Do Mountain Bikers Shave Their Legs? Truth and Myths To Know!

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Around 40 million Americans use a mountain bike at least a few times every year. And approximately 84% percent of these bikers are men. 

Since the early 1900s, men who played sports like swimming, weightlifting, and running routinely shaved their body hair. So, do mountain bikers shave their legs?  

The Short Answer

Mountain bikers do shave their legs — sometimes!

Bikers have good reasons to shave their legs. Some of them are related to survival and well-being. Others mark the differences between winning and losing.

Exploring the Early Origins of Body Shaving

Shaving facial hair appears on many cave drawings dating back to 10,000 BC. How they managed to do it without metallic tools is a mystery.

Ancient Egyptians were the first to shave their whole bodies. That was around 3000 BC. They had copper blades specially crafted for this purpose. Both men and women in elite circles routinely kept their bodies hairless.

Contrary to that, the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed total hair removal as a feminine activity. They didn’t view men who shaved their legs or arms with much admiration. They did, however, encourage hair removal in certain parts for hygienic reasons.

In the early 1900s, many athletes realized that a shaved body and the material of their attire mattered a lot. Such details could improve their performance significantly. Swimming, running, and bodybuilding became pioneering sports that required epilating bodily hair.

In 1978, Joe Breeze built the first mountain bike, and the sport soon gained popularity among all ages. In the 1980s, sports competitions dedicated to mountain trails were everywhere. That’s when many bikers started shaving their legs.

Why Mountain Bikers Prefer to Shave Their Legs?

On occasion, some mountain bikers choose to keep their legs hair-free. Here’s why.

To Gain Speed

A test ride for shaved and unshaved road bikers showed that the shaved group had a speed advantage. The shaved bikers finished a 40-km run 50-82 seconds faster than the unshaved group.

Massages Are Better

Getting a massage after an arduous ride isn’t a luxury. It’s an essential part of muscle recovery. However, performing a hand massage on hairy legs is rather unsavory.

Removing the impeding hair and applying massaging oil on smooth skin is a better alternative.  

Wound Care Is Easier

Falling from the bike is a common occurrence while riding. Scratches and wounds are much easier to clean in the absence of hair. Additionally, handling bandages is a complicated matter around abundant hair.

To Avoid Harmful Bugs

Ticks and various bugs favor hairy hosts over smooth-skinned people. The thick hair gives them something to cling to and disappear in. 

Bikers are especially weary of bug bites when they’re on mountainous trails. It’s hard to get medical help, and they wouldn’t be able to pedal back.

To Keep Off Twigs

Twigs and thorns cling to hairy legs much more than clean-shaven skin. These little branches can severely injure the bikers. 

Cleaning Up Is a Breeze

When riders get off their bikes, their legs have thick layers of mud, dust, and dirt. It’s much easier to brush off these substances when one doesn’t have abundant hair on these exposed parts.

Why Some Bikers Would Not Shave Their Legs  

From the 30 million American bikers touring the mountains each year, a significant amount wouldn’t go through the trouble of shaving their legs. The logic behind their decision is also sound.

Speed Is a Secondary Concern

Mountain bikers aren’t always into speed, except if they’re racing, which doesn’t constitute the main bulk of mountain bike activities. So unlike road bikers, split-second gains in speed aren’t a big deal.

The Hair Removal Is Too Frequent

Hair grows back in a couple of days, then, it would need a second round of epilation. Hair removal twice a week is a humongous undertaking for most people.

The Process Is Painful and Messy

Most hair removal methods are painful, messy, or both. The prospect is discouraging. Unless there’s a good reason, who wants the trouble?

Partners Aren’t Too Happy With the Stubble

Stubble appears a couple of days after shaving. Men’s body hair is sharp and rough at that point, almost like a beard. Not many partners appreciate touching such legs. 

The Sports Pants Cover the Whole Leg

Many bikers wear long cycling pants while riding. These riders consider the long pants sufficient protection from twigs, bugs, and dirt.

It wouldn’t protect them from wound infection though. And they’ll miss out on the massage part.

The Biker Doesn’t Have Too Much Leg Hair

Some lucky guys don’t have hairy legs, so they don’t have to shave their sparse hair. In that case, the cost-benefit analysis comes out leaning towards “costly”.

The Best Tips for Shaving Legs

Shaving leg hair seems easy. After all, millions of women all over the world do it. Many men would beg to differ, as the density and quality of male hair make the process more challenging.

Here are the top tried and true tips for easy hair removal.

  • You don’t need to shave your whole leg up to the thighs. Shaving below the knee is often sufficient.
  • The exception to the above suggestion is when you decide to wear short shorts. In that case, shave all the hair up to the thighs. Otherwise, your leg would look funny.
  • Use an epilation tool that suits the amount and quality of your body hair. Waxing and using an electric epilation machine work best on legs with a sparse hair pattern.
  • Hair removal cream smells dreadful, and you’d have to keep it on your skin for about 10 minutes. Choose that option if you can take the smell and the goo. Still, it’s easy and painless, so don’t rule it out entirely.
  • Using a razor and shaving cream are the best options for men. They’re the most familiar too. 
  • Laser hair removal is effective, but the process is lengthy and expensive.

Looking Ahead: Trends and Future Implications

Aerodynamics and health consciousness will gain more prominence in the coming years. That’s my personal belief and the prediction that many sports experts conveyed.

Shaving leg hair would be less problematic with the development of Laser devices. Personal use of Laser will facilitate the process and increase the user base significantly. Additionally, clinics will be able to offer cheaper and better procedures. More mountain bikers will opt for shaving their legs once the process becomes easy. There’s much to gain and little to lose.

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Paul Tuthill
Growing up in Scotland, Paul developed a love for the outdoors and a desire for adventure from an early age.