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Cube's Blackline Rain Pants do an excellent job of keeping your legs dry and the pedals turning relatively unencumbered. They're not quite so hot at keeping you free from chill breezes, though.
What is it about the smell of waterproof trousers? The Blackline Rain Pants are apparently made from something called Primetronic fabric, which Cube classes as 'innovative technology' and suggests they are a little different from the norm, but they smell just like every other pair of waterproof trousers I've ever encountered.
Of course, my nose alone isn't testing them, and deeper investigation suggests there are some more special elements to their construction. For example, the lower part of each leg benefits from two Velcro straps, which are there to form a secure fit around your calves and stop any unwanted breezes – or perhaps over-inquisitive rodents – from venturing where they shouldn't. There are also Velcro side straps to help tighten the elastic waist; Velcro, popper and zip fly closure at the front; and a single mesh-lined pocket on the left hip. (I'm not sure why it doesn't have a twin on the right hip, but hey ho.)
While the vast majority of these trousers is made of that Primetronic fabric, it is augmented in a couple of places. The first is with two snaking pieces of reflective ribbing that originate on the lower butt cheeks and wind their way round to the front of the leg, stopping just above the knee. The second is with thicker, more durable material in the high-wear sections of gusset and inside upper thigh.
They also come with a handy little stuff sack for storage so you can stick them in your commuting rucksack side pocket and retrieve when the heavens open.
In action, on warmer days you could get away with just wearing bib shorts or padded liner shorts underneath the Blackline Pants. However, I think viewing them as overtrousers – a waterproof outer layer – is the most sensible approach, especially if you're going to be wearing them for a fair while. In this case, it's also worth pointing out that breathability is very good – no sweaty legs here.
In fact, quite the opposite. If I had to lodge any criticism, I'd say it would be with windproofing and general warmth retention. Although those double Velcro collars do stop the breeze gusting up your leg to some extent, they're not entirely successful and on properly chilly days you're going to want to wear at least a set of tights underneath. I've been wearing the Blackline Pants over Isadore's Urban Jeans and even then my lower legs have started to feel a bit parky after an hour in the saddle.
That's when I've been actually on the saddle, mind. The one other slight problem is that the Blacklines have a slightly reduced friction relationship with your bike's perch. If you've got a nicely balanced neutral position, it's no problem. But if you find yourself sliding forward or back on your saddle at the best of times, these will exacerbate the problem.
In terms of performance, though, those are the only qualms I've got. When the rain starts beating down, they are fantastically effective at keep you dry. I've tested them in everything from light drizzle to heavy downpours, and they haven't failed to work their magic. As I've said, there have been no self-made moisture problems, either, so you're guaranteed to arrive at your destination completely dry (bottom-half, at least).
Many of the Blacklines' features work well, too. Those Velcro cuffs at the calf are great for keeping fabric from flapping around near the chainset, while the Velcro waist straps do a decent job of keeping the trousers securely round your middle. I do think that the elastic waistband is perhaps a little too stretchy, or it may be that in my determination to use them as accommodating overtrousers I just picked a size too large, so don't go crazy on the sizing.
Compared with the Altura Nevis III overtrousers we tested a while back, which cost £44.99, the Blacklines seem pricey. But they are far better specced and a much more thought-through product. A slightly more apt comparison would be the £159.99 Gore Power Trail Active Pants, which don't have all the practical features of the Cubes but slightly better weather performance. So, at £129.95 I'd say the Cubes are fair value for money.
However, one thing that comparing the Cubes to rival products also highlights is just how well designed the Blacklines are. It's not just about the Velcro straps and pockets and useful features, but the material and construction is a little more pleasing than the often bin-liner-esque aesthetics of similar alternative garments. For waterproof trousers, these are actually quite classy and cause very few compromises to your ride experience.
So, if you're looking for a pair of trousers to keep your legs dry and make life in a soggy saddle as enjoyable as possible, there's much to recommend Cube's Blackline Rain Pants. Take steps to deal with their couple of slight shortcomings, and you'll be set fair for rainy days.
Quietly classy rain trousers that will keep you dry and pedalling with few compromises
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cube Blackline Rain Pants
Size tested: XXL
Tell us what the product is for
Waterproof trousers for rainy and wintry days. On its website, Cube confusingly mixes them up with the shorter Blackline Rain Shorts, but the sentiments are much the same: "Regardless of whether you always have them with you as an emergency pair of shorts or you wear them on foul-weather rides, the Blackline Rain Shorts keep you prepared and protected. The durable, quick-drying Primetronic material has taped seams that make the shorts completely wind and waterproof. Just some of the details on these performance rain shorts include the zip front pockets, reflective accents, and the adjustable waistband and lower legs. You can keep them stored in the tiny stuff bag that they come in."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
These are the specs as listed on the Cube website:
Quick drying and resistant Primetronic material (tick)
Water resistant (I'd argue that they are waterproof) and windproof (I'd argue they are more wind resistant)
Taped seams (tick)
Front pockets with zippers (one front pocket, not 'pockets')
Reflective elements (tick)
Adjustable waistband and trouser leg width (tick)
Small pack size (with stuff sack)
Very nicely made with reflective and colour highlights and reinforced seat section.
I thought these were very, very good at keeping you dry but protection from chilly winds – specifically at the lower leg – wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped.
They've stood up to use well – the reinforced gusset and inside upper thigh is a very good idea.
Pretty good fit, although they tend to hang a little low. Fine for yutes and MC Hammer, but sometimes a bit tricky to throw a leg over the bike without hoiking everything up.
I went XXL for a 38in waist purely so I could wear them easily over other layers, such as jeans. This worked a treat, although I think a size smaller might have been better.
Pretty lightweight and very packable.
Fair value I'd say. There are cheaper waterproof trousers available, but not many have the same level of attention to detail and complete design as these.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Simply stick them in the washing machine at 30 degrees then hang dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well. They certainly keep rain water from seeping through. However, during longer rides on chilly days, I found my lower legs getting cold, even with other layers on.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproofing and handy stuff sack closures.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not as windproof as I'd hoped.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared with the Altura Nevis III overtrousers, which cost £44.99, the Blacklines seem a little pricey. But they are far better specced and a much more thought-through product. A slightly more apt comparison would be the £159.99 Gore Power Trail Active Pants, which don't have all the practical features of the Cubes but slightly better weather performance. So, at £129.95, I'd say the Cubes are fair value for money.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Just a couple of areas stop Cube's Blackline Rain Pants from attaining full marks, but they are still a very effective and well-resolved bit of wet-weather kit.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure