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Written and unwritten rules of wearing cycling socks

Written and unwritten rules of wearing cycling socks


Cyclists want their outfits to be exactly right, especially socks have to comply with unwritten rules. This blog will help you with what you should and shouldn’t do when wearing cycling socks.


Knowing how to properly wear cycling socks and how to match them with your outfit might be hard with all of the opinions and (un)written rules there are nowadays. Why do you see a lot of people wearing high socks, while others wear ankle socks? Why do Tour de France riders and mountain bikers wear long socks? How do you best match your socks with the rest of your outfit and your bike? And should you wear your socks over or under your tights in the colder seasons? In this blog we’ll answer all of these questions and give you an insight into how to choose your socks based on the written and unwritten rules of wearing cycling socks.



Cycler showing off his light blue long cycling socks

Written rules (UCI)


To start, we’ll talk about the official and thus written rules of wearing cycling socks. These are drawn up by the UCI, the world governing body of sports cycling. The last version of their technical regulation was released in May 2020 and states: “socks used in competition may not rise above the height defined by half the distance between the middle of the lateral malleolus and the middle of the fibula head.” In other words the sock may not be higher than the half of your lower leg. The precise measurement can be seen in the picture below. 



Now the big question is: Why can’t they be higher? This is because some socks can actually be more aerodynamic than bare skin, so you’d have an advantage when wearing high socks. This is not the case with most socks, but special aero socks are made to give you this advantage. Even though this probably won’t let you win the Tour de France, with time trials these few watts that you win with your aero socks can actually determine if you win or not. And still Tour de France riders like to wear high socks too, which caused wearing high socks to become the look of a professional.



explanation how to use cycling socks

Source: UCI, 2020


Mountain bikers


So most road cyclists wear long socks either because it actually helps them (when the socks are aerodynamic) or to look professional. But then why do mountain bikers wear long socks? For mountain bikers there are some more practical reasons for wearing long socks. It mostly comes down to protection of their legs. This can be from bushes, nettles, branches and even ticks, but it also makes slipping off your pedal less painful. Long socks can also prevent sweat that runs down your leg from reaching your ankles and feet and prevent pebbles from flying into your socks. They also keep your feet and especially lower legs warmer during colder seasons. Lastly, also mountain bikers wear long socks as part of their outfit. Not necessarily to look like a pro, but mainly to finish their outfit or to brand themselves.



mountain biker wearing long black cycling socks


One of the worst things you can do is having socks that are almost the colour of the rest of your outfit or bike, but just not close enough. Clashing colours can make you look like an idiot on your bike, while perfectly matching colours can really finish your look. However, some seemingly opposite colours can become a stylish combination when done right. A great example is an all black outfit with bright white socks or accents underneath it like in the picture below. 



If you’re not sure if the colour of the socks will clash or not, you can also play it safe and buy either black or white socks. These will match any colour outfit for sure. Or you can design your own socks with the exact same colour as your outfit with our custom printed socks!



all white long cycling socks in action on a mountain bike



One of the most debatable questions of cyclists when it comes to socks might be if you should wear your socks over or under your tights when the season comes. This has got the most to do with generation and what custom you’re used to. The older generation usually strongly supports socks under the tights or low socks and the colours are mostly black or white. While the younger generation is more outgoing when it comes to socks. They like to wear them over the tights and they want their socks higher and in brighter colours, although black and white are still a favorite too. Lance Armstrong was actually one of the first pro cyclists who started wearing high socks.



Even though there are still quite a few people defending the under tights standpoint, we at Sockeloen are strong over your tights believers (like in the picture above). If you wear the right socks, they don’t only finish your outfit but they can make or break your look. Wearing them under your tights would be like hiding them and thus breaking your look. Wearing them proudly over your tights will definitely make your look, especially if they’ve got a finishing touch like the The Finger socks pictured below ;)



The finger socks

 1 UCI 2020, 

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