• Interview with Wolf Pack Hustle Champ Veronika Volok

    Back in March, Chrome Coffee barista and Destroy Bikes team rider, Veronika Volok slayed it at the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race across LA. Next weekend is the 6th Street Drag Race, the final event in the Unified Title Race Series and things are looking pretty good for Ms. Volok. We caught up with her to hear her thoughts on riding fixed, philosophy on racing, and why testosterone is highly motivating.

    NAME: Veronika Volok
    BIRTHPLACE: Pacifica, CA
    AGE: 23
    FIRST BIKE: Bight pink Bianchi Fremont
    DAY JOB: Barista at Chrome SF & Cento
    FAVORITE SUPERVILLAIN: Jafar from Aladdin
    3 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST: Mariah Carey "You'll Always Be my Baby," Daft Punk "Around the World," Sabertooth Zombie "Curly Lox"

    How did you get into bikes? Have you always ridden fixed?
    I got into bikes 'cause one of my friends was riding fixed. He was actually the person that sold me my first bike and I thought it was a weird concept at first, that there's these pedals that can't go backwards, they just go forward. I got into it as a way to get around in 2008, I never thought I'd get so seriously into it.

    What bikes do you have in your stable? Your track frame is USA made, isn't it?
    Cerberus Pro made by Destroy Bikes, who I currently bike for. My second bike is a Look K6386 road bike, that I'm currently building up. The Cerebus is made in Redwood City. I don't like keeping a lot of bikes around my house if I'm not going to use them, so I limit myself to those two.

    You crushed it at the Marathon Crush, and are ranked #2 leading into the final Wolfpack Hustle event. How did you get so damned fast? Have you been racing for a long time?
    I actually haven't been racing long. I feel like the reason why I did so well is because I ride with my boyfriend who is not easy on me, so he helps me push push my limits. I feel like even though I'm in a bike club full of women, it's nice to challenge myself riding with men who are hell of a lot faster than me. I feel like that's the only way to improve myself is by riding with people that are faster than me.


    It was rad to see you and your man cross the finish together at the WPH Marathon Crash race, how was that? Most people don't get to race with their partners.
    Honestly, it was a really overwhelming and heartfelt moment. I didn't know if I won at that point. It felt good just to know that, not only did I finish, but we both had been able to finish together after pushing so hard.

    He was with me 80% of the way, we lost each other at some point, but  I was able to catch up with him. At the end, he was on my tail saying "go go go", and pushing me to go faster. I didn't even realize he was there with me, I just was looking at that finish line thinking "I want to get this done, let's go let's go!" My legs were so tired.

    What type of race do you like best: Sprints or Endurance?
    I used to hate endurance because I thought sprints were easy, you just had to get from Point A to Point B. Lately I've been doing a lot of endurance, not just races, but riding. With sprints, it can go either way, either you do really well, or you don't. In the beginning, I loved doing sprints, because it was easy, but now I love endurance because it's such a challenge. You need to not only be physically strong, but also mentally strong. It's not about starting the race, it's about having the mental strength  to finish it.

    How do you think you’ll do this weekend at the WPH 6th Street Drag Race?
    Oh man! It's coming up! Honestly, I feel neutral about this weekend. My mentality is "can't stop, won't stop." When I do something I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to do it. If I can finish in the top three, that will be amazing for me.

    I hate having the mentality of being #1, because if you don't reach that goal, you're really crushed. I like not having any expectations, playing it by ear.

    We’ve heard you’re in an all-girl bike club in Oakland called Fixed Without Dix (FWOD).
    We're helping the community by inviting women and transfolks to go ride to go have fun to feel like you're a part of something. The bike industry is so male dominated, so it's awesome to have this group of girls that gets together once a week and just ride bikes and doesn't give a f*ck.

    How has riding in a dude-free environment increased your skills?
    It's different. It's really relaxing. It's fun to have a girls night out, because there's no competition, you're not trying to impress anyone, you can just be yourself. That's the best part. I feel like sometimes when I ride with guys, they're all showing off. It makes you have to ride even harder because there's these dudes full of testosterone trying to beat the next light.

    It feels awesome just having a group of women who have the same interests and hobbies and are united by their two wheeled vehicles.


    Having won a #CovetedJersey by winning the WPH Marathon Crash race, what advice do you have for dirtbags like you who aspire to greatness?
    You can't have the mentality that you're going to win it. You just have to have the mentality that you're going to do your best, try your hardest, and if you can get that jersey, then eff yeah, but if you don't get it this time, there's always next time. There's always next year.

    The fact that I was able to win the race and get the jersey, it was like the angels were singing to me.

    You’re a barista at Chrome Coffee in SF, go to school in SJ and ride with a FWOD in Oaktown. How do you do to find balance in your life?
    I don't even know. My bike is able to give me the balance of doing everything I have. My bike helps me get from Point A to Point B.  My boyfriend also lives with me, so that really saves on time, because I don't have to make plans with him, I'll see him in the end. I think the coffee helps a lot too.

    You ride for Destroy Bikes, how long have your been riding for them?
    I've been riding with them since 2011 or 2012. My second track bike bike was the Lady Death, but it was too big. The Cerebus Pro was actually a prototype, and the first time I rode it was the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash and it was so comfortable. With guys, size doesn't matter, but with bikes, it makes all the difference.

    Do you have any shout outs?
    Destroy Bikes
    Team Cento
    WOB (they're like FWOD for boys)
    team jortz

  • Chrome x Red Bull Ride and Style 2013


    By now, you've most likely read all the great write ups about Red Bull Ride and Style 2013, seen the Wheel Talk recap video collab with #CFTY (Can't Fool The Youth) and Omar Sebai, and trolled the thousands of photos that have surfaced from friends, homies, and bike teams. Most of which, has been captured and displayed in the absolute best way it could. We've been replaying Wheel Talk's vid over and over. Continue reading

  • Ride WITH Style: Red Bull Ride and Style 2013

    Red Bull Ride + Style debuted in San Francisco in 2011 as a "rideable art installation." The concept of combining fixed gear racing and freestyle together with top street artists brought a visually stunning event to the city center. Riders descended on San Francisco from around the world to compete in the first event of its kind, bringing the international athletes together for a collaborative and progressive day of riding. Red Bull Ride + Style is an opportunity for not only the riders to make a statement on a global scale, but the artists as well. Now in its third year, the event at Justin Herman Plaza attracts world renowned artists such as Risk, Insa, Tristan Eaton and Sam Flores, who will bring the course features to life through their iconic art; and now it's up to the world's best riders to add their own creativity to the installation.

    Red Bull Ride N Style 3 course testing from Colby Elrick on Vimeo.

    To go with this awesome event, Chrome will be once again releasing a special riders bag with collaboration of world renowned graffiti artist's Risk, Insa, Tristan Eaton, and Sam Flores. We will also be hosting a Chrome Pits area, set up for a spectator and fan friendly meet-and-greet riders area. If you show up for another historical moment of Urban Bike and Fixed Freestyle, be sure to look out for a very limited run of our new Wrenched mag for Ride and Style. May 4th, 2013. Be there. Justin Herman Plaza. SF.

  • Streets of Chrome Photo Contest

    To celebrate the launch of our new street photography camera bags, the Niko Camera Bag Series, we ran a contest to find the world’s next great street photographer. From Ricky Powell to Tod Seelie, street photographers have inspired Chrome with their ability to capture the city with simple, raw and candid photos.

    Streets of Chrome from Chrome Industries on Vimeo.

    The contest received over 1,200 submissions worldwide, resulting in over 23k votes. Photos submitted were extremely impressive but Javier Linares photo took the overall with this shot:



  • Ingress is no longer a game


    For as yet unknown reasons Niantic Labs is providing identifying patches for both the Resistance and Enlightened factions to Chrome HUBs in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and Portland. These New faction symbols raise the conflict of ideals between the competing movements to another level. The scale is global, and Ingress is clearly no longer a game... and what’s Niantic Lab’s role in all this... just whose side are they on anyway? If you know, please tell us.

    Drop by one of our stores to buy your patch and we'll sew it on your bag for free.

  • Meet The Makers: Lil Tuffy

    We caught up with SF-based artist, Pop’s Bar manager and all-around good guy, LiL Tuffy, for the launch of his new Artist Series Bags.

    Check out his New Limited Edition screen-printed messenger bags, inspired by three of our favorite bike towns – Portland, Austin & Minneapolis. Only 200 made of each. Available now. And, like our Artist Series Tees, once they're gone – they're gone.


    You call San Francisco home. How did a kid from Michigan end up here and why did you stay? 

    My dad's job moved us around a lot when I was growing up -- Los Angeles, Chicago and Cincinnati. I went to college in Pittsburgh and landed a job with a dotcom. I was managing a lot of west coast clients and started traveling to SF. One of my trips coincided with Noise Pop Festival and I quickly realized that the music and art scene here was what I had been looking for. Everything about San Francisco appealed to me… except the cost. But you can't have everything, right?


    You’re known worldwide for your poster art, having worked with bands like Pavement & the Black Lips, & being involved in SXSW, Fun Fun Fun Fest, & Noise Pop. How did you start making art for music?

    It took me awhile to figure out where I fit in the music world. I was a crap guitarist and an okay singer but never managed to make a band thing work. I started an indie label in the nineties and released a couple of singles and CDs but was horrible at the business side of things. I just wanted to design record covers. Probably not the best reason to start a label. For years, my day job supported my music habit and when I quit my day job I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I hated doing web design and the one time job I got in the music industry was working on ringtone downloads pages for Eric Clapton and Josh Groban. It was like a cruel joke!

    I left the tech industry and didn't really know what to do with myself. I started booking some shows and eventually ended up at an up and coming venue called Thee Parkside. I had been collecting posters from artists like Art Chantry, Firehouse and Coop for years and thought it would be cool to make a poster for my birthday party show -- some little known band from Akron, Ohio was playing - The Black Keys!

    That poster got me a few jobs with another local venue (Bottom of the Hill) and some other bands. I started working at the Firehouse and, slowly, this hobby became a career and I guess I kinda just fell into what I always wanted to do by accident.


    You design and make all your work here in SF. We respect that! What do you like about making stuff in SF?

    My friends are what make San Francisco the best. They are constantly volunteering to help me print or run my table at festivals. It's awesome to have someone to drink a beer with when I'm in the middle of huge print run and then bike down to the ball park or bar crawl home. San Francisco presents so many opportunities and distractions and I'm lucky to have friends that help with both!


    Each bag was inspired by a different bike-oriented city. Where did the ideas come from for each of the bags?

    Minneapolis Bag - This design was inspired by the American folklore figure Paul Bunyon and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox. Legend has it that Minnesota's 10,000 lakes were formed by the pair's footprints as they wandered blindly in a snow storm.

    Austin - I travel to Austin at least twice a year for SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest. Even at my boarding gate in San Francisco, there's always a guitar case or two -- they're ever-present in Austin and have become like the Samurai sword of Central Texas.

    Portland - Portland has become my home away from home over the past decade. I chanced upon the Chapman Swifts by accident and it was a pretty cool site to behold and I think the community's efforts to maintain the chimney for the Swifts embodies the Portland spirit.


    Out of the three bags in the new series, do you have a favorite?

    I think the Portland bag is my favorite. The moment that inspired it was important and personal.


    What can we expect to see from you in the future? Any big projects to keep an eye out for?

    I'm currently working on another project for Chrome -- that should be out in another month or so. I'm about to head to the UK and Europe for some shows and then hit the summer festivals here -- Bonnaroo, Pitchfork and Outside Lands.


    Check out Lil Tuffy's brand-new Artist Series Bags. Only 200 made of each!

  • Custom Military Salvage Program


    Since 1995, Chrome has made bags from reclaimed or salvage materials. When we started making our iconic messenger bag with salvage military duffels and tents the response was amazing, particularly from US Military Personnel who wanted us to make bags using their personal duffels and fatigues. These items carry significant meaning, but can’t be used frequently in civilian life.


    Last year US Army Vehicle Commander Jared Morford of Watertown, South Dakota reached out to Chrome to make a Custom Salvage bag with the duffel he carried to Iraq. Chrome’s Custom Military Salvage Citizen was born.

    The Chrome Custom Military Salvage Program invites Veterans and military families to bring their military duffels or fatigues to one of Chrome’s four HUB locations in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Portland. Chrome bag makers will use this material to create a custom Citizen Messenger bag.

    This program is extremely successful. People have shared their stories with us and we are moved. It reminds us how fortunate we are and how bags carry memories and meaning. One story affected us so much we made a short documentary. (link)

  • Sifting through the Shit: Turds for Gold

    bulk turds

    Trade in a shitty pair of shoes for a brand new pair of Chrome Shoes?! Seems like an awesome deal huh? For everyone who participated it was... but, for the Chrome crew, well, let's just say we had a "good" time crawling through multiple freight containers for over a month to process the surplus.

    Continue reading

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