To shave or not to shave

Photo: Difficult to tell from today’s ride which shadows have shaved legs and which have not.

To shave, or not to shave, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobblier in the knees to suffer
The stings and harrows of outrageous leg hair,
Or to take Veet against a Sea of stubbles,
And by opposing end them: to thigh, to reap

It’s an age old debate for amateur cyclists. Should we shave our legs or not? I don’t know why but I’ve been asked several times by Italian cyclists why I don’t shave my legs, but never by UK cyclists.

I decided to conduct a discreet survey of my Italian club riders on Saturday. The result was that about 50% of the men had shaved legs.

I’ve researched the supposed reasons for shaving:

  • aerodynamics (tested in a wind tunnel)
  • easier to clean after a crash
  • easier and more pleasant to massage
  • aesthetics
  • tradition

The Velominati, the Keepers of the Cog are very clear what we should do. #33 Shave your guns. “Legs are to be carefully shaved at all times”

So far I haven’t. Until now.

I decided to give it a go to experience it for myself. It took about an hour to de-forest both legs. Do you know how hard it is to shave one’s knees? I also discovered how many blemishes and mosquito bites had been covered up. Then there’s the question of how far up to go. Only as far as the gripper on the shorts is necessary but that just looked weird, or weirder, you might argue. A shave line mid thigh. I went higher. How much higher is definitely in the “Too Much Information” box.

Living on top of a hill means a speedy start to every ride. I thought I’d notice the difference but I can honestly say I didn’t. I thought I’d feel the wind or the cold more, but no. It wasn’t until we started to climb in the heat did I notice one difference. The sweat began to gather in the back of my knee. With no hair to help wick it away it just stayed there. Sweaty, sticky knee pits. Not what I was expecting. It’s only one ride but I’m not sure I’ll keep up the shaving. If I do it will only be for the summer.

As for aesthetics, feel free to use the “Submit a Comment” at the bottom of the blog.

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If you think this is all too personal and “Too Much Information” then how about one of the conversations I had before the ride this morning. Bear in mind that I’m giving English lessons to the Pansèrs. I don’t recall giving this lesson:

Colin “Ciao nnnn, come stai?”
nnnn “Good morning Colin, how are you?”
Colin “I am well thank you, how are you?”
nnnn “Very good, last night, big fuck”

I don’t think I need to say any more.

Year to date

8,946 km / 81 rides / 110.4 km average per ride

88,094m elevation gain (9.9 Everests)


  • As your hair is so fair, the hair on your legs isn’t very noticeable. I would say go with what feels most comfortable and to hell with what anyone thinks. Me on the other hand, being half gorilla, have to shave. Well when I say shave, I opted to go 50/50 and use a trimmer (no.2 length) as I like yourself, found the sweaty feeling at the back of the knees really uncomfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Good advice. I’m going to see how it goes over a few rides to assess the difference, though the sweaty knee pits really wasn’t nice. Ironically I look less tanned without hair than with it.


  • As your missus, I have but one plea. If you are going to keep it up, then you have to follow the female lead and keep shaving everyday so there’s no leg stubble. Being sanded by stubble is horrid. Also if this now means I have to wait for you to get ready when we are going out because your stubble is catching on your keks and you need to re-shave, then it’s a no from me…..
    Can’t work out though why your legs looked browner previously and now look lighter that doesn’t make sense at all. I’d say they’ve changed from American Tan to Le Marche taupe…

    Liked by 1 person

  • Reasons for shaving, IMO.
    When you ride with hairy legs, the hairs pull sweat off the skin by capillary action, and the sweat drys on the hair. While this happens any dust or road dirt in the air gets stuck to the hair by the drying sweat. Now if you crash you grind that dirt into the wound. Nice. And then the wound congeals into a scab, with a matt of hairs which slows healing time.
    When you ride with shaved legs any sweat just runs down the leg, or drys on the leg, either way there’s less surface area to pick up dust and road grime. If you crash, it’s not only easier to clean, but there’s generally less dirt in the wound and a faster healing time.
    I have no data for this other than personal experience of course, but having explored both situations on many occasions I think there’s something to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Oliver. I have let the hair re-grow for the winter. I really didn’t like the feeling in the back of my knees on every pedal stroke. I may re-shave for next summer, I’ve not yet decided. Like you, I might try both several times before e main my mind up. Thank you for reading the blog.


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