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Old Wizard
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Numb fingers when riding a motorcycle is a common problem. When you apply engine vibration and pressure to the nerves in your hand, your hand falls asleep. The amount of weight on your hands, vibration and frequency is different for different motorcycles and at different speeds so some riders have a problem and some don’t.

If you ride a sportbike the problem is compounded by a riding position that puts more weight on your hands. The more weight you put on the grips the better the transfer of the engine vibration to your hands. You can get the feeling back by momentarily tapping your fingertips hard against your thigh.


The Solution (in Order of Cost)

(1) Change your grip more often and loosen your grip somewhat. We grip the handlebars tightly in order to maintain the throttle position and our body position. Unfortunately the tighter the grip the better the transfer of the vibration to our hands. Since it’s harder to vary your throttle hand position you probably have noticed that this hand is most affected by numbness.

(2) Use foam grips ($5 grips from a bicycle shop work very well). You can lessen vibration by isolating yourself and/or the bars from the vibration source by positioning a cushion (low frequency spring) along the path of vibration (foam between your hands and the bars) and/or use something to isolate the bars (i.e. rubber mounts) or the engine (i.e. softer motor mounts) from the rest of the bike at high frequencies. You can also try new riding gloves with thicker leather or gel padding on the palms ... every bit will help. Use different gloves if your fingertips touch the ends of your glove fingers while riding causing any vibration to get transmitted directly to the nerves in your fingers.

(3) Add weight to the handlebars - at the ends - LOTS of it. The handlebar is actually responding to the engine's vibrations and will vibrate in harmony (resonate) at certain engine RPM. You can change the resonant frequency of the handlebars so that the bars do not respond to the engine vibration at say cruising speeds (shorter stiffer bars will tend to cause the high amplitude vibration to shift to higher speeds, longer or weighted bars will tend to cause high amplitude vibration to shift to lower speeds). Some manufacturers include weighted bar-ends as part of the design.

Weighted bar-ends are added mass that will lower the resonant frequency of the bar so it vibrates less strongly but does not eliminate all vibration. In many cases, that's enough. You simply change the resonance to a frequency that the bike rarely generates or to a RPM that has less effect on the nerves in your hand. Shifting the resonant frequency is intended to reduce the strength (amplitude) of the vibration at your normal cruising RPM.

I went to a dive shop and paid $3.00 for a 3 lb. lead belt weight (wheel balance weights and lead shot mixed with epoxy would work too), cut it up, hammered it into shape and shoved/wedged it in the handlebar. It’s got to be in there tight to work, closer to the free-end works best. The lead piece in each of my handle bars is about 5 in X 1/2 in.

Those lighter dinky bar-ends and Barsnake things they sell in bike shops aren't going to help as much. Placing rubber caulk inside the handlebars as some have suggested is unlikely to have much of an effect (beyond added mass) in damping vibration. Mixing calk with bird shot for added mass has been tried and this would be better than just caulk but it will permanently embed any wiring that runs internal to the handlebars.

(4) Install Helibars to provide a more straight up sitting position. Sportbikes have a more forward riding position, that puts more weight on your hands that helps transfer vibration more effectively.

After making this change I have mixed feelings about the new riding position. I prefer the lower handlebar position for aggressive riding and at freeway speeds where the wind will prop me up and take my weight off the grips. Then again, my wrists don’t get as sore now. I may change back.

After adding foam grips, handlebar lead and Helibars, the numbness stopped for me altogether. Before these changes my throttle hand would go to sleep to the point I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to use my front brake in an emergency.

The problem is that our nerves are just in the wrong place for motorcycle riding. Darwinian evolution will probably solve this eventually. However, exercises to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles will help sportbike riders give more support to your upper body so less weight rests on your hands. Also, consider that this kind of numbness is NOT the same as the pain caused by carpel tunnel syndrome - a different problem caused by repetitive task injuries.

So, start first with the foam grips and then try the lead weights.



Bar Risers

Keep in mind that the position of your body on the bike affects the overall weight distribution. Sportbikes are designed specifically to have a more forward riding position to place the center of your body weight lower and further forward, to better balance the bike and improve handling. But certainly for street riding it isn't the most comfortable position and the heads-down orientation isn’t the safest.

I installed Helibars on a 916 mainly to provide a more comfortable upright sitting position and to take some of the weight off my hands that helped solve a problem with numb fingers. However, after making this change I have mixed feelings about the new riding position. I prefer the factory handlebar position for more aggressive riding, but I like the more comfortable neck position and posture with the Helibars. Further, during certain riding conditions the angle of the bars just don’t feel right to me.

If I was to do it again, I’d buy bar risers with some range of adjustment. The Helibars can be slid down the forks and rotated front-to-back but they always keep their less-extreme tip-down bar angle. I’d recommend instead a riser bar similar to that sold by Cycle Cat that are quite a bit more adjustable (but quite a bit more expensive.)



For street riding and touring, bar risers won’t change the handling enough to be concerned about. Most of us would rather have a bike that handles slightly different than stock, but tailored to allow you to ride longer and sharper without physical fatigue (fatigue being a HUGE enemy of handling), rather than a bike that folds you into a full-race position meant for the track.

I know that some riders have moved/modified their stock bars to raise the bar ends but this also sets the handlebars at an arbitrary downward angle that I find to be weird.
 

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I have heard filling the handle bars with silicon is also an excellent alternative, and does not add that much weight for all the Stoner wannabe's
 

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I just grip the tank with my thighs hard and have next to nothing on the bars. My abs and the thighs get a work out every ride....:)

Silicone does work fyi....also add some BB's to lessen it even more.

joe
 

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I'd never think about a trip without my Throttlemeister...and the bonus is the billet stainless bar-end weights -- very effective at vibration damping.
 

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I have 2 inch risers on my 01 996 and they are awesome for riding around the street. And having a little more upright sitting position saves the muscles in my neck and lower back from knotting up like a mofo.
 

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Grip Puppies

I started using Grip Puppies a couple years ago and they made a huge difference. My daily ride is a Bandit 1200 and though it is a reasonably upright bike, it is notorious for high frequency vibration through the bars. The GPs not only helped attenuate the negative vibes, the increased grip diameter opens my hands just a bit more and alleviates joint pains (I'm old).
 

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Come in Spinner :)
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CF bars reduce vibration a fair bit.

.
 

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I recently discovered a cause for hand numbness. I bought a new set of gloves that are more race/track oriented than I am used to. I have been wearing touring gloves since I started riding. The race/track gloves started out fitting really snugly. They have broken in pretty well. Despite this, they apply pressure to my hands in certain places from the armor. This causes a lack of blood flow to certain areas resulting in numbness. So, if you are having hand numbness while wearing rather technical gloves, consider switching to a more touring oriented glove for long rides.
 

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Also an alternative to the throttle locks on the new bikes is that a lot of the tuning programs like Tuneboy also include cruise control. I have it on my Diavel and it works a treat. Just hold the starter button for 3 seconds and hey presto. Cruise control. Lets you relax your throttle hand which as Shazzam said, it is the first to feel the pressure because you're holding it so steady on the trottle.
 

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I found that a product called 3M Window Weld works great for filling the stock bars. It is very dense and eliminates most of the vibration in the bars. I have done this on my 996 and 848. It's available at many auto parts stores. It comes in a caulk tube, so it's best to use a caulk gun to squeeze into the bars. It's also messy so wear gloves and keep a rag around with alcohol on it for cleaning up any mess. Makes a world of difference.
 

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I recently discovered a cause for hand numbness. I bought a new set of gloves that are more race/track oriented than I am used to. I have been wearing touring gloves since I started riding. The race/track gloves started out fitting really snugly. They have broken in pretty well. Despite this, they apply pressure to my hands in certain places from the armor. This causes a lack of blood flow to certain areas resulting in numbness. So, if you are having hand numbness while wearing rather technical gloves, consider switching to a more touring oriented glove for long rides.

I noticed a marked improvement with race oriented gloves due to the pre-curvature of the palm/fingers. Regular touring gloves are straight fit and tend to bunch up and fold (especially throttle hand). Over time this creates pressure points in places you don't want them. Pre-curved gloves are more naturally suited to the position your hands will be in while on the bike. Helped me out quite a bit.

Also, glove fit is key. Too tight or too loose and you're gonna have a bad time.
 

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some great tips in this thread! Just funny that some say to add weight to the bars and others say carbon fiber bars. was thinking the body is getting too old for a sport bike but Maybe there is hope after all.
 

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Throttle body sync, too!
I just did this before a trip, and if you sync them for light throttle at cruise speed, there is a bit less vibration.
Every little bit helps.
 
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