Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs?
Cyclists shave their legs for a variety of reasons, whether they are professional, semi-professional or amateur competitors, or simply serious recreational cyclists. The most common reason given for shaving legs is to provide a smoother surface for air to pass when in motion. Smooth skin offers less aerodynamic resistance than a leg covered with thick hair.
This seems to be widely accepted among cyclists and non-cyclists alike. But some people argue that shaving legs does not help with aerodynamics as much as cyclists claim. Others state that it does nothing at all to improve air flow for competitive cyclists.
The world of professional cycling has adopted much of the new technology that will help increase speed and efficiency. Methods include wind tunnel tests that measure air flow, turbulence and other factors. General knowledge indicates that the presence of hair on the legs has such a tiny effect on aerodynamics that it isn’t worth worrying about. Swimmers who shave their bodies do gain, according to studies, because they are moving through water, not air.
So what other reasons could cyclists have for shaving their legs or any other parts of their bodies? It has been proposed that they shave their legs for appearance reasons. This might be similar to why many women shave their legs. In their minds, shaved legs are more attractive to others. Cyclists might feel that shaved legs are more attractive with biking shorts, both during a race and in photo sessions.
There may be some good reasons to shave the legs, but aerodynamics apparently one of them. We have already mentioned the primary reason – looking good! In a world where professional athletes are expected to look good as well as perform well, it wouldn’t be right to have hairy legs that poke out from under spandex or show when you wear shorts, would it?
When the legs are pumping during a race or when they are part of a professional photo shoot, they probably look much better without hair. After all, the lean, tight muscles of a cyclist’s legs would be hidden by hair.
Many competitive cyclists (and amateurs) shave their legs simply because others do. It’s a classic case of monkey see, monkey do. This is similar to any group of athletes that adopts a particular look or a particular type of equipment.
Many of the competitive cyclists have found a very practical reason for shaving their legs, however. Professional cycling can be a dangerous sport. Injuries are possible, even likely. If a cyclist has smooth, hairless legs it would certainly be easy to treat road burns, cuts and scrapes. Wounds will heal much more readily without hair blocking the fresh air and sunlight. It’s also easier to keep the injuries clean during the healing process. If a cyclist is injured seriously enough to be taken to a medical facility, the nurses and doctors may have to shave the injured areas anyway. Whatever reason a cyclist might have for shaving his or her legs on a regular basis, aerodynamics isn’t a practical reason.