to straight headwind, and then tested with different speeds. Whereas it’s normal for the industry to test at a fixed speed with different yaw angles. Because the testing was different, we cannot say for sure that this new surface saves you around 7 watts more than the old surface, but we are going to do some testing during real races ;)
Every watt counts
So reducing the air resistance in combination with reducing the drag can save you well up to 12 watts. In time trials where winning or losing is sometimes determined by milliseconds and centimeters, that's a lot. Even the 5 watts of the older aero socks can make an amazing difference! Because every gram counts, Sockeloen has made the aero socks as light as possible. In addition, the aerodynamic lycra material starts already in the shoe, really reducing all air resistance and swirls. Every watt counts!
So we know now that aero socks are proven to make you faster, but there are more benefits to wearing aero socks! For starters, Sockeloen aero socks are specially made to make you look like a pro and to make you ride in style. Besides the looks they’re made to fit tight, have a non slip strip to keep them from falling down and according to our customers they fit like a second skin. Last but not least, our aero socks are available in different heights, so you can always buy a pair in a height that’s UCI legal for you. All of these things make Sockeloen aero socks the best aero cycling socks on the market!
Your own aero socks
Of course you can buy the Sockeloen aero socks in our webshop, but we also have the option to customize your own aero socks to match your outfit for example. If you just want one or a few pairs, we can make custom printed aero socks in-house. But if you want custom aero socks for your whole team or club for example, we also offer to produce your own custom aero socks in our factory. Want to know more about this? Check out our blog post on custom logo socks where we explain everything about producing your own socks!
Bonus: How to put on aero socks?
Aero socks are a bit fragile and have to be handled with care. Because they’re supposed to be tight, it can be harder to put them on. In the video below you can see the best way to put on your aero socks. Your normal cycling socks will also benefit from putting them on this way!
¹Trek Bikes, 2020, Aerodynamica
³Rule 28, 2020, Product Testing