It hurts, but it doesn't. Actually, it just feels weird.

Numb hands.

A somewhat common occurrence for beginning motorcycle riders. It happens to veterans of the road but far less often and usually only because they forget proper riding technique or the appropriate gear. In other words, they get lazy. Or in some cases tired. Whatever the case, neither results in a positive outcome.

Numb hands while piloting affects your ride greatly and poses a serious safety risk. If you can't hold on to the handlebars or work the levers properly you risk crashing and putting yourself and others at risk of injury.

Numb hands happen from either a lack of circulation or cold weather. If you have encountered numb hands from both situations you know a difference exists between the two. A lack of circulation keeps you from feeling anything in your hands leaving them limp or "asleep" resulting from the deadened nerves no longer receiving signals from your brain.

Cold weather also affects circulation by restricting blood vessels but makes your hands stiff and hard to move. It can also be painful once blood gets restored. Heated grips or gloves pretty much prevent this problem from occurring and if you plan to ride in cold, even wet weather, equip your motorcycle with heated grips or your hands with heated gloves. If cold weather affects your ability to grip or engage the controls you need to stop riding and get your hands warm before continuing.

As for numb hands from riding you have several approaches to restore movement and feeling. If you often encounter numb hands addressing your body position and/or handlebar position keeps this issue from happening in the future.

Restore Feeling in Your Hands

If you experience numb hands during a ride then take a break and get your hands off the grips. You can usually feel the initial stages when your hands begin to tingle or the fatty part on the outside of your palms starts to cramp. However, the vibration from riding might prevent you from noticing. If you catch it early and have time at a stop light, pop your bike in neutral, release your grip and shake your hands a bit to get blood flowing.

If your strength has become compromised then pull over and wait for your hands to fully function again.

Preventing Numb Hands While Riding

Veteran riders rarely encounter the problem of numb hands because they have proper riding technique and have set their bike up to accommodate their size and riding style. If you tend to get numb hands when riding then check the following:

  • Proper bar position
  • Lighter grip
  • Don't lean on the bars
  • Don't rest fingers on the levers

Don't do this while in motion but sit on your motorcycle in your normal riding position then take your hands off the handlebars. Do you fall forward or remain in the same position? If you fall forward then you rest too much of your body weight on your hands - this prevents a lighter grip and probably results from improper bar position.

Make the necessary adjustments so you remain upright on your motorcycle when your hands leave the grips.

Lastly, resting your fingers on the levers may help you stretch a bit on a long ride but this puts pressure on the outside of your palms. You can stretch your fingers for a short while on the levers but understand this need comes from leaning on the bars too much or fatigue, so you should stop and rest.

Long rides can exhaust the most seasoned rider resulting in bad posture and riding technique compelling them to lean forward on their hands. Therefore, take frequent breaks when riding to prevent fatigue and excess weight on your hands. If you get frequent numbing in your hands then look into changing your handlebar setup and work on proper riding posture.