QUESTION: After about 30 minutes of riding, my hands get so numb and tingly that I can’t shift gears. My handlebar is level with the saddle. Can you help? — David W.
RBR ANSWERS: You’ve already done one key thing to prevent hand numbness — raise the handlebar. Doing so stops you from putting excessive weight on your hands and compressing nerves and blood vessels. So there must be another cause.
Here are some suggestions to help you sleuth out the problem:
—Pad your hands and/or handlebar. Sometimes a pair of gel gloves or gel padding under the handlebar tape will stop numbness by softening pressure and damping vibration.
—Change your grip. Hold the bar in a way that limits pressure on the center of the heel of your hand. That’s where you’re most susceptible to numbing nerve compression.
—Move your hands frequently. Switch your grip from the hoods to the drops to the flats next to the stem, then back again. Don’t leave your hands in one place long enough for tingling to develop.
—Check your saddle position. If the nose is tilted down, it can cause you to slide forward. This puts extra weight on your hands and stresses your arms and shoulders.
—Consider aero bars. When using them, all hand pressure is relieved. Weight is borne by your forearms.
—Consider changing shifters. Some riders do better with bar-end or down-tube shifters rather than integrated brake/shift levers. When you have to move your hands to shift, pressure is automatically relieved.
—Get a medical exam. Numbness in just 30 minutes of riding is unusual. If it also persists long after rides, check with a physician to rule out an underlying cause.