Today, we tackle the big issues. THE questions sparking global debate and controversy unlike anything else in the industry: Bikes and Beards. Beards and Bikes. Do the two go together like [insert bike analogy here]? And most importantly, should you grow one? Biker facial hair styles.
If what the ladies think interests you, a 2012 study by Dixon and Vasey showed that women found men with beards to look older and perceived them to be of a higher social status. Brilliant - if that's what vibe you're going for. And according to a 2013 Australian study, the most attractive beard length to a woman is &ldquo,heavy stubble,&rdquo, which comes after about 10 days of growth - à, la Ryan Gosling.
How does a beard make you faster? We're so glad you asked...
On average, a man spends roughly 3,350 hours of his life shaving in the bathroom. If we consider the average man starts shaving at age 15 and the average life expectancy of a man is 80.5 years (as it is for Australian men), he shaves for 65.5 years / 3,406 weeks. That works out to about an hour a week spent shaving.
This begs a 2-part question:
a) How many of these hours could be spent riding?
b) Would the hours gained by NOT shaving offset the drag coefficient produced by said beard if used in a targeted training program?
The answer to a) is obviously 'all of them' and, thanks to Specialized and priority access to some sharp technology and wind tunnels, we now have a better idea of the answer to part b).
What's the aero efficiency of a bearded cyclist?
If you're time-poor and/or can't watch the video, how much of a difference does a beard versus clean shaven have in the wind tunnel? The equivalent of less than 1 second's difference over 40km. Really? Yep. Surprised us too. Things are starting to get interesting now, aren't they?
Facial hair styles for bikers
What gains are there from more training time by not spending time shaving?
In a 1997 study, active male cyclists were assigned to one of two groups, each training five days per week for six weeks. One group followed a training program involving 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (70% VO2max) for a total of 5 hours per week. The VO2max in this group improved by an admirable average of 9%. But wait for it...
Training sessions of the other group consisted of 8x all-out work bouts, each lasting only 20 seconds and with 10 seconds of rest in between. This group cycled for a total of only 20 minutes per week, yet their VO2max improved by 15%!
In other words, you can be making #demgains and still have time to trim, manicure and maintain that 10-day-growth-look with the other 40 minutes.
What about my bearded legs?
&ldquo,But what about shaving our legs?!&rdquo, I hear you all screaming. Don't go throwing away the razor just yet, because The Big 'S' also used their influence and power to investigate this enigma. Luckily for you (and Schick), the results showed that shaving the test subject's legs reduced drag by about 7%, saving 15 watts at the same speed. In theory, that translates to a 79-second advantage over a 40-kilometer time trial.
What are other benefits of beards?
A couple of other facts supporting #TeamBeard (as if you needed them) include:
Beards block up to 95% of harmful UV rays, meaning if you are out in the sun for hours at a time a beard can is a layer of protection to prevent skin cancer.
Keeping a beard can reduce acne by eliminating the spread of bacteria, like that from sweat, during the shaving process notorious for moving it around your scraped and exposed facial skin.
What do the pros think of beards?
Is the beard the legal EPO of today's pro peloton? Perhaps. With beautiful descriptions by Capo Velo (in brackets), let's look at the Top 10 beards:
Dan Craven (The Modern Lumbersexual)
Tom Boonen (The Belgian Bumfluff)
Luca Paolini (The Red Beacon of Style)
Ryder Hesjedal (The Resplendent Facial Bonnet)
Bernie Eisel (The Hipster with Precision)
Bradley Wiggins (The On-Again Off-Again)
Facial hair styles for bikers
Laurens ten Dam (The Steadfast Box Beard)
John Degenkolb (The Quaker Pencil Mo)
Simon Geschke (The Accidental Manicure)
José, Serpa (The Mexican-style soul patch)
So, should you grow a beard in 2016? It seems the science would suggest that it could be your secret weapon for more KOMs in the New Year...