Do shaved legs make you a better cyclist?
Being a pro-cyclist and getting to the top of your game means intense workout sessions and countless hours of practice. Once the rider is shaped for victory, it all boils down to the two-wheeler. To bag that trophy, the anatomy of the bicycle matters just as much. Is it made of steel, titanium, or carbon fibre? In a world where money is not a problem, you may get the bike of your dreams. But how much do you owe to your leg hair for the victories?
The answer—nothing at all. If anything, it slows you down. Although the rate of slow-down is related to the thickness and volume of hair itself, its mere presence only serves to drag you down. This is what a study by Specialized Bicycle Components, a US-based designer and manufacturer of bicycles has shown.
Today, the thought of a male adult with shaved legs will be subjected to a mixed response. But shaving is a part of cycling culture. It shows who you are; a cyclist to the core, a true professional. Many think cyclists shave their legs for aesthetics. While it is true, hair-free legs engage in faster recovery of road rash in case one falls off the bike. Owing to the nature of competitive cycling, massages are mandatory every now and then. Thus, it provides some relief for both the client and masseur when hair is not getting in the way. Smooth legs are also aerodynamic (just like the helmet, suit, and bike are specifically designed to be).
Specialized Bicycle Components decided to test out the claim using the aerodynamics of a cyclist with both shaved legs and unshaved legs. The data from the wind tunnel showed a reduction of drag by 7 percent for one particular individual. This figure translates to an exertion of lesser power for the same speed. Shaving his legs shaved 79 seconds off a 49-kilometer, one-hour trial track. The result varies however. The range varies from 40-90 seconds over a 40-kilometer distance. Such drop in times can impact significantly in professional races.
There's more to cutting out drag such as a proper body position without compromising comfort or performance. There has not been any conclusive study on the effect of arm hair on performance.
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