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Do your hands go numb during long rides on your bicycle? You aren’t alone. I’ve experienced this tingling sensation in my hands from time to time. It’s uncomfortable at best, can be quite worrisome when it lasts for a long period of time, and in extreme cases it hampers your ability to steer your bike.
So what’s a cyclist to do?
The right pair of gloves can certainly help alleviate the pressure, and you have a lot of options. The type of glove you choose should be dictated by your riding style and the weather conditions for your rides.
After researching and comparing brands, I believe the following are the best cycling gloves for hand numbness in each of their categories.
Best cycling gloves for hand numbness
- For a gel padded fingerless glove, Pearl Izumi Select is my top choice.
- Looking for a little more protection while mountain biking? Try Firelion gloves.
- Perhaps you do more winter riding and need more insulation to keep your hands warm. Then I recommend you go for the Louis Garneau Rafale gloves.
As with any problem, it’s helpful to first identify what’s causing that hand numbness.
Why do your hands go numb when you ride your bike?
A number of factors contribute to hand numbness while cycling. The most common are the angle of your hands and wrists, and how tightly you grip your handlebars. Other contributing factors include riding position and continuous vibrations caused by the terrain.
If I can get a little scientific for a second, the combination of these elements puts pressure on the nerves in our hands. The three nerve systems in our hands are called the ulnar, median and radial nerves. It’s mostly the ulnar and median nerves that get compressed and cause that tingly sensation.
Research has shown that the forward body position, wrist angle and drop bar grip position most common in road cycling has the most extreme effect on hand numbness.
The study at the link above came up with the surprising finding that 5mm padding on a glove is no more effective than 3mm padding at reducing hand numbness. However, they also found that foam padding is more effective than gel padding.
Relief of hand numbness
Sometimes the simplest solutions work the best. First, make sure your bike is properly fitted for you. This may include raising your handlebars so you don’t have to lean as far forward, which adds more weight to your hands.
You can read more in our post on cycling ergonomics.
Relying on your core strength will help keep you balanced and take pressure off your hands.
You may need wider handlebars, or to wrap them with gel tape which helps reduce the vibrations.
Proper hand positioning and bent elbows is key. You should also shift hand positions or shake them out every now and then to avoid keeping them in the same spot for too long.
But when it comes right down to it, long rides make you sweat, sweat makes your hands slippery, and you have to hold on tighter to maintain control. This is where your awesome new bike gloves come in to save the day!
Do you enjoy the breathability of having your digits free during your bike rides? These are our top three options in the fingerless glove category:
Pearl Izumi Select glove
Pearl Izumi is a long trusted name in cycling gear and their Select glove is the clear winner when it comes to gel-padded fingerless gloves.
This glove is soft, lightweight, durable and proven to hold up for hours of riding. The synthetic leather palm helps you sustain your grip on your handlebars without squeezing any harder. Having a more relaxed hold will help prevent your hands from going numb. When you do tighten your grip, the gloves’ gel-foam padding will help protect your sensitive nerve centers.
The back of the glove is made of polyamide and elastane, breathable fabrics that ensure flexibility and air circulation when it gets too warm. When you start to sweat, there’s a built-in soft wiping surface located on the thumb of each glove.
These come in a wide selection of colors so it’s easy to find a glove that suits your style. Five sizes ensure you’ll find a snug fit. They tend to run a bit small, to provide mild compression and increase circulation. When fitted correctly, Pearl Izumi Select are the best gloves to help combat hand numbness.
Giro Bravo cycling glove
Giro is another trusted brand in cycling and offers up the Bravo cycling glove in the fingerless category.
Composed of moisture-wicking four-way-stretch fabric with a breathable mesh, these gloves are the ultimate choice for breathability while still ensuring wet weather protection.
Properly fitted gloves are a priority for Giro. Their engineering targets sensitive areas in the palm and protects them with optimized gel padding, without sacrificing ease of grip. This glove also has a microfiber wiping surface for sweat (or if you’re like me and your nose gets runny when you ride).
You can easily clean these gloves over and over without having to worry about wearing them out during repeated machine washes.
The Giro Bravo comes in six sizes and highly visible color options.
Inbike 5mm gel-padded glove
If you’re searching for budget-friendly fingerless gloves, look no further then the Inbike 5mm gel-padded cycling glove.
These gloves offer many of the same features as the two higher quality brands above, such as palm padding, terrycloth sweat-wiping fabric and stretchy breathable material made from lycra and knitted mesh fabric.
However, the padding material on this glove is cheaper and the velcro fastening is less consistent. With heavy use, these gloves will likely wear out much faster than the above options. But if it’s more padding you’re looking for, their guarded 5mm is some of the thickest but it still gives your hands plenty of freedom. You get the protection you need without having to worry about limitations on your dexterity that might get in the way of a quick shift change or sudden braking.
Maybe you’re in the market for a little more coverage. A full-finger glove will protect your hands and help to minimize hand numbness on your next excursion.
Firelion unisex cyclng gloves
These Firelion gloves provide the best of both worlds: full-coverage protection and additional padding, while still staying lightweight and breathable for summer spins.
They’re soft and absorbent, yet durable with substantial padding. These are a favorite among both road and mountain bikers for their versatility and easily adjustable straps.
The fingertips of these gloves work on touch screens, so you won’t need to stop, remove them, and risk dropping a glove when you pull over to check your phone, which has always been a struggle for me. The additional finger protection will contribute to keeping your hands warm and less likely to go numb.
Giro’s second appearance on this list is for their lightweight, highly recommended non-padded DND (“down and dirty”) gloves.
The design features the same four-way-stretch material and super-fit technology as the Bravo gloves, but with minimal padding. Some cyclists report experiencing increased hand numbness due to padding and prefer a more natural grip on their handlebars.
Less material between your hands and your handlebars will help you feel more in control when you steer. The thinner material will still help to maintain a no-slip grip without sweat getting in the way. Giro’s knuckle flex zones keep the use of your hands feeling natural. With built-in touch screen technology, your phone is easy to operate with these.
Yeti Enduro gloves
Yeti has something of a cult following, and when you feel the comfort of their lightweight, full-fingered Enduro Gloves, you’ll begin to understand why.
With the Enduro, you barely feel like you’re wearing gloves. They really are a nice fit. There may be a tradeoff there, as I can’t say the stitching inspires a lot of confidence about durability, but they do feel good.
The gloves are well ventilated, with breathable fabric on the back and little holes in the palms to keep air circulating.
Grips on the fingertips and palms are made of silicone, and should allow for gear changes and braking without any slipping, even when things get sweaty.
The backs of the thumbs are suede, so that’s your target area when the nose needs wiping. And the tips are designed to register on a touch screen, so you can operate a phone without removing your gloves.
Full-finger winter gloves
Winter riding requires a little more protection and warmer material to keep your hands from going numb. Here are the top three options for keeping you on your bike in even the most extreme conditions:
Louis Garneau Rafale
Louis Garneau is another widely recognized and trusted brand. Their Rafale RTR winter biking gloves are certainly on brand.
The top of the glove is designed with thermo-laminated spandex fabric to make them wind and water resistant. The 80mm wrist-fastening cuff is sure to keep your hands and wrists warm during rides in low temperatures.
The palm contains Louis Garneau’s patented biogel padding, and it’s available in 2mm, 3mm and 5mm options. The unique Ergo Air hole pattern is designed to facilitate transfer of moisture to the outside of the glove.
These gloves have all the additional features you’ve come to expect, like the microfiber thumb for sweat wiping and touch screen finger pads. They’ve considered every detail to keep your hands warm, protected and free of numbness.
Cool Change full-finger gloves
The only drawback of Cool Change full-finger gloves is that they are ineffective in sub-zero temperatures.
This budget-friendly option is perfect if you want all the features you’ve come to expect from a well-made glove but don’t want to pay the price for a big brand name. These are lightweight gloves with an anti-slip microfiber palm, shock-resistant gel pads and honeycomb breathable fabric on the fingers.
They’re versatile enough for all types of biking and many other sports activities. However, they are less durable than other brands. In order to keep them in good condition for as long as possible, it’s best to wash them by hand.
30seven heated padded gloves
Say you’re cycling through a snowstorm and need the best of the best. 30seven heated padded gloves are the gloves for you.
Cold temperatures can contribute to hand numbness. With 30seven heated padded gloves, you’ll never have to worry about your hands getting cold again. These extremely high-quality gloves are designed with technology exclusively developed by 30seven. Their integrated Novaheat keeps the back of your hands, fingers and fingertips heated. These are of course extra warm, waterproof and wind-resistant, and reinforced with leather at the top and bottom of the glove, but still very comfortable with a soft inner lining.
These gloves are battery-powered but can still go in the washing machine. They’re made in Europe and guaranteed to last, but don’t expect these incredible gloves to come cheap.
What to look for in cycling gloves for hand numbness
As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to cycling gloves that will combat hand numbness. Sometimes trial and error is necessary to find the ones that work best for you.
The following four factors should help guide you to a good starting place:
Try them on as soon as you get them. Make sure they fit. If they’re not comfortable, send them back because you’ll never wear them.
Padding definitely helps absorb vibrations from the road. But if you have extra padding in the wrong place, this can accelerate numbness. This is why some riders prefer no padding at all.
The better the gloves grip your handles, the less you’ll have to squeeze and that will put less pressure on your nerves.
Material and quality
When you know what you like, good quality gloves that last a long time and help you stay in the saddle longer are a worthwhile investment.
With nine options to choose from I hope you find the right fit to keep your hands free of numbness.