Does shaving your legs make you a cyclist?

As cyclists we tend to go through several stages of development. It all starts with our very first road bike (2008 Trek 1.2 with Shimano Sora). From here we go through several phases the first major transition is going clipless, you tell all your friends how you're now a cyclist and they giggle at your expense. The reality is you've cycled a maximum distance of just 25miles and also fallen off your bike on a number of occasions at a set of traffic lights. 

As time passes we slowly upgrade our bikes until all that remains is the original frame set and rims, your bar tape, saddle and tyres all match in colour but not by brand. If you're really going all out you might even buy some new bottle cages as the free ones you got with your bike don't match the colour of your new tyres. 

Soon you've joined your local cycling club, thinking you're a bit of a legend, you turn up with all your new gear, thinking you're rather experienced only to be dropped on the first flat out of town. Catching up you talk to the guy at the back of the bunch you have a polite exchange only to realise that you're at the start of a very exciting journey. 

Fast forward a year and you may find yourself talking unknowingly about many of the following things and being the guy/ girl talking to the new person at the back of the bunch.

Am I a cyclist now?

  • Strava
  • PSI
  • Chamois 
  • Elevation gain and average speed
  • Distances are quoted in KM
  • Have named bike (N+1)
  • Base layers
  • Gear ratios 
  • Tubs vs Clincher argument 
  • Carbs
  • Another set of rims (aero + climber)
  • Your old bike is now your winter bike
  • A turbo trainer that is never used
  • You make all your excuses at the start of a club ride
  • Riding with a hangover is endurance training
  • You've bought a foam roller
  • An interval is riding as hard as you can, everywhere
  • Racing for town boarders and speed signs
  • Average speed of 30+ kph
  • 90 rpm average cadence
  • Your second century
  • Do you trim, shave or wax?

Shaving your legs

You've probably ticked every other box, you're kitted out, but there's still one thing that could make you look even more PRO. We don't believe that you need to shave your guns, but if you haven't how do you know you're not going to like it. It's almost seen as the ultimate sacrifice to the sport. A mark of dedication, a way of complimenting your tattoos like tan lines. Most cyclists toy with the idea of doing it but what are the benefits and should you do it in the first place? 

The first and only real reason for shaving your legs is that it looks great. Arguably you could say that it's tradition. A key point for many is that it's very comfortable when wearing bibs and fresh socks. There is no better feeling than stepping over your frame in the morning and hitting the lanes. Not only do you look PRO but others think you mean business, even if you don't. 

Lots of scientific research has gone into why you should shave your legs and I think for the most part it's unreliable and silly to suggest that a shaved pair of legs will make you faster, unless of course you are extremely hairy. In which case it may well be plausible. Chris Boardman believe it's something to consider, in a sport of plagued by marginal gains we wouldn't want to argue. 

By shaving, you do also avoid infections like folliculitis which is the irritation of the hair root caused by extended periods of pulling and rubbing on the surface of your skin. This can also be the cause of saddle sores. Some say that lycra and unshaved legs should be avoided at all costs for this reason alone.

All we know is that it's something we have all discussed as cyclists and that as your cycling journey continues you too might find yourself scratching your head. If you are going to commit though, you have to be prepared to ask your self "How high do I shave my legs?". The phrase hamster pants is certainly one of cycling fashions faux pas so make sure you've carefully considered this. 

If you're already reading this it might be that it something that you're already considering.

Let us know what you think below. Have you seen anything funny?

PONGO London

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