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Mike Burrows Myth Busting: Do Shaved Legs Make You Go Faster On A Bike?

Mike Burrows on a laid back bike at Hog Hill

Victory and defeat in cycle sport can be decided by seconds, so even the most minor of adjustments to your setup can give critical marginal gains. Being both a racer and an engineer, bike designer Mike Burrows is famed for his rigorous approach to the physics of cycling. Air resistance is one of the biggest barriers to speed, so to give his creations the edge over the competition he pays particular attention to aerodynamics. Mike will modify anything to boost a bike’s speed, including the hair on its rider’s legs.

Cyclists have traditionally shaved their legs – it gives comfort during massages and can reduce the risk of wounds becoming infected. But do smooth legs really have an effect on performance?

Bike Burrows in his workshop in Norfolk | MadeGood.bikes
Bike Burrows in his workshop in Norfolk

Mike points out that the human leg is not a very aerodynamic form to start with. Conventional wisdom might suggest that removing its fuzzy coating will increase speed by reducing air friction and giving a slightly more streamlined shape. In his typically maverick style though, Mike rejects convention and recommends we look at golf balls for a better understanding of aerodynamics.

A golf ball is dimpled, and as it spins through the air these dimples create turbulence on its surface. This turbulence has the effect of reducing drag and increasing the ball’s velocity and flight. Some cyclists wear dimpled helmets to achieve the same benefit. But Mike points out that as helmets do not spin or fly, it makes more sense to equip them with a single wire across the top. This wire would trip up the air and create a thin layer of turbulence which oncoming air could flow over, cutting down on drag.

Mike Burrows' workshop clogs | MadeGood.bikes
Mike Burrows’ workshop clogs

This principle can be applied to the leg. Instead of a trip wire though, Mike says you could shave your legs but leave thin strips at each side – in other words, give each leg a Mohican. The rough surface would create a turbulent layer of air and allow better flow around the smooth skin online roulette geld. Adopting this look would help you go marginally faster, but beware: to the untrained eye you may appear slightly ridiculous.