You’d be mistaken in thinking that you can do anything you want with your cycling socks without breaking any rules. Beginning on October 1, 2012 the UCI issued a new sock-height Rule (no joke):

Socks (and shoe covers) used in competition must not exceed the mid-distance between the ankle and the knee.

Evidence against Koen de Kort suggests that he has worn compression socks while riding a bike which prompted the UCI to clamp down. (Photo: Kristof Ramon)

However, the Official Rules of the European Cyclist have veto power over all UCI rules which state (sections 6 & 8, appendix 0):

6. The Socks must extend no less than 2cm below the main bulge of your calf muscle, and shall never extend further than 1cm past the primary calf muscle bulge. All socks SHALL BE WHITE in colour with prominent logo placement.

and

8. If white cycling shoes are not available where the Euro Cyclist resides, white booties (or “shoe covers”) with prominent logos shall ALWAYS be worn. When booties are worn, socks shall protrude approximately seven (7) cm. above the ankle, and shall always protrude at a minimum one (1) cm. from any booties worn.

Black Socks

Lance was innovative with his single minded focus toward the Tour de France, diet, high cadence, blood transfusion techniques, the Edgar Allan Poe, and most importantly, trying to bring black socks back into cycling fashion. Back in July of 2009 when he was still 7-time TdF champion, Armstrong tweeted: “one of the coolest things about [Bradley] Wiggins, black socks.”

Back in the day it was said that black socks are for training, white socks are for racing. Legend has it that Coppi wore black socks until he became successful enough to afford white socks. Some say that black shoes go with black socks, and white shoes go with white socks.

I’m a white-socks kinda guy, but it all has to do with the size of your calves. Black socks make your calves look bigger. As Kristian House (Rapha-Condor Sharp) pointed out in his Instagram photo:

Black socks most definitely make the calves look larger.

Cutting Edge Sock Brands

There seems to be a massive gap in the sock market, and it seems to me there’s definitely a market within that gap. Mountain bikers and cross racers have traditionally had more fun with their socks than us stuck up roadies, but a few brave ones are beginning to buck the trend and have a little fun with it. Brands like Capo, SockGuy, Rapha, DeFeet, 4Shaw and various bloggers are catering to this need for better and more funky sock designs:

SockGuy have been filling the need for cool socks for as long as I can remember.

DeFeet has been making sock awesomeness since 1992 when Shane Cooper developed an entirely new way to knit a sock. He called the first model the Aireator.

Rapha has picked up on the sock trend and even their City Riding socks becoming very popular in the morning bunches

Capo makes some excellent cycling kit and their socks are some of the most popular in the bunch. They took sock-height to a new level in the mid-2000's and have been the basis of many heated sock-height debates.

4Shaw is relatively new to the market but are doing some spectacular designs in sock fashion.

Various cycling bloggers have been pushing the sock craze for years. CyclingInquisition, Elcyclista, Embrocation and Fat Cyclist all make some of the coolest socks in cyberspace.

...and if Fyxomatosis and InnerRing made socks, this might be what they'd look like.

Summary

It’s a great sign that socks are becoming fun again and that roadies are beginning to break all the rules. Despite the landmine of fashion faux-pas and rules that can be broken in cycling culture, socks are one of those little things that you can have fun with and individualise to make your own statement.

Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing lots of funky socks on the road this summer.