Inside: Chrome Industries, San Francisco

The story behind the iconic urban cycling brand

Three urban cyclists wanted to make a messenger bag with a quick-release buckle, but they couldn't afford to. So they headed to a junkyard, cut a seatbelt out of a beat-up vehicle, and Chrome Industries' now-famous sack was born.

Today, the company has four shops – hubs, they call them – in the US, with distribution around the world for their bags, clothes and shoes, all dedicated to urban riding. BikeRadar visited the San Francisco hub and caught up with Chrome president Steve McCallion.

The Heritage bag has an open style and can take large loads 

We know Chrome for the bags. How long have you had company stores?

“We’ve always been doing the stores from the beginning [1995]. Even way back when it was in Boulder, [Colorado], then moved to Denver, we have been making stuff and selling directly. It’s really more a matter of necessity than a bold strategy. We need to have a place where we can tell the whole story. 

“It’s more than just making bags. It’s about urban mobility. It’s about living in the city in a resourceful and creative way. Our bag helps you do that. And our footwear helps you do that. And our clothing helps you do that.” 

Chrome doesn't sell bikes, but the company rotates around them

Where else are there Chrome stores?

“Our first was here in San Francisco. The second is in New York City, on Mulberry Street, north of Little Italy. Chicago was our third, in Wicker Park. And our fourth is in Portland, right down the street from Owl Bookstore.

“Each hub has a little different vibe to it. The crews love the city, live in the city, and bring that flavor to the hubs. Our San Francisco hub has a coffee shop in it, for example.

“We also sell through other stores. Some are bike shops, others are urban boutique of some type, be it skate or moto.” 

Want to try some SPD Chrome shoes? Hop on

Tell us about Chrome clothing.

“We were doing clothing out of the gate. There was always this desire to create useful gear that didn’t look like performance gear. We continue that philosophy today. For example, we have venting in the windbreaker – but it doesn’t look like it.

“We have three values we put into everything – simplicity, resourcefulness and creativity. That applies to the clothing and footwear as much as the bags.”

Chrome's nylon-enforced merino Mason Riding Jersey looks like a wool T-shirt

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