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Cube's lightweight Blackline Rain Shorts offer great comfort, decent durability and exceptional wet weather protection as far as they go (ie, to the knee), but they're not overendowed with reflectivity, and can slip a little on the saddle.
I tested Cube's Blackline Rain Pants just before Christmas and felt that they were a really decent pair of waterproofs. With essentially the same design, albeit cut off at the knee, it's no surprise that the shorts share many of the same positives.
That's to say, first, the build is top-notch, featuring Cube's Primetronic waterproof fabric with a section of extra-durable thicker fabric at the seat and upper thigh. There's a Velcro, popper and zip fly closure at the front; a soft and high waistband with Velcro side straps for tightening; and, as with the trousers, for some reason just one solitary zipped mesh-lined pocket (not 'pockets' as stated on the Cube website) on the left hip. The shorts also come with a bijou stuffsack for storage.
Performance in the saddle is similar to the trousers, too. Waterproofing is faultless and you can be quite confident that you'll retain a dry crotch, seat and upper thigh. Fit and comfort are superb, with a decently high back to give you good coverage. However, the waistband is arguably a little too soft and stretchy, and you're likely to find yourself hoiking them up from time to time or giving the Velcro side adjusters and good yank.
A little more frustrating is the reinforced seat section, which although laudable in terms of durability can slip a little, particularly on road or commuting bike saddles. If you tend to move about on the seat at the best of times, you'll be slipping and sliding even more while wearing these.
Adam tested the Blacklines over at our sister site off.road.cc and felt they were almost bang-on perfect for trail riding. As I'm looking more at their functionality in a road/commuting sense, though, I have a slightly different focus.
For example, while the shorts' lack of insulation and lightweight nature is great if your ride is a hard and fast technical challenge, for run-of-the-mill wet rides to work, I wouldn't mind if the Blacklines had a tad more substance to them. That said, with no padded insert anyway, for most wet rides you're going to want to team these with a decent pair of padded tights.
One criticism I had of the full-length Blackline trousers was that the rider's lower legs were slightly held hostage to the cold with chilly breezes sneaking up from below. With shorts, that expectation is something one would hope the buyer has already taken into consideration. But with decent length to the knee, and a toggle adjuster at the hem to seal them against your thighs, they actually do a good job of adequately protecting the areas they do cover. (Try to avoid going too crazy with the hem toggle, though – you end up looking like you're wearing a pair of jodhpurs.)
Probably the biggest criticism I have that doesn't feature among trail-riding requirements is reflectivity. Other than a thin strip of reflective piping down the sides and the Cube branding, there's very little to help you stand out on dark or dreary roads. And, practically speaking, another pocket or two wouldn't go amiss either.
We haven't tested a lot of waterproof shorts, although the Sportful Giara Over Shorts do a similar job and Dave was quite impressed with them. At £65, they offer good comfort and arguably offer more regular day-to-day practicality than the Cubes, although they can't offer quite the same monsoon-surviving rain protection.
However, before you start thinking the Cubes are overly expensive, Gore has some very similar ones – its C5 Gore-Tex Active Trail Shorts – for £129.99. So the Cubes are fair value for this kind of performance.
If you just fancy the long baggy aesthetic, I can heartily recommend Endura's stylish Hummvee Chino shorts at £59.95, but they're definitely not waterproof.
The Blackline Shorts do what they set out to do very well. They're very lightweight, comfortable and, most of all, waterproof. As an emergency measure to keep in your work bag and break out when you want to prevent a soggy bum on a wet ride home, there's little to moan about other than reflectivity and the slight saddle slippage. That said, for commuting purposes, the £30 saving is the only obvious reason why I'd opt for knee-length wet weather protection rather than the full-length coverage supplied by the Blackline Pants.
Very good lightweight waterproof baggy shorts, with a couple of niggles
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cube Blackline Rain Shorts
Size tested: XXL
Tell us what the product is for
They're waterproof shorts.
Cube says: "When the rain comes out of nowhere while you're out and about, you'll be perfectly equipped with your compact CUBE Blackline Shorts. The durable, lightweight Primetronic material has taped seams that make them completely waterproof and additional details like the zip front pockets [actually - just one pocket], adjustable, high-back waistband, reinforced seat and various reflective elements make the Rain Shorts more than just an emergency solution. 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?
Quick drying and resistant functional material
Water resistant and windproof
Front pockets with zippers
Small pack size
Very well made with taped seams and the Primetronic material has excellent weather-protecting capabilities. The zipped fly, and poppered and Velcro'd closure is nice and secure. Could do with a few more pockets and reflective highlights, though.
Very good performance in the rain – your upper legs, crotch and bottom should remain resolutely dry. Just a bit of slippage on the saddle is the only complaint here.
Early days, but they've been pretty hardy so far, with the extra thick material at the inner thigh and gusset being a particularly good feature.
Not bad at all. Length in the leg is good and the high waistback keeps your lower back covered well.
Strangely for me, if I had to criticise anything it would be that they size up too big. The Velcro side straps can help you bring them in, though.
To be honest, other than the slight rustling sound they make, you'd hardy know you're wearing them.
At £99.95, these are not cheap, but they are £30 less than Gore's C5 Gore-Tex Active Trail shorts.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Pretty simple. Chuck in the washing machine at 30 degrees then hang dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As functional waterproof cycling shorts, there's very little to criticise. The slight slipping on the saddle is pretty much the only performance-related issue.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproofing is excellent. Comfort and weight are impressive, too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slipping on saddle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Sportful Giara Over Shorts at £65 offer good comfort, some weatherproofing and are arguably more practical day-to-day than the Cubes, though they can't offer quite the same monsoon-surviving rain protection. We haven't tested them, but Gore's C5 Gore-Tex Active Trail shorts are £129.99 at rrp.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yup
Would you consider buying the product? I'd probably go for the pants…
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Blackline Shorts do the job very well, with only a couple of areas of criticism. Still, I can't help thinking that for commuting purposes the full-length Blackline Pants would seem to make more sense.
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