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Video: To beard or not to beard

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:

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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