So why do cyclists shave their legs? To get started, let me tell you a story. In the 1980s and while still at high school I arrived home one day to tell my mother that I was shaving my legs. Coming from a non-cycling family that was not versed in cycling culture the acceptance of such an action was not taken lightly, much less by my schoolmates when I rocked up to gym class with a clean pair of shaven legs. With a deep rooted Rugby culture, a male shaving their legs in 1980’s wasn’t considered masculine. Outside of the local club races and cycling clubhouses any male shaving their legs was just “queer”.

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Even today when you present the idea of a fully grown man shaving his legs to a non-European western culture you’ll still get a mixed response. Imagine, as a male, walking into your office on Monday morning to casually tell your work colleagues that you shaved your legs over the weekend.

So what does motivate cyclists to shave their legs and why is it so important? This article discusses the main reasons why grown men want to shave their legs for the sake of cycling. If you are thinking about shaving your legs then this article may help you decide. And if you do, this article will give you some reasons that you can give when asked why do you shave your legs?”

Shaved legs are more aerodynamic

Yes, shaved legs are more aerodynamic. They reduced drag which will make you ride faster. But… it’s not going to provide you with a killer performance increase. The improvement is measured in 1/100 of a second and is only really relevant if you are competing at Olympic, World or Commonwealth events where 1/100 of a second really matters. Still, it’s a great reason to come up with, even if you have to stretch the truth a little to make it convincing.

Having shaved legs helps speed up the healing of road rash

If you have ever had the misfortune of falling off your bike then you’ll know that you usually lose a lot of skin as a result. Shaved legs are easier to bandage and dress. This becomes very important if you are competing in a stage race or track carnival over several days. With no hair on your legs, you can have your dressings changed without the risk of ripping out huge clumps of hair in the process. Shaved legs also trap less dirt and the wounds are easier to clean. So this could help reduce the chance of getting an infection. When stressing one of the reasons you shave your legs hygiene will resonate well in your conversation.

Massage is easier with shaved legs

Cyclists love a massage. It’s an important part of body maintenance especially due to the extended time that we cyclists train on the bike in what is considered a fairly unnatural position. Massage helps release the muscle tension and is a pain to do on hairy legs. Yes, shaved legs are easy to massage for both the client and the massage therapist. Having shaved legs pre-race is also helpful when you apply oil and liniment when prepping your legs. While you might not get a massage every day like the pros, you can still make out that you do and provide this as a very valid reason.

They are more attractive to look at

There are a growing number of women that really like the look of men with shaved legs. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I also like the look of my shaved legs. While vanity may be a harder reason to make convincing, it’s still a very important factor behind the motivation for cyclists to shave their legs.

Thye act as a sign of professionalism and intimidation

Just like wearing glasses makes most people look smarter, shaved legs communicate to your fellow road cyclist that you are serious and committed. It’s one of the rites of passage for the Road Cyclist. Also, shaved legs make it easier to show off muscle definition and this provides a level of intimidation to other riders.

It’s part of the cycling culture

Now we come to probably the most important reason and motivation for a grown adult to grab a razor blade and spend a few hours hacking away at years of leg hair growth… Only to end up with legs that may not be socially accepted outside of the cycling and sports community. I really believe that this is the main reason why men shave their legs. By doing so they become more of a complete cyclist. It’s a rite of passage in the cycling community. Having shaved legs means that you belong to the community of competitive cyclists… And, feeling like we belong to a community is one of the most basic needs and instincts of the human race. While this reason provides what I believe to be the highest driver, it’s probably the least understood by our peers outside of the cycling and sports community. I shave my legs to be a cyclist. This is what I need to do to feel that I belong. It’s no different to many of the other rituals that we indulge in to make us more socially acceptable. Whether it be men wearing a suit and tie at the office or women applying lipstick before they go out.

Conclusion

When explaining why cyclists shave their legs; aerodynamics, hygiene, ease of massage, vanity and a sign of being serious are all good reasons. But, I believe that these are just superficial when justifying the motivation. I believe that cyclists mainly shave their legs because of their need to belong. It was true for me as I believe it is for many other cyclists that have also committed to this important rite of passage. I am a racing cyclist, therefore, I shave my legs. I am proud to be part of the cycling community.