Numbness in ring finger and pinkie after long ride

After long rides I do get numbness in my ring finger and pinkie. It takes a few days to dissipate.
My handlebars are 40cm. I read ‘Bike Fit’ by Phil Burt and he seems to suggest they may be too narrow
I had a bike fit recently and the fitter suggested going even narrower (38 cm)
Any thoughts?

Please define “long ride”, since that means different things to different people.

Is the numbness new since the fit or was it something you aimed to address with the fit (but still remains after)?

  • What did you and your fitter to do address it if that was part of the fit?

What hand position(s) on the bars are you using most of the time?

  • How often and when are you altering hand positions?

Way too hard to make that decision just based on the width of the HB…we would need to know more about your body size, as well.

Plenty of people ride bars narrower than 40cm with no issues.

I kinda doubt your width is causing the problem…it is more likely a combination of bar / lever interface and hand position.


Look up the Ulnar nerve. Could be your elbow angle among other things. I get some irritation from working at a desk, working out my triceps, and if I don’t have my bars far enough away from me.


Just looked this up!

I have been struggling with this for the last 3-4 years and wondered what it could have been.

It appears that based on my quick read, there isnt much that can be done for me. Its not aggressive enough to have surgical measures but I have found some things that are probably causing it.

  1. Sitting at a desk with pressure/weight on my elbows and the elbows bent for extended time
  2. Sleeping on my chest at night with my arm bent 90* under my pillow

Those are the (2) things right off the top of my head I know I do daily.

For the OP, if while you are on the bike and your hand starts to go numb. Straighten your arm and fingers vertically towards the ground and let dangle “lifeless” for 15-30 seconds and then just make a fist a few times and bring back to bars.

I have been doing that for as mentioned above 3-4 years to get the numbness to go away, for me I will do that 2-3 times in a 60-mile ride. When you are comfortable doing this you can do it really quickly even in a 25mph paceline without any risks IMO (but do it at the back after a pull).

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It is also worth looking at the gloves you wear…assuming you do.

I greatly prefer zero padding in my gloves…basically just the palm material to help with grip / moisture absorption. I tend to get numb fingers if I have too much padding. Rode for ~3 hours on Sat with some gloves that used an “inverse” padding strategy…padding in the palms to fill the gap in your hands as you grip the bar. Fought numb / tingling fingers the whole ride. Gonna take them to a local tailor and see if the padding can be removed.

if you don’t wear gloves, then consider wearing some and see if that helps.


The fitter seemed to go by the number (it was a retul fit). they all looked green or barely yellow, so he didn’t consider things like reach per se. Other things we changed was moving saddle back by a few millimeters and adding washers to my left pedal to address my left knee sideways during the upstroke

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That’s an interesting observation. I do use PI padded gloves. I might see if I can pick ups some unpadded gloves for cheap and try them out

Thanks for that. I will definitely try the straightening of the arms

The “inverse” gloves that I mentioned above were PI…is the padding in your gloves in the middle of your palm?

Yeah, I’ve had issues with Castelli style padding where they have the central pad on the bottom of the palm

The inverse padding gloves you mentioned, Bontrager Inform, are a superior design for padding. That AX Suede tends to expand as it gets moist though.

From p.193 of Phil Cavell’s very informative and highly readable book ‘The Midlife Cyclist’.

  • OK, this is well into the long territory indeed :stuck_out_tongue:
  • I like offering this option as well. It tends to be more about hand, wrist and forearm angle for my riders, but it can manifest in hand comfort related to your concern as well. Picking an angle that is “neutral” and comfortable are key, regardless of the angle chosen. Some like lots of roll while a few degrees is plenty for others.
  • I’d recommend a more conscious effort to mix up and alternate positions more often. Nearly locking into one position is a recipe for issues over time. Our bodies need some variety broadly speaking, with hand position one key aspect.
  • Bit of a red flag for me. I would hope the ranges set for your fit were focused on the “comfort” end of the spectrum. I have not used Retul to know what options they offer, but hope there was a range selected with that in mind vs what might be typical values for shorter, racier fits.

  • These tools are great, but it’s necessary for the fitter to know if and when to ignore and even knowingly violate “standard practice” in light of each individual rider’s needs. Yours could well mean that you need to end up far more “comfort” focused with higher bar and shorter reach. I say this as a general statement without any real knowledge of your fit session, so that may have all be part of your process.

Per the other comments, looking at gloves (add / remove / change) are worthwhile, as well as the idea of changing bar position to alter hand loading.

If at all possible, I would also have you consider clip-on aero bars. Regardless of aero consideration, I commonly recommend them for riders who are stretching their time on the bike. The ability to use a position that completely unloads the wrists is golden IMO. It can be a position that changes things up (the variety I mentioned above) and really shifts the loading on the body.

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These are the gloves I wear this year

There’s indeed padding on the outside half of the palm.
Is this the style that caused you issues?

I got into the habit of stretching out on my forearms on the bars during longer rides on the trainer. It seemed to do so much to relieve stress and help with hands/wrist/back issues. Didn’t know it was a thing to do, it just felt good.

I also had a bike with thin bars, and had all kinds of hand issues. I double wrapped them and enjoyed the extra padding and then slightly larger diameter I also have flat top bars on two of my bikes and really like them too. I can’t put a bell on the tops, but they seem to work well, for me.

Also, for the OP, think about what you are doing off-bike. I have been using a hand strength exerciser and have developed a sharp pain in my left pointer finger, and it almost has to be a strain created by that device. I’ve lowered the weight, and it’s still angry, so I’ll drop it for a few weeks and see what happens. It’s waking me up occasionally, so it’s more than just a riding issue, but I’m sure it’s not doing it any good. I would also ride my trainer with the hoods between the pointer and middle finger which hasn’t been helpful either. I caught myself doing that a couple times outdoors too. (Bad habits)

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Hot damn. I’ve suffered from mild ulnar nerve discomfort on the bike for years and I do these two things constantly.

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I am struggling with something similar currently and have been told that it is related to my head position, which is to say that my neck is flexed too much for too long and this irritates the nerve. I am at the point where I am feeling tingling and aching down the back of my triceps and through the elbow then down into the ring and pinkie fingers. For me a reliable temporary fix had been to put my hand behind my neck with elbow pointing straight up like a triceps stretch. After talking to a sports physical therapist quite recently, I’ve tried tucking my chin and trying to make a more straight or natural neck curvature. That has also helped. She says my problem is all the way up in one of the neck vertebrae and the neighboring overly tight muscles (which tend to tighten up later in a ride and make the tingling a problem). Since my nerve has become so irritated, she has also suggested a brace to keep the arm straight while sleeping because I used to sometimes end up sleeping on and squashing the bent arm/elbow, which apparently is also not at all good. I only have it on one side, which interestingly is my weaker side. After I get done with the physical therapist, I am planning on going for another bike fit.

P.S. I had tried the physical therapist route before and not gotten to the root of the problem. This time around I googled “physical therapist” and “cycling” together to try to find someone who really understands. I am cautiously optimistic that we are really going to fix the issue… Fingers crossed


I too have issues with numbness when using padded gloves. Gloves with no padding are much better for me. I really like the unpadded Handup Gloves and have been using them a few years now. @IvyAudrain usually has discount codes to share if you want to try them.

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Thanks @mcneese.chad . Lots of things to consider in the coming weeks and months.

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No, the ones I was referring to have one central pad, right in the palm of the hand.

But for me personally, the gloves you pictured would be awful….WAY too much padding, which would cause numbness in my hands.

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