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Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs?

picture of razor for shaving legs

As you get into cycling, one thing you’ll notice is how many people shave their legs. There’s a constant discussion among cyclists new and old on whether or not shaving your legs is a requirement for cycling. Some believe it makes you faster, others don’t think it matters. Some think it looks better. Overall, there are a few main reasons why people shave their legs for cycling.

Some of these reasons are performance, others are aesthetic but there are 5 main reasons that I have found for why people shave their legs.

5 Reasons Why Cyclists Shave Their Legs

  1. Hygiene & Injuries
  2. Aerodynamics
  3. Massages
  4. Aesthetic
  5. Fitting In

1. Hygiene & Injuries

One of the main reasons that I found for why cyclists shave their legs is actually hygiene and injuries. I honestly expected the main reason to be aerodynamics but from most of my research this seemed to be the number one reason.

It’s very common for cyclists to get road rash, scrapes and bruises, etc. from crashing or just falling over. When you get road rash on your legs, having hair can trap dirt and cause those cuts and bruises to become infected. It also makes cleaning the wound more difficult and time consuming. So, many cyclists opt for an easier process by shaving their legs.

When you do get the abrasions on your legs you’ll typically end up bandaging them with some type of tape. Since this is something that’s relatively common, and everyone knows tape/bandages and hair is no fun, many cyclists opt to shave their legs to avoid any additional pain on an already painful injury.

Last but not least under hygiene and injuries is scabbing. When your injury begins to heal, you’ll get a scab over the injury. When you scab over hair, it can trap in dirt causing infections, but the hair can also make it harder for the scab to properly heal. Every time you move or bend your leg the hair will be pulling on the scab which can cause pain but it can also mess with the scab causing your recovery time to be longer.

2. Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics was definitely what I thought would be the main reason for cyclists shaving their legs but that’s actually not the case.

There have only been a couple studies that I have found on the aerodynamic or power gains achieved by shaved legs, but these studies were done on pretty much 1 person with very limited variable control. Due to this, they aren’t even really worth referencing but long story short, they believe you save between 5 and 15 watts with shaved legs.

This also would depend on how hairy your legs are. If you have Chewbacca like hair, it’s understandable that you’d have better aerodynamics and power but for average hair, the power gain is most likely negligible unless you’re competing for the top 3 in big events and even then it may not make much of a difference.

3. Massages

This is actually something I would have never even thought about, but it was a common reason among the cyclists I researched. Most professional cyclists receive massages on a daily basis.

Having a masseuse give you a massage four hours on end when you’re very hairy can be rough on the masseuse’s hands. So, many cyclists shave their legs to make their masseuse’s lives easier. This is a valid reason among professional cyclists.

However, for the majority of cyclists out there, they aren’t receiving long massages on a daily basis, so this doesn’t really apply to them.

4. Aesthetic

This reason and the next are probably the most applicable reasons for why cyclists shave their legs at least among hobby and pro cyclists alike.

The Aesthetic! There’s something about the look of shaved legs that is very appealing. Especially when you have super muscular legs as most avid cyclists do. Having shaved legs shows off your muscle definition a bit more and just has an overall better look.

To be competitive at cycling, it requires a good balance between muscle and body weight. Typically you aren’t going to see a big body builder be competitive in the cycling world. Since cyclists can’t get super big in other areas of their body, they take pride in how big and strong their legs look. They desire to have the sleek, tan, and ripped legs and calves that look amazing while they ride.

5. Fitting In

One of the biggest reasons for why the average cyclists shaves their legs is to fit in. When you start cycling you will quickly realize how much of a community feel it has. From going on group rides with your local cycling shops to using strava to keep up with everyone’s riding. There’s a tight night community centered around cycling and whenever people join a new community, they want to fit in.

They feel that if everyone else that’s cycling has shaved legs, they should have shaved legs too, even if they don’t know the benefits of having shaved legs for cycling.

Wanting to fit in isn’t a bad reason to shave your legs but make sure you actually want to shave your legs too. Shaving your legs definitely won’t hurt your cycling, but it may not be as beneficial as some may make it seem. I hope this information helps you decide on whether or not you want to shave your legs for cycling but overall it’s a personal preference.

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