Why Cyclists Shave Their Legs

and.. should I shave mine? Inspired by the current le Tour.

2015 Tour de France stage 13

2015 Tour de France 

Many of you know that I am a keen cyclist. I plod along astride my Dawes Super Galaxy touring bike with its mudguards and panniers riding long distances but so slow that butterflies overtake me. (Butterflies with a following wind that is, doing say, 12 mph). My legs are, like the rest of me, quite hairy, so why do I not shave them to be like proper cyclists?

For one thing it isn’t a one-off activity. Granted that leg hair grows slower than facial hair, I’d still have to shave, or wax (arrgh!) them weekly to keep them smooth. So, are there any good reasons for cyclists to shave their legs? Recently, Road Cycling UK resurrected this question and some of this information comes from their website.  http://roadcyclinguk.com/

Reason #1 I’m mostly interested in health and safety factors than speed, although I’ll come to the latter in a moment. Cyclists are prone to lacerations, road rash and scratches on their legs. Apart from the obvious hitting an unseen object or pothole and crashing, there are thorns sticking out from hedges seen too late to avoid and bizarrely, we can suffer minor injuries from our own faithful steeds. For example my mudguard stays end in spiky metal just centimetres from my legs when cycling or even walking and their protective rubber tips have long since been lost. So why are shaved legs safer than the hirsute? Let us recall when I crashed in Ledbury a few years ago. The roads were wet and I didn’t see a small lip between the road and a friend’s drive. My wheel saw it and went right and I hit the drive with my left leg. Road rash and pouring blood from ankle to thigh. I was most impressed and grateful that two drivers stopped to assist. Thanks again! My leg hairs got in the way of properly cleaning out the grit, and that’s one problem. More seriously, some hairs and hair follicles could have become embedded in my epidermis, become infected and give me folliculitis. Ironically anyone can get that by shaving!

Reason #2 In the summer hairy legs get hotter than smooth legs.

Reason #3 Hairy legs and arms trap more insects.

Reason #4 Shaved legs are easier to massage, which is more effective without hair.

Reason #5 Shaved legs are more aerodynamic allowing you to go faster. Really? People guessed this might be the case but no one had proven it until Specialized used a wind-tunnel to experiment. Pro-triathlete Jesse Thomas is a hairy cyclist – scoring 9 out of 10 on the Chewbacca scale was timed on a bike in the tunnel. They shaved his legs, put him back in the tunnel and found that shaving his legs saved a lot. The gains added up to the equivalent of 79 seconds over a 40km time trial, or a 7 percent saving in drag, or 15 watts.

How does this compare to other aerodynamic effects that we see on professional cyclists?

Specialized’s Evade aero helmet claims a 46 second saving over the same 40 km, their new Sub6 shoes claim a 35 second saving and even their new skinsuit only claims to save 96 seconds over 40kms. And all three are far more expensive than shaving your legs. No wonder all the professional cyclists shave their legs and no wonder I am so slow!

Reason #6 To look cool like a proper cyclist.
Given the overwhelming evidence that shaving legs reduces drag and so increases speed why are so many cyclists bearded, even if with only the fashionable 5-day growth? Mainly it’s to demonstrate they have testosterone and it’s in vogue but perhaps they should reconsider. For his World one-hour record, Sir Bradley Wiggins broke the hour record by storming around for 54.526km but only after accepting advice from his aerodynamic adviser. It went something like this: SBW “Should I shave off my beard?”

Adviser: “I believe you should.”

It could be that Bradley was only clean-shaving for that 7th June 2015 but if it worked then it should work all the time. At least I am clean shaven in the face – just think how slow I’d be if I had a beard? I’d be going backwards. Here’s my legs

Geoff Nelder's short fat hairy legs

Geoff Nelder’s short fat hairy legs







How about you – smooth or hairy?

Rude words alert

By the way I was asked on facebook if there was a Veet for men. I said I think so, then my son-in-law pointed out that Veet for men has attracted a legendary set of hilarious reviews on Amazon about that product. Here’s a sample http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R231U4ZG0YDNHD/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R231U4ZG0YDNHD








Nelder News

New story published recently and it will only cost you 50p (80 cents) or less than the biscotti for your coffee.

One of my wife’s colleagues ran into a container. Clarify Nelder. Okay, he was sailing to the Isle of Man and the container had fallen off a ship. To a writer of spooky stories this is a rich start to a horror story. What’s in the container? Surely not people, yes but what kind of people… It’s called Voyage of the Silents, published by Pennyshorts



To grab a copy of one of my ARIA books here are the links

Kindle – Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/ARIA-Left-Luggage-ebook/dp/B008RADGYC/

Paperback Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/ARIA-Left-Luggage-Volume-1/dp/1905091958/

Kindle UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/ARIA-Left-Luggage-ebook/dp/B008RADGYC/

Paperback UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/ARIA-Left-Luggage-Geoff-Nelder/dp/1905091958/

Publisher’s website with more details and formats.


Buy it quick before you run out of memory


Another science fiction book you might like of mine uses a bit of quantum mechanics but in a fun way. EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEE After timequakes cause chaos, a Mars mission is diverted to chase departing mysterious spheres. Will the spheres listen and return before Earth rips apart?

Check out the page with video clips and purchase links http://geoffnelder.com/project/exit-pursued-by-a-bee/


  1. Jackie Parry

    Men = hairy for me everytime – legs that is! 🙂

  2. Mathew Mitchell

    I’ve still somehow yet to give it a go and I race time trials! I keep umming and ahhing but thanks to things like calf guards and long aero socks it’s become less of an issue when racing.


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