When you are riding your mountain bike, having some accessories that conform to your performance and the environment are crucial. In 2007, Chrome released its first pair of shoes, the Chrome Milo. This was an expansion beyond their acclaimed bags, and both the brand’s shoes and bags have become quintessential necessities for MTB. So what makes Chrome shoes such a good brand?
Built with the same durable Cordura nylon as their messenger bags and combined with the technique of vulcanization – a process in which the rubber is treated with high heat to ensure long lasting durability–Chrome footwear was built tough and made to last longer than your average shoe.
In this guide, we are going to take an in-depth look at the Chrome brand and explain why their shoes and bags are such amazing MTB accessories. Read on to find out more.
Chrome Shoes Explained
Chrome started their outdoor accessory business in the mid-2000s with the release of the Chrome Milo innovative MTB shoe. The Milo paved the way for casual cycling shoes and in 2012 lead to the creation of the Chrome Pro Series – shoes designed to clip into the bike while also having the luxury of walking onto the pavement comfortably thanks to the recessed cleat mount design.
Since then, the brand has come a long way with their footwear by creating different styles, updating the design, adding new features, and improving the materials of all of their footwear, especially the Chrome clipless shoes.
The brand has really outdone themselves recently by collaborating with Panaracer and their famous high quality rubber compound to combine with their footwear design and technology. It’s hands down one of the brand’s most durable shoes with excellent grip that will last on and off the bike.
Despite the function of clipping-in onto clipless pedals, the word clipless originated from the use of toe-clips, which is a metal or plastic cage with straps that is designed to go onto the front of flat pedals and hold your shoe in place while riding. It’s a simple system, yet can also be a hassle when it comes to tightening and loosening the straps every time you need to take your foot off of the pedal.
Hence the creation of clipless pedals – no toe clips, just clip in with your cleats and go.
Clipless shoes, which are also referred to as SPD shoes, cycling shoes, or biking shoes – are designed so you can step-in or clip into your pedal using your shoe and clip out by by turning your heel out. Keep in mind, not all clipless shoes are alike and there are many variations depending on the pedals and cleats you’re using.
Chrome Pro Series footwear is designed with a 2-bolt compatible cleat mount. This means that most 2-bolt cleat systems – like SPDs – will work just as intended.
If you’re new to riding with cleats or just clipless-curious, the Chrome Pro Series is a great place to start for a shoe that can easily go from pedal to pavement.
All of the Chrome Pro Series shoes have a rad feature the brand designed called the FlexPlate – a full length nylon shank thats rigid and intended for pedal power and walking comfort. The recessed cleat mount lets you walk in your shoes without feeling or hearing your cleats crunch or tap against the ground–if you know this feeling, you know it’s pretty annoying.
“How is this possible? How do I not sound like I’m tap dancing?” That’s a common response, and glad you may be wondering. The cleat mount in the Pro Series are designed to be recessed into the sole, which keeps the bottom of the shoes flat and helps improve the life of the cleat – your cleats will thank you. Here in Albuquerque’s rough terrain, I have frequently been relieved how Chrome shoes feel great on rocky terrain.
And that sole is probably the most notable aspect of these shoes when you first lace them up.
A quick side note on those laces: Reflective dots run the entire length of these laces and the material is both grippy and tough. It’s a small but nice touch — if a brand pays that much attention to the laces, it bodes well for the whole shoe.
But once tied and tucked in the tongue’s lace garage, the sole steals the show. Just walking around my home, the Panaracer rubber squeaked along the floor, chewing for grip with every step.
I have not tried the flat version, but I imagine riders can expect some serious grip with this rubber compound, which would likely come in handy here in the trails along the Sandia Mountains.
On the bike, these perform well in urban environs. As I mentioned, these are not lightweight shoes, so you’ll churn a little extra turning the cranks with these shoes.
But hey, PBR isn’t proper nutrition for performance cycling, but it’s surefire swill after an alleycat race. And that heritage shines through in this collection. While I didn’t ride through a downpour, I aimed for my fair share of oily puddles and walked over street debris. Chrome Shoes performed like a shoe built for gritty daily use.
What’s more, these shoes look good in the way Chrome Industries should: low profile, blackout, and sleek. As a rider, they feel undeniably cool.
Technical Tuneups of Chrome Shoes
The line is not without its cycling-specific accouterments. Chrome says the collection is composed of a hydrophobic material. Its PowerPlate Propulsion technology employs a rigid nylon plate between the shoes’ insole and outsole to give the wearer more support and deliver more power while pedaling.
The line also comes equipped with reflexive highlights to increase visibility, always welcomed when riding in traffic.
Chrome Bags Explained
Chrome bags have went through many evolutions in the last 15 years.
The stitching is tight and even with reinforced box stitches on stress points. The main adjustment buckle, quick-release buckles are solid metal and the YKK zipper runs smooth and snag free.
The bags are superb, but many users have found a couple small thread ends that hadn’t been trimmed and many would have liked to have seen double stitching along the lip of the flap and around the mouth of the main compartment.
But what makes Chrome bags such a great accessory?
Comfort and Carry
It is clear to me why so many professional messengers use this bag. It carries a heavy load very, very comfortably– no pinching or rubbing or slipping which have been a problem with something like the Timbuk2 Commute.
It takes users a few tries before they figure out how to properly put this bag on…it’s not like other messengers but it is a lot easier to put on especially if the bag is heavy. When the stabilizer strap is in place there is absolutely no way the bag will slip to the side or sway (a problem with the Timbuk2).
This bag is a professional work-horse especially suited for inclement weather. The Citizen Chrome bag is intensely practical and its professional messenger DNA shows. It has some front pockets but has little internal organization. For that you’ll have to get accessory pieces for things like a laptop, camera, or an organizer.
The waterproof liner floats inside the main compartment enabling you to separate dirty from clean or wet from dry (great for the gym.) A top handle would be a been nice addition to the Citizen, as many users like having multiple carry options at work, not just shoulder carry.
The most stylish aspect of this bag isn’t the bag. It’s the broad main strap. The retro buckle, and accessory loops give this bag a substantial yet understated look. The Citizen messenger is available in quite a few color schemes, and Chrome is constantly updating the lineup. One of their best sellers is the Night version which features a large reflective back panel for safety.
Note: If you want your messenger to pop a little, I’d get a version of the Citizen with the red buckle instead of black.
The shoulder strap is the single best design aspect of the Chrome Citizen messenger bag and separates it from most others in the area of comfort. Beyond the impressive comfort factor, it also features reflective hits, accessory loops, a quick-adjust buckle, quick release buckle and a stabilizer strap.
The strap is widened at the shoulder, which is why it is so comfortable compared to other messengers. This distributes the weight very evenly across the shoulder without discomfort or friction points. The Chrome Citizen is carried cross-body on the left shoulder. It is not reversible to the right shoulder.
The cross-body shoulder strap’s retro seat-buckle doesn’t just look cool it’s a very practicle design feature unique to Chrome Industries. Basically, it makes mounting and dismounting the bag super-easy compared to most messenger bags. Even when the Chrome Citizen is fully loaded you’ll never have to raise your hands above your head to get it on.
Simply grab the top portion of the shoulder strap, sling the bag to your left shoulder, then reach down with your right hand and buckle the bottom half to the top half.
Just below the quick-release buckle is an easy adjustment buckle that doubles as a bottle opener. Pushing the buckle forward to releases tension, then simply pull the strap to cinch the bag up nice and snug or loosen it up. Since messenger bags are cross-slung they tend to slide to the lowest side as you walk or ride.
It’s a nagging frustration that many users have with the Timbuk2, as they find themselves constantly pushing it back and readjusting it as I navigated airport concourses. The stabilizer strap on the Chrome Citizen fixes all that and works very well.
It provides an anchor point to prevent the load from shifting or swaying. Once you have the bag on your back the adjustable stabilizer strap runs under the left arm and clips into the main strap.
The Chrome Citizen is over-engineered to withstand far more than consumer-grade bags. This bag is made from 1000D water-repellant Cordura. It has very high abrasion resistance and excellent tear strength. Cordura fabric is often used in military applications and is widely regarded as one of the most durable fabrics available in the luggage industry.
“1000D”(Denier) is the textile industry standard measurement for the weight/density of the fabric. For some perspective, most decent quality bags are made of 600D nylon.
The Chrome Citizen messenger bag is among the most weather-proof messenger bags out there. The thick, waterproof liner keeps everything bone-dry even in driving monsoon rains.
The liner itself is made of a rugged 18 oz. TPU(Thermoplastic polyurethane) commonly used in dry-bags for white-water rafters or truck tarps. The tub-style design of the liner insures your belongings are secure and dry.
The large top flap sheds water like a roof, covers the front pockets and prevents side-entry of water.
No matter the color scheme you choose, the Chrome Citizen comes with front and rear reflective hits. For this Chrome Citizen review I chose the the best selling Night series is much more visible at a night.
The shoulder strap has a front-facing ribbon of reflective material to warn oncoming traffic while the closure straps on the flap keep you visible to traffic behind you.
The best choice for those who are out after dark is the Night series. It features a large reflective panel and stripe on the lid flap.
The Chrome Citizen is large enough to swallow a 17″ Macbook Pro. One size does not fit all though…imagine a 13″ laptop slamming around in a 17″ sleeve.
So, instead, Chrome offers accessory laptop sleeves in different sizes that mount to a hook and loop system inside the main compartment.
To overcome this, some prefer the medium size sleeve and a 13″ Mac Pro fits perfectly.
The optional laptop sleeve is constructed from the same 1000D Cordura nylon as the bag itself and features two wrap-around YKK zippers with pulls. The inside is padded and lined with a soft felt.
The Chrome Citizen is an understated, simple, and rugged workhorse. Internal organization isn’t its strong suit, but it makes up for it with unrivaled comfort when carrying a load. The other compelling feature is the unique quick-release shoulder strap system.
It’s hard to go wrong with this bag. Buyer’s remorse is rare. The 24L may be more capacity than you need. If so, then I’d recommend looking at the 20.5L Mini Metro. It’s virtually identical just smaller.