Let me preface this by saying that I commute 30 miles or so each way, 5 days a week, year round, so I’ve had a good opportunity to try my gear out in a variety of weather. I have to be budget minded in my purchases, so you won’t see much, if any, extravagance in my purchases.
HJC AC-11: Reportedly HJC’s top of the range at the time, but apart from different shell material, very little difference from the budget priced CL-15 I bought next.
HJC CL-15: See my previous post re. the CL-15 above. Very easy to remove/replace visor for cleaning, venting only okay; no real complaints. Initially bought the “breath box” for it but couldn’t wear it due to tightness, “claustrophobia” and glasses fogging issues. Bought a Pinlock ready visor and insert instead; expensive but 100% effective in keeping visor fog free.
Olympia Motosports Airglide Jacket: Have worn this jacket for ~4 years now and have never had a problem with it. Great 3 season jacket with CE armoured mesh and cordura outer shell and removable waterproof/windproof liner jacket. No failures of any kind in 4 years of daily 3 to 4 season use. 3M Scotchlite piping lights up like a beacon at night. Nice soft lined stand-up collar to ward off draughts.
Tourmaster Transition II Jacket: 3/4 length CE armoured touring jacket that I wear in the Winter. Waterproof membrane outer shell with removable quilted liner. Has lots of vents for warmer weather but they are fiddly to set (unzip and fold back velcro flaps, some in awkward areas like shoulder), so I doubt I’d use these; just too much hassle. I’m not sure how protective it would be though as I fell over on a concrete path while chasing our then 7 year-old. This tore a small hole in it. Otherwise, great price and it is, indeed waterproof. Reflective material is not so good as the Scotchlite on my Airglide. Very low collar so need to wear a neck gaiter.
Tourmaster Magnum Leather Jacket: Recent purchase. Substantial and heavy Top Grain Grade A leather jacket at a bargain price. Long back to support a sport-bike riding style if necessary. Has kind of a super-hero V shape, which may not suit the “fuller figure” (I’m more of an A shape than a V but it just about accomodates my gut if I breath in). It looks cool (get lots of compliments on it), has removeable CE armour and back pad plus a thinnish zip-out liner. Zips are plastic and the main zipper pull tab (pot metal) broke off very soon (Tourmaster replaced the zipper under warranty (post paid) with one which has a stronger metal pull tab). Has 3M reflective piping on shoulders and lower back (which is obscured by my tail pack). Has good venting. Collar is low so need to wear a neck gaiter in cooler weather.
J C Whitney cheapo two-piece PVC rain suit: This was okay (but sweaty and heavy) while it lasted. Bright yellow jacket with reflective stripes. After a while, the pants seam tape gave way allowing the ingress of rain.
Frog Toggs Road Toad two-piece suit: This is very light weight and packable. The material feels like paper made from cotton. It feels very fragile, but I’ve had no failures yet. I tend to wear the pants more than the jacket though as I have the waterproof Tourmaster Transition II up top in the rain. So far it’s been waterproof if fastened up correctly. A great choice if it holds up I think.
Alpinestars SP-2: Summer weight glove with carbon fibre knuckles which have held up reasonably well although the kevlar on the palms has started to come away at the stitching. Cuff fastening only. Comfortable, I like them.
Olympia Ultima II: Cooler weather lined gloves with waterproof liner. Reasonably warm and very comfortable. The outer leather gets sodden, but the liner keeps your hands dry (unless the water has run down your sleeve into them; like all gloves). Cuff and wrist fasteners but wrist does not have enough adjustability to close properly on my wrists. These are my favorites but I think they’ve discontinued them. Good price too.
British Motorcycle Gear Thermosport: I spent a long time researching gloves on the internet as I couldn’t find what I was looking for locally. I thought these were the perfect Winter gloves. Waterproof, Thinsulate lined, carbon knuckles, Cuff *and* wrist fasteners to keep them on your hand in the event of a crash. I was disappointed in them when they arrived though. One cuff fastener is longer than the other though so I don’t have “symmetry” (i.e. QA and consistency of manufacture is apparently lacking). There is no visor wiper (squeegee) on the thumb or forefinger and as the lining is quite bulky, if I wear one of my slip-on, rubber, visor wipers, it cuts off the blood supply to my finger. Despite the bulky lining, these are not very warm. They are very light weight for so called Winter gloves (the “leather” must be very thin) which makes me doubt their protective qualities.
Firstgear Carbon Heated Gloves: There are times when even grip heaters aren’t enough and I found that I had to supplement them with heated gloves. I’d read that the cheaper Tourmaster heated gloves aren’t very warm, so I went for these instead. These are pretty good waterproof gloves in and of themselves with a thinnish liner and carbon knuckles; comfortable. Cuff and wrist closures. They only heat the backs of your hands (not the fronts) but are as hot as you want them to be. In fact, before I got the hang of the “Heat Troller” (fully variable heat controller which you have to buy separately), I burned and blistered my knuckle. Once I set it to one third (instead of two thirds), I was fine and warm. After not much use, I managed to tear the velcro away from the leather wrist strap closure. Firstgear sent me a new pair (post paid both ways) under warranty.
Hugger Waterproof Leather Gloves: As most leather waterproof gloves get sodden and heavy on the outside and take days to dry, I thought these sounded good. They’re supposed to be a treated, waterproof leather, not just a waterproof membraned leather glove. I bought them on closeout for not much money on a “no return” basis. Well, despite following their size guide, these were far too small for me and they have proved not to be waterproof either; ’nuff said I think. Fortunately, they fit my Wife who doesn’t ride with me in the rain, so it’s not completely wasted money.
Any old ankle covering work boots: These work just fine for most riding situations and I would probably have stuck with them if I wasn’t too lazy to lace them up twice a day.
Alpinestars Web Gore-Tex boots: Touring style boot which is completely waterproof and comfortable. They can get a little sweaty if I wear them around the office, but I don’t, so not a problem. Had them for years and the velcro is just beginning to lose it’s tackiness; otherwise, they are still great and take a nice shine when I get around to it (not often).
Olympia Motosports Airglide Pants: See corresponding entry in “Jackets” (above). Have worn these CE armoured, mesh and cordura panelled over-pants (with removeable liner) daily for around 4 years and still going strong. They’ve crashed twice and have come out unscathed; me too. No complaints whatsoever. Not for really heavy rain as the outer shell will get wet, but will do fine most of the time in warm or cold weather due to the flexibility of having a removable waterproof/windproof liner. Full length zips on both shell and liner pants for easy on/off.
Fluffy black neck gaiter: This is a fluffy and slightly stretchy tube you put on over your head to keep your neck warm and mostly dry. Wonderful bit of kit for cooler weather riding.
Alpinestars Bionic SP Vest: a mesh zip-up vest intended to be worn under a jacket. Has hard plastic rib/chest protectors and a heavy duty armadillo like back protector; same one they use in their high-end racing gear. I wear this under my touring jacket to supplement the jacket’s flexible back pad. It’s crashed once and, I believe, saved me from a back injury. Highly recommended.