Have you ever noticed that motorcycles and beards seem to go hand in hand? It’s a classically associated combination, the tough biker guy, his Harley Davidson, and his long rebellious beard. Now, we understand that classic cruiser motorcycles are only one class of bikes, but the pattern emerges with sport bikes, ADV bikes, and more. Today, let’s talk about the history behind the beard and whether or not bikers should be using beard oil or beard balm on their next ride!
Now, you don’t need beards, tattoos, and a “tough guy” image to ride and enjoy a motorcycle, but why do so many people do? And more importantly, with their beards out flowing free in the wind, how do they keep their beards in shape and well-maintained?
Why Do Bikers Have Beards?
There are three main reasons, some practical and some not so practical, that the traditional “biker” look includes a beard. Let’s take a look at what these reasons are before we get into the maintenance of beards that see many miles in the open wind, sun, and rain.
We’ve covered this same topic many times in blogs and Volt YouTube videos before. Do beards really make you warmer? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. While beards work well to trap a layer of warm air close to your skin (in the same way you get goosebumps when you get cold) to keep you warm in the cold, beards also trap moisture and help keep the hot sun of your bare skin to keep you cooler.
Beards are more of a temperature regulation device instead of a temperature increaser, meaning that a beard makes you more comfortable in both cold and hot climates, especially when you’re in the open air riding around at 60 miles per hour.
interestingly enough, studies have shown that beards offer a surprising amount of impact protection. In fact, studies on the impact absorption potential of mammalian hair concluded that a non-shaven (bearded) face would absorb up to 37% more impact than a shaven face would.
Combine this statistic with the fact that a whopping 40% of head-related motorcycle impacts occur on one side of the chin area, and this means that well-bearded men are more likely to absorb and disperse the energy of an impact on one of the most common points of impact during a motorcycle accident.
Like I mentioned at the very beginning, bikers often portray a certain image. When I say the word “biker” most people think of the tattooed, burly, Harley-Riding, bearded individuals. You may enjoy your sports bike, or ADV bike, or dual-sport bike, or anything else, but we have to talk in terms of social assumptions here. Despite this being more of a stereotype than anything, these social constructs influence the way people dress and behave both consciously and subconsciously.
Beards, just like bikes, are for the people who have them, and they are certainly no requirement for riding a motorcycle, but, if you’re after the image of the classic rebellious motorcyclist that was popularized in the 50s and 60s, and is still very prevalent today, then chances are you have a beard.
Why Are Beards Seen As Tough?
What’s interesting about beards is that they often elicit preconceived notions from others about the people who wear them. I already mentioned the impact absorption potential of beards, but did you know that this was common knowledge for thousands of years?
Take a look at any classic warrior throughout history, but more specifically, those that had to fight with their hands or in close combat situations. Vikings, Samurai, Knights, etc. all had beards or some kind of facial hair. The beard, due to natural selection, became a safety device on the faces of men who were often in danger. It absorbed impact from blows to the face and protected one of the most vulnerable areas, the neck.
Beards, due to this subconscious recognition gives bearded men a more masculine and aggressive image. In fact, actual studies done in the last 10 years have shown that men who sported beards appeared on the surface to be more masculine and aggressive to women based on the beard alone.
Combine the commonality of a beard that is so often associated with motorcycling, a rather dangerous and risky activity, and you can easily see how the fearless “tough guy” stereotype of bikers came about. And let’s not forget the slew of popular and rebellious movies and TV shows that ran with that idea, thus cementing the idea of motorcycles with danger and rebellion.
Should Bikers Use Beard Oil/Beard Balm?
Now that we’ve talked about the history and usefulness of the beard for motorcycle riders, let’s get to the heart of the question.
Despite the obvious resilience and toughness of our beards, they are not impervious to the elements. They may help keep your face warm or cool or safe from direct sun and impacts, but you have to return the favor and keep your beard safe from the elements as well in order for this symbiotic relationship to continue on.
If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle, or even just driven a car with the windows down for a while, especially on a cold day, you know just how quickly your skin can become dry. Now double this for your beard, that takes the brunt of the wind, especially on a motorcycle, and especially if you wear anything other than a full-face helmet.
The term “windchill” comes about because the wind physically blows away the pocket of warm air that our body surrounds ourselves with, thus making us feel far far colder despite being in the same relative temperature. Consider that, on a motorcycle, your windchill is going to be constant, strong, and everywhere on your body.
As the wind pulls away that pocket of warm air, it also either speeds up the evaporation process in the heat, or strips away moisture from your skin and hair in the cold. Meaning that hydration is paramount for the safety of your body, skin, and hair, on your motorcycle. This dryness can cause your beard and skin to get stiff, itchy, irritated, and overall not very enjoyable.
Here’s what we suggest, drink plenty of water, wear your gear, and use beard oil or beard balm. Beard oil and beard balm are meant for hydrating the dry beards out there and keeping the hair comfortable and elastic.
Which Is Better For Bikers? Beard Oil or Beard Balm?
As a biker myself, I vastly prefer balm to oil if you happen to spend lots of time in the saddle like I do. Here’s why.
Beard balm has a thicker blend of ingredients than beard oil, and combines the hydration of natural oils with the styling and hold of natural butters like shea and mango butter. This thickness not only helps you keep your beard in shape during your outing but will also help slow the ability of wind to dry your beard out again. Because beard oil is so thin, it tends to dry quicker, especially in a rough and windy environment.
The thickness helps slow the absorption and evaporation process, meaning that beard balm will last in your beard longer in the wind. It also happens to keep your beard soft and comfortable, especially if you have a bandana, helmet, or some other face covering that goes over it, otherwise you’d be pressing a stiff and rough beard into your face.
Overall, yes, bikers should absolutely use beard oil and/or beard balm. Preferably, beard balm due to the thicker blend of ingredients that keeps the wind from drying your beard out too quickly. If you’re a biker with a beard, you owe it to yourself to try riding with some high quality beard balm that is meant to go the distance and keep your beard hydrated and comfortable.
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