As a child, I remember attending several annual bike races. We would watch bikers zip right past us at what seemed like light speed. Since then, I’ve learned about different traditions cyclists hold. One of those longstanding, unique traditions is shaving their legs.
Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs? There are several reasons why cyclists shave their legs. Some of them have to do with tradition or safety, while others do it because they believe it will improve their overall performance. Below are some of the main reasons why cyclists shave their legs:
- Healing road rash is quicker and easier
- It’s easier to massage their legs
- Many believe shaved legs make cyclists more aerodynamic
- They are committed to these traditions or rites of passage
No matter what the reason is that cyclists decide to shave, it is still prevalent and has been happening for years.
I decided to learn more about why they choose to shave as well as other things cyclists do to keep them quick and stealthy on the cycling racetrack.
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The Main Reasons Why Cyclists Shave Their Legs
Many cyclists will shave their legs for various reasons. It has always been known as a longstanding tradition and many have come up with their own belief for why they shave their legs. If you ask cyclists why they shave their legs, you may hear all different kinds of reasons.
It Helps With Healing Road Rash
No matter how long you’ve been riding your bike, crashing it is still a common occurrence that can happen to you while on a ride. When this happens, parts of their body will get scraped alongside the road leaving a painful rash. It’s most likely that their leg is the main body part to get scraped while racing or riding.
This is most likely to happen on the lower part of their body, so their legs are a massive target for road rash. When they crash, bicyclists will clean their wound and try to pick out any extra particles or pieces that were accumulated from the crash. The pieces are usually different parts of the road like the grit or turf.
This can already be a somewhat painful process for a runner. What usually hurts for them, even more, is the feeling of tugging on their thick leg hairs in order to pull the different pieces of the road out of their skin.
Cleaning a road rash always requires vigorous scrubbing which can be painful if this is happening on their leg as well as the leg hair. So, to make all of this a little easier and less painful, they will shave their legs.
Easier to Massage Legs that are Shaved
In order to help release the tension located in their muscles that’s gained from cycling every day, cyclists will receive regular massages. When getting a massage, a lot of excessive movement is involved in order to reach the spots in the leg that are causing pain.
So, if this is happening with hairy legs, there could be a lot of accidental tugs pulling on the hair that can cause you pain while getting the massage.
Additionally, before a race begins, cyclists will get a massage beforehand or will at least have oil applied to their legs in order to prep for the upcoming race. Getting oil stuck in their leg hair could get very uncomfortable and possibly distract the cyclists during the race.
It’s More Aerodynamic
This opinion has been formed by numerous cyclists who believe that shaving their legs is more aerodynamic and makes them increase speed. While some studies have proved this theory to be partly true, it doesn’t drastically increase your performance like some cyclists passionately believe.
Some studies have proven that a cyclist with bare legs “shaved” an average of 70 seconds off their race time. So this can sometimes provide impressive results if racers are approaching the finish line while they’re neck and neck with each other.
It’s a Cycling Tradition
Many cyclists believe someone is not a true cyclist until they have picked up that razor and shaved his leg hair off his body. This is known to be a rite of passage among different cyclers. It’s a way for people to identify themselves as real cyclers and feel like they truly belong to a cycling community.
Many cyclists also claim it to be a tradition because they all take pride in showing off their muscles displayed on their legs. This is a very common and well-known tradition in the cycling culture that has been carried on for years that will most likely continue to be passed on for generations.
How Long Has This Tradition Lasted?
Although the history of who first started shaving his legs as a cyclist isn’t known, people have always remembered it as something that would always be normal among other cyclists. Many believe that this is a tradition that has happened at least throughout the past 100 years.
They also even believe that this goes back further before western women even began shaving their own legs around the early to mid-1900s. This was when women first started wearing swimsuits and shorter dresses.
Other ways Cyclists Try to Increase Their Speed
While shaving their legs is one of the most common and popular ways that cyclists will try to increase their average speed, there are many other methods they attempt to follow. Many believe this will make them ride just a little bit faster.
Avoiding Wind Resistance by Tucking Elbows
Doing anything active when it’s windy including cycling, running, or hiking, etc. is very difficult to achieve successfully. In an attempt to avoid the wind slowing them down, cyclists will try to tuck down and bend over in order to easily travel even with the wind pushing against them.
They will also lower their body closer to the bars and tuck in their elbows. It not only makes cyclists go just a tad bit faster, but they can also feel themselves zooming on the bike track during the race as they pass other bike racers.
Purchasing Aerodynamic Bike Tubing
There is specific tubing you’re able to purchase for your bike that makes it look and feel more aerodynamic. It contains aero-profile spokes as well as deeper rims that are known to help you bike at a quicker pace and help to reduce your drag.
Though they aren’t drastic improvements on your bike riding speed, it does help bikers get a little faster. Every little bit helps when you’re in a close race.
Wearing Tighter Clothes
Not only is baggy, loose-fitting clothes uncomfortable as they flap in the wind while riding, but it also can keep you from moving through the race in a quick fashion. The clothes cyclists wear are very tight and normally made with material that makes cyclists feel less hot. It also helps their sweat stick a little less.
This helps bike riders feel a little cooler when riding, so in return, they won’t feel as tired. This makes them want to cycle quicker. Zip ups also help increase their pace and some bicyclists are known to wear booties over their shoes.
Other Cyclist Traditional Styles or Accessories
Shaving their legs isn’t the only type of tradition cyclists are known to follow. As a part of the cycling community, they are all known to wear certain accessories or follow specific styles when they go on their rides or compete in races. Here are a few:
Everything Must Match
Cyclists will wear a certain tight shirt with their ensemble. They also wear shorts that need to go along with the shirt they are wearing. Additionally, they will put on shorts that match their shirt as well as socks and arm warmers that are sure to match each other too.
They All Wear Helmets
There are some people that leisurely ride their bike that believes helmets don’t look cool and don’t seem like a hip fashion trend. Professional cyclists, on the other hand, are very committed to safety over anything else.
They all wear their helmets whether they’re practicing or racing. Many of them know they will crash on their bike more than a few times. Because they want to continue cycling for years, they are sure to wear their helmets in order to avoid any future concussions coming their way.
When racing, they like to tilt their helmets incredibly far forward to the very tip of their head. The helmet has to be straight and can never be leaning toward the side of their head. Many cyclists believe if they see others wearing their helmet like this, then that person is considered a rookie and isn’t known as a real professional cyclist.
It also isn’t trendy for cyclists to wear any colorful helmets. Most only like to wear reasonably essential helmets that are usually a dull color like white. They aren’t fans of dramatic colors, especially neon colors. (Here at Bicycle Universe we love the Nutcase helmets which are fun and come in a range of colors and designs)
Some also like to look especially cool by wearing sunglasses on the outside of the straps of their helmet. Many cyclists want to do this as it shows off the logo of their brand that’s normally located on their earpiece. They do this so different cameras will see their logos and it will easily get displayed on the television.
No Exessive Accessories on Their Bikes
The way that riders like to spot different cycling rookies is by seeing who will mount obnoxious and unnecessary objects on their bike. They aren’t fans of people who will display different things on their handlebars like unique figurines.
Cyclists also can’t have mirrors on their helmet or any reflective strips taped to their bicycles. Additionally, there can’t be anything wildly flashing or distracting on their bikes either.
They also like to ride without any objects like saddlebags. Instead, they will only have a tiny tube, pump, and lever for their tire that’s located in the back pocket of their outfit.
Other ways to spot a rookie is if they put any of their stickers from their sponsors on their bike. Many cyclists frown upon this trend that newbies tend to follow.
Why Cyclists Shave Their Legs
Cyclists are known to take part in several different traditions in order to feel part of a community. This seems like one of the biggest reasons why they are all so dedicated to keeping their legs shaved and smooth.
Additionally, it’s also smart for them to have bare legs so they can be stealthier, quicker, and most importantly, safer out there on the road.