Having numb hands is not only a terrible feeling but can also make riding a mountain bike a lot more dangerous. It is actually a really common thing and can easily be fixed. In order to simplify your search, we have found the best mountain bike gloves for hand numbness.
What causes hand numbness?
Hand numbness arises when the nerves in your wrist or arm are compressed for a length of time. This is a fairly common thing to happen to many cyclists as a lot of pressure is distributed to the hands via the wrist and arms.
There are two nerves that are affected by biking. One runs on the underside of the wrist. When your wrist is bent back on the handlebars, it comes under pressure. This causes numbness or tingling in your hand. The other nerve runs down the outside of your hand (on the pinky side). While you ride, you put pressure on this part of your palm, causing tingling in the outer side of the hand.
For more information on what causes hand numbness, see here.
What to look for
Effectively, to avoid having discomfort in your hands, you will want strategically placed padding. The primary places you want to look at are the pinky side of the hand and on the base of the palm. Having padding in these places will significantly reduce the pressure on the nerves.
The other thing that will help is having well-ventilated gloves. Having sweaty hands on the bars makes you grip harder, causing more pressure on the nerves.
You also want to look out for the durability of the gloves and other features the gloves may have. Having touch screen capability on long-finger gloves saves you from having to take your gloves off to check your phone. Have a sweat wipe on the thumb is also a bit of a bonus!
Best Mountain Bike Gloves for Hand Numbness
1. Fox Ranger Gel Glove
The Fox Ranger Gel Glove is a classic in the mountain biking world. It’s comfortable, stylish and the padding helps dampen down much of the vibrations.
The TrueGel padding is placed on the pinky side of the base of the palm, up towards the thumb. This should provide enough padding to reduce the pressure on the nerves. There is additional padding across the base of the fingers. This is done to dampen any uncomfortable vibrations as you wrap your hands around the bars.
The thumb, index and middle finger have silicon grips up the length of the fingers. This is done to help with grip on the bars and break levers. This should reduce the tension on the hand and wrist, helping reduce the pressure on the nerves.
Being a top-quality glove, the Fox Ranger Gel brings out all of the stops! It has an absorbent sweat wipe on the thumb, a neoprene cuff to prevent sweat and moisture from getting into the glove, and is touch screen compatible. So if you are a rider wanting a glove that does it all, the Fox Ranger Gel is your go-to!
For a full review on the Fox Ranger glove, see here.
2. POC Resistance Pro DH Glove
The POC Resistance Pro DH Glove is the minimalist’s dream. The padding, while minimal, is sufficient to reduce the pressure on the pinky side of the hand.
Silicon grips on the fingertips help with grip, so you aren’t overloading your hands with too much pressure. And for a bit of extra protection, the knuckles are protected by POC’s VPD padding, which absorbs the impact in a crash.
The closure system is a Velcro system on the inside of the wrist. Placing the Velcro on the inside of the wrist means there isn’t too much movement, so the Velcro doesn’t come undone at unwanted times! The index and middle finger are both touch screen compatible, so no taking gloves off to reply to a message or taking photos!
This is the ultimate trail glove, with great padding, ventilation and comfort!
3. Giro Bravo Gel LF Glove
The Giro Bravo Gel Long Fingered Glove is a breathable, comfortable glove made for any rider! The three-piece palm construction stops the glove from bunching, and the padding is placed to match the shape of your hand. This makes the padding very effective at reducing the numbness in your hand by reducing the pressure in key points.
The closure system uses a velcro strap on the top of the hand. I personally do not like having the velcro strap on the top of the wrist. This is because it can come undone easily when the Velcro starts to wear out. However, having the strap on top of the wrist won’t put any pressure on the nerves! The Bravo Gel LF is touch screen compatible, so no need to take off the gloves to check the maps or take a cheeky photo!
The women’s version, known as the Tessa Gel LF glove, can be found here.
4. Giro Strade Dure Super Gel
The Giro Strade Dure is a short-fingered glove made for those who want to eliminate vibrations. The super gel is actually medical-grade padding, made to get you through the toughest of sections. Giro claims that the Super Gel can distribute the pressure three times better than standard gel padding. And they claim a 30% improvement in impact resistance!
The construction of the glove allows it to deform in three ways, as opposed to the standard one. In doing so, it avoids the possibility of creating pressure points. The mesh on the top of the hand is very breathable and has absorbent material on the thumb section for a sweat or nose wipe.
So if you are looking for a well-padded, and comfortable short-finger glove, the Strade Dure is a very viable option. And if you are looking for a women’s specific glove- have a look at the Strada Massa SuperGel here.
5. Pearl iZUMi Select Glove
The Pearl iZUMi Select glove is all about padding. The gel pads cover any sensitive areas of the palm, including the pinky side of the palm and the base of the thumb.
The synthetic leather palm is comfortable and absorbs sweat to help improve your grip. It is also a very durable glove, so it will certainly survive a crash or two. There is an absorbent nose wipe or sweat wipe on the thumb, and the mesh on the top of the glove is breathable.
The glove is a hook and loop closure system, with the Velcro strap on the side of the glove. This is an advantage as this part of the wrist doesn’t move as much while riding, which reduces the chances of the strap coming undone.
They are a fingerless style glove, which is not particularly common in the mountain biking scene due to the lack of protection on the fingers. But these do offer maximum padding at a lower cost.
Other ways of reducing Hand Numbness
There is a number of other ways (along with having padded gloves) that you can reduce the pressure on your hands and wrist.
- Change your bike set up
Often the way you are sitting will mean that you are unnecessarily putting pressure onto your arms and wrist. Try speaking to a specialist to get a professional bike set up to reduce the amount of work your arms have to do in holding you upright!
This leads onto our next point;
- Use your core
Other times, you can reduce the pressure on your hands by using your core to keep your weight more centered. Engaging your core muscles means you don’t need to rely on your arms as much to keep you upright.
There is also never a disadvantage to strengthening your core!
- Get new grips
You should consider getting new grips that are soft, comfortable and provide a bit of grip, so you don’t have to clench the bars so hard.
- Keep changing your hand position
Give your hands a break every now and again. Physically relieve the pressure on your hands by taking them off the bars and giving them a shake. Then try having your hands in different positions on the bars if possible.
The other thing is to relax your elbows. In doing so, you will engage your core and back muscles a bit more, which takes the pressure off your hands.
Gloves can do an excellent job of redistributing the pressure felt by your hands over the bar a bit better. They also provide a bit of comfort while riding by reducing the vibrations from the bars, and the long finger gloves will keep your fingers nice and warm.
Long finger gloves are the more popular style of glove for mountain bikers as they do provide a bit more protection from abrasions if you do come off. However, you will often find that the fingerless gloves provide a bit more padding and are generally slightly less expensive. See our post on full-finger vs. fingerless gloves here for a full explanation.
All of the gloves above have sufficient padding to reduce the pressure on your nerves and allow you to focus your attention on riding rather than discomfort in the hands! If the hand numbness does not subside, try the other ways of reducing the pressure on your hands or see a specialist.