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Leg Shaving

Does it really make you go faster?

Leg Shaving 12/11 2013 by Pieter Van Pietersen

There are a few reasons why male cyclists shave their legs, but mostly it is about showing your dedication to being a cyclist. Once you shave your legs you are part of the tribe.

Note that female cyclists have it easy in this regard since they will either have very fine leg hair or will shave anyway.

To the non-cyclist and probably also your wife it looks ridiculous. To be fair, hairy legs and lycra look awful. Shaved, tanned legs, rippling with muscle look great on a bike. That's a good enough reason.

It does help with massage. I find that I get folliculitis if I have a massage with hairy legs. My pores get inflamed and my legs get covered in red spots. But how often do most people get a massage?

It has been said that it reduces the skin damage when you fall off. I don't believe this. A few more hairs might get ripped out as you slide along the tarmac, but it won't be any worse with or without hair. Crashing should be rare event anyhow. If you are crashing more than once a year then start thinking about your bike skills.

Shave around a wound before putting on dressings. Peeling plasters off hair when the area is already tender is not enjoyable. If the area is shaved it reduces the stress of changing dressings.

The most common question non cyclists ask about leg shaving is whether it is aerodynamic. Recently the guys at Specialized tested riders in their wind tunnel. They tested a (very) hairy rider ten times, with and without hair. They found that over 25 miles / 40km that he would be 82 seconds faster with shaved legs. Even less hairy riders were around 50 seconds faster. This is a huge difference, and so now proves that shaved is faster.

There may actually be some benefit in not shaving your legs. If you find yourself in a race, then riders may assume you are no good and forget to mark you. I've seen many hairy legged guys win races.

On the flip side, it is more likely that nobody will want to work with you in a break. The other riders will sit up and wait for a different break.

Chris Froome's legs 2013 Tour De France
Chris Froome's legs, 2013 Tour de France. He has got those pimples at the back of his legs caused by wet shaving. If he used an electric razor for that part of his leg it would stop the irritation.

How to shave your legs
If you've decided that you want to look like a pro cyclist and the peer pressure from your cycling mates is greater than that of the rest of the world, then you may as well learn how to do it properly.

Awful for most hairy blokes. It can draw blood in sensitive areas such as behind the knees. It takes ages, costs a fair bit and you'll end up with ingrown hairs within a couple of weeks. The end result isn't very smooth either. 1/10

Hair plucking gadget
Just like waxing, it is painful, takes forever and will result in nasty ingrown hairs. A friend bought a Philips Epilator $90 , found the above to be true then tried to invoke the money back guarantee 'if not completely satisfied'. They refused to refund him. 1/10

Electric shaver
These work well, although it can take a little while and the result is not as smooth as shaving. Since the hairs don't get cut too short, there is less chance of getting ingrown hairs.

You could use any electric razor designed for faces, or get a custom razor like the Philips Bodygroom Plus $45 . For this reason I use an electric razor for areas above the knee and use a wet razor for areas below. 9/10

Wet Razor
Use a razor designed for legs like the Gillette Venus $9 . It works better and you won't be blunting all your expensive Gillette Mach3 blades.

If you are shaving for the first time, or after a winter of hairiness, then use an electric beard trimmer to remove most of the fuzz before you start shaving. Otherwise you'll clog up the razor and it'll take forever. This happened to a friend of mine on the first morning of a training camp. He didn't have time to finish shaving so had to do the ride with one hairy leg.

Use shaving foam, and be careful to not take a slice out of your shins.

Make sure you hide your razor after use or it'll be used by your wife/ girlfriend and will be blunt and full of someone else's hair before you know it. 9/10

How high to shave
Some riders only shave as high as their shorts, but you do end up wearing 'hairy shorts'. You could look like Mr Tumnus from Narnia. Why not take the whole lot off right up to the belly?

Shaving Frequency
Pretty much got to be twice a week for hairy guys. If you leave it longer the hair gets caught in your trousers/ jeans and this plucking is uncomfortable. It also takes longer to shave, so best to keep the growth in check.

Dealing with the wife/girlfriend
This is a difficult one, depending on your partner. Reactions can range from support and even encouragement to (usually) disgust. If this will affect your relationship then don't shave. Remember who is the boss and what is important. Or get a new partner.

Perhaps take her to a few races and she'll see that shaving is the norm, so might be more amenable to your strange customs.

You might get away with some clippering, so the bushiness is reduced but you will still be classed as hairy by your fellow cyclists.

Dealing with your non-cycling mates
Wear trousers or jeans to avoid flashing your hairless legs (overdeveloped calves and silly tan lines). Don't say you do it because you think it looks good. No need to go on about it and your boring cycling hobby.

Shaving your legs will actually make you faster - around a minute over 25 miles, so for the sake of performance it is well worth it.
Business Insider article on leg shaving time gains.
A Guardian article about it. Interesting info about strategic hair cutting to improve boundary flow.
A few more reasons from

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