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. This is what you can do about numb hands.
Photo: Elvert Barnes
Let’s look at the aspects of riding that can cause numbness, and address each individually.
Your hands are literally freezing; a common problem even at above-freezing temperatures and even while wearing insulated gloves.
Block The Wind: A set of Bark Busters or similar deflectors (or even Bar Muffs in extreme cases) 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.
Warm Your Core: Your hands get cold first because your body prioritizes heat for your organs 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, hand and feet.
Heat Your Hands: Heated grips do what they say on the packaging, but can be a minor hassle to install. Man, they’re nice to have though, mostly because they’re fit and forget. Caught out on a cold night unexpectedly? Just flip a switch and your hands are toasty. In extreme cold, they may not be enough as the top of your hand is left un-warmed. For that reason, they work best when paired with deflectors.
Heated Gloves: Heated vest or jacket 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, heading your entire hand and wrist, but requires the wearing of other heated gear, plus dedicated wiring on your bike.
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 vibes. 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 individual needs. Installing new grips is easy and effective.
Throttle Lock: Hands go numb after hours cruising on the highway? One of these simple cruise control systems can allow you to take a break from holding the throttle open for hours on end. Just use some smarts when deciding where and when it’s appropriate to use one.
Rubber Bar Mounts: Some bikes come with these stocks, or you can find them in the aftermarket. They’re very effective and it’s easy to install a new clamp and bars. As an added bonus, doing so allows you to tailor your ergonomics.
Hands going numb because there’s too much weight on them?
Stock Adjustment: Experiment with angles and rotation of your stock clip-ons or handlebars to see if you can find a better solution first. It’s easy and 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 flat bars, the options for bar location are endless.
Aftermarket Bars: You can alter the angle with which your hands meet the bars and the distance too them, as well as their height, simply and easily in the aftermarket. 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.
On a ride and just need something that works right now?
Grip With Your Knees: Take the weight off your hands, wrists and arms by gripping the tank with your knees.
Shake ‘Em Out: While stopped, put the bike in neutral and shake your hands out like Vegas showgirl. The idea is to get blood moving again, so just shake them as hard as you can as long as that light stay red.
Glove Liners: Dying of cold? You’ll be amazed at how effective a pair of silk glove liners can be. Keep a pair under your seat. Forgot those? 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 in duct tape, this can change the way you grip them and temporarily fix some comfort issues or even kill some vibrations.
Do you suffer from numb hands? What have you done to fix them?