Do you wear socks when cycling? This question is a point of contention among people who argue whether or not it makes sense to wear socks when riding your bike. There is dedicated footwear (both cycling shoes and cycling socks) offering the distinct features and advantages that cyclists need for optimal performance.
Should You Wear Socks With Cycling Shoes?
Though it is a matter of personal preference for whether or not to wear socks with cycling shoes, most cyclists recommend that you do, unless you are a triathlete. There are advantages to wearing socks that make them the better option for performance and comfort.
If you plan on wearing cycling shoes, here is what you need to know about socks:
Fit Is Everything
The fit of sock that you wear when cycling is probably more important than any other feature. When it comes to cycling, it is essential that you find a snug-fit variety of socks for best performance. (If you want a great fit, look for cycling socks. But more on them later!)
You know you have a good-fitting sock when you don’t think about it during your ride. Discomfort, bulky seams, or sliding down are all signs that you are wearing the wrong socks for cycling, and the repercussions can be painful. A snug-fitting sock is important, but it must be the right type of sock, or the seams will cause blisters. If the fabric retains moisture, you could end up with a nasty case of athlete’s foot.
The goal is to find a snug and seamless fit. This promotes blood flow and reduces potential inflammation, too.
Splurge on Quality Fibers
Spend the money to buy socks made from quality fibers for cycling, even if they’re not specifically cycling socks. This will make a vast difference. The fabric and fiber used will dictate how absorbent, cool, and comfortable the socks are, which all contribute to athletic performance.
Merino wool is a popular option for cycling in cold conditions. It pulls moisture away from the body so your feet stay dry, but it may be a bit bulky.
Natural fibers are popular, but contemporary synthetic fabrics have certain advantages, too. For instance, they can have better moisture wicking, a better fit for cycling, and a longer life than natural fiber socks.
Have you ever worn shoes without socks and suffered from blisters later? Wearing socks lowers the risk of blisters and athlete’s foot, and reduces discomfort over time. If you don’t like to wear socks when cycling because they’re not comfortable, look into getting a pair of cycling socks. Cycling socks are specifically made with this sport in mind, so they are made for a better cycling experience and better performance overall.
One way people get blisters is from the way that their socks and bike shoes make contact during cycling. This is something that cycling sock manufacturers have targeted and are working to improve through cleverly designed socks.
If you don’t have cycling socks but still want to ride your bike, look for thinner socks. This will create a more efficient pedal stroke that conserves your energy, which is important when engaging in rigorous workouts like cycling. It has to do with the tactile feedback of your foot on the pedal. Electing to wear the wrong footwear can have the opposite effect. If you wear socks and shoes that do not make good contact, you may experience blisters and a painful burning sensation due to the contraction of nerve endings in your feet.
Consider the Temperature
Something else to consider when evaluating footwear for cycling is the temperature. How warm is the weather? What is the climate like?
Effective temperature regulation is another reason to wear socks when cycling. They can keep you cool in the heat and warm when there is a chill in the air. Opt for ankle socks in summer and taller styles in cooler months. If your feet get too cold, you could experience numbing or tingling, which could be problematic during cycling. Too warm, and your feet may sweat, which could cause slipping on the bike pedals.
Remember the Rules
There are very specific cycling sock rules for what cyclists can wear in competition, including the height of the sock on the leg. These laws are set by the UCI, which is the group that governs sports cycling. As of May 2020, the rules state that cyclists may not wear socks that “rise above the height defined by half the distance between the middle of the lateral malleolus and the middle of the fibula head.”
Wearing socks that extend above the middle of your lower leg is reported to give an unfair advantage to cyclists in competitions, as they create an aerodynamic effect. By this standard, going without socks could slow you down, which no cyclist wants. The simple solution is to wear socks!
When you buy socks specifically for cycling, look for how they manage moisture. Moisture wicking ensures that feet sweat, water, and rain don’t get trapped next to your skin, which helps prevent blisters and reduces the chance of skin irritation. These types of socks are designed to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout the workout, in any and all wet conditions. If you are using socks that you already have on hand, look for cotton varieties that keep your foot dry while contouring the foot during cycling.
Unless you are a triathlete competing in various events, go ahead and wear socks when cycling. The benefits and advantages of wearing the right socks when riding outweigh the potential freedom of going without them. Use these tips to find footwear that complements and optimizes your workout and makes for comfortable cycling.