Ever wonder why road cycler’s shave their legs? Here is a summary of 2 blog posters, Ultrarob and Coachlevi. But first a funny vid from muc-off.com called “Wax or Shave?” In the final seconds, Allen Armstrog is asked why he shaved his legs. He said, “mostly because when you put massage creme on, if you’ve got hairs on your legs it mostly just cloggs up an it makes a right mess…and….when the sticky cloth comes off if you go no hairs on your legs it comes off allot easier.” I think sticky cloth is a band-aide but I am not sure about that. Those funny britts.
After doing extensive research, I have come up with my own Top 3 Reasons for men to shave their legs if they are biking with bare legs.
1. Road Rash: It’s not if, it’s when you lay that bike down, you will get road rash. Band-aids come off much easier if you don’t have hair to pull with them. But this arguement makes little sense if a guy wants to wax his legs since ripping hairs off all the leg area is much worse than ripping a band-aide off one area.
2. Pro Tradition: The first guys shaved their legs like swimmers do to increase speed. But with all the modern scientific methods of measuring speed, there is no significant increase in speed. Still with all those years of shaving, its still what the top cyclists do. If you want to look like a pro, you have to shave your legs.
3. Leg Massages: If you are a hairy guy, that massage cream could make a ‘right mess’ as Mr. Armstrong said in his video.
The guy in the video below adds one more reason, cars cutting it too close. Good thing he shaved his legs.
Good news for me, I don’t have much hair on my legs to begin with so it really doesn’t matter.
Here is a summary of Ultra Rob’s post:
- Crashes. If you crash, it’s easier to clean up the road rash and doesn’t hurt as much taking off bandages. I say at least for mountain biking, if you never crash you aren’t riding fast enough or riding technical enough trails. Even if you just ride on the road, if you ride enough you’re bound to go down.
- Tradition. Road cyclists have been shaving their legs for decades. If you you show up for a serious group ride with unshaven legs, other riders will shun you. Nobody will want to be riding close to you. They will think you aren’t experienced riding in a pack. This means you’ll likely cause a crash. Even mountain bikers should be using group road rides for training. Pro mountain bikers spend about 70% of their time training on the road.
- Psychological Advantage. I generally end up shaving my legs about the time I start getting fast on the bike. Having my legs shaved makes me feel even faster. Other riders I know have said the same thing. Thinking you’re faster can make the difference between being dropped or dropping someone else.
- It Feels Better. I’ve found that when it’s warm and I haven’t shaved my legs, I get more bugs hanging out and biting me. I also don’t like the feel of the wind on my hairy legs when descending at 50 mph. After a mountain bike race with mud bogs and and stream crossings, it’s no fun standing in the parking lot with only a little water and trying to clean mud off hairy legs.
- Massages. I don’t get massages very often but they certainly help with recovery. I’ve been told massage therapists can give smooth legs a better massage. I do know getting a massage with shaved legs feels better._
Here is a summary of Coach Levi’s post along with a video.
Reason 1 – To look good.
This is what it’s all about right here. You can have a fancy kit, sleek helmet, and top-of-the-line bike, but if you pair hairy legs with tight spandex, the cycling fashion police will be forced to haul you away.
Best of all, hairless legs emphasize your muscles. With hair, your legs will still be big, but once they’re shaved, every little ripple in your muscles stands out for the world to see. (Just look at Bobby Julich’s legs, pictured above!)
Reason 2 – To feel like a pro.
All the pros shave their legs. Not once have I seen a professional racer (on the road, at least) that foregos shaving, and even the majority of recreational roadies and amateur racers shave their legs. If you shave yours, too, it makes you feel like part of the group.
You’ll feel faster, too, just like the pros. Heck, you might even get motivated enough that your mind is driven to ride faster. This is a placebo effect, not aerodynamics, but it could very well result in faster times!
And not only do you feel like a pro, you just feel good. That’s probably because hairless legs keep you cooler (think of hairy legs like wearing a cotton t-shirt.) Plus, you actually “feel” the air moving around your legs, which is very neat.
Reason 3 – To treat road rash easily.
The less you race or do group rides, the less you’ll have to worry about road rash, but it’s always a concern. But if you do a lot of group rides and races, there’s a good chance you’ll experience road rash first-hand.
The previous two reasons (looking good and feeling good) will help you on each ride, but the (hopefully) rare cases when you get road rash will be the most memorable “I’m so glad I shaved my legs!” moments. That’s because cleaning your raw skin is much easier if you don’t have hair in the way. Not to mention, the hair will likely trap more dust, dirt, bugs, and gravel in your wounds.
If you end up in the hospital to get your hairy road rash cleaned out, chances are a tired, unsympathetic nurse will bust out the wire brush to scrub your wounds. Ouch! So in this case, leg shaving is kind of like wearing a helmet – you hope you don’t need it, but it’s there just in case.
Smooth legs also come in handy if you’re a mountain biker and get scratched up or cut; then you can put a band-aid on your wounds without it pulling out your hair (which can sometimes be more painful than the cut itself!)
Reason 4 – For better massages.
Again, this probably doesn’t matter on a day-to-day basis (unless you’re a pro,) but getting a massage feels so much better if your legs are smooth. Part of the reason is that the hair gets sticky and creates friction, which makes it harder for the masseuse, which translates into a sub-par experience for you.
Try it yourself: rub some massage oil on a hairy leg, and then do a little self-massage. Then try the same thing on a smooth leg, and you’ll see a big difference. Your hands will glide easily, and it will feel oh so good!
Reason 5 – To deter ticks.
If you ride in the woods (or even on back roads,) ticks can jump off weeds and grab your leg hair, then make their way around your body until they decide to bite. Smooth legs don’t leave them much to grab onto, so it’s less likely that a tick will stay on your body.
It will also be easier to spot a tick if there isn’t a mass of hair obscuring your vision.
I’ve found five ticks on me so far this year, but with my smooth legs, most have been stuck hiding on my clothes. With hairy legs, I probably would have had at least twice as many ticks, some of which may have crawled through my leg hair and made a nice home somewhere on my upper thigh!