Gloves are perhaps the second most important piece of gear, as they are a barrier between your hands and your bike's controls. Gloves that are too tight will cut off circulation and hinder your reach for the levers, while loose gloves will catch on the controls and bunch up on the grips, giving your blisters. Good-quality gloves have pre-curved fingers to avoid bunching, and thin, strong material on surfaces that touch the grips and levers. Check for a comfortable wrist closure that is not too high or low on your hand-too high and the glove will move around, too low and it may cut off circulation to your hands. The gauntlet should fit comfortably over your jacket or leathers. Just like a suit should fit correctly in the riding position, check a glove's fit with your hand on a grip; you should be able to reach the levers without resistance, and there should be no bunching in the palm or finger areas.
Your feet need to have a good feel for the footpegs as well, so boots should be snug without being constrictive. Thin socks underneath will help, and again, don't check a boot's fit by walking around in it-sit on a bike and work the controls. High-end boots will have a skeleton-type arrangement inside or outside that allows easy fore-and-aft movement yet provides good ankle protection and doesn't let the foot move side-to-side. Whether you wear your boots over or under pants or leathers, be sure the fit on the calf is snug right to the top of the boot.
Look for gloves that have...
Look for gloves that have pre-curved fingers and thin-yet-strong material in the palm and finger area for good control feel. Check that the palms and fingers are tight enough to not bunch up on the controls, yet you should be able to easily move your fingers individually.
The little things can sometimes...
The little things can sometimes make the biggest difference: An undersuit lets you move around easier inside a set of leathers. Thin socks help with footpeg and control feel. Spandex undershorts will bunch up less than boxers or briefs (bicycle shorts add a bit of extra padding). And earplugs will protect your hearing from wind noise.
A top-dollar helmet may not...
A top-dollar helmet may not protect you any better than a cheaper lid, but that extra money will buy you better venting, a nicer fit and lighter weight. The shape of your head often determines comfort, so shop around and try on several brands and models to find the most comfortable lid.
Sometimes the real trick is finding gear that works together properly. It's no good having a nice, snug-fitting glove if the gauntlet is too tight to fit over your leathers and doesn't let your wrist move. Tall boots can sometimes interfere with low-fitting armor in leathers. And that nice soft collar material on a jacket can make the most irritating screech when rubbed against some helmet moldings every time you turn your head.
Whatever you wear, the key is to maximize protection while minimizing any distractions and irritants that your gear can cause. You want to be able to move freely on your bike and concentrate fully on the task at hand-whether that task is turning a fast lap at the racetrack or just getting to the office in one piece-and not fussing with your gear.