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During the summer, I like to go for rides on trails without a shirt. Is this safe?

Also, related: is it rude to other people on the trail not to wear a shirt?

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    Rude? In certain events it seems to be positively encouraged! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Naked_Bike_Ride
    – PeteH
    Nov 30 '12 at 16:29
  • Try riding in a shirt with buttons, all of them undone. While a (cotton) T-shirt only gets wet with sweat, an unbuttoned shirt provides many benefits, such as sun protection, increased air flow, kickass style.
    – Vorac
    Nov 20 '13 at 14:22
  • 1
    Having said that, during the hot summers I ride exclusively shirtless. Only places I have had problems with this are banks, large general stores and at work. And the realization about unbuttoned shirts came to me only last summer, while touring with panniers.
    – Vorac
    Nov 20 '13 at 14:29
  • Cycling shirts are light enough to allow venting, and they generally have three pockets on the back. If you go shirtless, how do you carry your stuff ? Visibility is improved with a good colour of top, and down here in New Zealand you'd be sunburnt within a short time, in the height of summer. Instead consider a close-fitting shirt made of coolmax. Will have almost the same cooling effect of nothing, but will have solar protection, and increased visibilty if you choose white or grellow colours.
    – Criggie
    Oct 14 '15 at 3:35
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Safe is a relative term in this instance. A shirt might protect you in a fall, but only just. You'll know immediately whether a shirt can protect your skin from sticks, branches, and prickers dangling into the trail. If you were going fast enough flying insects may even make an impact, though I can't imagine it'd be terribly painful.

Shirts do offer some protection from two things: sunburns (and subsequent skin cancer) and bites from insects (potentially carrying disease.) For lightly complexioned people, skin cancer is a huge danger and can develop even without having been sunburned. Insect-borne diseases are also a big deal in most places. Having been treated for Lyme disease, I can attest to the importance of wearing insect repellent and, yes, shirts.

Additionally, that thin layer of material actually keeps you cooler by blocking the sun from reaching your skin - this is the same reason why desert dwelling peoples wear lightweight material all over their bodies. Having a shirt on also keeps you from sweating all over your bike and other gear.

In terms of etiquette: if you're out in the woods and there aren't many people around, go for it. If you're bumping elbows with people on a multi-use trail, maybe consider some modesty.

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    +1 for not getting sweat on your bike. Keep the bike safe. Nov 24 '12 at 22:21
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    I'd say you covered the issues. The point about being cooler with a shirt on is important. As for rudeness, it depends on your local norms for behavior (and, to an extent, your physique) -- on a sparsely traveled trail or on the open road I wouldn't find it offensive. On a busy city park trail with kids and old folks and everyone in-between it's a bit more questionable. Nov 24 '12 at 23:29
  • Although a shirt won't stop gravel rash etc, it will help stop dirt entering wounds.
    – mattnz
    Nov 24 '12 at 23:55
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Safety

  • If you fall off, I can't see how a shirt would protect you. It might reduce grazes slightly, but it's negligible.
  • A shirt may protect you from sunlight and risks of sunburn and skin cancer, although, unless it states UV protection, most shirts let some sunlight through.
  • Depending on where/when you ride, you may be more at risk of insect bites or simply getting them stuck in your sweat - nice!

Rudeness

Bit of a personal opinion on whether it's rude. Personally I'm not bothered at all. I'm more offended by dry creaky chains. I think legally (in the UK, at least), it legal for anyone to show their bare chest in public, regardless of gender.

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You'd have little to no protection against scrapes on trees or bushes close to the trail. A shirt will give some protection from the sun, bugs/insects, and those who share the trail feel being shirtless is best saved for the beach or pool.

0

A sleeveless cycling jersey offers no protection to the arms and might save a scratch or two in a light tumble. It might save some gravel rash on the body. It does offer protection against sunburn - but sunscreen the upper arms!

But for a shorter ride or say doing intervals on a warm day I find riding shirtless feels great so take the risk

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A typical shirt or bike jersey has no security benefits. Depending on the terrain some special protectors might make sense when thining about security. One might even argue that a shirt might reduce security as it might be caucght by a tree or something Whether iit is "rude" depends on your local environment. In some areas it's absolutely accetable, in others not.

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Go shirtless!

If you've got a great body, then seeing you will give someone a boost!

If you've a terrible body, the seeing you will give someone a laugh!

So, it's a winner either way...

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    The question here is about safety - could you please edit your answer to address that point ?
    – Criggie
    Sep 8 '20 at 10:54
  • @Criggie the question did also basically ask if riding shirtless violated social convention, to which Kev essentially answered that it doesn't matter. So ... in some sense, it is a plausible statement to make in response, although it doesn't actually answer that (subjective) question either.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Sep 9 '20 at 18:25

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