Since there are a ton a resources about selecting a bike for yourself out there I’m going to skip over that part of Getting Around Using Pedals. I do want to talk about some of the kit that could come in handy whilst Getting Around Using Pedals, however. So, Gloves.
Note: I cross-country ski and use these same gloves while skiing.
If your goals for Getting Using Pedals are fairly modest, say a 4 mile round trip to the library and coffee shop in good weather with temps above about the mid-50’s you really don’t need any gloves. However, I find that I get a better grip on my bars with gloves on and gloves have saved me from a few cuts, scrapes, and pokes over the years so I almost always wear them. If you’re going on longer rides gloves do help with comfort, grip and help keep the sun off. I recommend wearng them.
For temps over the mid-50’s the lightweight gloves in the upper right of the photo (Giro D&D) work grand. Look for good straight stiching, seams that aren’t poky, a light leather palm and breathable back. I wear these in all but the hottest weather. These sorts of gloves make a good general purpose outdoors glove as long as you’re not doing anything too aggressive. General purpose outdoors gloves from manufacturers like Outdoor Research work just fine for these conditions as well and tend to be a little more rugged.
If things get a little cooler or it starts to rain below about the low 50’s’s, you’re probably going to be better off with gloves even on short trips, unless you’re fairly exothermic. In these conditions you’re going to want a glove that blocks the wind completely and is waterproof. If you tend to have cold hands you might want a lightly insulated glove. I go with Cross Point gloves from Showers Pass (2nd from left of top) which have a wind and waterproof barrier fabric and lightweight insulation. I’ll wear these gloves down to around the freezing mark. I have longish, thin fingers so I can easily fit liner gloves (Bottom right in photo) on under my regular gloves. On cold days I’ll put liner gloves on under the Cross Points for a little extra warmth. Note the longish “gauntlet” on the wrist of the Cross Points. Gauntlet’s are super important for sealing with your jacket and locking wind and rain. Make sure whatever cool or cold weather glove you get can seal well with your jackets.
Next up we have freezing to a little above zero degree conditions, with the right kit rides up to about 5 miles one way with a warm destination at both ends are easy and fun in these condations. For these you’re going to want a windproof and well insulated glove with a long gauntlet that seals well with your jacket. For these I go with the Cross Points neighbor to the right. However, the gloves I have don’t have a long enough gauntlet for me and I tend to have issues with air leaks. If I’m going on a longer ride I either wear the lighter weight Cross Points with liners or switch to the warmer still lobster claws. If it’s a short ride I’ve found the air leaks aren’t that big of a deal, but I do plan of replacing these gloves in the future.
For conditions that are a little above zero to OMFG IT’S COLD! ARE YOU INSANE? I’ll go with heavily insulated lobster claws (bottom right). The lobster claw works similar to a mitten, but it’s split design allows you to work the brakes and gears on a bicycle. They go quite a way over my wrists and the gauntlet is insulated. Lobster Claw gloves also work well while cross-country skiing. I wear liner gloves in these conditions so that I can sweat into the liner glove not the main glove. If my hands “sweat out” I can just swap liner gloves and keep my lobster claws drier. Liner gloves also help keep your hands a little warm if you have to take the lobster claws off (in my case usually taking a picture). If you have to fiddle with something the liner gloves protect you from directly touching cold metal and leaving a little gift to the gods on the metal when you pull your finger away. I’ll go out for short jaunts down to about -15 degrees (Eau Claire’s one of the coldest cities in the continental U.S.), but below zero I don’t ride very far and stick to walking and cross country skiing at anything below -5. It’s pretty cool (heh) knowing that you can get around under your own power at -15.