TUCANO URBANO PIPPI SOCKS
71g Size 43-46 £14.99
Whether these “elegant” socks were inspired by Pippi Longstocking, the heroine of Swedish children’s fiction, I do not know. However, on opening the box, that was what leapt to mind. Long, in our case colourful, and with a host of nice touches, I’ve been pretty impressed, whatever the inspiration was. Certainly, their motorcycle heritage, has played its part, too.
Pros: functional, well-made, flexible, for general riding.
Cons: reinforcement around toe and heel would be welcome.
70% is our old friend polyester, with the remainder polyamide. Nothing massively surprising there, but it’s worth taking a closer look at the detail. Ours were multicoloured hoops, but greyer shades are available. Personally, I like a bit of colour. More importantly, these are made from Thermolite fabric which traps air in its hollow fibres. Tucano Urbano don’t give an operating temperature range, but they aren’t alone in recognising Thermolite’s virtues.
Thermolite is also a quick drying fabric.
Reaching to just below the knee, the high cuff provides a firm grip without constricting. Equally, the shaped foot, though not unusual in socks of this type, offers a comfortably close fit. Then there’s a neat reflective band woven into the design. Just above the ankle, so great if, like me, you tuck your trousers into your socks rather than don old-school clips, when riding in civvies.
A reinforced patch on the instep is very much for the motorcyclist than the cyclist – but it adds a bit to warmth and detracts not one whit form comfort. Equally, the elastic strip that weaves over the instep and under the arch, holds things in place really well. On the other hand, many cycling socks have reinforcement around toe and heel: though shaped, the Pippi socks don’t.
Being on the cusp of the larger of the three sizes, I opted for the large (43-46). This has proved to be the right choice for my size nines. Other sizes are 35-38 and 39-42. Mind you, there’s enough stretch in them to deal with a margin of error. They are described as unisex, which can be a bit confusing if you are used to different sizes for men and women.
Coverage to the top of the calf.
During test rides, temperatures have varied form -3C to 12C. The Pippi socks yell “urban” and “leisure” and “commute” by turn, but I’ve used them for a couple of forty milers and would add “tour” to the chorus. I’ve eschewed them for faster rides, but if all the merino socks were in the wash then I’d not be too concerned.
Tucano Urbano don’t give a suggested temperature range. However, -3C was probably too low. On the other hand, thongs didn’t get painfully cold on half-hour, fifteen mph commutes with the mercury hovering around 0. At a milder plus 3, things felt fine, with only a minor chill creeping in. At a balmy 9, there’s been no dampness generated. On the other hand, I’d still be inclined to go for a merino rich blend such as Polaris Challenge Merino Ride Socks.
On the commute rain’s been heavy enough – and I’ve been out in it long enough – then the Pippi’s have dried in situ (with shoes removed) in around twenty minutes. On the other hand, when the rains been heavy I’d either don overshoes or, on tour, consider something fully waterproof, like Bridgedale’s Stormsocks. Incidentally, with overshoes added on cold days, toes have been toasty.
Machine wash – thirty-degree cycle, no tumbling – has dried in almost no time at all.
Gauging the impact of a narrow reflective strip is not easy, but given that its generally on an ankle that’s rotating at around 76rpm, it can be surprisingly effective, and seems to give a presence at around twenty metres. Even with the motto that every little helps, I’d consider this as more than just a gimmick – especially in urban contexts.
Off the bike, there’s no compromise in comfort. They’ve doubled as auxiliary walking socks. Incidentally, for the stylish veteran cyclist, you may well find that they are long enough to suit your plus-fours.
The only downside – for chunkier calves – is possible tightness around the cuff. Mind you, the socks stay in place.
I like my Pippi socks and will defend their place in my draw when the wife discovers their unisex designation. They may not be for the racer, but they are flexible and effective, especially, though not solely, on moderately paced rides of up to thirty or forty miles long. They’ve done well on the commute and family runs to the pub, but would also find a place in my autumn and spring weekend touring luggage. However, hovering around this price point you’ll find more or less rich merino blends.