Huge, capable, improves as it gets fuller. But smaller people may get swamped, or neck chafing from the strap when it's empty

Do you like to carry your life on your back? If so, the Chrome Metropolis might be for you. But small people beware...

A metropolis is a big place, the Chrome Metropolis is a big bag. A very big bag. That may be all you need to know. Do you need to carry a herd of small mammals wherever you go? Large amounts of farming equipment, perhaps? A barbecue, tongs, a keg of beer and a full wheel of wild boar sausage? Then this is the bag for you. On the other hand, if not, and you're not a courier, then I suspect this bag is too large to be absolutely necessary for everyday use.

Chrome's background making serious messenger bags is evident from the Metropolis. The construction is epically sturdy, and there are courier-friendly features including straps galore to secure things to the bag and to stop it from rotating when full, as well as a Velcro panel upon which to affix a radio holster. Chrome's signature bag-within-a-bag construction keeps the main load compartment from ever touching the outer walls. This inner is made from heavy-duty truck tarpaulin liner, which is suspended inside the tough Cordura outer shell. It means that with the flap properly secured it's absolutely rain-proof. One reviewer on the Chrome website had used their bag as a portable cooler for beer and ice at a party. And if it can hold the water in...

Yet the Metropolis is not part of Chrome's professional range, which has bags that are more than 25% larger than this one (up to 52 litres compared with this bag's 40). So what, as a non-courier, would you use this for? As a town bag, it will work for those days when you absolutely, positively, have to take your large laptop, a change of clothes (or two), notepads and library books out on the bike - and then stop off at the supermarket on the way home. I used it as a capacious weekend bag for getting out of town, and also to hold everything except my cycling clothes, helmet and bottles when I went abroad on a week's training camp. And by that I mean clothes, books, bars, powdered drink and more. On the Chrome website are some pretty funny lists of how much users have managed to cram in. Pocket layout is unsophisticated, but that's not necessarily a problem: there's the main compartment and two smaller ones inside the lining, which I used for drinks, tools and lights; then there's a zipped valuables compartment on the front of the bag, some space for pens, and odds and sods. There's also a stash pocket (unadvertised), for super-sneaky items, though I'll be dashed if I can remember where it is.

The bag does have a few downsides. Though the strap is nicely padded, the back of the bag isn't: if you have awkward items, it takes some creative packing for them not to dig into your back. Most importantly, though, if you're not a large person (short, or just skinny), it may not fit that well when not very full - it's difficult to shorten the strap sufficiently for it to sit securely. This is a problem with all large courier bags: in order for them to be comfy under load, the padded portion of the strap has to be fairly long, with said consequences for the slender of chest. However, this improves as the bag fills up and fills out. The other problem I found was that when it was relatively empty, it sat high on my shoulder, causing the strap to rub my neck. Again, this disappeared when it was more full. So I suppose the lesson is: if you don't have much stuff, take a smaller bag.


Huge, capable, improves as it gets fuller. But smaller people may get swamped, or neck chafing from the strap when it's empty.

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Chrome Metropolis messenger bag

Size tested: Black/White

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The Chrome website says:

"Use: Our original work-house bag, this bag is made to carry everything you need comfortably, all day and all night. This is a big bag - you can carry your life in here. If you're small person, this bag may swallow you alive.

Rideability (out of 3): ***

Laptop Compatibility: Up to 17'. No integrated laptop sleeve. Buckle bag compatible laptop sleeve sold separately secures into the bag.

Organization: External pocket for wallet, keys, phone, and other essentials. The inside is basically a big waterproof bucket within the bag.

Typical Haul: 17' Laptop, multiple changes of clothes, lunch, books, two water bottles, groceries. Great travel bag."

I'd agree with nearly all of this. Yes, it may swallow you alive if you're small - and in my view this compromises the rideability slightly... but that's the price to pay for the cavernous capacity.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Says the website...

Weight: 3.1 lb.

Fabric: 1000 denier Cordura outer shell, 18 oz. truck tarp liner

Product Source: Chico, CA, USA

Flat Dimensions: 26' wide, 15' high, 7' deep

Volume: 40L


Weatherproof 1,000 denier Cordura outer shell

18 oz. weatherproof truck tarp liner sealed with military spec. seam binding

Independently suspended weatherproof truck tarp liner with military spec binding eliminates any seams exposed to the outside elements

Seat-belt buckle release that doubles as a bottle opener

Five bar seat belt webbing

Nylon 69 thread

EVA foam padded shoulder strap

Cross-chest load stabilizer

Velcro accessory mounting strap

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Solid as a rock. Only gripe was that the lower strap became easily twisted at the clasp.

Rate the product for performance:

Great for big loads, seriously waterproof.

Rate the product for durability:

I've had a smaller Chrome courier bag for years, and they last. Plenty of positive reviews on the site only bringing up minor issues such as the strap fraying or cracking on the underside of the flap, with people reporting up to 10 years' service.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

It's not light, but it's not designed to be.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Smaller people may have difficulty securing it tightly enough, and get some rubbing on the neck. But it improves as it fills, and there's no easy way of carrying what this bag carries. The strap is well padded.

Rate the product for value:

It's not cheap, but as courier bags go, it's not really expensive. And it will last for a very long time.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

For carrying large loads, very well. For carrying smaller ones, not so suitable.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The neat seatbelt-style buckle - though this is a magnet for drunk people who like to push it as a 'joke'.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The fit when the bag wasn't full.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 65kg

I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack.  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,



Simon_MacMichael [2522 posts] 7 years ago

I've used one of these for three years and it's one of the best pieces of kit I own.

As the review points out, it can be the case that stuff digs into you, but there's a simple way round that - use a laptop sleeve. Even if I'm not carrying my computer around, a sleeve with a newspaper or magazine or two on the inside will cushion the contact point between the bag and body.

I don't use it out and about on the bike that often these days, mainly because I work from home, but when I do it's great, very stable, easy to adjust the strap and pull it tight (and I have to say I love the seatbelt-style buckle).

I've never had the problem with it rubbing, even when fairly empty, possibly because I'm fairly tall. I certainly find it much more comfortable than a two-strap rucksack.

Where I find it really comes into its own is in terms of carrying capacity.

As an example (although I'm not sure I'd ever try all this lot on the bike due to the weight), in the past I've had this packed with 2 SLR bodies, 3 lenses (including a bulky telephoto one), flash, laptop plus all associated peripherals - memory cards, power cables, batteries etc - monopod, wellies, wet weather gear and the Saturday copy of the Guardian.

As you might imagine, that lot isn't exactly a light load, but despite that, it's comfortable and secure to carry round.

The absence of internal pockets can be an issue - my solution to that when carrying that much kit around is to use the insert from a Crumpler camera bag, works for me.

I also got the phone holster which is adjustable to fit any size of phone (iPhone goes in there very snugly) and attaches to the strap very securely using velcro.

I'd definitely buy another one, although despite the bashing I've given it, this one isn't going to need replacing any time soon.

Velo_Alex [73 posts] 7 years ago

In defence of the bag I've never had anyone able to get the seatbelt clasp to open with drunken (or otherwise) pushes as it takes a fairly determined push to get the action to work.

I've had mine for 4 years now and it's still looking brand new even though it's been out in all weathers and done a fair chunk of miles. With larger loads there is a possibility of rain getting into the bag, although this is worse when the item inside is an odd shape so it's hard to complain about.

All in all I've had no problems with this bag. There are more sophisticated options out there for not much more money but I'm happy this was a good purchase. Oh, and it's got the all important (it seems) bottle opener built into the seatbelt buckle clasp so once you've carried your case of designer Belgian beer home or to the party you don't need to worry about being unable to open it  3

cat1commuter [1421 posts] 7 years ago

I have the "Kremlin". It is even bigger. Often get remarks from cashiers at the supermarket checkout such as "That's a nice bag".

don_don [149 posts] 7 years ago

Nice bags, but TBH I've grown to hate the stupid metal 'seatbelt' clasp, which will smash glass coffee tables if you take it off too hastily and fracture ribs if you land on it in a fall... Guess who this happened to  3

The clasp on mine is also too easy to open. I was standing in a beer-tent last summer (with some heavy camera kit in the bag) when a young lady says "I wonder what happens if I press this button".

Luckily the camera was OK, but I'm not so sure about the bare foot of the person next to me, on whose foot the buckle landed  13

I now own a PAC..