The Nukeproof Blackline Pants made waves as soon as they launched in 2019. The cut, price tag and performance on the bike impressed everyone who tried them (and it’s no wonder just about everyone in the office now owns a pair).
Fast forward three years and while they’re still some of the best mountain bike trousers on the market, there’s no denying that the competition for the top spot has got tougher.
So, how exactly do the Blacklines measure up against the best? With a seriously competitive price tag and some great features on offer, we have really high hopes, that’s for sure.
How we tested
The Nukeproof Blackline Pants were reviewed as part of a group test and pitted against 10 other very similar pairs of trousers.
While my favourites were the Specialized Trail Pants (thanks to their leg length and more tailored cut), the Blacklines held their own against some seriously stiff competition. That competition included the likes of the impressive POC Rhythm Resistance Pants, which although great on the trail, cost over £100 more than the Blacklines.
Also on test
- Specialized Trail Pants
- Endura SingleTrack II
- Troy Lee Designs Skyline
- Fox Ranger
Other close contenders included the Troy Lee Designs Skyline Pants and O’Neal Pathfinders, but the fit, features, pricing and performance of the Blacklines helped them to beat both of these when worn back-to-back.
Nukeproof Blackline Pants details
The Blackline Pants come in five different unisex sizes (S*, M, L, XL, XXL), so most riders should find a size that’ll work for them.
If you’re a bit bored of all the black trail pants out there, Nukeproof offers the Blacklines in blue, too, though it’s a very dark blue as seen here.
The waist closes using a double popper and zipped fly, while twin Velcro tabs enable some additional fit adjustment to get the Blacklines feeling just right.
Nukeproof has wisely raised the rear of the waist to ensure your lower back stays covered when you’re seated on the bike, and the silicone print inside the waistband should help to prevent the Blacklines from sagging, especially when weighed down with soggy mud.
The relatively lightweight, four-way stretch fabric has been cut with ride performance in mind. This means the tapered cut of the lower legs should help keep them from rubbing against crank arms while pedalling and minimise material flapping about when they do inevitably get a soaking.
While the fit isn’t quite as extreme as the likes of Specialized’s Trail Pants, Nukeproof has certainly done better than most with the shaping.
Two zipped hip pockets provide ample storage for essentials without being overly voluminous and allowing the contents to flap about while you ride.
The left pocket even includes a key tether for additional peace of mind.
Finally, Nukeproof has added a DWR coating to help better weatherproof the Blacklines and try to keep you a little drier inside.
Nukeproof Blackline Pants performance
In terms of fit, the Blackline Pants are some of the best I’ve tried. Once on, tweaking the fit around the waist is quick and easy, and on the bike, you feel properly locked in.
That means when riding, whether you’re sat, hunched over the bars on a climb or out of the saddle and throwing yourself around, they stay exactly where they need to be.
At no point did I need to readjust the waist or pull them up. Even when caked in thick, gloopy mud, I never once felt as though the Blacklines were drooping down or sagging, which is a real plus.
It helps that there’s a decent bit of give through the fabric, which contributes to superb levels of comfort and total freedom of movement.
Just as promised, the tapered legs ensure that when you get drenched and pelted with mud, there’s not masses of ill-fitting material left flapping around.
I’d have preferred the lower legs to be a touch snugger and slightly shorter (I have a 30in inseam), but this by no means hampered how the Blacklines performed on the trail.
Details that make the difference
The zipped pockets are well sized and helpfully hold their contents tight enough to your legs that it’ll not be swinging around with every revolution of the cranks.
When it does rain, the DWR coating provides some protection from puddle splashes and lighter rain showers, but don’t expect your legs to stay bone dry if you’re out in a downpour.
The lightweight fabric means when they are sodden, they’re not the warmest, but that isn’t very surprising.
The plus side to their lightweight construction is I’ve found I can wear them almost all-year round.
Yes, they’re warmer than a pair of mountain bike shorts during the summer months. However, if you’re heading out in changeable weather in the summer and can’t face dealing with the additional cleaning that comes with wearing shorts (plastered knee pads and socks, along with your lower legs), then the Blacklines work really well and won’t cause you to melt when working hard on the bike.
Overall, it’s seriously impressive what Nukeproof has achieved for the money here.
It certainly explains why so many of the team choose to wear them.
Nukeproof Blackline Pants bottom line
Considering the price of the Blackline Pants, I think it’s fair to say Nukeproof has done a stunning job.
The features here all make sense when it comes to on-the-bike performance, and the cut and shaping work really well too.
If I’m being seriously picky, I’d say tailoring the lower legs a little more would be great, especially for those of us with short legs, but it’s a minor niggle. Otherwise, these are really tricky to fault.
So why haven’t I scored them a full five stars? Well, I honestly wish I could mark them a 4.9 rather than a 4.5.
The Blacklines are brilliant.