Minimising numb hands on road bike?

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  • This topic has 38 replies, 27 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by  Amos.
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  • Minimising numb hands on road bike?
  • don simon
    Member

    Flippant as it sounds, I’ve always found moving my hands around a bit is just fine. I also prefer quite thin gloves too.
    You might want to check riding position. Are you putting too much weight on your hands?

    I had this when I was new to road bikes. I tried a couple of things.

    Changed hand positions a lot, hoods, drops, close to the stem, reversed, literally every position you could think of, just tried not to stay in the same position for too long. The other thing that seemed to help was not wearing gloves or at least not wearing the gloves that i owned at the time which had some gel padding on the palm. The days I rode with the gloves I seemed to be more prone to numb hands.

    The last idea that has occurred to me was that in my case it might have just been gripping too tightly as after 20 years of flat barred, 26″ wheel bikes the new position and steering felt a bit twitchy to begin with.

    I can’t say with any certainty which of these it was but I don’t get the numb hands any more.

    Premier Icon edhornby
    Subscriber

    as don says, keep moving position, also relax the grip as much as you can, hands should be so light on the bars you are almost doing a no hands

    roubaix tip – second layer of bartape

    try flipping the stem to take some weight off

    huggis
    Member

    Just completed a wee tour of the highlands on my cross bike and kept getting numb hands when on the Tarmac! Seems to be the buzz off less than perfect surface causing vibration up through then bars. Was running semi slick tyres (contis) at around 80’psi …anyone any suggestions on what mods could be made to alleviate?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Some proper road gloves help, and if you have gloves with fingers make sure you have room at the ends.

    Apart from that try lifting the bars up a bit.

    Failing that roll into your nearest roadie shop buy a pair of gloves or tubes and ask for some pointers when your sat on the bike.

    ChrisA
    Member

    Thick gloves or double lyre or bar tape sorted it out for me. It really takes the edge off. If you don’t want another layer of taper, have a look for the specialized bar phat stuff or some bar gel to go under the bar tape, it makes a world of difference

    huggis
    Member

    Thanks all…yeah tried not gripping too hard and moving hands around regularly. Think some thicker bar tape is the answer…..what’s there is very thin!

    meehaja
    Member

    I have this so i use double bar tape around the hoods (where my hands predominantly are). Also, if I’m just pootling along my hands are only lightly resting on the bars (as above, almost no hands).

    Moving hands around a lot/keeping fingers wiggling etc.

    I don’t know wether a cx bike makes it worse (i suffer it more on my cx than my road bike), though I would have thought the more upright position would ease it?

    globalti
    Member

    The Specialized padded bar tape with the gel inserts is pretty good, though a pain in the neck if you want to change the bars or remove the brakes.

    If you were doing big mileages, how about a set of flat-topped bars?

    oddjob
    Member

    Gloves with a pad on the ulnar (?) nerve. Check out the Specialized BG ones, they look a bit odd but work very well IME

    Double wrap you bar tape. Makes it much more comfortable, also find the most padded gloves you can. Worked for me, I still get numb has if I dont move around a bit during a ride.
    Can try altering your ride position slightly as well, adjust bar angle, seat move back/forward etc.

    Seemed to work for me

    Premier Icon bikebouy
    Subscriber

    You are probably (subconsciously) gripping harder and for slightly longer on the bars when on the road. You are possibly gunning it a bit more and gripping tighter rather than when off road(ish) you almost constantly change grip/position as terrain depicts.
    I’d suggest a slightly stronger core fitness that allows your stomach to tense up and take more of the weight that transfers to your hands, relax your grip on the bars a little, sit up slightly.

    Get a proper roadbike. Get some carbon forks, get the bike fitted so you have less weight over bars.

    tracknicko
    Member

    core excersizes and more time on the bike.

    your hands are numb as they have too much weight/not enough support provided by your core.

    either that or change the position to shift you back a bit.

    globalti
    Member

    Yes, carbon forks are an excellent suggestion. They will transform an aluminium bike. Check out http://www.carboncycles.cc

    joeegg
    Member

    Exactly the same problem on my flat barred road bike.
    The outer 2 fingers on each hand go numb and take days to get the feeling back.The bike has a carbon fork,or so it says,but the chatter through it is really bad.
    My Cube racing bike has an Easton carbon fork and the vibration is loads less and the numbness doesn’t happen.
    If you go the carbon fork route get something thats good quality as i think the one that i have is just carbon wrapped.

    Another thought is to make sure your saddle is not angled down.

    Haze
    Member

    Another thought is to make sure your saddle is not angled down.

    Was my first thought, raising the nose a tad might encourage you to sit up/back a little and keep the weight off your hands.

    I’ve never suffered from numb hands but this did push me back off the bars and made things a bit more comfortable.

    trail_rat
    Member

    avoid the TDF syndrome – where your bike MUST look like that that the peloton ride – ie stem angled down , slammed to the top tube etc etc

    like it or not – your not pro peloton you probably need to lift the front end to get the position right – youll be leaning far to much weight onto your hands at the moment ill bet !

    tracknicko
    Member

    precisely. that ‘pro’ / ‘slam that stem’ position come from hours on the bike, you can’t just jump to it else you will cripple yourself.

    sounds like the bike is too stretched/low for your comfort levels. i strongly doubt its bar tape, i have club mates with bare bars i.e. no tape at all, and they don’t complain of numb hands…

    mattsccm
    Member

    As all above. However what eventually worked best, after spending bucks on the BG gloves , was no padding at all. I now use ancient leather/crochet track mitts. BG padding was in just the wrong place for me.
    Also check the excat line of cables under the tape. That might not help.
    80 psi sounds a bit low, depending on your tyres of course

    footflaps
    Member

    The Specialized padded bar tape with the gel inserts is pretty good

    + 1

    tonyd
    Member

    As above, it’s a set up thing IMO. You can wear all the padding you like but if the set up is wrong all you’re doing is masking the issue. Get the setup right and you won’t need padding.

    I suffered with this with my first road bike, spent weeks tinkering with setup until I finally had it about right. Go for some long-ish rides and prepare yourself for lots of stops. Ride 5-10 miles to see how you feel, change something (one thing), ride another 5-10 miles, adjust accordingly. Rinse and repeat. Make only small incremental adjustments.

    My first road bike was slightly too big for me, so I ended up with a shorter (70mm!) stem and bringing the seat forward a bit, along with myriad other minor adjustments. As mentioned above, numb hands suggests too much weight on them and/or not enough support from your core. Move saddle forwards, flip or raise stem, all in small increments to see if it improves things. If it does but not enough, consider a shorter stem.

    My current road stem is 90mm, I started with a 120 but was way too stretched out. After about 1000 miles on this bike I’m still having to stop every now and then and tinker.

    Oh, and also as above, don’t feel like you have to slam the stem to look like a TDF god! I haven’t ridden much on the road (or at all) for a year or so, my stem is slammed (because I am a TDF god) and steerer is cut to suit so I can’t raise it any. I can only ride the drops for about 5 minutes at the moment before my gut stops me breathing.

    Cant you ride no handed like the cool kids? 🙂

    tracknicko
    Member

    quite. my summer/race bike is a fair bit longer and lower than it used to be. can get away with it because you are constantly hammering downwards on pedals/lifitng up your core a bit, and only for an hour or two at a time.

    if i ride it on all day rides it does feel pretty dang looooowww, which can lead to discomfort like the kind you are finding.

    atlaz
    Member

    I had problems then realised I was just holding the bars too tightly. It was also leading to me to get other strains and pulls (particularly wrenched shoulders when hitting holes in the road). I have a lighter grip these days and it’s helped a lot.

    tonyd
    Member

    Also worth mentioning is that with a correct and comfortable set up you’ll pedal more efficiently and avoid un-necessary stresses and strains on other parts of your body.

    OP – as well as numb hands do you suffer much with sore shoulders/stiff neck?

    huggis
    Member

    Me again…. After looking at all suggestions here I reckon I’m placing too much weight on my wrists and hands. Going to try for a stem with a rise to see if that helps.

    globalti
    Member

    Re-reading all those posts again I reckon the ones that mention seat position are closest. Do make sure the saddle is set with about a 5 degree rise at the nose so that your weight isn’t thrown forwards onto the bars.

    You might be interested to know that I ride a carbon Spesh Roubaix and an ali Spesh Tricross, which have similar rider positions. I get numb hands on the Tricross but not the Roubaix. The carbon is certainly more forgiving than the ali and if I was planning to keep the Tricross I would fit a carbon fork (but I’m selling it in the Autumn). Interestingly the Roubaix has 44 cm bars, which suit me as I’m quite broad-shouldered but the Tricross has 41 cm bars, which do feel cramped and I’m wondering if they are also contributing to the problem by forcing me to ride with my hands canted inwards slightly.

    If I was you I would go for a flat-topped carbon bar, that link I posted earlier has some nice ones; I bought a pair but when I came to fit them they weren’t a perfect fit in the Spesh stem so I had to send them back. I’m still on the lookout for something suitable for the Roubaix.

    emma82
    Member

    I get numb big toes – is that the same?

    Rorschach
    Member

    If you run your saddle 5degrees nose up you’ll get worse than numb hands!!!

    huggis
    Member

    Thanks globalti; My other bike is also an Sworks Roubaix and I have no problems on that. The bike in question here is a genesis croix de fer which is steel with a cromo fork. Going to swap stem today and see if that improves matters.. The bars at carbon cycles look tempting too…

    mattsccm
    Member

    I have gone for the thin gloves after trying expensive gel ones. The padding in those was in the wrong place and made things worse. I also get less hassle with lower bars and less tape! WTF?

    Kuco
    Member

    From Road CC

    Cav uses sprinter’s satellite shifters mounted on the bars so that he can change gear easily when riding out of the saddle and on the drops. You can just see them poking through the bar tape below the normal shifters. And doesn’t he appear to have double-layer hoods on those dual control levers? Lots of the Team Sky riders like to have two layers of bar tape for extra comfort and Bradley Wiggins has three. Maybe Cavendish is after something similar with his lever hoods.

    crikey
    Member

    Numb hands come from too much weight on them. Too much weight usually comes from having your saddle too far forwards; so you end up supporting yourself by pushing back on the bars.

    I’d be looking again at your saddle position and aiming to move it backwards and probably downwards a fraction.

    atlaz
    Member

    Do make sure the saddle is set with about a 5 degree rise at the nose so that your weight isn’t thrown forwards onto the bars

    God forbid (for me). I need the nose down a couple of degrees otherwise I get “hot nuts” . One thing to consider is that sometimes people have a tendency on road bikes to grip too hard on the bars. Maybe relaxing a little might help (if that’s the case)?

    Rockhopper
    Member

    I’ve not had chance to read the whole thread so i apologize if this has already been covered but the advice i was given by the guy who did my bike fit was to work on my core strength, in other words use my core muscles to hold me in position rather than propping myself up on the bars by using my arms. This will naturally get a lot of weight off your hands and hopefully stop them going numb.

    huggis
    Member

    Rockhopper yes I’m sure the wife would appriciate some improvement in the stomach area! However as I’m mostly lazy I’ve moved my seat back a touch and put on a longer stem! Reckon is was sitting too over he bars..

    Premier Icon Amos
    Member

    I tried everything, spent some cash and to
    No avail! The most effective cure s previously mentioned is more riding and getting better core strength. Yoga can
    Certainly help…

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