It's that time of year again. There are some good cold weather threads out there, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to start another one. Share your knowledge!
Let's get started:
1. Heated grips: Cold hands suck! I don't care for insulated gloves because they compromise feel and, if poorly designed or fitted, sometimes restrict circulation in the fingers, making you even colder in the long run. I love heated grips and I'm surprised that they aren't optional on more bikes. Some of the bikes that are available here have OEM heated grip kits available in other markets (the VFR comes to mind), but they can be pricey. You'll use them far more often than you'd think. Fortunately, you can add heat for surprisingly little money:
If you have more cash to spend, HotGrips are an option:
2. Gloves: A cheap way to retain heat is to use insulated glove liners. Check with ski or snowmobile shops. Just be sure that the added layering doesn't restrict circulation when you wrap your hands around your grips.
Post up if you have any recommendations for good winter gloves.
Heated gloves are available through Widder and Gerbing. I have a pair, but find that they rarely get used because they are inconvenient. Heated grips may go on briefly in the morning or at high altitudes, even during the summer, but these are times when I wouldn't bother with the gloves.
3. Heated vests: You may feel the cold in your extremities, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't appreciate a heated vest/jacket. When the temperature drops, your body restricts blood flow to the extremities to keep warmth in your body's core. By heating the core, an electric vest will help to keep your hands/feet warmer as well. There are several varieties available. There is a common electric vest available at many local shops that costs ~$100. If you get more serious about heat, Widder makes a good product. You can add "arm chaps" to heat your arms. I use this system, but admit that it is less convenient than a heated jacket. The close fit of the Widder + arms chaps does make efficient use of available wattage, and that can be a bonus for minimalist charging systems. For maximum heat production, the Gerbing stuff seems to be the best--they're based somewhere near Seattle, and I understand that they often have deals available at the Seattle bike show.
Heated chaps/pants are also available.
4. Rain suits: Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping you dry, a rain suit does an excellent job of cutting the wind. Even riding gear that features Goretex (or similar) seems to let some wind through. I often use a rainsuit jacket to cut the chill. The difference is significant and the relatively low cost is attractive.
5. HYDRATION!!!!!!! Not gear or an accessory, but vitally important. It is easy to become dehydrated when it is cold--sometimes you're not thirsty. Hydration is a key to staying alert and when you're riding on cold and/or wet pavement, you want to be as alert as possible.