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Road Tests

Road Tests :: Chrome Metropolis

by , August 19, 2010
Chrome messenger review

This is one of those bags that you see pop up everywhere, reaching icon status with that broad silhouette and bling seat belt buckle. And as with any iconic bag, there are also reviews everywhere. The internet has filled it’s silicon warehouse with dissections and discussions about the Metropolis, looking for insights into a seriously long lasting (sales and production wise) bag.

After owning one for almost 2 years now, I thought it was my turn to try and go a little deeper than those other reviews, in the way that Carryology encourages…


Under the flap of the Chrome Metropolis

Chrome Metropolis review
Design: Firstly, the design and construction is simple (in a good way). When closed, the bag’s flap fully covers the side gussets in a way that few do, making sure there is not any gaps for the elements to sneak into your bag. You may think that statement is pretty pointless, but when you take a good look at some messenger/single strap bags, the flap leaves huge Prince Charles ear gaps hanging out the sides. Oh, and just another note on the appearance – the strip of liner material on the bottom of the front flap is a tasty touch, matching the inside liner colour.
How much can the Chrome Metropolis fit?
Size: Being the current largest bag in the Buckle Bag Series range (not counting the GIGANTICALLY HUMUNGOUS Berlin in the Pro-Series range) the sides on the bag sit more at right angles to the base than Citizen or Mini-Metro, endowing you with more usable space from top to bottom. I also find squared off bag designs a little more appealing than bags with a large difference in top and base width.
A stuffed Chrome Metropolis

The main compartment itself is big, but not so big that it becomes overbearing. I have travelled lots with this bag, often going away for 3-4 days at a time, and its gallantly carted changes of clothes, book, MP3 player, drawing materials, toiletries, jacket and some food. The compartment can easily hold an A3 size folio, but I’ll get into this a little later.

Compression is limited to the two front straps and clips, nothing running underneath the bag. With the base size of this bag I feel that it is just small enough not to be concerned with base compression. If you choose not to use the clips to close the flap and just rely on the velcro, there are two female clip ends just above the base to clip them into to stop them from dangling and can be used to carry poster tubes effectively.
Chrome Metropolis organising pocketing
Basic Organizing: Lift up the flap and there’s an external pocket area for some pens, phone, small notebook, zipped section for smaller loose items and larger pocket for items like a u-lock. I typically run these sections with a couple of pens, small notebook, USB drive, keys, MP3 player and headphones. It works well for that, but that’s about all that fits.
Chrome Metropolis water bottle
On the main compartment, just along the inside towards the corners of the flap, are two slim, deep pockets. I have use these for a water bottle, tools, and my wallet. Even though I have to open the bag fully to get to my wallet, I feel its the most secure place for it (even over the zipped pocket on the front which does not have much expanding capability).
Chrome Metropolis review

Barrier-ability: That’s my new word to describe the benefits of a ‘floating’ main section. Along the top seam between the two pockets, there’s some velcro holding the main compartment to the outside wall of the bag. Get that open, and you’ll see that the main compartment interior is separated from the Cordura outside of the bag. This creates a reasonably waterproof interior to the bag.

I’ve had cans of soft drink explode inside the bag without any of that evil sticky ligfluid escape the main compartment. Quite the opposite of what the designer probably had in mind but if liquid can not get out, it is most certainly getting in. This area has worked great for stashing dirty clothes to keep them separate from the rest of your cargo.
Big padded strap on Chrome Metropolis messenger
Strap: It’s wide and nicely padded. But be warned young grasshopper, they are shoulder specific. The padding is fixed and designed to be worn over a particular shoulder only (your choice which).
Accessorise you messenger for phone carry
On top of the padding is a velcro accessory attachment area which I quite like. It’s simple and easily attaches your accessories. I purchased one of Accessory Pouches for a place to keep my phone while riding (which works a treat). There’s also a stabiliser strap to brace the messenger across your body, which works well.
Stop the dangle
The bottom half of the strap is set up so for quick adjustment on the fly, with a quick release attachment next to the buckle. At the end of the strap is a plastic buckle to shorten the excess strap length after tightening. This is great for people of a narrower build who don’t want to have a strap waving around waiting to get caught in something while they ride pass.
I’ve used a carabina on my bag to hold the excess to the main section and I am still able to pull the strap without tightening it with issue.


Road Tests :: Chrome Metropolis

Lack of organizing: A common theme on Carryology with messengers. This is perhaps another messenger that is too core for the rest of us (especially for the tech savvy, this is not a great option). It will do the job from carting around a laptop, charger and hard drive, but you would want something suitable to put them in first.

That said, Chrome have recently updated their buckle bag range by adding velcro loops inside the front of the main compartment which holds their laptop sleeves that are sold separately. The good thing about this option is the laptop sits off your back, making it a lot more comfortable for you.
Hit and Miss, Dig and Diss
That buckle: As mentioned at the start, the seatbelt style buckle is probably the most iconic and recognizable addition to the bag. This however does not suit everyone’s taste due to its very solid and indiscreet appearance. Above the buckle is a female end of a clip for a stabilizer strap that is attached the top corner of the bag, depending on what orientation the bag is set up for. The red button is extremely touchy though and I do get a little nervous when people who like to play the game of “what happens when I push this?” are around.
Road Tests :: Chrome Metropolis

Comfort issues: The main problems you face with this messenger are:

1) The strap only works on one shoulder (which means you can’t swap it around to keep your body better in balance), and:

2) When loaded, it has a tendency to really square up in shape.

Compounding this second point is that I carry a folio with me most days. As I said earlier the main compartment has no issue with swallowing an object this size, but it does effect the shape of the bag against your back. With the straps being placed on the top corners, once the folio is inside, there is a gap between the corner of the bag, the strap, and your shoulder. Aside from being uncomfortable, it increases to chance of movement of the bag while commuting. I guess it’s hard to judge a bag too harshly for this, and it can always be carried underneath the flap and secured with the closure straps (so long as you crank it all in tight).

Best suited to:

Predominately cyclists. This bag was designed as a working bag for couriers, so keep that in mind. However I work in an office and study part time, and this is great bag for my daily haul.

Not suited to:

People who use a bit of tech and need to keep it on them. Also, if you always seem to carry large loads and bigger objects, there’s probably better bags for you.

Any niggles?

It is a single strap bag, so it will suffer from the usual shoulder fatigue when carrying heavy loads constantly. And there’s the strap issue with overloading.
As a sidenote, my bag has a black liner. Keep in mind that darker liners can make it more difficult to find items some times. If I was to buy another one, it would have a light coloured liner.

And breakages/issues?

None. The bag is holding up quite well.

Any envy for a similar bag?

I wouldn’t know where to begin, as I am always wanting to play with more bags. Top 3 would be something of similar size from BO Gear, PAC Designs and Mission Workshop. And while it’s not a bag, if you like the Chrome seat belt clip, you’ll probably love this chair.

In summary, the Chrome Metro is a simply constructed messenger that gets on with the job of hauling your life. It’s a great bag for cyclists and daily commuters, but not as great if you are a delicate soul that needs pandering and balance (or loads of tech).

So there you have it, another review on the Chrome Metropolis. There is hopefully enough there to help anyone make an informed decision if you are looking at purchasing a messenger/single strap bag.

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