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Verdict: 
Huge, capable, improves as it gets fuller. But smaller people may get swamped, or neck chafing from the strap when it's empty
Weight: 
1,490g
Contact: 
www.chromebags.com

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.

Verdict

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

Features:

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:
 
9/10

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

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Great for big loads, seriously waterproof.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

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:
 
6/10

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

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
5/10

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:
 
8/10

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,

 

10 comments

Avatar
Simon_MacMichael [2529 posts] 8 years ago
0 likes

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.

Avatar
Velo_Alex [73 posts] 8 years ago
0 likes

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

Avatar
cat1commuter [1421 posts] 8 years ago
0 likes

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

Avatar
don_don [149 posts] 8 years ago
1 like

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..

Avatar
brooksby [4736 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Sorry to resurrect this one, but just wanted to put in my tuppennorth.  The main problem with this bag is that after you've used it once or twice, pretty much every other bag on the market feels like a teeny tiny designer handbag...  

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [3322 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:

Sorry to resurrect this one, but just wanted to put in my tuppennorth.  The main problem with this bag is that after you've used it once or twice, pretty much every other bag on the market feels like a teeny tiny designer handbag...  

If you need 40litres (disputable in terms of usable space for these bags) then unless you carry a pillow everywhere, you're far better off using panniers for such large loads. I have a 32l ABUS ;messenger' type and it's a very good bag - as well as being ridiculously less than the chrome, however there's no way in hell would I want to use it except for the occasional journey if say my panniers were rammed and/or my rucksack was busted. My rucksack fits an 18.4" laptop with ease and plenty more besides and has far comfier straps/back and is more stable.

When you can get the 45L rucksack I use for £15 and indeed I have a quality 70L rucksack that I bought new for £15 some 10 years ago, increasingly I see messenger bags as a complete rip off.

Avatar
brooksby [4736 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:
brooksby wrote:

Sorry to resurrect this one, but just wanted to put in my tuppennorth.  The main problem with this bag is that after you've used it once or twice, pretty much every other bag on the market feels like a teeny tiny designer handbag...  

If you need 40litres (disputable in terms of usable space for these bags) then unless you carry a pillow everywhere, you're far better off using panniers for such large loads. I have a 32l ABUS ;messenger' type and it's a very good bag - as well as being ridiculously less than the chrome, however there's no way in hell would I want to use it except for the occasional journey if say my panniers were rammed and/or my rucksack was busted. My rucksack fits an 18.4" laptop with ease and plenty more besides and has far comfier straps/back and is more stable.

When you can get the 45L rucksack I use for £15 and indeed I have a quality 70L rucksack that I bought new for £15 some 10 years ago, increasingly I see messenger bags as a complete rip off.

I cant disgree with you.

I bought the metropolis cos i got given some Xmas money by my in-laws about six years ago.

And tbh I usually do use panniers (I have a pair of carradice a4 panniers which are my "go to"). But sometimes I just want to be like super kewl y'know?  3

I got the metropolis about six years ago. I actually own one of their citizen bags which is about sixteen years old and has been present at the births of both my children, but it feels like a coin purse after using the metropolis...

Avatar
ktache [1857 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I, for one, am pleased that you have resurrected this particular thread, brooksby.  I am thinking of replacing my very large Timbuk II, in vinyl.  Which had replaced a Timbuk II Dee dog in waxed cotton.  The dee dog was a better bag, I could add extras which made it virtually bombproof.  I could get it out and get the waxed cotton repaired and it would be a very good bag.  I needed something bigger, I was transporting a 17 inch laptop, and wanted more room.  The multitude of pockets and it's extra size made it more useable.  And not just on the bike.

Timbuk II now no longer make an XL, their large is now too small for me.  They don't look as good, and their range of fabrics has gone down dramatically, far fewer colours and many less materials.

I had been considering Chrome, though the Metropolis no longer features on Chrome's website, but I never liked the buckle, I have many of their accesories, the tool/hardcore pencil case is excellent, I have a little phone thing for my keys and I did get two of their seatbelt phone holsters (2 bags) but they were for a time of small phones.

ALso looked at RELoad bags, customisable, which I love, and they look very well made.  And are still large.  There are a lot of very nice smaller courier bags out there, but I want volume.

Any suggestions from anyone?  What I really want is something covered in truck tarp (Timbuk II used to).  But big, there are several british firms making small bags in truck tarp, which do look very nice, but I could do with 30+ litres.

Avatar
brooksby [4736 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

I, for one, am pleased that you have resurrected this particular thread, brooksby.  I am thinking of replacing my very large Timbuk II, in vinyl.  Which had replaced a Timbuk II Dee dog in waxed cotton.  The dee dog was a better bag, I could add extras which made it virtually bombproof.  I could get it out and get the waxed cotton repaired and it would be a very good bag.  I needed something bigger, I was transporting a 17 inch laptop, and wanted more room.  The multitude of pockets and it's extra size made it more useable.  And not just on the bike.

Timbuk II now no longer make an XL, their large is now too small for me.  They don't look as good, and their range of fabrics has gone down dramatically, far fewer colours and many less materials.

I had been considering Chrome, though the Metropolis no longer features on Chrome's website, but I never liked the buckle, I have many of their accesories, the tool/hardcore pencil case is excellent, I have a little phone thing for my keys and I did get two of their seatbelt phone holsters (2 bags) but they were for a time of small phones.

ALso looked at RELoad bags, customisable, which I love, and they look very well made.  And are still large.  There are a lot of very nice smaller courier bags out there, but I want volume.

Any suggestions from anyone?  What I really want is something covered in truck tarp (Timbuk II used to).  But big, there are several british firms making small bags in truck tarp, which do look very nice, but I could do with 30+ litres.

Chrome have apparently discontinued the metropolis, so available stock in stores are all there is.

If you want humongous bags, have a look at the Bagaboo site. I think they're well thought of, and I've seen genuine couriers here in Bristol using them. I think their biggest bag takes an entire truck covered in truck tarpaulin...

Avatar
ktache [1857 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Thanks for that, those bagaboos look good.  Especially the workhorse.