BikeRadar’s High-Mileage Heroes | Stan’s Chrome Industries Mini Metro bag

Stan’s courier bag has served him well for over a decade – and it shows

Stan Portus Chrome Mini Metro bag

I bought my Chrome Industries Mini Metro bag on 14 April 2011, and I can tell you this because I still have the receipt buried away in a box file.

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This might seem weird and hoarder-ish, but the £101.99 I paid was a lot of money for my 18-year-old self. The bag’s label said it was ‘guaranteed for life’ and clearly I wanted to hold Chrome to its word should I ever need to.

However, over a decade later, I can tell you I have had no need to call on Chrome. The bag has withstood years of being hurled around.

Courier bags may not hold the same appeal as they did back in 2011. But their flap-over designs and how they hang at an angle across the wearer’s back are still signifiers to many of a particular mentality and time, when fixies were the cool bike of choice and bike messengers could enjoy a weird Z-list level of internet fame.

My Mini Metro bag may have become a mnemonic for my late-teen awkwardness and early-adult-life idiocy, but the fact I still use it when I commute by bike means it is undeniably a High-Mileage Hero.

The buckle

The seatbelt-style buckle is an unmistakable feature on Chrome bags.
Oscar Huckle / Our Media

Chrome’s bags are immediately recognisable due to their unique buckle design. Looking through pictures from the last decade of my life, the gleaming finish of the buckle is present in many of them.

The story goes that the people at Chrome wanted a messenger bag with a quick-release strap, so they salvaged a seatbelt buckle from an Oldsmobile car and incorporated it into one of its bags.

Having a buckle across one’s chest means you can take the bag off without lifting it over your head.

The strap has begun to fray, but it still works fine.
Stan Portus / Our Media

This is a neat touch if your bag is loaded to the brim. It is not so neat should your classmates know how it works, releasing the bag from your shoulders as an irritating schoolyard prank.

The bag’s strap is made from seatbelt webbing. It has begun to fray and I suspect this will be the part of the bag that will give way first, but it has a long way to go yet.

BikeRadar’s High-Mileage Heroes

High-Mileage Heroes showcases the products that have stood the test of time and become part of our everyday riding.

These aren’t reviews, but rather a chance to talk about the kit we depend on and the products we choose to use when we’re not reviewing fresh gear.

More from High-Mileage Heroes:

The liner

For Marcel Proust, it was the taste of a madeleine. For me, it’s the smell of truck tarp.
Stan Portus / Our Media

Vehicular inspiration doesn’t stop with the Mini Metro’s buckle but continues to the inside of the bag.

The bag’s liner is made from truck tarp, which is the same material used by Swiss brand Freitag for its bags. It has proved incredibly durable over the years.

There is an extra pocket for your wallet or bike lock – or in my case gum.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The liner’s ‘bucket’ design, suspended within the waterproof outer shell, has always helped keep my belongings dry. I’ve never had to put my laptop or books in a plastic bag for protection, even when I used to ride 14 miles to work on dreary, wet mornings.

Loops and pockets

There is a small loop at the bottom of the bag for attaching a bike light.
Stan Portus / Our Media

There are other details I’ve always appreciated about this bag.

For instance, the loop of fabric on the front of the bag provides a mounting point for a light and two other loops inside hold a pump in place.

The shoulder strap has a layer of Velcro so you can fit an accessory mount, such as a small extra pouch for your keys, phone, or walkie-talkie, should you be an actual courier.

Sections of the rubber logo have broken off.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The construction of the bag and its stitching are of such quality that even after 11 years no panels have come apart.

One of the things I truly appreciate is how the bag lies flat when it is empty. The pockets on the front of the bag under its exterior flap are created through lines of stitching running through layers of material. There is no unnecessary bulk or complexity, here, which is deeply satisfying.

Velcro and grime

A forensics team could probably establish a lot about my past from this bag.
Stan Portus / Our Media

It may still be in one piece, but there’s no denying my bag has seen better days.

The Velcro that holds the exterior flap in place is full of threads, fluff and foliage.  Grime has made its way into where the outer is folded and stitched.

I’m not proud of this.
Stan Portus / Our Media

I’m sure the back panel has absorbed much of my sweat and who knows what concoction of drinks has been spilt on the bag at gigs, in clubs, bars and pubs.

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These might be grim details to end on, but I think they are the greatest sign of something that’s been cherished, used and stood the test of time.