Leatt: Roost Tee is protection light enough to wear everyday:
I'm not sure how the term 'roost' transitioned from motocross to mountain biking. In moto, it's the chum thrown up by another rider's rear tire – dirt, rocks or any debris flying up at chasing riders – and it can hurt. But aside from slinging dirt around a berm, or maybe it's a chicken thing, I'm not sure why we use this word.
Roost protectors in mto deflect this oncoming debris, and usually are not CE rated for mechanical impacts or crashes. Mountain bikers don't really require as much protection as moto riders, impact levels are different. However, the Leatt Roost Tee is a quality product and fills a pretty interesting safety space for MTB.
The Roost Tee sits neatly between hardcore protection and, well, plain clothes. It retails for $59 and comes in a nice understated grey. Coincidentally, I got it while my ribs were a bit bruised from a crash and I had swelling of the soft tissue between the ribs, which isn't that much fun.
The shirt fits like any athletic light compression undershirt that wicks sweat - but with integrated shoulder, biceps and chest protection.
I took the Roost Tee for a first ride on a cool day with light jacket and was pretty impressed with how comfortable it was. Aside from safety, the chest protector and arm panels also add a bit of wind blocking. In fact, even on lighter rides I'd find myself just pulling it on as a wind-blocking extra layer.
Your normal MTB shirts will fit over it without any trouble. On warmer days I wore just the Roost. It's fine alone, you could certainly use it all summer, though you will sweat a little harder where the pads are (or, more accurately, the sweat will wick off you more slowly) but the fabric pulls sweat off the majority of your torso just fine. Something not always true with upper body armor.
On those 90º days of August suffering, it might get hotter than necessary. But then, nothing is cool on those days.
The Roost tee also adds that bit of mental confidence you get when padded up versus times you're not. You might look a little more burly, but not much. It's fairly long, so it tucks into your shorts and doesn't slide up during a ride.
SO, WHEN WOULD YOU WEAR THIS AND WHY?
The chest pad starts just below the clavicle, where a neck brace would sit, so you can absolutely wear this with a full face helmet and neck protection if you're one of those guys who goes lighter at the park.
The Roost Tee doesn't weigh much more than a regular t-shirt and it doesn't restrict movement, so throwing it on for hard trail, 'all mountain' or enduro rides is a no brainer.
So, the question is, why not wear it. For pure XC races or smooth tracks, it's probably not necessary, though mentally it takes the edge off 'you never know' moments. How many of your crashes are the result of something dumb that doesn't usually happen? If you are charging hard, it provides an extra bit of confidence to commit to a line – which is actually safer than going into something tentatively and on your brakes.
As bikes get better, trails are getting harder and sketchy features seem to come around more often. If you don't feel like having a stupid fall keep you out of work or from sleeping comfortably for a few weeks, the Roost tee is for you. If you've bruised ribs more than twice over the last two years on trail rides, this would be something for you. And if you're one of those guys, maybe a former slalom ski racer, who can't help shouldering trees, this is for you.
If you're riding at a new spot and one guy mentions 'there's some sketchy stuff here' while everyone's still in the parking lot, throw this on. They won't even know you're wearing it. Okay, now this is starting to sound like a Spanx infomercial. Moving on...
I have friends who wear hard knee/shin and elbow guards on all trail rides because they got tired of random scrapes and dings from pedal slips or screwing up a skinny. I don't ding my elbows or shins that much, so I go lighter there, but the Roost tee feels like a pretty nice insurance trade-off.
There's now a lot of slim knee and elbow padding for everyday riding in the market. The Roost is the chest/shoulder protection in that category, and It definitely works for a bit of out-of-your-comfort-zone riding.
And the price is pretty good. Heck, it's the price of some shirts. I'm sure Leatt could release a version with smart Armor-gel and jack the cost a bit, but a nice $59 item that fits most folks (there are two sizes, S/M for 5’2” to 5’8” and L/XL for 5’8” to 6’) feels like a winner. If you're riding and are getting kinda' rad, there's no reason not to wear it.
OH! and it goes into the washing machine like a regular shirt (wash it in cool water, not hot). And hey, under a riding shirt it makes it look like you've been hitting the gym. Booya!