Chrome Mini Messenger Bag Review

Chrome Mini Messenger Bag: Long Term Review

In February I did a preview of the Chrome Mini Messenger that I received for review at no charge from Chrome (yes that is my mandatory disclaimer.)    For the past 6 weeks I have been riding, using for work, the gym and even used it as a warm bed for a small baby chihuahua.

Features of the Chrome Mini Messenger

A few key things that really stood out to me, it is about the small details that companies put in their product that stands out the most.

  • Extended flap on sides to keep out rain when the bag is closed
  • Reflective straps on the back buckles
  • Loop for blinky light on tail of bag
  • Bottle opener on the buckle
  • Several pockets to keep the small things from getting lost in my bag

What the Chrome Mini Messenger Bag Is

The Mini Messenger is perfect for those looking for a slimmer and trimmer messenger bag.   It isn’t as bulky or combersome as most messenger bags.   The colors I picked stand out, and often is commented about when I take it to business meetings.   It has personality without being over the top, and it helps that it is my companies branding colors.   The bag comfortable carriers 20-25 lbs with the load spread out over the very padded shoulder strap.

What Fits in the Chrome Mini Messenger Bag

Daily I use the Mini Messenger for transportation back and forth to work.   This includes two or three notebooks, a 17″ MacBook Pro, cables and a small camera shoved in a side pocket, many pens, and sometimes a hat or a rain jacket thrown in for safety.   It doesn’t carry a ton, it is not a bag to carry the kitchen sink.

Other Random Notes and Dimensions

(Pulled from ChromeBagsStore.com)

Weight: 2.3lb
Fabric: 1000 denier Cordura outer shell, 18 oz. truck tarp liner
Made In: Chica, CA, USA
Dimensions: 20″ wide, 12″ high, 7″ deep
Volume: 20.5L

Personal Downfalls of the Mini Messenger Bag

In no specific order, these are the things that I disliked.

  • The cross chest strap sucks for women with boobs.   The bag is so small though, I often didn’t use it even when I had a full load doing urban riding.
  • I wish it had a top mounted handle for carrying purposes.   Yes, I could have asked for the Buran but it didn’t have any pretty stock colors!
  • The liner system was something that took me a few days to figure out.  Essentially the interior bag is suspended over the exterior bag.   It is fully water proof because of this, but I had lost a couple documents in the bottom of the bag not knowing that it wasn’t closed off. No fears, I found them and I’m smarter for the experience.

Final Thoughts and Review of the Chrome Mini Messenger Bag

The bag was pleasantly comfortable to ride in, even with a rigid laptop on the back.   It was very water proof, even in down pour for 45 minutes I never had any wet documents or electronics (thank god.)    The colors are completely me and I’m glad I picked out the bright colors.   As I said above, I don’t use the chest strap that often due to it not fitting well with my chest, but that didn’t cause any problems during riding or transporting a full bag.

I would recommend this bag, but making sure you know it won’t fit the kitchen sink.  It is for a change of clothes OR a laptop and notebooks, not both.   It will be perfect for someone that needs to carry clothes to work and change, or goto the gym (a yoga mat was held very nicely under the flap.)   Beware during the summer heat you will get a sweaty back with this heavy duty material.

Buy your own Chrome Mini Messenger Bag at the Chrome Bag Store. Make sure they know Bike Shop Girl sent you!

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Pam Sayler Kinetic Trainers

Motivational Monday : Pam Sayler

A Monday morning tradition that we are starting to keep you motivated and to be striving for your goals even during a hard week or long hours at work.   Do you know someone that motivates and inspires you?  Send us your answers and photo to girly@BikeShopGirl.com

1. What’s your name and location?

Pam Sayler, the cold frigid Minnesota.  (Pam is the North American Sales Manager of our newest sponsor, Kinetic Trainers.)

2. What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Commuting, road and mtb

3. What is your first cycling memory?

On the farm, had a Schwinn Bantam with the convertible bar. We set the bike’s training wheels on cinder blocks, because mom would not let me ride down the dirt road. I was about 3. I rode that thing for hours every day. It was GRAND

4. Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

Riders: Amy Xu, Ironman and RAAM, because she never gives up. Millie Tanner because she is so enthusiastic and humble. Meredith Miller because she does everything and does it amazing. Industry: Linda Jackson, because of all she does for Women’s cycling. Georgena Terry for womanizing bikes – decades ago. Elysa Walk for tackling a man’s job in a man’s world and doing it better than any one could. My husband, because he puts up with me, AND because he serves all cyclists equally with his shop Trailhead Cycling and Fitness; first time comfort riders to World Class Athletes, he treats them all with the same respect and listens. Must be why he is so successful.

5. What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

A Century with my husband and our 8 year old son

6. In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

Commute more often, actually enter one crit and one mtb race. Complete the MN Ironman and Headwaters 100. Increase my cadence – spin circles better.

My Bikes, are you curious?

My rides: Road: Bianchi 928 D/A 10 sp Mavic Ksyrium Wheels, MTB: Bianchi Grizzly (upgrading to Dyna-sys) Commute: Bianchi Camaleonte Ultegra.

Mary Reynolds Cyclist

Motivational Monday : Mary Reynolds

A Monday morning tradition that we are starting to keep you motivated and to be striving for your goals even during a hard week or long hours at work.   Do you know someone that motivates and inspires you?  Send us your answers and photo to girly@BikeShopGirl.com

What’s your name and location:

Mary Reynolds, Tucson, AZ

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Mountain, Road, Commute

What is your first cycling memory?

5 years old, riding homemade sky blue bike built by my Grandpa

Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

Jeannie Longo, she’s won everything there is to win in women’s cycling worldwide, and she’s still racing at age 52!

What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

Riding the AZTrail 300 at sunset on the second day and seeing 20 or so deer run across the trail in front of me

In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

Win my category at the Whiskey 50 in Prescott, AZ; encourage more women to mountain bike

Women's 29er Geometry

Why Women’s Specific 29ers Don’t Work

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to test ride on a local trail a few women’s specific 29er mountain bikes.   As I had mentioned in the past I was very excited about this new idea of women’s sizing  in 29″ technology but that is where my research ended.

The idea of fitting smaller individuals (men or women) on to the larger wheel technology has been something that I’ve had hopes for.  A few years ago when the 650b movement started I was completed behind it for that reason.  The 26″ wheel, to me, is not the solution for everyone based on how they ride and where they ride.  People deserve options, an example of this is why 3″, 5″, 7″ and 9″ suspension systems exists.

Back on topic, riding women’s specific 29ers

I didn’t have the ability to check saddle fore and aft, saddle to handlebars or any specifics other than seat height.  Now that my disclaimers out of the way….

The bike didn’t handle well.  I don’t know how else to say it….   The geometry of it all doesn’t make any sense.   Take a normal size 29er, keep the wheel base the same length and shorten the top tube.  What you get is a very slack, very flip flop, very slow handling bike thanks to changing the head tube angle to something that would mimic a 5″ travel “all mountain bike”.

Women's 29er Geometry

To a point I understand why they did this.  Shorter top tube to fit women with shorter upper bodies.

My Opinion : How to fit women on 29ers

My bike fit is 140% female.  I have a super long inseam and super short upper body, even my arms are short.   This is my take on fitting my own personal 29ers.  Longer top tube than I would ride on a 26″ bike, and an inch shorter stem. My effective length from saddle tip to handlebars hasn’t changed, but how I achieve it has.  My handling is changed to make up for the bigger (heavier and larger) front wheel and often more raked out fork.  Faster steering is achieved with the shorter stem and my front wheel isn’t tucked up under me either.

Your Bike, Your Opinion

Fitting mountain bikes is a very dynamic effort. It’s not as straight forward as fitting someone on a road bike.  You take everything that you know from fitting road bikes, tie in your own mountain bike experience and then tie in the person RIDING the mountain bikes own feedback.   Test ride, try out things, and repeat.

Depending where you ride, how aggressive you ride, and your own body type (size, shape, fitness, strength &  flexibility) every bike will fit you different.  A bike out of a box most likely won’t fit you.  How the mechanic that built the bike probably won’t be how you need it to fit.

The above feelings about how the 29er women’s specific bikes rode is my own experience, I ride aggressively, I push my bike and body every time I’m out riding.   The handling of the bike was too slow and did not excel for technical riding.   Inquire with your local bike shop, talk about bike fitting and your own needs!

Tough Chik

Motivational Monday : Shannon Carson

A Monday morning tradition that we are starting to keep you motivated and to be striving for your goals even during a hard week or long hours at work.   Do you know someone that motivates and inspires you?  Send us your answers and photo to girly@BikeShopGirl.com

Sorry guys, I never pressed publish on this yesterday morning.. So Monday but a day late!

What’s your name and location?

Shannon Carson, Owner of Tough Chik – Mission Viejo, CA

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Road, but I do dabble in the mountains

What is your first cycling memory?

My husband actually taught me to ride in my 20’s. I had a hard tail Trek and we took it for a spin on a large paved trail in the Dallas Suburbs. I got spooked by a group of people coming the opposite way, fearing the sidewalk wasn’t big enough for the both of us. I swerved off the path and my front tire got stuck in between the concrete and the grass and I fell off. My trip computer flew off the bike and a group of young kids ran off with it! Luckily I was in love and stuck with it!

Tough Chik

Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

Jacke Van Woerkom – She runs a non-profit organization in Southern California called Trail Angels. The goal is to help other women discover mountain biking as well as discover the confidence and camaraderie that goes with riding. The Trail Angels’ vision statement reads: “To grow and develop a group of women mountain biking enthusiasts and create a symphony of characters that come together and strengthen one another spiritually and physically.”

“On Jan. 8, 2004, something happened that changed the Trail Angels and everyone in it forever.
A 2-year-old mountain lion killed expert mountain biker Mark Reynolds in Whiting Ranch and hid the body in the brush. No one knew. Hours later, Trail Angel Anne Hjelle, 30, happened to be on the same trail. Hjelle was attacked by the same lion. Her riding partner, Debi Nichols, arrived within minutes. Horrified, she jumped off her bike and pulled her bloody friend from the lion’s jaws, saving Hjelle’s life. Several minutes later, other Trail Angels arrived at the scene; Van Woerkom was among them. The tragedy could have ended the club. But instead it did just the opposite. It bound everyone together. Overnight, membership doubled to more than 100 riders.

On Nov. 28, 2006, Trail Angel Christy Kirkwood wrapped up a ride with fellow member Debbie Brown. The pair was in the bicycle lane on Santiago Canyon Road. A car veered and killed Kirkwood, a Garden Grove school teacher.

Again, with the help of Van Woerkom, the Trail Angels banded together. And, again, membership doubled, this time to nearly 250 riders.

For most of us, the saying “what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger” is just a cliché. But for Van Woerkom and the Trail Angels you could say the saying is a code. Today, the club’s logo includes the paw print of a mountain lion.

Last year MTBChick.com (mountain bike chick), honored Van Woerkom as one of the “Five Most Influential Women in SoCal Cycling.” In the citation, MTBChick.com stated. “Jacke has the energy of an army of women.”

Van Woerkom also rides horses, sky dives and surfs. But, always, she returns to the Trail Angles and her family for sustenance, never forgetting the lesson she learned in the ’90s. Balance.

During a recent talk at REI, she discussed the importance of including one’s self in the equation, along with career and family.

It’s also is a theme she talks about on her website, changinggearscoach.com .

“If you find a place to release stress and relish in what you are passionate about for a few hours,” she says, “you have so much more of yourself to give back to everyone.”

(Quoted from an article in the OC Register)

What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

On January 29th I fell off my bike suffering a compound fracture in my right forearm and a slash requiring 14 stitches across my cheek. After 3 days in the hospital and 3 months of physical therapy I was able to get back on my bike. After being sidelined for almost 3 and a half months, it was the most freeing experience on the bike. I was a little apprehensive at the beginning but rode the 25 mile loop with little fear. I was relieved to find that although my arm was a little sore and uncomfortable, my spirit and love for cycling was even stronger!

In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

I am currently training for the AIDS/Lifecycle which is a 7 day, 545 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in June. I also plan on competing in my first triathlon.

Learn More About Shannon at her company Tough Chick

Karen Skorochod em:pwr cycling

Motivational Monday : Karen Skorochod

A Monday morning tradition that we are starting to keep you motivated and to be striving for your goals even during a hard week or long hours at work.   Do you want to get involved?  Send us your answers and photo to girly@BikeShopGirl.com

What’s your name and location?

Karen Skorochod, Wind Gap, PA
Karen is also a member of the new Bike Shop Girl Cycling Club : em:pwr cycling

What type of cycling do you enjoy?

Track and cyclocross are my favorites so far

What is your first cycling memory?

Pedaling a tiny used bike I got for my birthday – my first two-wheeler, without training wheels, with dad running beside me the whole way.  It took me a while to get used to that, I have not-so-good balance apparently!

Who in the current cycling industry inspires you, and better yet WHY?

There are so many inspirational people in cycling!!   I am inspired by people like Liz Reap Carlson, a world-class track cyclist who started later in life and worked relentlessly to get back to the top once again and taught my very first class on the track, Tom Kellogg of Spectrum Cycles – an overall classy gentleman who builds the most beautiful bicycles I’ve ever seen, coaches like Gil Hatton and Bobby Livingston who have reached the top of the sport and now spend countless hours coaching and mentoring cyclists of all ages, and Julie Lockhart – a multi-time national champion who I believe is turning 70 this year.  She has an amazing attitude and races all cycling disciplines, I just love talking to her and watching her race.  I am also encouraged by the fact that she took up competitive cycling in her sixties – goes to show you it is NEVER too late to try something new and to get in shape!

What was your best moment on a bike in 2010?

Winning the Air Products Womens Finals at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center.  I took one beginner class and really loved riding on the track.  It was a huge thrill being able to compete in and win this race with my very limited experience and training time.  Racing under the lights with a big crowd cheering me on felt absolutely unbelievable!

In the next year, what are your goals with cycling and pushing yourself forward in 2011?

First, for 2011 I need to have a procedure to get my heart arrhythmia (supra-ventricular tachycardia) repaired once and for all!   Then, after that I would like to try my first-ever road racing.  I plan on racing in the Masters and Rookies track series at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center for this summer and taking some more Air Products classes to acquire more skills.  Then, in fall, I would like to try cyclocross once again now that I have my very own cross bike!  I just want to ride as much as my schedule allows (with 3 kids and 3 jobs) and HAVE FUN on the bike all year!
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em:pwr kit

Time to Join em:pwr cycling

It’s time to make this official.  We’ve been talking about em:pwr cycling for the past month, we’ve secured some sweet sponsors and its ready to launch!  Please read below for all the perks of joining, or the “elevator pitch.”   Our initial order is closed, but we’ll be doing a reorder ever 3-4 months depending on needs. Please email me girly@bikeshopgirl.com if you want to be on the to order list!

em:pwr cycling is in session

The Basics :

em:pwr cycling is a group/team focused around motivating and EMPOWERING yourself and others on bikes.   From the beginner to the CAT1 racer, you’ll have a home with us.  Also, we don’t have to be your “race team” but a large group of us are racers and will be all over the circuit in the United States. (From old fat guys, to junior mountain bikers and of course a boat load of chicks kicking ass!)

The Benefits :

We are a USAC licensed team (Club #13664).  As cool as it sounds, it more adds insurance on our end, another reason to have a few kick ass races this season and if you happen to race one of those races that like to charge you “unattached fee’s”  you won’t have to any longer!  If you’ve already gotten your license for the year, let us know and we can contact our USA Cycling rep to have you added to the team and a new license sent out.

An Email List. This is one of my favorite parts of this group.   We are forming a Google Group/List for everyone to email between themselves.   No, we aren’t doing a forum as they can be a pain in the arse for upkeep.   The idea for the group is this : are you looking for a friend to ride with or do you want to buy clipless pedals and would like to have an idea before walking into a store, do you need motivation before your first group ride, or did you just CAT up and worried about turn 3 in that next crit?   Well that is what we are here for.  We will not only be ringing a cowbell at the races for you, but a virtual one on this Google List for whenever you need!   Everyone is encouraged to participate and if you like, you can trim down your interactions with the group from daily to weekly (or to receive them whenever someone emails.)

Extra Things from Our Sponsors.

The first 10 people to sign up get a Lazer Genesis helmet in team colors for free (worth $130)
Pro-deal from Lazer on all other helmets through a Lazer Retailer
A bag of Kinetic Koffee
Swag & Water Bottles from Twin Six

Testing Sweet Product. Through out the year as Bike Shop Girl gets product to test.  If you fit the bill, we would like to include you in the testing.  (Example, we get fenders and you live in a rainy area, or a baby helmet to test and you have a cute 2 year old!)

Bicycle Film Fest

Do You Like Making Videos and Bicycles?

Submissions are now open for the Eleventh Annual Bicycle Film Festival! The BFF is looking for films with a bike-related theme. Any
style is acceptable: animation, experimental, narrative, documentary and music videos are all a go.

There is no fee to enter your film, simply download a submission form from the BFF website, and send a copy of the film to the BFF Head
Office in New York.

The Bicycle Film Festival began in 2001 when Brendt Barbur, founding director of the festival was hit by a bus while riding his bike in New
York City. He insisted on turning his negative experience into a positive one. The Bicycle Film Festival is a platform to celebrate
the bicycle through music, art and, of course, film.


The BFF travels to over 25 cities around the world, including Paris, London, Tokyo, New York — and Sydney. Last year, more than 225,000
people attended the festival. The BFF is not only a showcase for new films, but also, includes rock shows, street parties, art shows,
dinners, bike rides and more!

The 2011 submission deadline is April 1. Any inquiries please contact Brendan or Jen at:
info@bicyclefilmfestival.com
jen@bicyclefilmfestival.com
brendan@bicyclefilmfestival.com

Velo Orange Bar Tape

Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape Review

A few months ago when I was trying to inspire myself to get back on the road bike, I changed out some parts on the Raleigh Clubman I had received for review.   I made it a bit more “women’s fit” and classed it up with Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape.   I’ve always loved the look and feel of the Brooks leather bar tape but it was a crazy price to try out a new type of bar wrap.

Details of the Velo Orange Leather Bar Tape

MSRP : $45-55 from VO (currently they have it on sale for $45!)

Colors : Honey Brown or Black

Initial Preview & Installation of the VO Leather Bar Tape

When I received the leather bar tape I was hesitant to install, to be honest it sat in my parts bin for a couple months after receiving due to be run over by a car and the lack of will to ride.  Slowly I realized the bar tape, among other things, is what I needed.  I needed to find beauty in road cycling again.

Installing the bar tape is much tougher than installing normal cork style bar tape.   There is next to no give and the bar tape in the bend of the bar wants to crease.   I had to try two or three times to get it right and have enough to end properly on my 42cm bar.  This may be due to liking more padding and overlapping half of the wrap as I went around, but I don’t know how it would wrap a 46cm bar and not be super thin.  Or, quite possibly my upper body strength isn’t what it should be to wrap leather bar wrap?

Riding with Leather Bar Wrap

The words I can put in this paragraph won’t sum up how nice the leather feels in your hands.   It reminds me of a well loved baseball glove, or settling into an expensive car with the glamorous baseball glove leather seats.   Grabbing on to the bars, and the soft feel that the bar wrap gives back is like a nice hug back from your bike.   The padding is another story.  I have to wear gloves when riding this bike, and padded gloves are not something I normally wear.

Other Notes

If you look closely at the pictures there are two where the bar wrap was stitched together half way through the roll.

White leather would be hot.

Overall Impression

If I had a carbon fiber 14lb road or cyclocross bike,  I wouldn’t use this bar wrap. For a nice classic steel ride, this will be my staple bar wrap.  No question.  And the $55  is well worth it as it will last 5x more than the cork wrap.  When installing it again, I may find one of my strapping muscle clad friends to help man handle the leather, but its good to know the bar tape will be able to take it!

Find online at Velo Orange

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Fixing the Bike Industry

The Ass Backwards Ways of the Bicycle Industry

If you are a common visitor to BikeShopGirl.com (thank you) than you may have noticed that the tag line and description have changed.  Originally this site was targeted to specifically women and our niche.  We aren’t leaving that niche, and I’m a woman so I’ll continue to concentrate on helping women in the cycling industry.   As comments and emails stream in on a daily basis, I realized that almost everyone other than the bike snob elitist related to the words I have been typing.   Many people are scared to walk into bike shops, they are scared to try on spandex for the first hundred times and they feel like they are trying to be sold to instead of educated.   This is the nature of retail and consumerism thanks to used car and Xerox sales guys.

Recent Observations

Here are some recent musings while talking to friends and cyclist of all types

  • My impression is most people that ride bikes, do not refer to themselves as cyclist
  • They fear shopping for bikes, due to sticker shock and lack of knowledge
  • They relate to their friends and family, wanting to include them as much as possible in their experience
  • Due to lack of knowledge, they will shop based on friends recommendations or sources they trust (this is where I come in)

My Goals are Not to Crush

Making a bike shop profitable in a saturated market is getting more and more impossible.  Margin’s are getting skinnier, there is more knowledge needed by their staff which means higher salaries and more training, more product by more vendors means more room to store it which adds to overhead, and the online retailer (unfortunately for local bike shops) are doing it right.  Call them, ask them tons of questions, price shop, and repeat.

Today, across all industry’s, it is the time for the consumer.  Consumer’s want you to save them money, to be treated like your long lost first love and for it to be all about them.  Because after all, they are giving you their money and they want you to earn it.  They will be needy, helpless and walked through many things.  But, hey, that’s okay!!! Treat them right and they will be your loyal customer referring you to friends for years.

We’ll talk about what bike shops could do, and hopefully get more feedback from end users.  But in reality, my goal is to help the consumer.  EMPOWER the consumer to shop smarter and have a better experience riding their bike.