Here is what worked for me this past Winter. I'll post my responsed after your statements
1) base layer: underarmour(heat gear and cold gear). 2 or three pairs. Should I try craft instead?
I wear just a breathable T shirt. I have bought most of mine for around $20 at Dicks Sporting Goods, but found some descent ones at Target for around $13. Just don't use Cotton! This is my main body layer.
2) Jerseys: i just have short sleeve. I add arm warmers when <60 F.
I just aquired 1 long sleeve Jersey to help with the cool morning, when I don't want to deal with a coat because I know the day will warm up. If it is cool (as low as 34F this week, but mostly 40F to 65F) I'll just wear the T shirt and then put the Jersey over top. When it warms up I can shed the Long Sleeve jerseay.
3) Wind/ rain breaker: cannondale..has removable sleeves for vest
I had a Quest wind breaker and it does work, except that it just doesn't breath much. I'd wear a fleece pull-over and then the wind breaker. From a temperature perspective it worked OK till about 18F, but I'd arrive at work with the inside of the Windbreaker complete soaked with sweat. It just was not very comfortable. I did recently aquire a Performance Illuminite vest. I use this in conjustion with the Long Sleeve Jersey to handle the cold spring mornings (35F to 50F), but most afternoons it gets into the 60's. This gives me some options to mix and match to get the right amount of body protection without feeling like I am in a sauna of hot sweat.
4)Outerwear: Suggestions??? looking for something to put over my base layer and jersey from ~20 F -~50F.
During the Winter I bought a E-Vap coat from www.foxwear.net
. This thing is amazing. I can wear it from15F till about 15F with only a T shirt underneath. Unlike the windbreaker, this coat is very wind resistant, but lets ALL the sweat escape. I had mine made with the thin side pannels, so that I got maxium sweat extraction. When the temps dropped into the single digits I would put the Wind Break on over top to help keep more of the body heat in. I would end up with wet sleeves on the inside of the Wind Breaker, but I'd never feel it as the moisture was moved well away from my skin. That worked down to 2F with a wind chill of -26F (that was my coldest day this winter).
5) Bib shorts and legwarmers or bib shorts and tights or do I need all three??
For tights I got a set of Illuminite Tights from Nashbar. These have a slightly loose fitting. These are not Lycra-body hugging tights. I actually like that they are a little loose. The are not loose in the way sweat pants are, but they are soft and comfy like sweats. I have been amazed at how wind resistant they are. At first I rode with just the tights, but at temps well below freezing my privates were getting WAY to cold. I then just started wearing my J&G rain pants as a wind breaker layer for my legs. For longer rides I wear my riding shorts, for my 5 mile commute to work, normal underwear is fine.
6) accesories: gloves, shoe covers, hat(and helmet), etc
- For winter shoes I just wear a pair of comfy Merril Winter boots. I was not going to spend hundreds for cycling boots when I only commute 10 miles round trip.
- For gloves I use a pair of old Gortex Ski gloves. These gloves work well when the temps are well below freezing, but they don't let enough heat/sweat escape when the temps get above 30F. This fall I have to get some gloves that are a little lighter, but really shed the sweat well.
- For my head I wear a Turtle Fur beenie type cap that fits nicely under a helmet.
- I also have a PSolar mask to protect my face and lungs when the temps start to drop into the wingle digits. I don't want to get frost bite on my ski, and 2F air is hard on the lungs when you are breathing deeply. I do notice a little resistance with the mask, but breathing in pre-warmed air makes riding in these temps very workable.
- I only used a ski mask twice, and that was in temps below 5F, I didn't want my contacts to act up, and I was also covering every square inch of exposed skin to avoid frost bit. With 2F with -26 Windchill it doesn't take long to freeze skin.
So to recap:
For temps below 32F:
Body - T shirt and E-Vap coat
Legs - Tights and Rain pants
For temps around 30-50F
Body - T shirt and E-Vap coat
Legs - Tights
For temps around 50-65
Body - T-shirt and Long sleeve Jersey + Vest as needed.
Legs - Tights.
For temps over 70F
Legs - Swim trunk Shorts for short rides to work on the hybrid, Riding Shorts for the road bike or any ride much over 7 miles on the hybrid commuter bike.
There was a discussion going on a few months ago in one of the Forums where it was mentioned that the USA Olympic Cycling coach will NOT let their rides go out without covering their legs. Apparently the knees get relatively little blood supply and at temps well below 70F you are putting much more strain on your knees if you don't keep them protected with some fort of tights.
You don't need to spend a fortune to get through Winter.