Buyers guide: Summer cycling socks + 12 of the best

Freshen up your wardrobe with a pair of new cycling socks, plus we pick 12 of the best looking socks

by David Arthur   May 4, 2014 socks guide reviews

The warmer weather is here, and with it time to strip away the winter clothing, pack it away in the cupboard and dig out your summer jerseys and shorts. And it’s also time to swap woolly insulated socks for lightweight summer socks.

You can of course wear any normal socks you want for cycling. There’s nothing to stop you wearing tennis or football socks. That's fine. However, cycling-specific summer socks are made from lightweight and breathable fabrics that keep your feet cool and dry in hot weather, and will be far more comfortable than those sports socks.

Most summer cycling socks are made from polyester because it’s a good breathable material and nice and thin. This means they also dry quickly, which stops your feet getting sweaty. This is useful because it avoids irritation from blisters or bacterial buildup. Merino socks are also available which have the advantage of not holding odours like man-made fabrics. Many cycling socks will have mesh panels strategically placed to further help keep your feet cool. For durability, some will have a harder-wearing material in the sole, heel and toe area.

Cycling socks will also have a cuff which prevents them from sliding down your ankle. The subject of how high that cuff should be is one that could fill an entire article on its own. For many cyclists style, and looking good on the bike, are very important. It’s the details that show you take great care to assemble your attire before a ride.

Sock length, does it really matter though? Not a jot, but some will argue that is it. Some say socks should be no higher than 5in, but there has been a trend in recent years for much higher cuff socks, over 10cm. Now we’re no fans of rules here at, you can wear whatever you like. There’s even a UCI rule about sock length, we kid you not. Some might say if you’re worried about sock length you should spend more time riding your bike. They’re most probably talking a lot of sense.

Lastly, there is colour. For traditionalists it’s white socks all the way, but there are many more colourful options and designs available if you want to make a statement. And for all the Wiggo fans there are black socks. Some say white socks for racing, black socks for training. In reality you can wear whatever you want, we don’t prescribe to any rules here at

Prendas Coolmax socks £6.50

Available in four colours, including classic white, these Prendas Coolmax socks offer good performance and are reasonably priced, and finished with the simple addition of the company’s logo. You can get two pairs of the price of some of the other socks here. Argyle Coolmax socks £6.98

Of course, we simply must including the coolest socks of them all, our very own socks. You can buy them, in white or classic black, in the shop here.

Defeet Aireator High Top D-Logo White socks £8.99

DeFeet are well known for their high quality socks and a common choice with discerning cyclists who care about the socks they wear. They do a big old range these days with loads of colour options, even a hi-vis pair, but these white High Top’s are simple. And that makes them the best.

Condor Race Sock £8.99

London’s Condor produce these Race socks, made from a soft micro-fibre yarn with a light mesh upper section to avoid overheating. The cuff is double thickness and they’re 7cm tall, and they’re neatly finished with a red stripe and Condor logo on the back.

Mavic Pro socks £10

We’re seeing a similarity with the Rapha Pro socks here, and they’re also available in white, black and yellow. Yellow has been Mavic’s brand colour for yonks though, so we’re giving it to them. They’re also a fiver cheaper. They’re made with two grades of material, more meshy around the sole, top of the foot and ankle to prevent overheating feet, and they have antimicrobial properties.

Giro High-Rise socks £13.99

White socks aren’t so practical at this time of year, so with that in mind these grey and white Giro High-Rise socks are a good choice. Other colours, including white are also available.  They’re made from Coolmax, polyester, Lycra and elastic fabric mix, with a 6in cuff length.

TenSpeed Hero La Girafe Sportive socks $14

TenSpeed Hero is two photographers that have been developing a unique and colourful range of heavily designed cycle clothing for the past few years, and gaining a fair few fans along the way. Socks seems to be what they do best, they’re currently listing 31 designs on their website.

Hard to pick just one pair for this article, but we’ve plucked the La Girafe Sportive white/blue spiral socks (many other colours available).

Castelli Free 9 socks £14

A good choice for socks are these from Castelli, which are available in a choice of lengths to suit leg length and tastes. These are made from a Superlight Meryl Skinlife so they're very thing and very breathable, making them ideal for the hot summer days we’re soon to encounter.

Rapha Pro Team socks £15

Rapha produce a wide range of socks and these Pro Team socks are good for the performance minded cyclists reading this article, who want a lightweight sock that is highly breathable. They’re made with a more durable material in the heel and toe, so they don’t wear out too easily, and the cuff is also made from more hard-wearing material. They’re available in two lengths, and you can choose from white, black and yellow. You have to be bold and confident to carry off the yellow socks with any degree of panache we reckon.

Vulpine Merino Mid Socks £17

Less sporty, more city and urban riding, these Merino Mid Zero socks from London-based Vulpine have a striped pattern available in grey/navy or grey/green so you can colour match your cycling kit, if you’re that way inclined. They’re made from 70% merino wool with the rest polyester to provide stretch and durability.

Donkey Label Poly Pro socks $15

Minneapolis-based Donkey Label produces an interesting range of clothing, and they make all their clothing locally. They currently do three sock designs, these are the Poly Pro socks. They’re right and left foot-specific and made from a flat-knit lightweight antimicrobial fabric with mesh vents and arch compression.

The smart thing about these socks is that you can customise the colours, specifying from a range of options the base and colour combinations.

SockGuy Lightning 2 Wool $12.95

This company is arguably one of the most well known, and specialising in socks means they have a vast range of choice. We could fill this article many times over with just their socks. These Lightning 2 Wool socks with their stripes and lightning flash will surely make you stand out on the club run or in a sportive. They’re fashionably long with an 8in cuff, and they’re made from 50% merino and 50% polypropylene.

11 user comments

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What about the tan line?
And, isn't it typically british to wear long assorted socks? Smile

posted by marche [15 posts]
5th May 2014 - 9:32

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ideal for the hot summer days we’re soon to encounter

I'm sorry, what? Thinking

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [275 posts]
5th May 2014 - 19:45

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I hate to see black or dark socks with bare legs. It makes the feet look heavy.

I recall a long time ago when the Tour of Britain was still being run as the Milk Race, there was just one rider wearing black socks. Russian I think.
At the post race banquet he was ceremonially presented with a pair of white socks!


posted by davebinks [125 posts]
7th May 2014 - 18:13

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I recently purchased a pair of nice Keens with a lovely salmon colored accent. Unfortunately, the color in the insole part bleeds and colored most of my white socks pink.

Black socks ftw.

Also, if you buy in larger quantities, it is possible to get cheap black dress socks that are much less bulky than typical white bulk socks - and dress socks tend to last longer too. Not uber-high tech, but great for training.

I go through around 80 pairs of socks per year. Not at $15 USD per pair though!

posted by eschelar [34 posts]
7th May 2014 - 18:23

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I've got a pair of Campag socks, which make me much faster. One has the letter R printed on it, presumably indicating it is for the right foot. The other is marked with the letter L, for the left foot.
I was amazed and asked myself since when have socks been specifically tailored to fit each foot?
Just to be awkward one day I put the right one on the left foot and the left one of the right foot. It was very confusing and I won't be doing that again. Because when I made to turn left the bike turned right and when I made to turn right, I went left.
These sock manufacturers are pretty smart.

posted by Condor flyer [17 posts]
8th May 2014 - 9:59

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I have that problem when I wear my Aldi £2.99 cycling socks but bearing German I have to be careful not to go on the wrong side of the road!! Wave Laughing

posted by papermaaker [2 posts]
8th May 2014 - 10:12

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eschelar wrote:
I go through around 80 pairs of socks per year. Not at $15 USD per pair though!


80 pairs.... they are washable generally, you know that right ?

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posted by fukawitribe [359 posts]
8th May 2014 - 12:09

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Condor flyer wrote:
I've got a pair of Campag socks, which make me much faster. One has the letter R printed on it, presumably indicating it is for the right foot. The other is marked with the letter L, for the left foot.

Are they the "Giacomo Grillo" socks?

posted by farrell [1395 posts]
8th May 2014 - 12:43

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farrell wrote:
Condor flyer wrote:
I've got a pair of Campag socks, which make me much faster. One has the letter R printed on it, presumably indicating it is for the right foot. The other is marked with the letter L, for the left foot.

Are they the "Giacomo Grillo" socks?


Or should that be 'chaussette', in the circs?

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [814 posts]
21st May 2014 - 13:19

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Socks keep your feet warm.

posted by Flying Heron [31 posts]
27th May 2014 - 21:48

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I have room for more socks......

posted by merckxman [35 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 20:29

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