We tend to talk about cycling positively. My other article about the benefits of cycling is a nice example.
But cycling also has a few disadvantages. Some of them are funny, and some can even affect your health.
That’s why I divided this article into two parts.
I based the first part on scientific research and scientifically proven health disadvantages of cycling.
The other part includes things and activities cyclists do (or have to do). If you love irony, you will love this part. I promise.
Are you keen to learn more?
Let’s dive in.
Health Disadvantages of Cycling
Below, you find the most common health disadvantages of cycling based on research and experience of cyclists worldwide.
1. Pain in Various Parts of the Body
Based on my experience, cycling can be uncomfortable. A wrong bike fit can cause pain in various areas of your body. The most affected areas are:
- Lower back
- Intimate areas
To prevent pain in these areas, make sure you have the right bike size that is properly set up.
If you don’t know how to set your bike, visit a local bike fitter who will adjust the components. It will be one of the best investments in cycling you make.
2. Pollution Exposure
For example, pedestrians and cyclists are exposed to more pollutants than car drivers. However, a study conducted by the University of Leeds in 2018 found that cyclists inhale the lowest number of pollutants in congested areas thanks to their shorter commutes.
On the other hand, the peak exposure to air pollutants is the highest among cyclists, according to this study, 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 poor bike fit can cause numbness in various parts of your body.
The most common are hands numbness, toe numbness, and intimate area numbness.
4. Lower Bone Density
A common cycling myth is that cycling makes your bones stronger. The truth is it can cause the exact opposite.
This research found that Tour de France riders’ bone mineral density was lower by 10% in the lumbar spine, 14% in the hip, and 17% in the Wards’ triangle compared to the control group. The difference was surprisingly high, even for the authors of this study.
However, we have to keep in mind that Tour de France is one of the toughest races in the world. Riders cover around 3,500 km (2,175 miles) in three weeks.
This is a distance that some people can’t cover in a year. So, if you don’t overdo it, you will be fine.
5. Vulnerability in a Traffic
Cyclists are vulnerable. Except for a bike helmet, there is nothing that protects us. In the US, 846 bicyclists died in traffic accidents in 2019. (Source)
This is a surprisingly ‘low’ number considering the number of inhabitants in the selected countries. You can see a comparison with other countries in the picture below.
PRO TIP: Use Garmin Varia 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 cyclist you are, the more you are likely to identify with the following disadvantages of cycling.
Feel free to contact me or comment if I missed any disadvantages.
6. If Your Ride Is Not on Strava, It Didn’t Happen
When I started cycling, I wanted to have a diary of my rides. So, after a quick research, I found Strava. It is a social network for people who love sports like cycling.
When I started cycling, I didn’t have a bike computer, so I tracked my rides using a 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, so it ends 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 other relatively 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 ones.
Often there will be many people with 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 with yourself, 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 that don’t.
I belong to the first group because I succumbed to the pressure of my friends.
Although shaved legs bring many benefits, like a more enjoyable ride and massages, I hate shaving my legs.
What about you? Which group do you belong to? Let me know in the comments.
9. Tight Clothing
The so-called ‘cycling fashion’ is not for everybody. Yes, tight cycling clothing is aero and safe (e.g., your sleeves won’t get entangled into a chain), padded shorts are more comfortable, etc., but some people can’t get used to its tightness.
Especially overweight people may feel embarrassed that they don’t have a lean or sporty figure. So they rather opt for loose 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 sunscreen with a strong factor or sunbathe more to make your tan even.
11. Oh No, the Sweat!
Cyclists love coffee. But one of the things they don’t like is entering a coffee all sweaty. Cycling clothes of poor quality often stink, so other people will not like to spend time with you.
Quality clothes are the key. They will take sweat away from your body and won’t stink. So consider investing in them if you ride in a cotton shirt, for example.
12. Saddle Sores
Finding the right saddle is not easy. It is a process of trial and error. But there are some principles you can follow.
Check out my article on choosing a bike saddle to increase your chance of choosing a comfortable saddle.
13. Thin Arms, Big Legs
Pro road cyclists have strong legs and core but thin arms. Especially climbers (e.g., Chris Froome) are as lean as possible to maximize their watts per kg ratio. Sometimes, they are also 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 pretty expensive. Even if you don’t need the latest and greatest, buying a good bike that is reliable, relatively lightweight, and shifts well, pays off.
The sweet spot is somewhere around $1000. Based on my research of road bike prices, the more expensive bike, the higher the diminishing returns.
Then you have other costs like maintenance, eventually races, upgrades, etc.
There is no wonder that cycling is, by many, called the new golf!
15. Worrying About Your Bike Being Stolen
If you invest thousands of dollars into a new bicycle, the fear that it can be stolen is almost inevitable. However, there are a few ways how 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 it and increase the chance you will find the bike if somebody steals it.
16. Headwind – The Biggest Enemy
A headwind is annoying, especially if you are returning from a long ride. It will drain your last bits of energy.
Don’t try to defeat it. Instead, adjust your tempo 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 requires 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 cycles more than 10 hours per week.
Luckily for him, his family respects that, and he even inspires them to do sports as well.
18. Cycling Above Everything Else
Are you one of these riders?
Disadvantages of Cycling FAQ
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