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Would You Shave Your Legs? Why Do Cyclists Do It

By Jiri Kaloc

Pros at the Tour de France are famous for their smoothly shaven legs. Have you ever wondered why cyclists do it? And should you start shaving too? Let’s take a closer look at the most common reasons.

Shaved legs are faster

A big reason why pros do it is the aerodynamic benefit. The bicycle manufacturer Specialized decided to determine how much of a difference shaved legs make compared to hairy legs when cycling. They tested a cyclist with very hairy legs in a state-of-the-art wind tunnel. They measured his performance with hair and then without hair 10 separate times. They found that over 40 km he was faster by 82 seconds with shaved legs!

Bicycle races are won and lost by seconds. Greg LeMond won the 1989 Tour de France by just 8 seconds after three weeks of racing. Shaved legs certainly seem like a relevant factor.

To show dedication

A lot of us cycling enthusiasts want to feel like we belong. We try to mimic our cycling heroes as best as we can, including the clean-shaven legs. Shaving legs is a part of road cycling culture. Many amateur cyclists do it to show their dedication. And it’s also a way to show off the hard work, those sculpted legs.

It makes leg massage better

The pros are getting daily massages during stage races such as the Tour de France. They are necessary to support quick recovery. Shaved legs help with using massage oils as well as warming up creams before workouts, races.

Time trial
Would you shave your legs? © Profimedia

To deal with scrapes easier

Crashing is an unfortunate part of cycling for both pros and cycling enthusiasts. With only a pair of thin cycling shorts and a jersey there’s not much protecting the skin. Abrasions can be very painful and need to be cleaned up as soon as possible, shaved legs can make it a lot easier. Taking bandages off after is also less painful and skin without hairs heals faster too.

Should you do it?

The answer depends on your fitness levels and your goals. If you’re a well-trained seasoned cyclist and a few seconds matter to you, go ahead. But the rest of us who ride for fun and to stay in shape probably won’t notice a difference in performance. When it comes to aesthetics and practicality, the case for shaving legs is there. If you want to fit in with your cycling friends, or enjoy a non-hairy massage, embrace the shave!