Originally Posted by Bren
People whose bikes are ridden for short distances in warm dry weather tend to make fun of the gear worn for many years by those who spend full days riding hundreds of miles across the country. Hit the highway for 11-12 hours on a 45 degree day and you'll quickly understand what the chaps are for. A leather superhero suit is only practical for guys who are going home to change in a few hours, so chaps give you protection that you can take off and put in a saddlebag when you get where you are going. I've left home in the rain at below 40 degrees for a 700 miles ride - a whole different thing than zipping around town on a sport bike.
Vest? Gives me pockets, holds my gun/phone/wallet/knife/magazines/etc. and gives me a good shield against the wind on a long ride. Not to mention being a good place for club patches.
Riders who actually ride long distances (i.e. myself) have gears dedicated for that and it doesn't involve chaps and vests.
An Aerostitch suit is perfect for long or short ride, gives plenty of protection from the elements and decent protection in crashes. A full face helmet gives protection from the elements, crashes, bug strikes, gravel strikes, and a host of other nasty things that true long riders have to endure.