Why do Cyclists Shave their Legs?

The reasons why cyclists shave their legs are many. Aerodynamics is by far the most popular reason for male cyclists to shave their legs – every gram of weight counts! But why do cyclists shave their legs and no other exposed body parts? Hygiene, massage purposes, injury and a professional appearance are amongst other reasons why there is a particular focus on the legs. That and the fact that it’s a traditional habit that all cyclists abide by!

Why do the Pro’s Shave their Legs?

GCN spoke to the pro-cyclists at the Abu Dhabi Tour 2016, and asked them all the big question. The responses are entertaining to say the least, and there is not just one answer:

Shaving for Aerodynamics

Cyclists shave their legs to make themselves more aerodynamic and quicker on the bike. Removing hair (especially if you’ve got a lot of it!) significantly reduces friction between your legs and the wind. With smooth, hair free legs, the wind resistance will be low and the force of wind against you whilst cycling will be lessened as the wind swooshes past in a smooth and swift manor with no bits of hair to tangle in and slow you down. Whilst this sounds legit, many people think this is a psychological thing.

Silky Smooth Legs makes Massages Easier

It’s much easier for creams and gels to be rubbed up and down your legs when they are smooth. And some are very particular about this point. According to British Cycling, some physios say it’s like massaging a cactus if there’s a bit of stubble! It’s actually found to be quite uncomfortable for both parties when massaging hairy legs. Whilst the masseuse massages a ‘cactus’ or completely un-shaved legs, the cyclist doesn’t find it particularly pleasing either. They will feel friction and sometimes tearing out of hair due to the hard pressures in a massage, so you can see why this one is a fair point.

Shaved Legs makes it Easier to Treat Injuries

Imagine the pain ripping off a sticky bandage from hairy legs? Ouch!  If you fall off the bike and get a nasty rash or a big graze down your leg, then having clean shaven legs makes it much easier to remove any grit or debris that gets caught in the wound.  It also helps with bandaging and treating it with creams and plasters as there is no hair there to get in the way.

Some just want to look the Part!

Many cyclists shave for vanity. This includes muscle definition, following the crowd, it looks better and simply, tradition. So it’s a bit of an ego boost as well as psychological trait!

Feature image source: Skeeze

Elizabeth Demetriou

Elizabeth Demetriou


I'm a runner at heart but since shin splints became a big part of my life, I turned to cycling as a form of cross training. I love riding track and am a regular on the Manchester velodrome; on the road I ride a Trek Lexa and I call it Toby.

Elizabeth is currently loving...