As a motorcyclist, you rely on your bike and gear. But in addition to your actual motorcycle equipment, you also must depend on the performance of your body to ensure that you can ride safely and precisely.
One of your most important tools when you're on the road is your hands. A large number of your motorcycle controls require specific hand movements to propel you forward. Unfortunately, for many motorcycle riders, this significant focus on micro hand and wrist movements can result in fatigue during a ride and potential injuries in the long term.
Whether you just invested in your first bike or you're a lifelong motorcyclist, you can take proactive steps to prevent hand fatigue that might affect your performance. These steps can also reduce your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and other common motorcyclist repetitive motion injuries.
Habits to Implement
While you should make changes to your equipment to protect your hands while you ride, these measures often happen in stages. You can begin to reduce your risk of hand and wrist injury immediately by adjusting your habits while you're on your bike.
Pay attention to how you use your hands during a ride and which, if any, symptoms begin to develop the further you go. Implement the following habits to combat hand and wrist fatigue:
- Adjust your riding posture to put your weight on your legs and feet so you avoid leaning forward onto your wrists.
- Bend your hands backward or lace your fingers together and lift them above your head on breaks to stretch the ligaments that run the length of your arm.
- Change hand position on the grips regularly to avoid excessive straining on the different parts of your hands and wrists.
- Change riding position every hour or as often as is comfortable.
- Plan for more frequent breaks during your ride.
- Ride with cruise control and one hand off of the grips on straightaways.
- Use a looser grip to reduce the strain on hand ligaments.
- Use a stress ball during breaks to stretch out your hands.
You may also want to use some of these tips in between motorcycle rides. For example, you can wear a wrist brace whenever you notice any discomfort in your wrist or forearm, and you can use a stress ball while watching TV to strengthen the muscles you use when controlling your bike.
Motorcycle Gear to Invest In
As a motorcyclist, you know the difference that the right gear can have on how you feel during and after a ride. While you may focus on your boots and leathers, you should also carefully consider your glove choices to give your hands a cushion and your wrists adequate support.
When you invest in new motorcycle gloves, look for a pair designed to reduce fatigue. These gloves will have a combination of some or all of the following characteristics:
- Gel filling
- Palm and finger padding
- Slip-resistant surface
- Vibration-resistant design
- Wrist coverage and support
You can also choose to wear a wrist brace during your ride if one or both of your wrists don't seem to get enough support from gloves alone.
Motorcycle Modifications to Make
You likely invest a significant amount of time in optimizing how your bike meets your needs. In addition to perfecting your engine, exhaust system, and so on, consider upgrading your grips to improve the ergonomics of your bike.
As you ride, think about which issues you notice that affect your hands. For example, you may notice that grip hardness seems more uncomfortable than vibration or vice versa. Using your observations, consider making the following modifications:
- Aftermarket cruise-control attachments
- Grip heating systems
- Heavier bar end weights
- Multiple foot pegs to allow for a larger variation in riding position
- Padded grips
- Shock-absorbing grips
- Throttle components, like pads, a rocker, or a lock
Work on your bike to determine which adjustments make the biggest difference to your hands and wrists. For example, many riders find that less steering head tension creates less vibration and therefore less fatigue. Other common adjustments include rotating or raising handlebars to discourage leaning and tight gripping.
You may also want to try several different positions for your foot pegs since your position while riding can have a significant impact on the amount of pressure placed on your hands and wrists.
Use these guidelines to protect your hands while you enjoy your next motorcycle ride and every adventure yet to come, whether you ride competitively or use your bike solely for scenic outings.
In addition to the gear and modifications discussed above, you may want to discuss your riding habits with an equipment specialist or mechanic to determine which other adjustments can reduce the impact that motorcycling has on your hands and wrists.
To find the high-quality motorcycle gloves or specialized parts you're looking for, browse the inventory at Bob's Cycle Supply.