Chrome Metropolis Messenger Bag review

Review 19 84

I briefly mentioned in a February post that I had a new messenger bag from Chrome to try out. Now that I have been using that bag, their Metropolis model, for a couple of months, I can say that I really do like it a lot. Previously, I was commuting with a North Face messenger bag, which you can see in one of the pictures below. I was fine with that old bag until I got the new one from Chrome, so I want to point out a few of the reasons why I prefer this new bag after a few months of use.

First, I have to say that I love the way this Chrome bag looks. The two tone color scheme, the reflective straps, the black and red logo, and of course the distinctive buckle all make for a really nice looking bag. Certainly aesthetics are subjective, but I think this bag looks a lot better than my old one. Quite a few color combinations are available to choose from. I chose black with the white interior and accent, because it is not too flashy and still looks stylish. Once I get to work, I basically use the bag as my briefcase, so I didn’t want one with really bright colors. Still, I think the white accent stripe improves the visibility a bit over a solid black bag. Speaking of visibility, I added the flashing light that you see in the pictures. There is a strap sewn in that spot, so transferring over one of the clip-on lights from old bag was pretty easy to do.

You can see from the pictures that this bag is quite a bit wider than my old one. With a capacity of 2000 cubic inches, it will definitely hold a lot of stuff (and it gets pretty heavy when that stuff is beer…or so I have heard). Chrome’s Kremlin messenger bag is even larger at 3000 cubic inches, but this Metropolis holds more than I need for my average ride to work. The bag is about 26 inches wide, considerably wider than my North Face bag, so I like the fact that I can fold my work clothes and pack them side-by-side. I usually have file folders, my sketch book, and other items for work stashed behind the clothes, so it is nice to be able to pack everything as flat as possible. Once the bag is loaded, and secured with the cross chest stabalizer strap, it wraps around my back nicely. It took a little getting used to, but I prefer the stabilizing strap, which passes under my arm and buckles to the shoulder strap, to the traditional waist strap setup on my old bag. The North Face bag shifted on my back from time to time, but that has not been an issue with the Chrome bag. Trust me, stability is a big deal for anything that is strapped to your back while riding, so that is a big plus to me.

One feature that I didn’t consider before, but have grown to like, is the white interior of this bag. My old bag had a black interior, and it sort of became a black hole. I would put something small in it a work, forget about it, and then not notice it when I opened the bag at home. With the bright white interior (and I assume it would be the same with some of the colored interiors) the contents of the bag are more visible at first glance. It is also worth noting that the thick tarp material, which makes up the weatherproof interior liner and the accent stripe, is really tough stuff. After a few months of use, I expected the white interior to get dirty, but it wipes clean and still looks like new.

As you can tell, I really do like this bag. It is one of those products that I like more and more as I continue to use it. There was one thing about it that bothered me when I first started using it though…the absence of a handle on top. I was used to carrying my old bag by the handle after I arrived at work and changed clothes. Now that I have used this bag for a while though, I don’t mind always carrying it by the shoulder strap. If you feel like you need a handle in addition to the shoulder strap though, Chrome has other products like their Laptop bags and the Messenger Packs, which do have handles on top.

I haven’t tried Chrome’s other bags, but I can say that the one I have is a nice design that is very well made from quality materials. I would recommend it without hesitation…and I definitely plan to keep using this one.

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19 Comments

  1. romu April 30, 2009 at 2:25 am -  Reply

    Hi James,
    My choice was between Chrome and Bagaboo. But it took 8 weeks to get a Chrome to be carried on the right shoulder in France.

    So I bought a Bagaboo, which has a pretty similar construction and quality.

    Indeed, both are very good materials.

  2. B. Nicholson April 30, 2009 at 6:09 am -  Reply

    Did you measure the mass? Knapsacks with far less mass and far greater weatherproof volume can be found at gossamergear dot com, sixmoondesigns dot com and other similar ultralight backpacking sites on the web.

  3. Anonymous April 30, 2009 at 7:46 am -  Reply

    marketing!

  4. Dan Mc April 30, 2009 at 9:06 am -  Reply

    I’ve been using a Chrome Citizen bag (1 smaller than the Metropolis) for the past 3 years of commuting. It’s been great.
    One question, do you use the buckle? I know it’s part of Chrome’s brand but I think I could do without. I use mine once in a blue moon.

  5. Yokota Fritz April 30, 2009 at 11:40 am -  Reply

    Chrome’s bag look sharp, but I gotta admit I’m happy with the Bailey Works bag I’ve been using for about four years now. I know some people really hate the buckle on Chrome bags, but it’s difficult to tell if their complaints are valid if they’re just going against the grain.

    Lately, though, I’ve just been carrying a tiny little knapsack with enough space for my wallet, badge, phone, clothes for work, my lunch and some papers or a book.

  6. James April 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm -  Reply

    B. Nicholson, no I didn’t measure the mass.

    Anon 8:46, yes, companies send out product to be reviewed for marketing reasons. I appreciate the fact that Chrome sent me a bag to try out with the freedom to write whatever I want. I happen to really like the bag, so it got a good review. Still, there is no guarantee that a manufacturer will get a good review when they send product out to the media or especially to a blogger like myself. Companies are willing to take that chance though if they know they have a good product. Personally, if I receive something that I find minor faults with, like a few of the photographs in the book I reviewed recently, I will point those faults out. To be honest, if I were to receive a product to review that I really just didn’t like at all, I don’t know if I would give it a terrible review or just send it back to the company and not review it. That hasn’t happened yet.

    Dan Mc, I haven’t really used the buckle aside from a couple of times when I first received the bag. Usually I just slip the shoulder strap over my head. Maybe the buckle would be useful for a messenger with a really heavy load. I don’t really know. Good question though.

    Yokota Fritz, I have never used a Bailey Works bag. The only other messenger bags I have tried are the North Face one in the picture and an older Timbuk2 bag. I have also tried several different backpacks with varying degrees of success.

  7. Ron April 30, 2009 at 8:03 pm -  Reply

    Hey James,

    I do like tossing my laptop in a backup if I ride with one. With a bag such as this, I wonder if the weight of the laptop will be skewed across the right side because of the fact its tilted. Does it have a laptop compartment?

  8. James April 30, 2009 at 8:52 pm -  Reply

    Ron, there is not a laptop compartment in this particular model. I don’t carry my laptop to work much, but I have ridden with it a couple times in its neoprene sleeve. No problems with weight distribution or load shifting if I have the pack cinched tight.

  9. Ron April 30, 2009 at 10:10 pm -  Reply

    Ok thanks. I guess I’m in the market for something to carry my laptop in. I’m not in a hurry but I’m looking.

  10. James May 1, 2009 at 4:58 am -  Reply

    Ron, Chrome also makes specific bags for carrying a laptop (as do other bag manufacturers I believe). You might want to take a look at some of those instead of traditional messenger bags.

  11. Anonymous May 1, 2009 at 10:11 am -  Reply

    I’ve got a Chrome bag I picked up when I first saw ‘em – mostly because I REALLY liked the look of the buckle. I’m a sucker for design details like that, when they’re well done.

    But the Buckle was it’s downfall – when I cinch up the bag to be secure when I ride, the buckle rests right on my collarbone, and is NOT comfortable. At all.

    So, now it’s relegated to being a tool-bag. For commuting, I’m using an old Dana Designs “Emerald City” backpack – the BEST bike-riding bag I’ve ever found. Too bad it’s not available anymore….

    -SW

  12. Charlie May 1, 2009 at 12:11 pm -  Reply

    I understand why messengers use messenger bags–they are on and off their bikes so much that even a quick-release pannier would not be quick enough, and their loads are usually pretty light–but I don’t understand why anyone would use one on a bike otherwise. It feels so much better to have the bike carry stuff for you! Am I missing something.

  13. Yokota Fritz May 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm -  Reply

    James owns something like 12 bikes, and not all of them have racks.

    I often carry a bag even on my rack equipped bikes (four of my 12 bikes have racks) because, frankly, removing then replacing panniers when I load/unload my bike from the bus on my multimodal commute is slow, and loaded panniers while hoisting my bike onto a train is ungainly.

  14. James May 4, 2009 at 10:08 am -  Reply

    SW, I heard one other person say something about the buckle causing discomfort, but I haven’t had that problem at all. When I wear the bag, the padded strap fits nicely over my shoulder and the buckle is positioned in front of my chest.

    Charlie, as Yokata Fritz mentioned in his comment, I often use both. For commuting to work, I have two bikes with rear racks. I use a trunk pack to carry heavier items like a U-lock and my lunch. The bag mainly just has paper work and clothes, so it is not very heavy. I put the trunk pack in a locker at my building, but I carry the messenger bag to my office. For me personally, it is just easier to keep things organized that way. Many years ago, when my commute was about 15 miles, I used panniers to carry everything. Now I am only riding a bit over 5 miles each way, so I don’t mind splitting the load between the bike and my body (as long as I have a comfortable bag).

    …and Fritz, I am down to 8 bikes now. Well, really 10 if you count a couple of project bikes in varying states of assembly.

  15. Simon W June 4, 2009 at 9:56 am -  Reply

    I've got a chrome bag – bought it for the looks, and it's well proportioned. Unfortunately the bag alone weighs at least 5lbs. it's not a great, practical bag unless you're willing to carry around the extra weight to feel like a part of the bike messenger subculture – which many people (myself included at times) are.

    Does the excessive weight bother anyone else?

    Also, I made the mistake of getting my bag with the black rubber strip, not realizing the inside would be black rubber. You can't find ANYTHING in there.

  16. ti steed October 30, 2009 at 10:40 am -  Reply

    james
    thankyou for the review of the chrome bag . it was very constructive and solid comments . one of the most critical choice of a new bag is that it looks KOOL .and it WORKS . if the buckle annoys the collar bone . suckitup . few of the comments require more thought
    my bag experience… owned . three completely different bags . three completely different sizes . different colours . different makers and counting .

    living the dream

  17. Anonymous January 17, 2010 at 9:13 pm -  Reply

    I have used a Chrome Citizen (smaller than tested here) bags for over 2 years commuting each day. If you want a messenger style bag then its is great. Really water proof, great amount of room for laptop and clothes and shoes, but its not too big that it is annoying. The buckle is comfortable (it should not be near your collarbone as described above, put the bag on properly) and I do use it as it allows taking the bag off without taking you helmet off. Its not often I really like a product but this one is great.

  18. Robert J. Blais July 26, 2013 at 2:25 am -  Reply

    I have been using a citizen for three years now. I am unable to drive due to pain meds I take, dke do not wan’t a dui. And I am somewhat disabled from injuries I sustained I a 45 ft fall on to concrete while working as a union ironworker. I have a beautiful khs alite 350 mountain bike with a hilltopper electric front hub assist
    (www.cleanrepublic.com) and with the electric motor to help me with significant hills I can once again enjoy one of my first true passions: cycling. I can go 20mph for 20 miles on battery alone much more with it just on assist. I used to race road bikes and missed the feel. But the Chrome Citizen just has added to the experience and allowing me to go even more green using it for shopping etc. BUT THE CITIZEN IS JUST A BIT TOO SMALL FOR A 12 PACK IN BOX OR GALLON OF MILK AND WHY I ORDERED A METROPOLIS. MORE ROOM. And yes a chrome bag is water proof and have packed a six pack on ice and had papers in front compartment that stayed bone dry. THEY ARE DESIGNED FOR THIS THAT IS WHY THEY ARE IMPORT BEER FRIENDLY THE BOTTOM.HALF OF SEAT BELT BUCKLE IS BOTTLE OPENER. And as a skilled union craftsmen I truly value companies who produce their products in America. When you pay an American a living wage, they show their appreciation by producing the highest quality product possible which enables CHROME TO BACK THEIR PRODUCTS UP WITH THE BEST WARRANTY IN THE INDUSTRY 24/7 365 DAYS A YEAR FOR YOUR LIFETIME AND WHO EVER MIGHT BE THE LUCKY PERSON TO INHERIT your vintage bag. I have added the accessory holder to both bags and plan to buy an additional one to move from bag to bag. I keep my Galaxy S3 in one and a garage door opener in the other. I am also an apprentice instructor and independent safety instructor.and can fit laptop, hand outs and even my digital projector I’d needed. I love to ride at night and the reflective accents are a bonus and I didn’t notice they existed until hit by headlight beams. I have also ordered a flux which is much smaller and a Niko which is designed as.a camera bag but I can see it holding a myriad of small devices and bid on a citizen mini for a dear friend who is a single Mom with a 8 MONTH baby. I think the size will work perfect as a handbag and out of the way. I owned a Manhattan portage bag bit returned it, their cordura is like wearing burlap a d I am.not a middle ages Christian who wants to punish myself for my sins. If I need.to punish myself, I will.watch that honey boo boo.show. ne a Patriot and buy American and remind yourself why we lead the world in manufacturing and appreciate the quality and craftsmanship. They may cost more but are cheaper in the long run. A junk communist made bag from Walmart who.drove the quality into the dirt by demanding cheaper and cheaper wholesale prices, may last a few months before a little thing breaks then a year before something bigger and useless in 5. Hell use the shit out of your.CHROME then regain a good chunk of your investment by giving a person on a limited budget a.chance to experience CHROME AND AMERICAN QUALITY AND THEN THEY MAY SEARCH. OUT AMERICAN MADE QUALITY. SO IT KINDA WIN WIN AND A STIMULUS PACKAGE USED TO CARRY PACKAGES.

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