The Cycling Sock Debate: Are Flashy Socks the Way To Go?

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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The Cycling Sock Debate: Are Flashy Socks the Way To Go?

When it comes to cycling socks everyone has an opinion these days whether you’re considering sock height or sock color. While some cyclists might say there are certain rules and fashion faux pas that all should abide by, others are of the opinion that anything goes — flashy colors and all.

To help you decide how to accentuate your own style on the bike, let’s break down the cycling sock height and color debate to help you stand out or fit in on your next club ride.


Men have three different sock heights to choose from: short (6cm), mid-length (9cm) and long (13cm and up). When it comes to women, shorter socks were more common a few years ago, with 3cm and 6cm socks being the most popular options. Recently though, more and more women’s socks are increasing in length as well, with 10cm and up becoming more popular. So which way should you go?

The classic look: If you’re into a more traditional look, the history of the pro peloton favors a mid-length sock, somewhere in the neighborhood of 8cm–10cm.

The fashion statement: If you’re into looking bold on the bike, longer lengths are the way to go, especially if you’re into crazy designs and bold colors. A 13cm sock that rises to just below the calf should be what you shoot for. Tan lines, be damned.


From a historical perspective, the pro peloton has long favored white socks. Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil all wore a mid-length white sock. If you look around the pro peloton today, not much has changed — although there are definitely a few exceptions to the rule.

Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins are two cyclists who often chose to go black — and pretty long in height, too. In 2017, fluorescent socks on teams with bright kits have become more common, with some riders using sock choice to show their individual style in a peloton full of matching kits.

The classic look: If your kit is simple and you want a timeless look, white socks are the answer. On the downside, wearing white in the rain is a real problem unless you get free socks like the pros. For a modern classic, black is also an option — but remember, shoe choice matters, too.

The fashion statement: Embrace bold colors and prints that show your individual style. Pretty much means anything goes. Traditionalists may scoff and sneer, but cycling is supposed to be fun. Wearing what makes you feel good and shows off a little of your personality is never a bad thing.


Other than color and height, there are more factors that could influence your sock decision. Below are a few other cycling sock fashion faux pas you can either abide by or ignore:

  • Shoe color: Traditionalists say black or white shoes are your only real choice, fluorescent colors are back in the mainstream. Wearing a funky sock with a funky shoe can sometimes be an eyesore. If you opt for black shoes, long plain black socks can sometimes give you the dress shoe and sock look on the bike, which could draw snickers unless you fancy a Lance Armstrong throwback fashion statement.
  • The kit: Funky socks that match your funky kit might just give you the eccentric look you’re going for to show off your personality. Colorful, loud prints that don’t match your kit could turn out to look a lot like wearing vertical striped shorts and horizontally striped shirt.
  • Leg length: Choosing a longer cycling sock when you’ve got long legs is usually well within the rules. For those of us with shorter legs, longer socks combined with longish cycling shorts should probably be avoided.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for


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