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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-05-13, 02:02 PM   #1
Average D
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Numb Hands Frustration

Good afternoon everyone,
I'm finding my biggest draw back to longer rides is how numb my hands get. I am constantly shifting the position along my handlebars but nothing seems to work. Part is the weight, part is carpal tunnel but would anyone have some advice? Perhaps a subtle adjustment or some sort of add on I could alleviate this some? Thanks!

PS: I have tried gloves but they don't seem to fit properly and swim a bit, thus good for a bit then much worse later in a trip.
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Old 07-05-13, 02:43 PM   #2
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What kinds of bars are you using? Drop bars? Flat bars? Riser bars?
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Old 07-05-13, 03:11 PM   #3
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Best adjustment I've done to my bike, which helped with the numb hands, was to lower my handlebars.
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Old 07-05-13, 03:24 PM   #4
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I'm using the stock flat bar on the Sedona with a slight rise.

As for the height I thought that the lower they are the more forward pressure would be on my hands? I'll give it a try though!
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Old 07-05-13, 03:32 PM   #5
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Check your seat angle. Nose down will put more pressure on your hands. You might want to bring the nose up a hair. Just watch out for your taint.
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Old 07-05-13, 03:44 PM   #6
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Stock flat bar does not give you very many choices on hand holds...

The most change I ever got that relived hand numbness was wearing gloves and raising the stem...

They do make some ham sized gloves xxl - I use the mesh type as they can stretch a little more if needed..

For me I use the Bull Horn type handle bars - They help my back and allow me to ride with palms facing each other...

I no longer have the flexibility to use drop bars and my short experience with flat bars was a negative one...
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Old 07-05-13, 04:24 PM   #7
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There are a number of things to try.

What my spouse did:

Bars with a 30 degree rise, in lieu of the flat bars.
Taller stem (his bike has a quill stem so it was easy to change out. If you have a threadless stem you will need a threadless stem extender)
Ergon Grips:



Even this is not a 100% solution.

Also, I suggest doing core strengthening exercises. The stronger your core the less weight may end up on your hands. Here are some to try: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/core-strength/SM00047

Some people like to use bar ends to increase the number of hand positions. Both spouse and I tried them out and didn't find them helpful.

On one of my bikes I have flat bars with Ergon drips and they are pretty good. On another I put Sparrow bars. This puts my wrists in a neutral position. These bars are comfortable for rides of up to about 50 miles, even sans gloves.

The Sparrow bars:

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Old 07-05-13, 04:30 PM   #8
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The right gloves can make a difference. Worth trying more of them. I had a pair with ribs of gel that actually made it worse because the padding was too hard and created pressure points. If you aren't using gloves though, your overall grip is going to be tight and the grips will be too hard, you'll get tons of vibration through. Some grips may be better than others in terms of controlling that too, but you still gotta use gloves. Keep your wrists straight, and if your brake levers don't allow you to do that, then adjust them into a better position for grabbing straight.
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Old 07-05-13, 04:42 PM   #9
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I added a 3" riser and a adjustable angle neck and tweaked my seat...both helped...My seat was angled down towards the fron a bit too much, after i levelled it it was better, the higher bar angle was also better....at about 5 miles my hands would be so numb but no more...I also have ergon grips and will add bar ends very soon...just not sure whick ones...
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Old 07-05-13, 06:40 PM   #10
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I've found the Ergon grips help.
Not a cure all, but help is help.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:53 PM   #11
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Well, I'm a big believer in drop bars, because I think they give you more positions to choose from, but whatever you think about the bars, or whatever you find works best for you, keep trying. Getting into a rhythm where you move your hands around is the key for me. I was worried that when I got back into cycling last year that ulnar nerve damage would end up being the deal breaker that kept me from staying with it this time. But with some good gel gloves (Actually Performance Bike Gel gloves, much cheaper than the name brands, and they seem thicker and more comfortable to me.) and getting my hands into a variety of positions during my rides I seem to have solved the problem currently.

I have aero bars on my bike as well, I didn't really want, or choose them, but they were on there when I got the new ride. So I rode it with them on there a few times, and I've found that I love having them on there. I use them both the "correct" very occasionally, but I just put one hand or the other on them, or I even hold on to the pads and sit up for a break, this way between riding on the brake hoods, the drops, the bottom of the drops, and at least two different ways of holding onto the aero bars I don't seem to have any numbness or hand pain.

Good luck, and you can always get a recumbent! Or a really long wheelbase touring type bike you can ride part of the time hands free (Well, if you're brave, if you're not you can ride them barely touching the bars.)
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Old 07-05-13, 08:55 PM   #12
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Trekking bar with bar ends and foam around the bars, then wrapped has helped me.
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Old 07-05-13, 11:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Average D View Post
I'm using the stock flat bar on the Sedona with a slight rise.
Back when I bought my first flat-bar mountain bike, I found that my hands were going numb after only 15-20 minutes on the bike. The problem, it turned out, was that the sweep of the handlebar didn't match the natural position of my wrists. I bought bars that had more "sweep" and the numbness went away. You might take a look at bars like the On One Fleegel or Mary, or Misfit Psycles' NUbar or FUbar. I ended up using Bontrager's 17-degree "Big Sweep" bars; sadly, I think the Bontrager's are no longer available.
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Old 07-05-13, 11:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
Back when I bought my first flat-bar mountain bike, I found that my hands were going numb after only 15-20 minutes on the bike. The problem, it turned out, was that the sweep of the handlebar didn't match the natural position of my wrists. I bought bars that had more "sweep" and the numbness went away. You might take a look at bars like the On One Fleegel or Mary, or Misfit Psycles' NUbar or FUbar. I ended up using Bontrager's 17-degree "Big Sweep" bars; sadly, I think the Bontrager's are no longer available.
Yeah, I've found moving my hands to what would amount to the position of holding bar ends helped when I was having problems with a set of gloves, and works well some times regardless. Whether you need bar ends to offer more control while in that position or not is another question, I've never used them, and I wouldn't be holding the bars with neutral wrist position rather than the normal pronated grip on anything that required more control of the bars, but suppose that could help.
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Old 07-06-13, 06:53 AM   #15
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+1 on the Ergon grips. I prefer the GR2 or GC2 grips because when set up properly, you can have a hand position very similar to riding the hoods with drop bars. I've got these on my touring bike and my wife and daughter have them on their commuters and we all are very pleased with them.



In addition to seat angle, look at seat location. Having your seat too far back will throw weight onto your hands. Too long of a stem can have a similar effect. Ideally, you should be able to take your hands off the bar without having to adjust your riding position or feeling like you are falling forward. Even in very aero positions your weight should be balanced over your feet. Your saddle can take some of the weight. Very little weight should rest on your hands and your elbows should be comfortably bent. If you are leaning forward with your elbows locked to hold your upper torso up, of course your hands are going to go numb. I catch myself doing this sometimes when I'm tired.
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Old 07-06-13, 07:03 AM   #16
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[h=2]Fitting Your Bike[/h](3 Viewing)





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Old 07-06-13, 08:25 AM   #17
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Yeah, I've found moving my hands to what would amount to the position of holding bar ends helped when I was having problems with a set of gloves, and works well some times regardless. Whether you need bar ends to offer more control while in that position or not is another question, I've never used them, and I wouldn't be holding the bars with neutral wrist position rather than the normal pronated grip on anything that required more control of the bars, but suppose that could help.
FYI, I was not suggesting bar-ends! Just that you need a handlebar that matches your natural wrist position when your hands are on the bars.

Here's a little experiment: make fists around two bamboo skewers (the kind you'd use to grill shish kabobs; substitute pencils, chopsticks, or any other long round object if you don't have skewers). Put your arms out and point the skewers at the ceiling. Now rotate your wrists so that the palms are pointed at the floor and look at the angle between the two skewers. For me, numbness went away when the angle of my bars more closely matched the angle of the skewers while in my normal riding position.
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Old 07-08-13, 09:45 AM   #18
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Thank you so much for the feedback everyone! I'll be looking into some of the economical ideas first and moving up from there. First step will be grips and proper fitting gloves, along with some tweaking to the adjustments on the bike. Even with moving the grips a bit and watching how I leaned against the pads of my hands I could tell there was a difference over the weekend. Thanks again for all the knowledge!
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Old 07-08-13, 11:11 AM   #19
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you didnt mention if you checked the angle of your saddle or not
as jakichan suggested above

having the nose of the saddle pointing down slightly
is the number one cause of numb hands
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Old 07-08-13, 11:19 AM   #20
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Thank you so much for the feedback everyone!
As a lurker working on this issue for myself, I also thank everyone for the suggestions and the OP for asking the question.
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Old 07-08-13, 11:41 AM   #21
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you didnt mention if you checked the angle of your saddle or not
as jakichan suggested above

having the nose of the saddle pointing down slightly
is the number one cause of numb hands

First thing I plan to check tonight.
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Old 07-09-13, 06:51 AM   #22
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Check the angle of your brake levers. Most people have them set too horizontal rather than at an angle pointing down. This causes your wrist to be at an angle rather than in line with your knuckles and forearm. Rotate the brake levers until your forearm is straight all the way to the fingers when you have your hands on the brakes and you'll naturally rest on the palms of your hands in the correct position.

See the brake/shifter position in the picture Fangowolf attached above for what I'm talking about.
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Old 07-09-13, 12:37 PM   #23
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If none of the above works (though I imagine it will, it's all good advice), try a glove with plenty of gel in the palm. I had a pair about 15 years ago (probably from Nashbar) that were cheap, fingerless, crochet-back, leather-palmed gloves...but they had about 1/4" of gel under that thin leather. They made a world of difference as far as hand numbness goes.
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Old 07-09-13, 12:47 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Average D View Post
Good afternoon everyone,
I'm finding my biggest draw back to longer rides is how numb my hands get. I am constantly shifting the position along my handlebars but nothing seems to work. Part is the weight, part is carpal tunnel but would anyone have some advice? Perhaps a subtle adjustment or some sort of add on I could alleviate this some? Thanks!

PS: I have tried gloves but they don't seem to fit properly and swim a bit, thus good for a bit then much worse later in a trip.
The best anyone can do here is share their personal experience on how they solved their numb hands problem. Most will have told how they had to get their weight off their hands,wrist, arms.

While there are many ways to do this I followed a last ditch effort and resorted to riding bolt upright with the bars on a long stem with gentle hi rise bars set so that I can
just lay my hands on the bars with no body weight on my hands at all. It works for me and might work for you.
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Old 07-09-13, 01:44 PM   #25
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Get a pro bike fit? Maybe. I have large( giant) hands. A double wrap of bar tape fit them well and has plenty of padding. They also make gel pads that fit under bar tape. I like my bars 2" higher than my seat for my cross check commuter. YRMV.
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