Hands-on Gear Review

Chrome Metropolis Review

By: Jeremy Bauman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 3, 2015
Price:  $160 List
Pros:  Large, simple, waterproof, secret pocket, comfortable
Cons:  Bulky, no laptop sleeve, sometimes difficult to take off without dropping
Manufacturer:   Chrome

Our Verdict

The Chrome Metropolis is an excellent bike commuting messenger bag, but is relatively poor for other uses or very short rides. We did not like using it as our "go-to" coffee shop work bag as much as the Timbuk2 Command Messenger because it lacked features such as a carry handle or laptop compartment. But if your daily routine includes biking five miles to work in the rain, or if your work is biking in the rain, you'll probably love this bag's streamlined features. It was the most comfortable bag we tested and by far the largest. At 40 liters in size, it'll swallow anything you cram under its flap. For this size, some of our testers preferred backpacks over messenger bags because they are typically more comfortable. This bag is similar to the Chrome Buran that won our Top Pick for Bike Commuting award because it has better organization options, a grab handle, and a laptop sleeve.

Chrome has discontinued the Metropolis, but you can check out our current messenger bag lineup here.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Chrome Metropolis is a worthy bag suitable for carrying huge loads on your commute. It is waterproof, durable, and the most comfortable bag we tested. If it had a laptop compartment, we would have liked it a bit more. For most of our commuting, however, we found it too big and bulky to be practical. It is a whopping 40 liter beast that's great for carrying a lot of stuff, but not that great for only carrying a few things.

Performance Comparison


This bag is durable and looks like it can handle anything. Notice how wide the bag is. When worn on your back  the bag assumes a near vertical orientation that is stable and comfortable.
This bag is durable and looks like it can handle anything. Notice how wide the bag is. When worn on your back, the bag assumes a near vertical orientation that is stable and comfortable.

Comfort


Like the Chrome Buran, this bag has a very burly and comfortable EVA foam padded shoulder strap. The straps on these bags were by far the most comfortable of any product that we tested. We docked a point from the Chrome Metropolis, however, because it doesn't have any back padding - between your back and the contents of the bag. Because the internal liner isn't sewn to the bag, you could easily add some foam if you'd like. The load stabilizer strap helped keep the load from shifting around while riding. It can be attached to the shoulder strap or to the bag and used as a hip belt. This was especially nice as it helped take the load off the strap when the massive bag is filled. One tester used the bag for commuting and commented that he was able to hop over a fallen light post without the bag flying off or bouncing.

Currently, the Chrome Metropolis is offered only in a left shoulder version. The padding is sewn to the bag itself rather than sliding along the strap. Chrome's website has an input field for a Left/Right shoulder option, but only the left shoulder option is currently available.

At 40 liters in size, it would be easy to fill this thing with a substantial amount of weight. If you think you're going to fill this bag constantly, you may want to consider a backpack instead. A good backpack will be more comfortable and distribute the weight between your shoulders and hips more efficiently.

With its iconic buckle and urban appeal  the Metropolis looks great cruising the streets.
With its iconic buckle and urban appeal, the Metropolis looks great cruising the streets.

Storage & Organization


The Chrome Metropolis is cavernous and simple. At 40 liters, this bag swallowed the other messenger bags like a ravenous beast. It doesn't have the organizational options of other bags like the Osprey FlapJack Courier that have pockets of nearly every size.

There's a secret external pocket sewn into a seam that we might not have found had we not read about it in a comment online. The pocket is secured with Velcro and would be nearly impossible to notice if you weren't looking for it. Just under the flap on the outside of the bag, there's a medium-sized, zipped pouch that's just a tad too small to fit a small paper-back book. There's also a small open pouch for a wallet or keys and two sleeves for pens/pencils.

Inside the main compartment, there are two vertical pockets for Nalgene sized water bottles. Two small Velcro straps let you secure a bike lock or similar cylindrical item to the front of the main compartment. The liner material is only sewn to the flap and secured to the front of the bag with Velcro. You can rip this out and hide stuff beneath the liner material.

The top right photos show the secret pocket in the seam. Top right shows the internal liner pulled out of the bag. Bottom two show the zipped pocket.
The top right photos show the secret pocket in the seam. Top right shows the internal liner pulled out of the bag. Bottom two show the zipped pocket.

Laptop Protection


This model does not have a dedicated pouch and as such doesn't provide any extra protection. We recommend a laptop sleeve if you plan on using this bag to tote your laptop. Though it doesn't provide protection from falls or drops very well, we did find this bag to provide a good amount of water protection. Because this bag is bulky, it would provide quite a bit more protection than no bag at all, so we gave it a 4/10 in this category. If you want some laptop protection and love the style of this bag, check out the Chrome Buran. The most protective laptop pouches were floating, as in the Osprey FlapJack Courier and The North Face Base Camp Messenger.

Style


Our head tester didn't have the swagger to carry this bag around with style. When not filled, the bag sometimes looks too big and bulky. If you're on the small side, this bag looks monstrous. It looks fantastic on taller folks though. The color and urban appeal kept this its score up in this category. If you are a seasoned bike commuter or fixe riding aficionado, we expect that this bag could be a great accent piece. Choose from five color options.

This bag comes in 5 great colors. If you have the frame and swagger to pull it off  this bag could be the centerpiece of your look
This bag comes in 5 great colors. If you have the frame and swagger to pull it off, this bag could be the centerpiece of your look

Water Resistance


Constructed with two layers of fabric, this bag seals up against the weather like a fortress. The inner fabric is a super thick tarp material that is extremely waterproof. Chrome kept the number of seams in the inner fabric to a bare minimum. The two materials are only sewn together at the flap. This was one of the most waterproof bags in the review.
The biggest weakness messengers have against water is the main compartment opening just under the flap.
Chrome folded the sides of the main compartment over to create two wings that help shield from rain. The design is not unique to this bag - most of the other products in this review had something similar - but the wings were the largest on the Chrome Metropolis. Some moisture ricocheted into the bag, but not enough for the contents to get soaked. For your average rain storm, we are confident this bag would keep all your stuff cozy and dry.

You can make out one of our testers using the bag to explore a waterfall during our water resistance test. This was one of the most resistant bags that we tested.
You can make out one of our testers using the bag to explore a waterfall during our water resistance test. This was one of the most resistant bags that we tested.

Features


This bag earned a 6/10. It scored lower in this category because it is much more bare bones than other bags. This isn't necessarily a downside as many people prefer bags that embrace simplicity. The feature we missed the most is a grab handle. If all 40 liters of the bag were filled, it was very difficult to take the bag off without dropping it. It was also much harder to carry the bag short distances such as from a doorstep to a driveway.

This bag has many of the same features as its little brother, the Buran. The buckle stands out as a unique piece. It doubles as a bottle opener and does a fantastic job of letting the bag be adjusted one handed. It's nice to be able to hit the big red button and jettison the bag off your shoulder. Care must be taken, however, not to drop the bag especially since there isn't a grab handle. That said, the Velcro sandwich strip on the shoulder strap makes it super easy to keep accessories handy. There are several places to attach a bike light to the bottom of the bag. The flap straps and stabilizing strap have reflective threads sewn into the edges.

This bag is simple  but has some great features. The Velcro sandwich on the shoulder strap is great for attaching accessories. Bike lights can be attached to the bottom of the bag.
This bag is simple, but has some great features. The Velcro sandwich on the shoulder strap is great for attaching accessories. Bike lights can be attached to the bottom of the bag.

With two layers of super thick fabric, you may pass this bag on to your kids one day. The bag is made with super durable 1000 denier Cordura nylon for the outer material and a waterproof "military grade" truck tarpaulin material for the inner. This double-walled design makes the bag pretty heavy at 3.1 pounds. Considering that you can buy a fully-featured backpacking pack that weighs less, we think this is pretty heavy. If you commute to stay in shape for other activities, this bag is like a personal trainer who always forces you to do just "one more" rep. While durability is outside the scope of our testing, we are pretty confident that this bag is one of the most durable one that we tested.

Best Applications


This bag is best for people who bike commute more than they drive. Bike messengers will love the size and may prefer this bag over backpacks. It doesn't work well in place of a briefcase. If you need something to carry groceries or large items, this will be a fantastic bag for you.

The Metropolis is fantastic for bike commuting and is large enough for all your stuff. It remains stable while whipping around turns.
The Metropolis is fantastic for bike commuting and is large enough for all your stuff. It remains stable while whipping around turns.

Value


The Chrome Metropolis is ultra durable and will probably be a great $160 investment. However, if you actually need to a 40-liter messenger bag, you may want to consider a backpack instead. Having that much weight on your shoulder for a long time isn't going to be as comfortable as keeping it balanced over both shoulders. Still, the Metropolis is easier to get into and out of than a backpack, so if you are a bike messenger, you will likely find this bag perfect for your needs. We consider it a decent value if you're a casual commuter, but a great value if you ride the streets daily.

Conclusion


If you're looking for a huge messenger bag to tote around your gear, the Chrome Metropolis may just be the bag for you. Its super waterproof design will certainly keep your items dry, but it doesn't work as well for lightweight duty like taking your stuff to the office. This bag is burly and ready to tackle your daily bike commute.

If urban hipster hardcore road biker is the style you're going for  the Metropolis is for you.
If urban hipster hardcore road biker is the style you're going for, the Metropolis is for you.

Jeremy Bauman

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