Whatever you do, wear some sort of hand protection. Even if it's a set of gardening gloves, it's better than going without protection all together. Riding gloves are best, and your choice of gloves should reflect their intended use. If you plan on using them for short trips and commuting, gloves can fit more snugly than if you plan to travel at length. Gloves used for long-distance traveling should be a little roomier, but still fairly snug so as not to come off in an accident. Make sure the gloves have long gauntlets and wrist straps, both of which help keep them in place in the event of a crash.
Boots are often overlooked as a key protective garment. Many riders simply wear rugged hiking or work boots for both local and long-distance travel, and if the boot extends over the top of the ankle, these can afford a reasonable degree of protection. Riding boots are a better choice, as they contain plastic armor and/or soft foam padding in the shin, heel, ankle and toe areas. When boot shopping, look for ample padding in these areas, good traction from the sole and a comfortable fit.
If you're traveling in colder climes, there are already enough variables to worry about without having to fret over whether or not you'll be hypothermic by noon. Tires don't warm up as well, there may be ice on the road-why throw your riding apparel into the mix? By dressing properly in cold weather, you ensure that, regardless of outside conditions, your concentration and focus won't be impaired by your body's inability to deal with the cold.
Beyond the Basics: What Else to WearUndergarments: Adventure clothing companies such as Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia and REI (to name a few) all offer quality first-layer long underwear that help insulate the body and wick moisture away from the skin.
Electric Vest: An electric vest offers the most bang for the buck when it comes to fighting off the cold. As your body cools, it begins conserving blood flow for your head, heart and other vital organs, and circulation to your extremities is reduced. An electric vest warms your torso, which helps maintain blood flow to your hands and feet (which are usually the first to get icy). There are a number of good electric vests on the market.
Polar Fleece: A good polar fleece vest and pants supplies a valuable extra layer of warmth and insulation. Many motorcycle apparel companies and the aforementioned mountain/active-wear companies manufacture quality fleece clothing.
Full Riding Suit: Jeans don't cut it in cold weather, so a full riding suit is a necessity. Leather is preferred by many, but we like the versatility, comfort and protection of a full one- or two-piece textile suit. They can usually accommodate more layers of clothing underneath, and help insulate your body better than leather.
Gloves: In a pinch, you can wear surgical gloves underneath your riding gloves or put rubber household cleaning gloves over the top to help protect them from wind shear, but the best investment is a quality set of insulated gloves. Most cold weather gloves are bulky to some degree, so make sure they do not interfere with finger dexterity and your ability to work the controls smoothly.
Tips and Tricks:
Close 'Em: Remember to close your helmet vents (and even tape some over) during cold weather. Most high-end helmets have systems designed to vent hot air out of the helmet. Tape up all jacket and boot vents also.
Electric Vest Placement: Electric vests are most efficient when placed fairly close to the skin-usually over the second or third layer of clothing. Collars are available on most models, but can sometimes add to bulkiness around the neck area. Fitment should be snug but not tight; make sure the vest does not restrict movement in the riding position, and leave enough room to add a sweatshirt or fleece underneath if desired.