I need some serious wardrobe help for fall/winter riding but the number of options is crazy. I don't commute, just fun riding of 1-3 hours (weekends only for now). Fast on pavement, slow on gravel or light singletrack, all in the same ride. maybe some cyclocross racing next year. I tend to be on the warm side, so here's my list of thoughts:
1) windbreaker pant with minimal insulation. is there a loose-fitting tight or snug-fit pants with zipper vents? I thought I saw some that had zippered mesh pockets that you could open for ventilation. Does this need to be cycling specific? or just something with a snug fit around the ankle? maybe this can handle light rain too?
2) tights or bib for warmth under the windbreaker pants (or in place of them?). do I put tights over my summer bibs, or get a winter bib w/ chamois? performance bike triflex seems popular and comes in bibs, tights w/ chamois, and tights w/out chamois. would regular tights w/ chamois be better in winter for layering?
3) shell jacket. Are zip-off sleeves or pit zips a big air leak when its cold? Can one shell do spring/fall/winter?
4) layering insulation. poly shirts and fleece/wool. all the fleece I own lets the wind right through it, is that bad? or is it only the special soft-shell fleece that blocks the wind? Is it bad to put a hard shell over a soft-shell fleece jacket?
5) head/face coverage. Hat + facemask or gaiter? or one of those combo balaclavas? Which is easier to adjust for exertion levels?
I'm comfortable in my summer gear down to 55F. I was thinking I'd add the windbreaker pants at 50F, then either add or switch to the tights. Or should the baggy fit be avoided unless really necessary, like in the rain? any suggestions on pants and jacket? I also need socks and gloves, but found some good suggestions here already.