leg shaving for cyclists intro

There comes a time in every cyclist’s life where they are going to think about shaving their legs.

You will probably think about it too. Even if you don’t plan to actually shave your legs, you have to wonder why some cyclists do it. But if you do want to shave your legs, you have to ask yourself, “now how exactly do I do this?”

Just look at your legs – they are definitely not your face! You can’t just walk up to a mirror, grab your razor, and go. If you are shaving your legs for the first time, there is a lot to do! But don’t worry, just follow the simple steps below and you’ll have silky smooth legs for your next ride!

What you will need to shave your legs:

  • Electric shaver, such as the one I use from Wahl
  • Cartridge razor, such as a Gillette Mach3 or my favorite, the Dorco Pace 4
  • Shaving cream or bodywash, like Cremo
  • A bathroom, tub, and water bucket (and running water)
  • Old newspapers
  • Aftershave balm or skin lotion, like this

Here’s why…

A well-lit bathroom. It’s very easy to miss hairs if you don’t have good lighting, so I like a very well-lit bathroom for leg shaving. (And if you miss hairs, you won’t notice until you leave the bathroom and head outside into the bright sun, where your riding buddies will make fun of you for doing such a poor job shaving.)

Bathtub with running water. Sitting on the edge of a bath tub makes things much easier (and safer) than standing in a shower and balancing on one leg while sliding a razor blade across your skin.

Little plastic container. A little plastic container, such as a Cool Whip container, has a few important uses. First, before shaving, I fill it with warm water and dump that over my legs to get them wet. Second, while shaving, I rinse the hair out of my razor by swishing it around in the container. Third, after shaving, I use the container to dump cold water over my legs.

Dorco Pace 4 razor. Skip the girly razors. While they might come in pretty colors and have wider, more comfortable grips, they just don’t cut the hair as well as a men’s razor. I used the Gillette Mach3 and the 5-blade Gillette Fusion for many years, and the Shick Quattro is probably fine too. But these days, I’ve found I can get just as good of a shave for less money with the Dorco Pace 4.

I’d also avoid those cheap disposable razors.

Cheap bodywash. No need for true shaving cream for this job. I prefer to lather up with a nice bodywash, which creates a smooth lather that goes a long way. I’ve been doing it this way for years and I’ve had no problems with razor burn. Plus, bodywash is cheap, especially if you get a store brand.

I’m partial to scents like vanilla and mango, which might sound girly, but they smell pretty good. If you go with something like “alpine fresh” you’ll just smell like cheap cologne!

A real shaving cream like Cremo is very nice, however!

Lubriderm skin lotion. My Nivea aftershave balm is too expensive to use on my legs, and I don’t think they need it anyway. I’ve had good luck with skin lotions instead, and I’m quite partial to this Lubriderm skin nourishing lotion with shea and cocoa butters. It goes on smooth and doesn’t leave a residue.

And that’s all you need. You probably have most of this stuff anyway.

How to Shave Your Legs Instructional Video

Or read these detailed instructions:

Part 1: Overcoming Doubts About Shaving Your Legs

You might be worried about shaving your legs, but there’s nothing to be worried about. Sure, people will look at you funny and talk about you behind your back, but in reality they are just jealous of your bulging calf muscles! And anyone that would run you off the road because of hairless legs would probably try to run you off the road just for being on a bicycle.

But on a serious note, what if you want your hair back? Don’t worry, this is far from permanent – your hair grows back fairly fast. And it grows back in just as it was before. Contrary to popular belief, your hair will NOT get thicker and darker because you shaved it. That’s a common misconception, but completely false.

Part 2: Get Rid of the Fuzz

leg shaving for cyclists shaver

The first thing we need to do is reduce the hair to a manageable level. The ideal way to do this is with an electric shaver (or hair clippers.)

I like to do this on the bathroom floor, and I put some newspaper down to collect the hair. It makes cleanup a lot faster and easier.

Then you just sit on the newspapers and run the clippers up and down your legs, brushing off the long, fuzzy hair. Use long, smooth strokes and go against the grain for a close shave.

It’s hard to cut yourself with hair clippers, but if you press the blades straight down or just push at a weird angle, you can draw blood. So be careful, even with these!

When you’re done, your legs should be relatively hairless, except for some stubble. Yes, they will look funny!

Part 3: Lather Up

leg shaving for cyclists gel lather

Now it’s time to get into the real shaving… with your blade.

Personally I use the Gillette Mach 3 on my face and on my legs. Don’t be fooled by those pink girls razors that are made for leg shaving – they don’t cut as well as a mens razor. I almost bought one, but the girls I have asked prefer to use a mens razor.

So grab your razor and some shaving cream, and take a seat on the side of your bath tub. The shower works, too, but it’s much easier to shave your legs while seated! (Shaving your legs in the shower is like juggling knives while standing on a stability ball – it takes practice and balance.)

Now wet your legs with warm water (or take a bath beforehand) and lather up with shaving cream or a liquid bodywash. I actually prefer bodywash when shaving my legs, but shaving cream is fine. I also split this into four parts – lower left leg, upper left leg, lower right leg, and upper right leg. I lather and shave each section before moving on to the next one so that I’m always working with freshly lathered shaving cream.

Part 4: Shave The Stubble

leg shaving for cyclists razor

OK, by this point your leg hair has been reduced to stubble, your leg is lathered up with shaving cream, and you have a razor in hand. Now you can shave, just like you shave your face.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use long, smooth strokes.
  • Don’t shave the same spot twice.
  • Do not press down on the razor. Let it glide across your skin.
  • Shaving against the grain will give you a closer shave.
  • Be very careful around your knee and ankle (and any other bony or oddly shaped surfaces.)

When I shave my calves, I use long strokes going up my leg, which is going against the grain. This gives me a nice close shave. (And by long strokes, I mean that each stroke goes from my ankle to just below my knee.)

After each stroke, I rinse my razor in water to clean it out. I like to rinse it in a little plastic bucket filled with warm water because there will be a lot of hair packed in there!

Next, I will do my knee. This is very tricky and I usually go in about 10 different directions, using short strokes. Just be careful because your knee is bumpy and very easy to cut open.

Finally, I will do my quads and hamstrings. My upper leg is a little more sensitive, so I prefer to shave with the grain (i.e. down towards my knee) to avoid irritation. Otherwise you can follow the same procedure as you used on your calves.

Then move on to your other leg and repeat.

When you’re done, rub your fingers all around your legs to see if you missed any spots. Sometimes a few hairs around your ankles or behind your knee hide the first time around!

“But how far up should I shave?”

The short answer is, shave everything. But there’s more to it than that, and it really depends why you are shaving your legs in the first place…

If you are shaving mainly to ease the treatment of road rash, then you should go the whole way up your legs. After your knee, your hip/butt region is going to be the worst area for road rash (in most cases). So it’s kind of pointless to shave your lower legs but not your hips.

If you want massages to feel good, again, shave everything. Your calves, quads, and hamstrings should be nice and smooth.

If your only goal is to look good in your cycling kit, you still need to shave everything. If you don’t, your long hairs might stick through your shorts!

Finally, if you’re worried about ticks, shave your whole body! Ticks like to crawl everywhere, so the less hair they have to hide in, the better.

Part 5: Soothing Your Skin – Rinse and Aftershave

leg shaving for cyclists aftershave balm

Once you have completed the shaving, you’ll need to rinse off any excess shaving cream and hair. I do this by filling my little bucket with cold water and pouring it over my legs (while standing in the tub.) The cold water is important because it will help soothe your skin.

Next, pat your legs dry with a towel. And I do mean “pat them dry” – vigorously rubbing them with the towel will cause needless irritation. They should still be moist when you are done.

Then get a handful of aftershave balm or a nice skin lotion and rub that all over both legs. That should feel good!

Part 6: Show Off!

smooth cyclist legs

Congratulations, you are done! And you should have silky smooth legs! (If you cut yourself a few times, don’t worry, that’s typical.)

Now you should show off your silky smooth legs to all your friends! Well, maybe only to your cycling friends, because everyone else will laugh at you…

But you can still take pride in your legs when you slide into your spandex! And enjoy the newfound sensation of air moving over your legs, not to mention the up-close feeling of your bed sheets!

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  1. Thanks for a helpful post.
    I don’t think I am quite ready to take the plunge, but when I am I know where to come.

  2. Next year I may join the ranks of the shaven leg cat 5 cyclists. If I’m not an experenced racer, I will be experienced at leg shaving at least, thanks to this 🙂

  3. I don’t think I’ll be shaving my legs any time soon either 🙂

    Does shaving your legs count as a weight reduction for weight weenies?

  4. If you are hairy enough, shaving could certainly drop a gram or two 😉

  5. Might want to tell people to be mighty careful around the ankle and Achilles tendon area–that can be a pretty bad spot for blood. Also, its tempting to go quickly since you have so much ground to cover, but those sharp blades can take off more then just hair!

  6. Good point Kristin, I added the ankle in there with the knee. Better safe than sorry!

  7. Brave guy

  8. guys shaving their legs sounds a bit gay but seeing smooth legs arms and bodies at triatrhlons on some of the athletes looks anything but gay. so guys let it all come off

  9. hai… how long it will take to grow??
    i hope it take a long time.. i hate my leg’s hair..

  10. @Krol

    Most people will notice some stubble the day after shaving their legs. It grows back quickly.

  11. Thanks for the post man. It’s great. I’m competing in a Corporate triathlon in Townsville and was asking myself all the questions that you said in your intro. Great post. I’m going to subscribe to your feed. 😉

  12. If you don’t want stubble the next day, try our Day Away Botanicals Exfoliating Shaving Lotion. That’s why they called it Day Away … eliminates a day of shaving. Plus, the organic seaweed derived exfoliate gets rid dead skin cells. And increases circulation in those bulging muscles. It’s weird getting used to the texture, but by far the best on the market. Plus it’s healthy for your skin.

  13. Chaps- after a nasty collision with a car turning left infront of me and sustaining a seriously nasty bout of road rash I was seriously grateful for having shaved legs. Being the hairy beast I am it takes alot of maintenance but after 3 months of painful cleaning and sticking dressings on I have learned my lesson really well!

  14. I certainly like the way my legs look after shaving. For me I never have had any trouble with it growing back either. I find that shaving them once a week works great. Yes, there are the critics who will pass judgement on you, but who cares….they’re your legs and your muscles to show off anyway.

  15. About 7 years ago I shaved my legs for the first time and thought I’d do my ass too. A couple of months later I had some back pain and went to the doctors and he said that I had an ingrown hair (pilonidal sinus) which was at the top of my ass crack , between cheeks. It became very painful and had to be operated on. I was told by my GP this is common in European boys but I do still wonder if it was because I shaved my ass. It’s caused by the hair growing out and curling back into the body, and could not be plucked out as it had grown in too far. After the operation, doctors advised to keep the area clean by waxing or using hair removal cream. I began waxing my ass and legs, and thought, why not do everything else.. and I mean “EVERYTHING!” Sometimes I do resort to the cheaper alternative of hair removal cream and shaving as waxing can be costly. I also do exfoliate and use body lotion on a daily basis to help avoid ingrown hairs. Some family have asked why do I shave my legs and I tell them because I got to do my ass, I get legs done also. Friends have also asked and some also said that my legs look good and toned. So, this brings me to my conclusion that “YES”… smooth hair free legs do look better, but then again, so does a whole body!!
    Here is a link to info about pilonidal sinus. (**NOTE** SOME IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING) http://www.surgeons.org/Content/NavigationMenu/WhoWeAre/Regions/QLD/070828_MPeters.pdf (If you have trouble opening this link, copy and paste into you web browser)

    – Sam

  16. I wish I would have had this resource before I shaved my legs the first time…..would have saved me some pain and discomfort! This just wasn’t one of those things that my dad was interested in teaching me when I was younger…… 🙂

  17. I shaved the hard way. I was hit by a pickup truck mirror. Thrown to the pavement and road rash the hair off my left leg and forearm. I don’t recommend it it’s not very even.

    My question is a rider more likely to get an infection or heal faster with shaved legs or without shaved legs?

  18. @Jamesw2

    I believe your legs are less likely to get infected and should also heal faster if they were shaved before the road rash. Leg hairs pressed deep into your cuts probably help trap dirt in there and interfere with healing.

  19. Good article thanks :o)

    The only thing I would add, try washing your razor out in COLD water. Hot or warm water makes the blades expand and this actually makes the edge duller (physics or summat)

  20. @Murdoch

    Interesting. I read up on the topic and turns out there are quite a few tricks to keeping razor blades sharp.

  21. I would also recommend 2 days before you shave your legs to exfoliate your skin. Get the gloves that are a little rough and scrub your skin in hot water 2 days before, 1 day before, and just before shaving. This will help release any of the in-grown hairs hiding beneath the skin. These hairs are usually the reason you feel the pulling on your skin when you shave which causes you to have to shave with the hair growth instead of against it.

  22. For me Im a 21 yr old and i’ve tried the body hair thing and the hair was a pain to restrictive and there was a lot of ingrown hair problems. So when I was 18 I stated to shave my body through trial and error. I loved the felling and i’ve made a life long promise to keep my body smooth. I think men shaving will catch on like it did for women. It’s a great felling. Im not a sports person but I do keep in shape. I don’t care if people know. This will happen for all men.

  23. What do you think about laser hair removal?

  24. @Pablo

    I’ve never tried it, but it’s very expensive and would require multiple treatments for large areas – i.e. legs, back, etc. I wouldn’t suggest it.

    Perhaps for a woman getting rid of some stray hair on her upper lip, it could be a good fit, but not for men shaving their legs.

  25. As an “offensively hairy” male, I can’t find this information useful enough.

    And when I say “offensively hairy” I mean like crazy hairy. Like, part werewolf, part gorilla hairy. Like my knuckles can grow beards hairy. Like I shampoo my whole body hairy. Like lice paradise hairy…

  26. I am planning on shaving for a few reasons- it’s easier to put on sunscreen, it’s easier to put on the electrodes for my muscle stimulator and have them stick, , it’s easier to massage with arnica oil after a hard ride.

  27. @Steve

    Good reasons! Just about any lotion or any type of tape or sensors will work out much better with shaved legs.

  28. Some people like to shave legs some don’t its totally their choice and you can do it in a your prefer way to make to better either by using razor, trimmer or shaver.

  29. My wife told me that it is very important to always move the razor in a straight line. Razor cuts are frequently caused by going sideways at the same time which slices the skin. I’ve been very careful so far and have not cut myself shaving and I give significant credit to my wife for the “don’t go sideways” tip.

    • @Jim

      Definitely! That’s a great tip for anytime you’re working with a blade, whether it’s a knife or razor blade! Thanks for sharing.

  30. I’m new to cycling, and I’m not that fast yet. Should I wait to shave until I get faster? I am a very hairy guy. Also, planning on my first race to be in April 2016. Any beginner tips?

  31. Great tips! Like you, I like to use body wash when I have no shaving cream handy as it does the job perfectly well! I also use men’s razors because I find I get a closer shave. Thanks for the post!

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