From Sugar Ray Robinson to Oscar De La Hoya to Manny Pacquiao, the welterweight class in boxing has long been known for it’s combination of toughness and speed. Sitting between lightweight and middleweight, welterweight is more Chuck Norris than Schwarzenegger, more velociraptor than Godzilla, more Hawkeye than the Hulk.
When we started making bags over 20 years ago, our main focus was making bags from the most heavy-duty materials we could find. Never content to rest on our laurels, we have been consistently refining our materials, construction and style ever since.
Enter the Welterweight Series - a collection of our most popular bags built with the most advanced materials we could find. From the weight of the nylon, tarpaulin and buckle to the reflectivity of the TPU panels, we’re taking the opportunity to look forward to what the next evolution of bags could be and streamlining them to be smarter, lighter and built for the modern rider, no matter how they get where they’re going.
Almost all Chrome bags are made with a super-tough 1050 denier nylon exterior and 1000 denier tarpaulin liner. “What’s a denier?” you ask? Well sit down and hold on cause you’re in for a wild ride. A denier is a unit of measurement describing how many grams per 9,000 meters of any fiber laid end to end would weigh.
"9,000 meters seems really abstract, what’s the deal with that?"
Fair question. 9,000 meters of silk weighs weighs one gram, ergo, the weight of silk is one denier. Make sense? Good.
Now comes the fun stuff. Through extensive research, our designers found fabrics that could effectively cut the weight in half while still adhering to our rigorous standards for abrasion resistance and overall toughness. Clocking in at 500d nylon exterior and 400d tarpaulin lining, the fabric is 50% lighter than that of the non-Welterweight versions of the same bags.
The seatbelt buckle has been the symbol of Chrome bags for a long time. Back when we were still making all of our bags on a single Juki sewing machine in a garage in Denver, CO we decided that we’d try to build a better mousetrap when it came to taking off and putting on a messenger bag. So we took to the local auto scrap yard and cut the plastic buckles out of some old cars and an icon was born.
Over the ensuing 20 years we honed our approach to the buckle, eventually designing our own steel buckles that can be seen on Chrome bags across the world. Anyone who owns one of our steel-buckle messengers or slings can tell you that the buckle is tough as nails, they can also tell you that it adds extra heft to the overall weight of the bag.
With Welterweight we wanted to make sure that the weight of the buckle would be in-line with the weight of the rest of the bag. After working with industrial designers and manufacturers, we created an aluminum buckle that weighs just about half as much as our traditional steel buckle. While it might take as much punishment as the steel buckle, we did extensive stress and load bearing tests to make sure that it’s still tough enough to stand up to almost anything you can dish out.
Your momma told you nothing good happens after dark, but we wouldn’t be who we are without ignoring that advice. From the get-go we’ve been building all of our gear with reflective hits and accents to keep you straight lit out on the mean streets once the sun goes down.
But not all reflective fabrics are created equal. The highest grade of reflective (or retroreflective as we call it in the biz) material is made from thousands of tiny glass beads that are basically glued down to a surface all together to catch and refract any light that comes their way. In the past, retroreflective fabric was fairly delicate and also usually some annoying color like neon yellow so it could be seen at a distance.
We’ve been experimenting with a wide range of retroreflective fabrics over the years to find ones that could stand up to all the crap we put our bags through and also wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. In creating our Welterweight series we found a seriously kick ass retroreflective fabric that is made out of TPU (or thermoplastic polyurethane if you’re not into that whole brevity thing) which is a highly moldable plastic that’s used to make everything from inflatable rafts to skateboard wheels. When combined with a retroreflective backing, TPU is surprisingly low key for how much light it reflects. It doesn’t hurt that TPU is half the weight of our normal tarpaulin that we use for accent panels on many of our bags while still being abrasion and oil/grease resistant to keep your bag looking so fresh and so clean.
We’ll be the first to admit it. We’re gear nerds. We geek out hard over fabrics, construction and performance. With Welterweight we wanted to take some of the raddest new materials and concepts and apply them to our classic bags without losing the spirit of why we started making bags in the first place: to keep it tough as hell, look tight AF and stay lit, always.