Review: Handlebar Mustache Socks and Belgian Booties
(2017) A couple of years ago, after a particularly dramatic Fools Classic, I was in a bargaining mood for the slightest of comforts. The original Kermesse Sport Spring Classic was in its third or fourth year. The ride departed and ended at the local middle school. What happened in between was a quality test for bikes and apparel. The only two casualties were all four brake pads and approximately four hours of cleanup later that day.
Prior to leaving I was in dire straits with footwear. I had brought a change of clothing but for some reason neglected to prioritize a change of socks. It looked like I would settle for driving home with cold feet, which was really no change since they had been freezing for hours by this point. Like magic from the heavens, Kermesse Sport’s organizer, Brian, stated he had an extra pair of cycling socks, and they were mine if I wanted them. I definitely wanted them. He handed over a pair of National Criterium Championship socks made by Defeet. I still have them to this day to remind me never to put myself in that situation ever again.
I feel I owe Brian immensely after that day. I also feel I owe Defeet after that day, too. Little did they know how much I would fall in love with their American-made product. Time doesn’t change much; I found myself needing new socks for the 2017 season.
I had eyed up matchy-matchy socks for quite some time on the site. Perhaps you recall this site featuring Handlebar Mustache on our 2015 Holiday List? It was time to begin the sock drawer update followed by a Belgian bootie replacement. Belgian booties never last. I managed to stretch my last pair for several years, but really, they hardly resembled what came out of the bag.
I loved pulling these new digs out of the bag. The colors gleamed magically onto the table. The patterns were unique and full of personality. These are the socks to wear to get noticed. Gone are the days of snugging up all white socks simply because they were the only option available.
Handlebar Mustache is considered part of Defeet’s Artist Series according to their Twitter account. There’s the reliability of Defeet socks with attention grabbing patterns from the headquarters of Handlebar Mustache. Recently they have offered winter socks free of animal products. That line continues to grow.
In all honesty, many of the cyclists I ride with and against are aware of Handlebar Mustache. But I think the cycling sock is one of the few parts of kit a cyclist has control over if s/he is riding for a team. It speaks volumes when entire teams pony up for hbstache.com duds. I’m not really revealing any new information that many cyclists don’t already know. Pair the prior knowledge with a healthy social media presence and it’s hard not get sucked into the culture of the whole thing.
I’m always curious what Americans have to offer in the professional peloton or on the cyclocross course. To add Handlebar Mustache among the names of Voler, Chris King, and Moots is quite the feat of entrepreneurship when one stops and thinks about all they have accomplished. I don’t think I’ll replace those old Defeet Criterium socks anytime soon because of what they stand for. Those old store-bought big-name brand socks that started falling apart after the first ride? I’ll gladly replace them with the flare of socks adorned with a logo of a mustache over a bike wheel. That will also remind me not to take riding too seriously. It’ll also remind me, when I take my shoes off after a brutal spring classic, just why I went out there in the first place.
Handlebar Mustache socks typically sell for $15 (USD) on hbstache.com. The Belgian booties retail for $25 (USD). Currently for every two socks you buy, one pair is donated to the local homeless shelter Colorado.