In Partnership with Memory Pilot
Boutique cycling gear company, Memory Pilot, was started by former pro cyclist, Erik Saunders. Erik has competed in his homeland in the US in various disciplines, and also throughout Europe. In Europe, Erik raced as an elite amateur in France, then as a pro in Switzerland (where the hills are very, very tough), eventually going on to win a pro race competing against some of the top competitors of the day.
All of which backstory is to say that Erik has probably had his feet inside of more pairs of cycling socks than you or I have had hot dinners. And, because Erik’s cycled in lots of pairs of socks, it’s clear that some of that sock experience has worked its way into his brain. Why? Well, the Wattstyle socks that he has developed at his company, Memory Pilot, are IMHO true works of art.
We’ll get onto why these socks are so great in a moment (and it’ll take some time because there are so many awesome features). But to begin with I want to highlight two features and a dilemma.
First up, a pair of features for every pair of Wattstyle socks: Rightness and forgetting-they’re-even-thereness. Pull a sock on and the initial feeling you get is that these socks are just *right*. There’s no other way to describe it, you just feel like your feet have finally arrived at their spiritual home in a pair of Wattstyle socks. Weirdly though, that feeling doesn’t last long. Because, once you’ve popped your shoes on, jumped on the bike and started pedalling…you just forget that you’re wearing them. You’ll probably have felt the opposite many times – chamois that digs into your most tender bits, jersey that rubs away at your armpits, bike shoes that nip your toes – so it’s a refreshing change to find cycling socks that you forget are there.
But, I mentioned a dilemma, didn’t I? So, what’s this elephant in the corner of the bike shop? That’s the choice of colors in the Wattstyle range. As dilemmas go, it’s a nice one, but it’s still a tough choice because there are nine colors in the collection. Will it be the subtle and understated All Black? The bolder Red Velvet? Or, my personal favorite, the exceptional Peacherine?
Thankfully, whichever color you choose, you’ll get socks that feel right and you’ll forget you’re even wearing. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the details.
What do Memory Pilot say
“the finest performance socks you have ever worn”
“distinct functional zones with varying knits and thickness”
“provide support and comfort all while being imperceptible during your effort”
What do I like about Memory Pilot socks
There’s a lot to like about Wattstyle socks. On the surface, you’ve got a great color range to choose from. But, take a look under the hood, and you’ll see the real magic of these socks. It’s clear that Memory Pilot founder, Erik, has really used all his racing knowledge and experience to create a sock that performs superbly. Let’s look and see which features I particularly love about them.
Color range has something for everyone
I’ve already mentioned that the color range of the Wattstyle socks is fantastic, but does give a little difficulty in choosing the ones that are right for you. What I would say is that, whichever color you go with, you’ll be happy. I’ve looked over all the colorways and there isn’t a bad one amongst them. The colors are vibrant, easy to match up with the rest of your bike outfit, and stay nice and bright even after being washed repeatedly.
My favorite color (and the one that gets me the most positive comments when I’m out cycling) is the Peacherine – citrus red on the foot and ankle (with company logos detailing: Memory Pilot, Wattstyle and [MP] ). Then moving up from the ankle we get bold rings of bright orange, pink and coral.
If the Peacherine are still working their way through the laundry, then I’ll pull on either the Chalkboard or Red Velvet. And, if it’s a more formal business-deal-done-on-a-bike type of day out, then I might well go for the Trips Black.
Whatever your mood, whatever the occasion, there’s a Wattstyle color for you.
Light compression where you need it, not where you don’t
Under the hood and behind those great colorways, there are some real interesting details in the construction of these cool cycling socks. Whilst they aren’t compression socks per se (which I’m really not a fan of – too tight for me), what they do have is light compression at specific points that gives important benefits.
Round the arch of your foot there is a band of compression that runs under your foot and across the top and side. Memory Pilot say that this “gently supports your instep”, and it does, but the real benefit I think is that it helps stop the sock from moving around inside your shoe. This avoids it either bunching up around your toes or causing the heel to slide out past your own heel.
There’s also some light compression on the rear leg of the sock, from the upper ankle to the cuff. This helps to keep the sock up as you pedal and stops it from falling down around your ankles.
Thinner zones at key points to avoid bunching
In between the compression zones there are areas where the sock is deliberately thinner. These being at the toe, the heel, across the top of the ankle, and up the front of the leg. I was initially concerned about the thinness on the heel and toes but, even with repeated and vigorous use I haven’t had my feet poking through like I have had on some of my other socks.
The thin area across the top of the ankle is excellent for stopping fabric bunching as you tighten up your laces/shoe straps and pedal. Something that can be both sore and sweaty on long rides. The thin zone up the front of the leg allows a flow of air to get in to your leg and cool hot skin – a huge benefit on middle-of-the-day summer cycles.
8” is the sweet spot of sock height
Having tried every kind of sock height I can find, I can honestly say that 8” is right for me. That gives a sock that reaches mid-calf, stays in place beautifully, gives my lower calves a delightful cuddle every time I wear them, and shows off the awesome Peacherine colors just the way I want.
But maybe you’ve never tried this sock height before? Maybe you think 8” is more than you can handle? Maybe you think you can take more? And, whilst it’s probably time to stop this line of questioning before I get a call from the internet police, I’d suggest that you give an 8” (pair of Wattstyle socks) a try. I think you might like the length.
Fabric choice: nylon or merino wool
Most of the Wattstyle socks are available as a 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex blend. Look closely at the Wattstyle range though and you’ll see an otherwise unassuming pair of gray socks. These are the Wattstyle Wool Gray socks. Same construction as their standard, more colorful, cousins but with a different fabric. Instead of the Nylon/Spandex combo, we have socks that are made from 70% merino wool / 30% acrylic.
I’ve been testing out a range of different merino wool apparel recently (I’m wearing a merino tshirt and shorts right now) and I have to say that I’m a big fan. Merino has a number of benefits over other fabrics in terms of that magical “keeps you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm” and it also seems to be stink-free, requiring far less washing than other fibers. I say “seems” as it’s just based on my experience, but the tshirt I’m wearing has been on daily for two months and hasn’t needed a trip to the laundry basket yet.
What do I dislike about Memory Pilot socks
I love these socks, but I do have a couple minor gripes about them. These are to do with sizing, specifically foot size and sock height.
Wattstyle socks are only available in one size – that’s 40-46 EU, which translates to a US size 7 up to a size 12. This will likely cover the majority of male cyclists, and some females, but there’s going to be a big number of disappointed faces from cyclists looking for smaller (or possibly bigger) sizes. I’m a US 12 and these socks fit great, so there’s probably a little wiggle room on the upper end of the sock sizing. But it would be great (and probably very lucrative) if Memory Pilot could create a smaller size too. As I write this, my wife is demanding to know when this will happen (she’s had her eyes on the Peacherine socks ever since the box arrived), so it would make my life a LOT easier if I could give her a launch date on these….
The socks are also only in one height option – that’s with an 8” leg length, that will probably take you up to around mid-calf. It’s my preferred sock length, so I’m happy. But, it’s not all about me (so my wife tells me) and other cyclists may prefer shorter or longer socks. Again, supply of new sock lengths will depend on levels of demand. So, if a no-show or a knee-high are your go-to, then let Memory Pilot know.
For me, neither of these detracts from the overall quality of the Wattstyle socks. At the end of the cycle, they’re an awesome sock that’s crying out for a day on your feet.
I mentioned at the outset that I’ve tried a lot of different bike socks over the years. Mountain bike socks, road bike socks, summer socks, winter cycling socks, aerodynamic cycling socks, and funny cycling socks. Are the Wattstyle range the best socks for cyclists? I don’t know. What I do know is that these are the socks that I reach for when I open my cycling clothing closet drawer and I get a slight nervous tremor when they’re not the first thing that I see in there.
The tricky bit? Choosing the color to buy. Still undecided? Choose Peacherine.