Your hands take a good beating on a motorcycle, huh? Cold, vibrations, too much weight, poor ergonomics; pretty much anything your bike gets wrong hurts your hands first. Here are some tips of things you can do about numb hands.
Let’s look at the aspects of riding that can cause numbness and address each individually.
Your hands are literally freezing; this a common problem riders face even when temperatures are above the freezing point and even while wearing insulated gloves.
- Block the wind: A set of handguards or deflectors will keep the wind off your hands, dramatically reducing windchill. This is a simple, static, bolt-on solution that’ll perform double duty protecting your levers off-road, through traffic or in a crash.
- Keep your core warm: Your hands get cold first because your body prioritizes your organs and focuses the heat at your core as temperatures drop. This is why a heated vest can have knock on effects to your periphery, turning your torso into a radiator that then pumps warm blood to your arms, legs, hands, and feet.
- Warm up your hands: Heated grips do exactly what their name says, but can be a minor hassle to install. Man, they’re nice to have though, mostly because you fit them on and can just forget about them. Unexpectedly caught out on a cold night? Just flip a switch and voilà, your hands are toasty. In extreme cold, they may not be enough as the top of your hands is left exposed. For that reason, they work best when paired with deflectors.
- Warm up your hands 2.0: Your heated vest or jacket are not enough? Starting with one of those items, you can easily add a set of heated gloves to your outfit. This is the warmest solution as your entire hand is covered. While some solutions require to be plugged directly onto the motorcycle's battery
Even inline-fours can sometimes transmit an unwelcome amount of vibrations to your appendages. Luckily, it’s such a common problem that solutions abound.
- Bar ends: Experiment with different weight bar ends until you find ones that effectively dampen the vibrations. This is a low cost, simple solution.
- Grips: A variety of neoprene and rubber grips exist in an array of thicknesses, all designed to tailor comfort to your personal needs. Installing new grips is easy and effective.
- Throttle lock: Your hands go numb after hours cruising on the highway? If your bike doesn't already come with a fancy cruise control system, then one of these simple "mechanical" solutions can allow you to take a break from holding the throttle open for hours on end. Please be smart about when and how you use the lock.
- Rubber bar mounts: Some bikes come with these as standard equipment or you can find them in the aftermarket. They’re very effective and installing new clamp and bars is easy. As an added bonus, doing so allows you to tailor your ergonomics.
Your hands going numb because you have a fascination for café racers or supersports that end up putting too much weight on them? There's a fix for that too!
- Stock adjustment: Experiment with angles and rotation of your stock clip-ons or handlebar to see if you can find a better fitting first. It’s easy and, mostly, it's free!
- Bar risers: Heli-Bars or similar raised clip-on solutions are a universal fix for any ergonomically compromised sportbike. On a naked or ADV bike with a flat bar, the options for bar location are endless.
- Aftermarket bars: You can alter the angle at which your hands meet the grips, their height, and/or the distance of your reach simply and easily thanks to aftermarket parts. Handlebars come in a variety of widths, heights, angles, and sweeps; with some trial and error, you’ll find a solution that works for you.
If you're on a ride and just need something that works right away without the possibility of fiddling with your bike, here are a few tricks to help.
- Squeeze the knees: Take the weight off your hands, wrists, and arms by tucking and squeezing the knees on your tank and engaging your core to hold your body instead of your arms and wrists.
- Shake it off: While stopped, put the bike in neutral and shake your hands out like Vegas showgirl. The idea is to get blood flowing again, so just shake your hands, stretch your wrists, and wiggles your fingers for as long as that light stays red.
- Glove liners: The cold is making you numb? You’ll be amazed at how effective a pair of silk glove liners can be. Keep a pair under your seat. If you didn't plan ahead, grab a pair of the free plastic gloves gas stations have at the diesel pumps.
- Duct tape: Build up the thickness of the grips by wrapping them up in duct tape. This can temporarily change the way you grip them, temporarily fix some comfort issues or even kill some vibrations. To avoid residual glue on your grips, add a kleenex or a piece of plastic bag underneath.
Do you suffer from numb hands? What have you done to fix them?