Tons of fun in fabric form, with an array of design options to build your ideal personal caricature. An excellent idea, but rendered rider dependant since the design looks best when flat and unstretched, and how much it’s pulled will vary dramatically depending upon your body composition. This said, Sockeloen has worked on a solution for the problem and future socks may be improved!
Success depends upon your calf width
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Cycling socks with your name and face splashed across the rear are probably a luxury you never knew you wanted. But once you’ve seen the array of designs on Sockeloen’s website, played around with customisation and tweaked your design, this interesting twist on a rider numberplate becomes quite irresistible.
The product of years racing in socks that didn’t stand up to his own standards, Sockeloen was founded by Jasper Ockeloen, formerly of Rabobank Continental Team. The brand stocks a plethora of different options, including aero socks, and these customisable cartoon socks - which are great fun, but do carry a potential flaw for cyclists of wider calf.
Sockeloen Printed Cartoon socks: construction
Designing your Sockeloen Cartoon (Girl/Boy - there are two versions) socks is a creative process. Log on to the website and you'll find a design studio, where you can mix and match to your heart's content until you're happy with your personal caricature.
If you want more freedom to explore, there is a 'Sockeloen Printed Personal Cartoon sock' option for a little extra spend, with this you can add racing numbers and fit your sock puppet out with accessories.
Sticking with the more generic cartoon sock, choices include skin colour, hairstyle, helmet colour, cap choice, glasses style and more.
Since I’m never happier than when on a bike, I chose a massive grin, blue helmet to match my team kit, my name, plus my race team name ‘1904rt’.
The socks themselves are constructed from a polyester (75 per cent), polyamide (20 per cent) and elastane (5 per cent) mix, with a woven cuff to keep them in place and a honeycomb pattern across the body. There’s two sizes - 36 to 42 and 43 to 48, and two lengths, 16cm or 19cm.
Sockeloen Printed Cartoon socks: the ride
My customised socks arrived incredibly quickly, and it seems that this is normal service. Sockeloen’s website says delivery can take ‘up to five days’, so if you trash your socks on the weekend and need a new pair for the next, you’re sorted.
It’s clear that Ockeloen preferences luxury footwear, pulling the socks on, the fabric is extremely soft, though this does come with an element of fragility. I’ve popped these into my kit back amongst all my other gear a few times and there are already a couple of light pulls in the threads. Don't place these next to Velcro, that's for sure.
Out the packaging, the socks look great too, all bold colours and clear design.
The potential for the unravelling of perfection comes when you pull the fabric up your calf, because the width of your design is going to be influenced by the bulk of your legs.
I’ve never been skinny of calf - for reference, I'm 166cm, 56kg, at the top of the sock my calves measure 29.5cm. As a result, my grinning cartoon face was somewhat stretched, rendering the cheeks a little puffy, the grin wider than anticipated and the colours watered down. For me, the stretch was passable, I'll still wear the socks happy in the knowledge that my sock puppet is smiling, extremely broadly.
The degree of stretch will vary - those with skinny calves will probably enjoy a perfect image but riders of a traditional rugby player build - for example - might have to make do with greater distortion.
When I asked Ockeloen about this stretching, he said the brand was aware, and that the socks are now being printed whilst on a mall - alleviating the issue.
When it comes to staying put, the cuff does the job, and the fabric is plenty breathable for those hot sunny days we’re enjoying now that white-shoe-season has arrived.
Sockeloen Printed Cartoon socks: value and conclusions
These socks cost €26.95/£23.18/$32.87 - which is no inconsiderable cost, making them very much a race day option.
Whether or not these socks are worth the investment is going to be influenced by whether or not they fit and look good on you, and that in turn will be influenced by the degree of design stretch. Based on this test, for skinny limbed riders, these are great, but if you ever find traditional cycling socks have to stretch to fit you, proceed with caution - though Sockeloen does say that new printing methods have improved the process.
- RRP: €26.95/£23.18/$32.87
- Weight: 35g
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
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