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The Universal Colours Spectrum Tie-Dye Merino Socks are fairly thick and warm, and they fit securely and comfortably. They stay that way when soaked, too. What's more they're ultra fashionable – you can tell from the lower-case logo and the high price – rather than old-fashioned like other tie-dye stuff.
The fabric is 69% merino and at the thicker end of mid-weight, and it's very nice to wear – soft and warm, if not instantly toasty-feeling like some fabrics. With the rest being nylon and a 2% dash of Lycra, the stretch is strong enough for complete security; they're not tight enough to be compressive, and not loose enough to slide down. Perfect.
Wales has had just the occasional drop of rain lately, so I really appreciate how well these keep working even when wet. On one night-ride in particular I coasted into a bit of flooding that just kept getting deeper and longer so that, at about the time I reached periscope depth, I had to start pedalling. My feet were going completely under with every revolution, but even with socks and shoes utterly drenched, my feet stayed just as comfortable for the rest of the ride, with no sense of extra windchill through the upper bits either.
These socks seem less happy with washing, though. The first time through the machine saw the toeboxes emerge looking like hammerhead sharks, and since then I've had to be quite careful about stretching and arranging them on my feet so the extra width doesn't bunch up inside my shoes.
Universal Colours says the dyeing process makes the fabric shrink, and they'll 'ease' with use and washing, so perhaps something about the construction is making that expansion particularly noticeable at the toe. I tested the larger of the two sizes, by the way, and overall they feel just right given I'm right in the middle of the UK 8-11 range.
Washing doesn't seem to affect the dye, and for the record they really are dyed rather than printed – consequently the patterns are unique. If you can understand how this uniqueness means 'you can style and complete any outfit', as Universal Colours claims, then that's presumably worth quite a bit to you.
If you don't fancy this 'Bold Apple Green', there are Navy Blue and Mars Red versions as well.
I was going to say £25 is a lot to pay for a pair of socks, but this is 2023 and £25 probably won't get you a coffee by the time you read this. These are actually on par for designer-brand merino, and close to the MAAP Alt_Road Merino socks that Emma reviewed, which cost £28. Those have a slightly higher wool content (80%) however, and they're a bit lighter too.
It's not purely the merino you're paying the premium for, though. Those Monton socks are almost constantly discounted to £12, for instance, while the Planet X Holdsworth Argyle Thicky Merino Cycling Socks are £4.99. Okay, they're only 50% wool, but... £4.99.
They were £3.99 at the start of this test (and the MAAPs were £25), but as I said, it's 2023.
These are great socks, though arguably they should be, given the price. You're definitely paying a premium for the fancy looks and designer branding, but if you like the style the result is very comfortable and works very well.
Comfortable, warm and very 'designer' – the high price is as much for the last one as the first two
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Universal Colours Spectrum Tie-Dye Merino Socks
Size tested: L/XL
Tell us what the product is for
Universal Colours doesn't say much. It doesn't say: 'They're socks and they go on your feet,' but trust me, these are and they do.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"Due to the nature of an authentic two-stage dyeing process, no pair of Spectrum Tie-Dye Merino Socks is the same. Natural variations in patterns and colours make these socks truly unique, so you can style and complete any outfit.
"Constructed from a special blend of merino and nylon, you get the perfect balance of insulation, moisture-wicking and natural antibacterial properties, perfect for keeping your feet warm, fresh and dry in challenging conditions. The compressive arch band ensures a smooth fit, keeping the sock in place, whilst the jacquard knit cuff provides a secure hold against the leg.
"Designed and created by Universal Colours. Made in Taiwan by an internationally audited factory to ensure social and environmental good practice."
Comfy, secure and very sock-like.
Tight enough for sockurity, but still very comfortable.
£10-15 more than a great many really good options, so you may say to yourself, sock that.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Mostly fine, though the toeboxes seem to expand. UC says: "Due to the dyeing process, the socks look and feel smaller when they come straight out of the packaging, but this will ease with time and washing."
Perhaps the toeboxes 'ease' quicker than the rest? It caused very little issue, at least.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are expensive, though not as bad as they look given that they're merino. These are actually on par for designer-brand merino, and close to the MAAP Alt_Road Merino Sock at £28. Those have a slightly higher wool content (80%) however, and they're a bit lighter too.
The Velocio Winter Wool Sock is a tiny bit less at £23, and only 58% merino, while the very similar Monton Pro Suutu Merino Socks are £20.
It's not purely the merino you're paying the premium for, though. Those Monton socks are almost constantly discounted to £12, as Monton is a more value-based brand, while the Planet X Holdsworth Argyle Thicky Merino Cycling Socks are £4.99. Okay, the Thickys are only 50% wool, but... £4.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Only if they were discounted
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, though I'd end with '...but guess how much they are?'
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are very good socks, and there are similar pairs for similar prices elsewhere, but as with those you're paying quite heavily for the style and branding. You can get much the same comfort and performance for far less, which makes these hard to score any higher than 'good' overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,