Question: All the hardcore riders around here shave their legs. I’m as dedicated to the sport as anyone, but I wonder what the value is in shaving? — Walter P.
Coach Fred replies: This is a question that almost all road riders ask themselves – or their friends, or us – at some point in their riding career.
What it comes down to is this: Racers and other serious cyclists shave their legs for several good reasons.
Shaved legs makes it easier to clean road rash and other abrasions from falls. Not having hair also makes it easier to bandage these wounds.
Leg massage won’t pull your hair. Lubricants won’t make a gummy mess.
Your legs stay cleaner and maybe even a little cooler without hair to collect road grime and sweat.
Leg warmers stay up better. The gripper band at the top sticks to bare skin but can slide down on hairy legs.
Those nice legs you’re building with all of your riding look more muscular when they’re clean-shaven.
Once thought to be a bogus reason, it turns out that shaved legs really do make you faster. Specialized tested shaved versus hairy legs in their wind tunnel and found that shaved legs save 15 watts, which could translate to 79 seconds in a 40K time trial.
But despite what Dear Abby once told her readers, bike riders don’t shave to prevent leg hair from getting caught in the chain. Most cyclists shave because it’s traditional. It shows that you’re serious about the sport.
However, some fast and skilled riders have hairy legs, so it’s a personal decision based on your sense of style (and other possible considerations) as well as the practical reasons just mentioned. One of those other possible considerations, for some male riders, is that their spouse simply doesn’t like them to shave. That sounds like as good a reason as any not to!