We tend to talk about cycling in a positive light. For instance, my other article about the benefits of cycling is a great example.
However, cycling also has a few disadvantages. Some of them are amusing, while others can impact your health.
For this reason, I’ve divided this article into two parts.
The first part is based on scientific research and the scientifically proven health drawbacks of cycling.
The other part covers the things and activities cyclists do (or are obligated to do). If you enjoy irony, you’ll find this part particularly entertaining. I assure you.
Are you eager to learn more?
Let’s dive in.
Health Disadvantages of Cycling
Below are the most common health disadvantages of cycling, based on research and the experiences of cyclists worldwide.
1. Pain in Various Parts of the Body
In my experience, cycling can be uncomfortable. A bad bike fit can cause pain in several areas of your body. The most affected areas are:
- Lower back
- Intimate areas
To prevent pain in these areas, ensure your bike is the right size and set up properly.
If you don’t know how to set up your bike, visit a local bike fitter who will help you. It will be one of the best investments in cycling you make.
2. Pollution Exposure
For instance, pedestrians and cyclists are exposed to more pollutants than car drivers. However, a 2018 study conducted by the University of Leeds discovered that cyclists inhale the fewest pollutants in congested areas due to their shorter commutes.
On the other hand, this study also found that cyclists have the highest peak exposure to air pollutants, making them one of the most vulnerable groups.
It is important to note that these studies are often conducted in cities and relatively contested areas.
Nevertheless, the benefits of cycling outweigh the pollution exposure, especially if you live in rural areas or outside of the city.
A poorly fitted bike can cause numbness in different areas of your body.
The most common forms of numbness are hand and toe numbness, and numbness in the intimate area.
4. Lower Bone Density
A common cycling myth is that cycling strengthens your bones. However, the truth is that it can have the opposite effect.
This study found that the bone mineral density of Tour de France riders was 10% lower in the lumbar spine, 14% lower in the hip, and 17% lower in the Wards’ triangle than the control group. The difference was surprisingly high, even for the study authors.
However, we must keep in mind that the Tour de France is one of the toughest races in the world. Riders cover approximately 3,500 km (2,175 miles) in three weeks, a distance some people cannot cover in a year. So, if you don’t overdo it, cycling should not harm your bones.
5. Vulnerability in a Traffic
Cyclists are vulnerable. Apart from a bike helmet, there is nothing else that protects us. In the US alone, 846 bicyclists died in traffic accidents in 2019. (Source)
However, this number is surprisingly “low” compared to the number of inhabitants in the selected countries. You can see a comparison with other countries in the picture below.
Number of cyclists killed in traffic accidents in selected countries
PRO TIP: Use cycling radar. It will inform you about the vehicles behind you. It is one of the best bike safety gadgets you can buy.
Read these bicycle safety tips to increase your safety on the roads. They can save your life.
Funny Disadvantages of Cycling
The more passionate you are about cycling, the more likely you will identify with the following disadvantages.
Feel free to contact me or comment if I missed any.
6. If Your Ride Is Not on Strava, It Didn’t Happen
When I started cycling, I wanted to keep a diary of my rides. So, after some research, I found Strava. It is a social network for people who love sports like cycling.
When I started, I didn’t have a bike computer, so I tracked my rides using my phone. The worst things that could happen were that my smartphone ran out of battery or I forgot to turn on tracking.
Sometimes, I forget to recharge my cycling computer, and it ends up like this:
Remember, if your ride is not on Strava, it didn’t happen!
7. The Feeling of Being Not Good Enough
One of the common complexes I see among cyclists is the feeling of not being good enough.
Imagine climbing a hill as fast as possible and comparing yourself to the best cyclists. Often, many people will have a better time, and your time will be average or even below average. Getting a KOM on Strava is sometimes mission impossible.
Don’t let others steal your pleasure from your success! Compare yourself to your previous times, or don’t compare your times at all.
8. Shaving Legs
There are only two groups of cyclists – those who shave their legs and those who don’t.
I am in the first group because I gave in to the pressure of my friends.
Although shaved legs have many advantages, such as a more comfortable ride and massages, I hate shaving my legs.
What about you? What group do you belong to? Let me know in the comments.
9. Tight Clothing
So-called “cycling fashion” is not for everyone. Yes, tight clothing is aero and safe (i.e., your sleeves won’t get caught in a chain), padded shorts are more comfortable, etc., but some people can’t get used to the tightness.
Especially overweight people may feel embarrassed that they don’t have a slim or athletic figure. So they may opt for looser clothing.
Remember, it is not about how you look but how you feel.
10. Tan Lines = Medal of Honor?
If there is one thing no avid cyclist can avoid, it is the tan lines. They can be especially visible if you wear a tight cycling jersey, shorts, long socks, and gloves.
To prevent them, you can use a high factor sunscreen or get more sun to even out your tan.
11. Oh No, the Sweat!
Cyclists love coffee. But one of the things they don’t like is walking into a coffee shop all sweaty. Poor quality cycling clothing often smells so bad that other people do not want to spend time with you.
Quality clothing is the key. They wick sweat away from your body and don’t stink. So consider investing in them if you ride in a cotton shirt, for example.
Finding the right saddle is not easy. It is a process of trial and error. But there are a few principles you can follow.
Check out my article on choosing a saddle to increase your chances of choosing a comfortable saddle.
13. Thin Arms, Big Legs
Pro road cyclists have strong legs and core, but thin arms. In particular, climbers (e.g., Chris Froome) are as lean as possible to maximize their watt/kilogram ratio. Sometimes they are called “T-Rex cyclists”.
TIP: If you are interested in statistics, check out my summary of Cycling Grand Tours, which includes weights, heights, and BMI data of riders.
Not all cyclists are lean, though. For example, track cyclists (e.g., Robert Förstemann) look like bodybuilders.
14. Cycling Is Pricey
Depending on how demanding you are, cycling can be quite expensive. Even if you don’t need the latest and greatest, it pays off to buy a good bike that’s reliable, relatively light and shifts well.
The sweet spot is somewhere around $1000. Based on my research on road bike prices, the more expensive the bike, the higher the diminishing returns.
Then you have other costs like maintenance, racing, upgrades, etc.
No wonder cycling is called the new golf by many!
15. Worrying About Your Bike Being Stolen
When you invest thousands of dollars in a new bike, the fear of having it stolen is almost inevitable. But there are a few things you can do to prevent it.
You can either insure your bike or install Apple Airtags (or another tracking device).
Check out the following video by GPLama for more details on how to do this and increase the chances of finding your bike if someone steals it.
16. Headwind – The Biggest Enemy
A headwind is annoying, especially when you return from a long ride. It will drain you of the last of your energy.
Don’t try to beat it. Instead, adjust your pace and ride wisely.
17. Cycling Is Time-Consuming
Cycling is an endurance sport; if you want to be competitive, you have to have a solid endurance base. Unfortunately, building it takes a lot of time.
EAT – SLEEP – RIDE – REPEAT
A time-consuming hobby can create tension in a family. For example, my friend has two kids and rides more than 10 hours weekly.
Fortunately, his family respects this and he even inspires them to exercise.
18. Cycling Above Everything Else
Are you one of these riders?
Disadvantages of Cycling FAQ
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