Well, I have been using my Chrome bag for the better part of 2 years now. I have been thinking of writing a review off and on. However, it was a relatively obscure product (I originally found it in the internet), but lately I have been seeing it emerging in the Vancouver hipster wardrobes.
So I thought, why not get off my ass and write a review. Sure you can go scan some fancy mag for a review (try here, here and here), but most gear reviews suck! Why? Cause most reviewers either need to make a living off their writing or hope do be given more gear. As a result people pull punches.
I however don't get paid squat to run FG, I do it souly as an ego trip. Everything I review, I bought with my own frickin' money. I also USE the gear before I write; most often a year. Why? It is partly as a service to you (after a year you know if it was a good choice) and partly as a result of my complete and total laziness (remember I don't get jack shit for any of this fiasco).
Like all things there are the good and the bad. Just like so many relationships in life I will start with the good then drift into the bad...
1) Big and Rainproof:
I bought the Chrome Metropolis courier bag a while back and I have been using it EVERY frickin' day for 2 years straight. I use it in the rain ALL the time. Its Vancouver, that is all that it does here.
"Hey its sunny out, do you know that means?" asks the bitter Vancouverite.
"No, what?" replies the befuddled tourist.
"It means its going to rain, dumbass!" the Vancouverite replies.
Rain can be good' it makes things green things grow and luckily for my homework, as advertised, the chrome bag is rainproof. Trust me, I have put it to the test. It works like this, I open the bag then indiscriminately jam papers, laptop, iPod, food, clothing and weapons of mass destruction (remember boys and girls assured mutual destruction keeps the world safe) into it, then go ride in the pouring rain for a few hours. I never had to double bag anything and I feel safe in doing so.
2) It's Its Own Solar System:
Just like George Bushes head, the bag has got MASSIVE space just waiting to be used. And the scary thing is I got the size down from the largest. All I know is I just keep loading in more groceries and it keeps taking it... Its frickin' scary, kinda like the things I see all the time on the DC. It's my beeeeaaatch and it loves it.
3) It's a Tank:
I am rough on it; really rough. I put in objects all the time that are pointy in places and far too heavy. I then drag them and the bag all over the city, on the ground, down stairs, over walls and through windows. I also use it to beat off cars. (Ed note: shit that last sentence sounded bad, oh well.)
Through all this misery it has held up incredibly well and looks almost new. Well almost new if you ignore the stains unsightly crap I keep spilling on on it and later forgetting to clean it off. It also smells fresh as roses; if you over look the fact I have been sweating liters and liters of my vial fluid into it on a daily basis. Ignoring these things, it looks almost as good as I first bought it. The only real thing that is showing wear is the seatbelt strap from all the times I tension and release. Its mainly cosmetic.
The toughness is not surprising, since it's made out of some pretty tough material. The construction is superb, a thick cordura material for the bag itself and an equally thick PCV lining (think Underworld) to keep the dry in and the wet out. Keeping on the theme of over built it uses a frickin' seatbelt for a strap. No sissy, backpack straps here. Nope. The good boys and girls down a Chrome bags killed a big metal monstrosity (the automobile) with their bare hands and robbed it of its best parts (seatbelt and seatbelt buckle). They then took it and fashioned it into the oh so fashionable retention system.
4) Oh, So Sexy:
The bag and the buckle make one sexy package perfect for picking up the opposite sex (or same sex, or whatever gender turns your crank). The biggest selling feature is the belt buckle; it looks cool. Kinda like you took on a Ferrari with your bare hands and won. It also helps that I have no style' this is the only thing I own that has any style. Really, it has no little practical purpose, except to get me compliments from hot early 20 something hipsters. Now if it solve the problem of when I open my mouth, I would be set.
Cool factor aside, the only caveat is at parties. Like clockwork some ass will come up to me and suddenly push the release button to see if it works. Yes it really does drop the bag to the floor. Be prepared for this eventuality; come out swinging.
5) Its Fast:
The bag has this snazzy D-ring quick release. It's a gooder. Give it a good yank and you get some slack. This enables you to get things out or put things in without taking the bag off. I have even gotten out my camera while riding on numerous occasions. The only problem is that it occasionally deconstructs and I have to put it back together (again, check out "the bad").
6) Courier Cool:
You too can jump onto the courier=cool bandwagon. They are hipster approved cool out here in the Wet West Coast. Get the fixie, get the bag, roll up the jeans, get a green Castro cap. Get rid of the brakes. Finally have a ciggy hanging while you ride.
If you line these things up together, then you too can get some hot hipster loving.
Me I look like a dork on my bike. I ain't cool. I ain't a courier. I have brakes. I don't smoke. I don't have a green cap (I don't even know where to buy one) and I even wear a helmet instead. My fixie ain't worth anything more than $50 and I got into one gear as a way to train for racing. Given the list, the bag just ain't enough to make me cool' but it sure as hell improves my standings.
7) Its Domestic:
Finally, it is hand made in San Francisco. Why is this good? You are substituting overseas sweatshop child labour, for domestic sweatshop labour. Keep it in the family, eh? Yeah, just like the south.
While I do dig my bag, like anything it comes with some caveats/ draw backs. First is the price. In Vancouver, it's about $200 CND unless you have some friends in the bike industry. Friends are good. That said I'd buy it again.
2) Weight Restriction:
It only has one strap. Now I am asked this all the time, is comfortable? It is without a doubt, only if you are cool. No seriously, the comfort issue is more of a messenger versus backpack debate and from my view it is a yes and a no. If you are walking with heavy stuff in the bag, then its a big NO. On a road bike it is actually quite comfortable. You are leaning over and the bag is long enough that most of the weight sits on your lower back making it quite comfortable. The remaining weight is split between your chest and shoulder.
If you haul light bulky stuff it is great, if you want to haul heavy shit dense stuff (i.e. textbooks) it sucks. As comparison I also have a Deuter backpack. If I am riding textbooks and a computer up the SFU (Sweet Fuckup University) I will often not use it. If I take my lunch, clothes and shoes... no doubt Chrome it is.
3) Sort of Stable:
On the road bike it stays on you pretty good. If you like jumping your bike off curbs, down stairs (yes you can ride a fixie down stairs and wheelie drops off curbs work well) it's not too bad. How about on the trails? Forget it. For shits and giggles I wore it while riding down Nicole's on Burnaby Mountain. Nicole's isn't too hard, but the bag was a hassle.
4) Do NOT press the button:
Remember when mom told you the radio button activated the passenger ejector seat you were sitting on. Despite the fears of being flung out onto the road, you press it. Why? Because someone told you not too, smart ass. As humans we are destined to be morons.
If one more person walks up to me and pushes the seatbelt button when I am not expecting it I am going go Bruce Lee on their ass. I have had my laptop in it and some complete shit pushed the button AFTER I told him not too. I was able to catch the bag, but it could have been worse. My camera hasn't been so lucky. Good thing its tough, you can pound nails with that sucker.
5) Seatbelt Cons:
While the D-ring quick release is handy, it some times comes out completely (pictured left). It happened within the first week of owning it. It pissed me off, but I got over it when got drunk and fixed it. If it happens start drinking. Why? Because it worked for me, that's why.
To fix it you first have to thread it part way in (above right), then pull like hell cause it's tight. Now that it's broken in, it's a relatively trivial task to put it back into place. So why bring it up? Just to set the record straight, that's why dingle berry.
Also the D-ring quick does wear the seatbelt strap. Mine is looking well worn. While it ain't that bad, it may be enough for a fashion minded yuppie scum to freak out about.
"Like Oh my god buy a new bag all ready!" screeches the yuppie princess.
"I can't be seen in public with you if your courier bag isn't shinny new." asserts the yuppie pricess as you prepare the butcher knife.
It hasn't affected the functioning and I ain't going to do a damn thing about it until it tears right through. When will that be? Who knows? Probably when I am long gone from this mortal coil. I only mention it cause it seems like the thing to do on the Internet. Find a small flaw in something you own then go ape shit over it. Personally, I am over it now and have moved on to other things in life.
Whatever, conclusions are for sissies who ride gears. I ain't telling you what to do, in fact I don't even care. For me I would buy the bag again without hesitation. But what the hell do I know? By now I figure you have made up your mind. Buy it, don't buy it. Run cigarettes into Quebec, I just don't fucking care.