It's happened to most of us, riding along minding our own business, when someone comes speeding past, full of poise and precision with legs so smooth that the light reflects off them like a mirror. You might think to yourself: Gee, they look good, but why on earth are their legs shaved?
We spoke to some Bicycle Network team members to get their thoughts on this sometimes divisive topic.
Glen Janetzki, Bicycle Networks Commercial Manager and Team Bicycle Network rider at Peaks Challenge Falls Creek summed it up pretty quickly:
"Vanity, injury (it helps with road rash), its aero and to fit in the crowd"
This raises a lot of good points. Many keen riders aspire to look like the professionals, whose smooth sculptured legs are the envy of us mere mortals. In the pro peloton there is a consensus on shaving – everyone does it. So much so that when three time world champion Peter Sagan was spotted with hair on his legs it made headlines.
So just like any sport, there are trends, and shaving is certainly one for the sport of cycling.
And of course it is justified for the pros. In a sport where split-seconds count, any aerodynamic advantage must be taken. It is also considered much more convenient when receiving regular massages and when scratching up your skin in a crash, which is a part of racing.
But for most of us who don't compete is looking like a professional worth the ingrown hairs and effort? To this point, Bicycle Network Media Adviser Alexander Miller explains the reason why he doesn't shave.
"Can't be stuffed. I'm not a pro who needs to shave off seconds, so I don't shave my legs."
Sam Brooks from the Ride2School team goes one further:
"The culture within road cycling of shaving your legs is just another peculiar habit that us regular bike riders cannot understand, and it creates a social divide among the bicycle community."
True, there can be disconnect between different types of users across such a broad activity as bike riding. But as a whole we like to think the bike riding community is pretty accepting of any one and every one, no matter what you wear or when or why you ride.
We recently publish an article by Leyla our Behaviour Change General Manger explaining why she will never wear lycra – where she said that if we want to get more people riding we need to make the entry points as easy as possible.
So do you have to shave your legs to ride a bike? Of course not. But some people like to, and that's okay too!
Tour de France enthusiast from the Parkiteer program Edmund explains his own personal reason for keeping his calves squeaky clean:
"I often struggle with motivation and when I shave my legs I feel more like a bike racer which encourages me to train harder. But to be honest, most of the time I don't bother. It doesn't make me more of a cyclist"
So there you have it. There are justified reasons for riders to shave for cycling, but equally valid reasons not to. What we should always avoid is judging our fellow riders on their appearance.
So if you're just getting started with riding, or you've been cycling for years, remember to always do what makes you happy and comfortable. There are many different types of riders, but one thing we all agree on is the feeling of childlike joy you get from riding a bike.
Throughout history bikes have stood for freedom, inclusion and accessibility, and as riders we should always strive to maintain those values in our community.
Shaved or shaggy... ride on!
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.