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Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs?

August 27, 2009

Even though I said I never would, I shaved my legs last night.


But why?  What happened?  Why do any cyclists shave their legs?

Well, there are a variety of stock answers to this question; all of them bullshit for anyone who isn’t a top-level professional cyclist.

Bullshit reason #1: Shaved legs are better for crashing.

Come on!  The most important reason to shave your legs as a cyclist is because it’s better for crashes?! Bullshit!

While this is probably true, it isn’t very relevant.  I’ve crashed twice so far this season.  Both times I’ve gotten road rash.  And both times I’ve road-rashed my legs.  But the vast majority of road rash I’ve gotten has been on my shoulders and arms.  The fact that I had hairy legs didn’t really affect me whatsoever.  I was a little more worried about the hole in my arm.

You would have to get a hell-of-a-lot or road rash on your legs on a fairly regular basis to make shaving your legs worthwhile (enough that you wouldn’t be doing much riding). And at that point, why not go ahead and shave your arms too, since they’re every bit as likely to get road rash.

Also, I’m a little uncomfortable admitting to myself or anyone else that I’m going to crash.  I’d rather just be surprised when it happens – not fucking plan for it.

The reason cyclists mislead people with Bullshit Reason # is of course because it makes them sound tough.

I crash all the time, the cyclist seems to be implying.  I ain’t no fag!


Well.  Speaking of being comfortably with one’s sexuality,

Bullshit Reason #2: Massage


Professional cyclists, at least the fast ones, have soigneurs.  a soigneur’s job, among other things, is to massage the riders’ legs.  Obviously having shaved legs is helpful, if not practically necessary, in this instance.

For those of you with a soigneur, my hat is off to you.  For the rest of you, this excuse is bullshit and you might as well not use it.

The sad reality is that practically every male cyclist shaves his legs for two reasons (which incidentally happen to be the same reasons women shave their legs):

Actual Reason #1: Peer pressure

This is why I have shaved my legs in the past and, I’m ashamed to admit, why I shaved my legs again.  All of the cyclists that I ride with and occasionally race against shave their legs.  These cyclists have developed a system of informal social sanctions to ostracize anyone who challenges their mores.  Here I am being ostracized for my hairy legs:


Ironically, since I have skin-colored  leg hair, it’s impossible to see from this distance. Here’s a closeup:


Note the contrast between my legs and Bissel Pro cyclist Sheldon Deeny.  It’s Deeny’s twofold responsibility as a pro cyclist to berate noncompliant amateurs like me, and to keep his legs beautiful (I asked;  he shaves every four days).

Which brings us to

Actual Reason #2: Shaving your legs is oh-so-sexy.

There is a widespread acceptance among the non-biased-Wikipedia-editors segment of Western Society that leg shaving enhances womens’ beauty.  But can leg shaving make men sexy too?


To illustrate this, I offer you a homoerotic leg-shaving montage.





Eventually, the dudes ran out of steam and the photographer was recruited to do the “edge trimming.”




And I was finally left to finish the job on my own.


And voila!


Look at them beauties!

Well, the process may not be attractive, but who can argue with the results?


I’ll do my best to crash my bike or get a massage from an old Ukranian sognieur and report how much better it was with shaved legs.

Until then, I’m going to go pose in the mirror while wearing a speedo and then walk around town self-consciously in shorts.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2009 2:38 am

    Funny post, surprised you didn’t put the reason most people assume, aerodynamics.

    • bikefag permalink*
      August 27, 2009 4:39 am

      Yeah, I probably should have. It actually might even be a more legitimate reason than either of the other ones, for all I know. Shave one thousandth of a second off of your 15k collegiate time trial..
      Mostly this post was just a vehicle for me to post pictures of dudes in matching underwear shaving my legs.

  2. Beefy McManstick permalink
    August 27, 2009 8:39 am

    Haha! You have good friends.

  3. August 27, 2009 1:14 pm

    Pink underpants? Damp men in colorful nuthuggers? Bitchin’ cyclist tan lines? This article has it ALL!

    …and I’m off to go rinse my eyes out with bleach.

  4. Brecher permalink
    August 27, 2009 3:38 pm

    Do i see a Star Trek tattoo?

    • bikefag permalink*
      August 27, 2009 5:31 pm

      Indeed you do, Brecher.

  5. August 27, 2009 3:40 pm

    Who’s unknown wheel do you trust in a group ride? The hairy legs or the shaved?

    The shaved because you know immediately that, if this rider has committed that much, they have a lot more in those legs than just embrocation.

  6. gandalf permalink
    August 30, 2009 11:36 am

    Again, great post. Missed the last two posts due to a trip to Ukraine. Saw some velodromes but no soigneurs..

  7. Bilbo permalink
    August 31, 2009 11:33 pm

    I took the plunge this year and shaved and it feels great! Next time I too shall get some of my male ‘friends’ to help out though. Hey, it’s traditional too, so why not.

    BTW… the guy in the yellow and green skinsuit shouldn’t be picking on anyone. That thing is hideous!!

  8. Pop Richmond permalink
    September 15, 2009 12:59 pm

    Just read your article about the Idaho stop in that new bike magazine whose name I forget. It was a well-written and researched piece. I did a double-take when I saw you in the list of contributors and said to myself “is that Bike Fag?”

    • bikefag permalink*
      September 15, 2009 7:55 pm

      Thanks, Pop Richmond. It’s Bicycle Times Magazine.
      The article isn’t online yet, but I’d imagine they’ll put it up there eventually.
      Hopefully they want more from me.

  9. September 17, 2009 5:55 pm

    stunning work! can an article about waxing be far behind?

    maybe ill see you in Boulder in a month

    bike pornographer

  10. September 24, 2009 1:58 pm

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read..Tony Brown

  11. Luke Eyedropper permalink
    October 6, 2009 7:46 am

    Good article, but black shoes, not good. Black socks? Instant fail.

    • bikefag permalink*
      October 6, 2009 7:26 pm

      Maybe you’re more into a pink sock, Luke?

      • Luke permalink
        November 13, 2009 2:39 pm

        Maybe you love Lance?

        I’m into white socks and shoes. In my club you’d be brutally shunned for wearing black socks.

        I only wear pink socks when I’m felching.

  12. October 23, 2009 7:06 pm

    hair legs and spandex just dont go well together
    Although peer pressure is a pretty good reason.

  13. frilly permalink
    October 23, 2009 7:11 pm

    Luke Eyedropper–beg to differ, LA himself palps the black shoe/black sock combo.

    • Luke permalink
      November 13, 2009 2:40 pm

      I rest my case. LA is the antithesis of roadie couture.

  14. October 23, 2009 8:04 pm

    a mention on bikesnob ooh lala

  15. ZMAN 3000 permalink
    October 23, 2009 9:01 pm

    your stupid….and yea you are a bike fag….a very stupid one. shave your legs and ride a bike……stupid.

  16. smt permalink
    October 23, 2009 11:04 pm

    I cringed at the image of those Daisy disposable razors. I was going to advise you to use the same Gillette Mach 18 you use on your face, but then I realized, you probably have a beard. Anyway, seriously, consider a better razor next time. No woman has shaved her legs with those things since 1992.

  17. Doc Bradshaw permalink
    October 24, 2009 2:16 am

    Good article.

    Dave Moulton’s article on the same subject sums it up in one word, ‘tradition.’

  18. wadehaskell permalink
    October 24, 2009 6:00 pm

    Cyclists shave their legs because of vanity as muscles are more visible and appear more defined without hair but the “actual” reason is indeed crashing. The hair pulls larger areas of skin during the slide and exacerbates road rash as well as becomes embedded in the sore which can cause infection. You will still receive road rash as you would expect from sliding along pavement. You will also still get your ass kicked for wearing pink underwear, engaging in homoerotic group shaving activity and being a complete idiot.

    • bikefag permalink*
      October 26, 2009 8:20 pm

      I believe it, Wade. Especially in Utah (which, it’s fair to say, is probably our nation’s moral compass on sexuality and leg-grooming).

    • SteyrShrek permalink
      October 28, 2009 1:27 am

      I agree that it does make cleaning up road rash and bandaging easier, but i’ve yet to only get road rash on my leg and not my arm. So why don’t we shave our arms if its about crashing?

  19. October 26, 2009 12:05 am

    Ha!!! You’ve been BikeSnobbed again btw. Peer pressure and vanity for sure. . .I file “tradition” under bullshit reasons. My girlfriend hates it so bad, but I hate to admit that I like the way it feels. . .more breeze on my legs.

  20. October 26, 2009 12:39 pm

    Fantastic article. Made me feel quite unwell – especially as I happened to eating a sandwich at the time – but fantastic article none-the-less 🙂

  21. claussen permalink
    October 26, 2009 7:00 pm

    Some of us with hairy legs and pale complexions shave our legs to make putting on sunblock less… nasty. Sunblock + hairy legs = too much sunblock, nasty white gunk everywhere…

  22. Jabin permalink
    October 27, 2009 9:27 pm

    When I ran track and XC competitively in college a lot of people shaved there legs (myself included sometimes). I found the biggest reason to do it other than the peer pressure was that you just FEEL faster. And with any endurance sport when you FEEL faster you often are faster. It’s basically a nice little physiological boost to do before a big race to kick things up a notch.

    • bikefag permalink*
      October 27, 2009 10:00 pm

      I totally agree with you. Also, my roommate, professional cyclist Sheldon Deeny has grown his hair out for the winter and he just LOOKS slower. And he is. Now that he has leg-hair all he does is watch Married With Children reruns and drink Miller Highlife. Somebody’s gotta get that dude a razor!

      • SteyrShrek permalink
        October 28, 2009 1:29 am

        He ok until he starts on the malt liquor.

  23. Mr. Pointer Outer permalink
    November 4, 2009 6:42 am

    I shave my doink so it looks bigger and I shave my legs for the same reason.

  24. Jack Pose permalink
    March 29, 2010 6:23 am

    I really wonder if whoever wrote this has actually had road rash. By the sounds of things it was more like a little scratch that healed ok. Road rash that starts at your ankle, scoops a bunch of skin off your calf, thigh and butt is nearly always filled with gravel and dirt. Cleaning it properly and keeping it clean, which stops infection, is virtually impossible with hair. Also, if you’d ever had decent road rash with hairy legs you’d know it can take 2-3 weeks longer to scab, then if you didn’t. I’ve had both types, and the one from when i had hair on my left leg healed into a disturbing looking scar, whilst the one on my right leg when i had no hair, healed quickly and the scar is barely noticable. So stop your sh*t, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I know a lot of riders who shave their arms you douche!

  25. scottt permalink
    February 22, 2012 10:25 pm

    I’m riding fixed in the Tour De Cure. I aint shavin a damn thing, cuz my wife will leave me if I do. I’m just gonna ride.


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