La prova nella camera del vento è la dimostrazione di una radicata teoria che da sempre circola nell'ambiente degli appassionati di ciclismo. Depilarsi le gambe fa andare più veloci in bici. Molto più veloci.
The notion gained momentum after a random experiment in January at a wind tunnel owned and operated by Specialized, the Morgan Hill, Calif.-based bike company. Professional triathlete Jesse Thomas had arrived for a session of testing on the aerodynamic benefit of various equipment.
It was also the off-season, and Thomas had let his leg hair grow as lush as Zach Galifianakis's jawline.
Just for fun, Thomas and Specialized road brand marketing manager and aerodynamicist Mark Cote decided to test Thomas's wind-tunnel performance with the hairy legs. Then Thomas shaved his legs. And he was tested again.
They were staggered by what the results found. So they did it again. And again. And again.
The testing repeatedly showed that a shaved-legged Thomas had gained a significant speed advantage over his hairier version. The benefit was equivalent to an improvement of 15 watts of power at race pace, which roughly translated to 79 seconds over a 40-kilometer time trial.
"In sporting terms, a complete eternity," said Specialized's lead aerodynamic engineer, Chris Yu.