After more than 30 years of riding, I get numb fingers on my left hand. I’ve always worn padded cycling gloves, always used the best bar tape available and frequently changed hand positions on the bar. In short, I’ve followed all the advice that my alter ego, Coach Fred, gives to riders with the same complaint.
But guess what? My digits still tingle. So I have a vested interest in finding cycling gloves to cushion the pressure from road vibration on long rides.
A few years ago Roger Minkow, M.D., the physician who originated the Body Geometry line of Specialized saddles, branched into glove design. His initial effort produced a big pad on the outside heel of the palm but little padding elsewhere. I Wasn’t a fan of those gloves because the pad location didn’t seem to help road riders unless they were gripping the bar top in the climbing position.
Like most roadies, I usually ride with my hands on the brake hoods so that I can brake and shift without moving. So I need padding in the half-moon shape formed by the thumb and index finger and in the middle of the palm.
Minkow’s newest design addresses this issue. The BG Gel gloves have three thin “gel foam” pads: one on the heel of the palm, one on the palm below the thumb and another under the knuckles. They effectively pad the areas that contact the brake lever hoods in the normal riding position. And they protect these sensitive zones when riding on the drops or tops too.
These pads aren’t especially thick, so some riders might balk if They’re accustomed to more substantial padding used by other companies. However, I’ve had bad luck with fat gel pads. They didn’t seem to alleviate numbness and the thickness made it hard to grip the bar after several hours of riding produced hand fatigue.
Other positive features of the BG Gel gloves include a soft absorbent area on the back of the thumb and forefinger for discrete nose wiping, a hook-and-loop closure that makes removing the gloves easy, and stretchy fabric for the back of the hand. The last protects against UV rays in an area that takes a beating from direct sunlight. I wore these gloves on rides lasting longer than six hours and didn’t notice any irritating seams.
During my 38 hours of use I washed the gloves numerous times in cold water with the rest of my cycling clothes. I hung them to dry instead of putting them in the drier. So far, there’s a little scuffing on the palms but no broken seams or other signs of deterioration.
Check sizing before you buy. My hands aren’t especially big but I was comfortablein size XL.
Did the new padding design eliminate my numb fingers? No. After all these years of riding I suspect the nerves are so sensitive that I’ll always have some symptoms. But the gloves definitely improved my comfort, postponing the onset of the numbness and reducing the severity.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.