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Which is faster, a hairy chin or freshly-mown skin?

With cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins emerging from the winter break with luxuriant growths of facial hair, one of the burning questions in cycling over the last few months has been: “What DOES he look like?” Er, we mean: “Does facial hair slow you down?” The good folks at Specialized have found an answer.

Specialized built its own wind tunnel at its Morgan Hill California headquarters last year, and has already produced videos showing how much time you can save by changing position on the bike, and how you can more aerodynamically carry water and food for a long-distance time trial or triathlon.

After building up to it with those trivial projects, the Specialized aero R&D team turned their attention to the vital issue of the aerodynamics of beards.

In this video, Specialized’s Mark Cote and Chris Yu first measure the drag of bearded rider Joe Self, from a Specialized dealership in Texas. Joe then shaves of his beard and the measurements are repeated.

Which is faster? Watch and find out for yourself:

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.