Annemiek van Vleuten’s World Championship victory was an impressive display of tenacity and a perfectly timed attack. World title, broken elbow, and incredible tenacity aside, Van Vleuten’s stockings were another high point in deciding the elite women’s world title – pun intended – that landed the new world champion with a CHF200 fine.
Coincidentally, we’ve spent a lot of this week talking to Dutch sock manufacturer Sockeloen and founder Jasper Ockeloen, about the benefits of airy socks and the fastest socks on the planet.
Sockeloen has introduced a range of airy and standard socks that have lined the shoes of many champions over the past few seasons. Although Ockeloen cannot confirm exactly which athlete he offers socks to, there are some key clues that can help you identify socks. One is the all-white flight design you may have seen in 2020 at the feet of Mathieu van der Poel. Another is the golden heel inside Michael Matthews shoes this summer.
The question is, what makes Sockeloens so special that professionals are looking for non-collective socks from a small Dutch manufacturer?
The fastest socks on the planet
Sockeloen’s new line of socks is called “Fastest Sock on the Planet.” ™ (FSOTP).” Yes, that is the name of the form.
Sockeloen’s FSOTP Socks are a custom-made Air Socks that fit a rider’s foot with the length and diameter of the calf to ensure the perfect fit. Featuring aerodynamically optimized, wind-tunnel-tested textures and textures, the socks are said to be as fast as their name suggests. Oh yeah, and FSOTP socks cost €540 1,000 per pair (about $970 / $1,475).
We recently reported on the €1,850 Custom Antiloper boots, which seemed like a lot of dough for boots, but €1,000 for a pair of socks is quite another level. Sockeloen claims that it’s this combination of “perfect fit”, “perfect materials” and consulting-like service that sets FSOTP apart from all other air socks currently on the market.
Sockeloen already offers more affordable traditional cycling socks, and earlier this year it set out to develop the world’s fastest aerobic socks. The socks specialists have collaborated with fellow Dutch aviation professionals, Speeco, and Eindhoven University of Technology to develop and test over 10 different types of FSOTP and competition air socks. Sockeloen documented the process and recently released a mini-series on YouTube, even going so far as to set up his own in-house production facility to create more prototypes faster.
Sockeloen claims that its testing and development process has helped the brand understand the key characteristics of the perfect air sock. But, despite the name of the sock, the result of the said process is not “the fastest sock on the planet” but three different socks. It is said to be the fastest, depending on the target speed.
As explained by Ockeloen, “The fastest sock at 60 km/h will be different from the fastest sock at 54 km/h, while another sock performs better at 46 km/h.” As such, Sockeloen alters both the material and textured surface in each of the three fastest socks to meet the atmospheric requirements of different speed ranges.
Depending on the material and texture selected, the fit of the sock is said to be the next most important aspect of a really fast air sock. Sockeloen explains that the fastest sock should fit snugly over the leg, ensuring material and fabric structures don’t shift, and the sock stays perfectly in place. Maximizing sock length within UCI rules is also key to the perfect fit and air advantage.
“While riders can stretch any sock, doing so would compromise the aerodynamic benefits of the material,” O’Kelwin explained. Ockeloen claims that this perfect fit of the rider and material is only possible with a made-to-measure sock.
Because our mission is to be the fastest, our plan was to develop as many samples as possible. See each sample as an opportunity for the fastest sock. The more samples, the higher the chances. We’ve come up with all the concepts we can come up with.
However, €1,000 seems like a lot of money to buy a suit tailored to leather, not to mention a pair of airy socks. However, Ockeloen explains that riders get more than a pair of socks for their money. “Think of this as an advisory and performance assurance service based on creating the fastest sock on earth for a specific individual,” O’Kelwin said.
Sockeloen first evaluates the rider’s current socks, the exact demands of the target race, and their unique fit. From there, it creates its first custom samples based on its experience creating airsocks, before taking the customer to a wind tunnel to perfect the final product and prove a performance guarantee.
Then it goes back to the in-house production facility in Sockeloen, where it does all of the sublimation, knitting, cutting and design to create the custom air socks. And yes, it is possible to go through all of this and order just one pair.
However, passengers can skip the wind tunnel testing and optimization process, which brings the price down significantly to between €50 and €150, depending on the quantity ordered. Ockeloen explains that it is this custom process minus the test chosen by most pro riders who wear FSOTP socks.
“Due to their busy racing schedule, we have made several socks for the pros based on their leg sizes at home,” he said. “We can add team logo designs or make everything white, depending on their preference. Just look for a gold heel and you will find our kids.”
What is the fastest speed?
As previously mentioned, the Sockeloen wind tunnel has tested their FSOTP socks against several competition air socks. Before delving into the results, it’s worth noting that all tests were done at 0º yaw, an angle rarely tested outdoors, and with a stationary mannequin. Sockeloen explains that he doesn’t think riders will choose socks depending on the wind direction and would rather test more socks on one yaw angle, rather than fewer socks on many yaw angles.
A stationary mannequin has helped eliminate the inevitable disparity between tests with real humans, but the company also admits that stationary legs aren’t a true reflection of a rider in the real world. There are pros and cons to many wind tunnel tests, but Sockeleon plans to run subsequent tests across a range of skew angles.
With the three new FSOTP offerings, Sockleoen claims it now has the fastest sock on the market at 40 km/h, 47 km/h, 54 km/h and 61 km/h. The brand’s current aerodynamic socks already proved faster in their test at 40 km/h, but the new socks expand that honor across the three top speed ranges.
Compared to other popular aero socks at 47 km/h, Sockeloen claims that its socks are 3.6 watts faster than the DeFeet aero offering, 5 watts faster than the ACG air socks, and 3.6 watts faster than the AGU socks. The full test report and results are available through the Sockeloen website.
Although Sockeloen hasn’t tested her socks against aerobic overload boots, she believes his socks, with the right footwear, can prove to be even faster than an air-time trial long sock. The brand even goes so far as to suggest that we look at Annemiek van Vleuten’s time trial collection as an example. That was before the controversy with the Van Vleuten Highway Racing Socks. And while the socks from both events look remarkably similar, apart from the obvious height difference, Sockeloen was quick to distance himself from the long socks of the new world champion seen in road racing.
But are more socks better?
Of course, due to recent events, we couldn’t do such an article without mentioning AVV’s pantyhose. The UCI states that “socks and boots to be used in competition may not rise above the specified height by half the distance between the middle of the side heel and the center of the head of the fibula”, and Van Vleuten received a fine over the World Championship socks. As mentioned earlier, Sockeloen makes his socks fit perfectly at this midway mark for each rider’s leg length, maximizing the aerodynamic advantage the sock provides.
Having said that, Sockeloen has made pantyhose and “air tubes” for triathletes, stating “We did, but we’re not a big fan of the aesthetics of pantyhose like these.” As for how much of a difference knee-high socks might make, Sockeloen claims that an athletic athlete, presumably in a somewhat aerobic position, switching from no socks to knee-high socks resulted in a 3% reduction in total dynamic drag. antenna of the system. If true, it’s a savings that seems relatively huge for just a simple change of sock.
However, Sockeloen was careful to stress that the socks should still fit perfectly. “We have also tested UCI legal knee-high stretch socks and found no additional aerobic gains. This is because the stretch distorts the specific fabric and cancels out the aerodynamic properties of the socks.”
Regardless of winning or Van Vleuten winning, let’s hope extra long socks aren’t a new trend.