Living in a city with two velodromes is awesome but I’m still 20 miles away from either one. For any a car-free citizen like myself, the trickiest part of any race day can be figuring out how to transport all your race gear. Let’s face it, riding track tubulars in the street is not exactly ideal. So when Chrome Bags announced the Sherman race bag I was elated — finally a backpack specifically designed to get a racer to the track
I’ve been using this bag for over a month now and I’ve done a lot of miles with it on my back. The bag is designed to carry items that you would normally need to bring to a race — including a set of race wheels. The way it works is kind of similar to a giant tool roll mounted on your back. The bag folds over onto itself and you can strap pretty much strap anything you want into the bag. Of course there are also pockets for smaller items too.
As expected with any Chrome product, the construction quality is top-notch. Using heavy duty materials and craftsmanship, the bag seems like it could last forever. The 1,000 denier Cordura shell is built to withstand the elements, the truck tarp liner seems impossible to tear and your back would break before the shoulder straps give in.
The main feature that makes the Sherman so unique is its “tri-fold” system, which is designed to pack an extra wheelset on your back. I love this feature. When I’ve had to carry wheels with me before, I used to have to strap the wheels to the outside of my backpack which leaves them swaying left and right as I ride through traffic. With the Sherman, the wheels are held securely with built-in straps. The wheelset becomes integrated into the bag which makes the center of gravity much more manageable.
Inside the pack, there are a total of 8 pockets to carry smaller items. One is a main zippered compartment big enough for a change of clothes and a laptop sleeve or one of those nifty track totes. All the other pockets are smaller and made to carry items like shoes, tools, water bottles and snacks. All the pockets work together as a sort of organizer, lots of little compartments where you can put your little stuff.
The trick to using the pockets is to know when you are going to need the items you’re packing. The open pockets near the top of the pack are easily accessible from the side — even when you’re packing wheels. These are good pockets for things you might need during a pit stop like snacks, water and a lock. The zippered compartment and the other two pockets on the folded-in flap aren’t easily accessible without unfolding the whole bag so that’s where you want to put stuff that you won’t need until you reach your final destination.
While using the backpack, I kept wishing that there was just one more pocket. But I’ve probably said that about every bag that I’ve ever owned anyway. If Chrome were so inclined, they could add one more spot to put stuff above the open pockets just under the outer flap.
Other features of the Sherman include straps to hang the bag up for easy access at race days and also big d-rings mounted on the shoulder. You could strap a frame to the outside of the pack and carry your whole bike if you wanted to!
And that wouldn’t be much of a problem. One of the most impressive qualities of the Sherman is how well the weight is managed. Somehow I was able to carry more stuff yet I felt half the burden. The weight is distributed evenly with the foam back panel and oversized shoulder straps. The adjustable straps are actually quite useful while riding. Sometimes you just want to shift where the load sits on your back and the strap system makes this easy to do on the go.
The Sherman is a slightly unconventional backpack so naturally there’s a little bit of a learning curve but once you figure out what you’re doing, it’s a cinch (the video below was filmed in under 5 minutes). It’s almost like pitching a tent, once you’ve done it a few times, you’re an expert — and at least you don’t have to deal with annoying tent poles.
Overall the Sherman is an awesome backpack for racers who want to ride to the starting line. I love being able to carry my race wheels safely and securely and the ride the velodrome makes for a great warm-up. Because of its untraditional design, I wouldn’t say that this bag is the best for every-day use. Chrome designed this one to carry your race kit around and that’s what it does quite perfectly. Having said that, after some use you might find that the bag’s design is very modular and its potential to cart stuff around is only limited by your own creativity.
[All photos and video by Beaver Beavs. Thanks, bro!]