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Happy Feet with Swiftwick Cycling Socks

You can’t go past a good pair of socks. Supermarket socks, as a rule, are hopeless if your ambitions stretch further than lazy evenings at home on the sofa. Run-of-the-mill budget cycling socks will fare better, but usually have a limited lifespan and come with deficiencies when comfort is important. Moving up into the $25+ bracket you can start to expect a purpose-built sock which deliver comfort, performance, longevity and style.

Swiftwick socks made in the United States and are distributed by importer Swift Sports. Their range includes socks of different lengths (0″ – 12″) and colours, they provided a few pairs of their 4″ Aspire sports socks for BNA to try. I love wearing good socks and earmarked these for my big Adelaide to Darwin TourXOz charity bike ride which would offer testing conditions, heat and long distances.

Swiftwick Aspire four inch socks

For the cycle tour, each rider was allocated cycling kit to wear so we could introduce our own flare with our helmet, sunglasses, socks, shoes and bike. Reds, whites and blacks currently dominate the current generation of bikes, shoes and helmets, so for socks you have a choice to either match your bike and kit… or to be flamboyant and say “look at me, my socks are super bright”.

matching cycling socks
The conformist approach, I am front right with white socks. 

bright green socks
The rebellious cyclist, can you spot the green socks?

I tried both strategies throughout the tour; conforming with the black or white socks which matched the dark kit and shoes, and rebelling with the contrasting lime green socks. As a rebel on a bicycle, I am easy to spot wearing the bright socks.

The 4” socks reach a third of the way up my calves, well below UCI regulation which stipulates that socks can be higher than the halfway point between the knee and ankle. The reason for this is to limit the use of compression wear which is banned. Swiftwick opt for straight colours in their Aspire range and there are no patterns which some other brands choose. This is very much a ‘form follows function’ approach.

swiftwick fit


The details and comfort

Are they comfortable? Yes, they are! Not too thin, not too thick, the weave is tight and reminds me of compression wear.In fact, they are promoted as compression sock so I found it important that they were comfortable and not restricting. The socks incorporate stretch elastic in the right places and the fit is reassuring. They win plus points for eliminating internal stitching which is a must-have for cycling socks.

With temperatures soaring to 42ºC on the cycle tour through central Australia, the road surface became unbearably hot. The heat radiating from the road as the riders pedalled left some riders complaining about overheating and burning feet. I was spared and attribute this to a number of factors; my physiology, ventilated shoes, ventilated socks and my moulded custom insole.

At the end of each day, my feet felt good. There was no soreness and no rubbing. I don’t sweat excessively but appreciated the moisture wicking and anti-bacterial capabilities. Cheap socks soak up the moisture so removing this moisture away from the skin is healthier.

The socks are made from 67% Nylon, 28% Olefin and 5% Spandex. Olefin is an interesting material, a synthetic fibre which doesn’t hold moisture and resists deterioration from sweat and detergent. Swiftwick also note that they don’t use chemicals for moisture wicking and that reminded me of a base-layer sports top I used to own which stunk of chemicals and never really felt right.

Swiftwick Sizing

Swiftwick Quality

Let’s compare these with some other socks – I purchased some Volta socks with the same length for $18. The Volta’s look the part but beyond the appearances they are quite different to the $33 Swiftwick. The Swiftwick have a more intricate foot-forming construction with different elastic sections running laterally and vertically on the top, the base of the foot, the heel and the ankle. Insideout, the Volta socks are messy in comparison, while not as bad as supermarket socks the insides are not meant to be seen – the Swiftwick are a cleaner and neater inside which reveals a lot about the level of detail and quality of the sock design and manufacture.

Swiftwick sock comparison
Both the Volta (left) and the Swiftwick socks look the part

cycling socks comparison
Under the covers, the Swiftwick (right) is cleaner and you can see the detailed construction

The material in the Swiftwick is also denser but not thicker. Weight weenies will be interested in the results from weighing the socks on the scales, the Volta are 16grams (one sock) while the Swiftwick are 24grams.

On the feet, the Volta’s fit nicely and feel good, but the SwiftWicks are superior, particularly with the fitted heel, the compression on the entire length of the cuff from the ankle up and the lateral and vertical elastic on the top of the foot. I like both socks but in direct competition the Swiftwick is the clear winner.

Swiftwick sock elastic

On the bike both socks felt as though they were part of a cohesive pedalling machine (that’s me) so were functional and ‘invisible’. That means that I didn’t notice them which riding which is a good sign for any equipment or gear because it means that it is performing well. I anticipate the cheaper sock will wear out faster, particularly at the heel. The internal construction also means that the cheaper socks will be more susceptible to fraying.

The Volta’s do one thing better, the have R and L stitched into the socks to indicate left and right. The Swiftwicks however have a red L on the bottom of each which confused me… did they send two left socks in each pair? I wondered about this for a while and then it clicked, it meant size L.

left right socks

My cycling shoes range from size 43.5 to 44 and my regular out shoes are usually size 43. I suggested size L for the socks which covers the range of 43 – 46 and was very happy with the sizing.

If you are used to cycling with budget socks, or worse, supermarket socks, the Swiftwick socks will be an investment at $33 a pair. But they will bring you comfort and style, plus they will last far longer than budget socks. With Christmas around the corner, these are the type of socks you will want Santa to bring.

More details and purchasing options via: swiftsports.com.au

Christopher Jones
Christopher Joneshttps://www.bicycles.net.au
Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a design agency, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.
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