cycle couriering…….. anyone?

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  • cycle couriering…….. anyone?
  • ton

    been looking for a new job

    less hours needed, less money needed.

    been offered a cycle courier job in leeds. NOT deliveroo.

    parcels and documents and such.

    anyone done or do this?

    am i too old?



    a mate used to do this.  I expressed a vague interest until he pointed out that you’re either knackered from sprinting all day long (a good day) or sitting on your arse waiting for jobs and not earning any money (a bad day, or when you get knocked off and have no sick pay).

    Don’t think i’d fancy it much. Maybe if i I was 21….

    Also, it’s compulsory to dress like a bit of a tit.

    This is quite a nice description:

    Premier Icon cynic-al

    I’ve never done it but am told it’s hard work, 100% outside obvs in all weather, and not well paid.

    I wouldn’t but I am a soft ****

    Done it on a motorbike for 3 years…. 30-odd years ago. Young man’s game. Wouldn’t recommend it if you are not in that category

    Did it for 6 months in Dublin.

    Loved it.

    Got knocked off every day, but hey.

    Crap money, long hours, and you need to know the area like the back of your hand, oh and be able to listen to your radio while riding, and listening out for your callsign.

    Lot easier now you have sat nav etc, I had to rely on an A-Z, but this is going back to 2001..

    Take a book for the down time, and write EVERYTHING down.

    Would’ve though its a dying trade now- most of the things we took where letters between solicitors etc, and no Emails can do it all..

    I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but its a tough way to make (not a lot) of money..- I was lucky, I had a basic, and if I made more per drop, then I got that.

    Others only got paid per job..


    I had a go, both van and bicycle in my late 20’s, mid-late 90’s London, it’s both hard work and boring. It’s also a bit like the adage about war, long periods of boredom interspersed with some high excitement.

    Companies take on all the riders and drivers that they can, to ensure swift pick ups and quick deliveries, they generally don’t care too much if most are sitting around not earning part of the day as long as all jobs are covered when it’s busy. So the riders who stick it out through the winter will earn better money. Dispatchers can be arses too, they tend to have their favourites, if you in then great, but takes a long time to earn this and be easy to lose.

    Would’ve though its a dying trade now- most of the things we took where letters between solicitors etc, and no Emails can do it all..

    This.  Did motorbike couriering a few years back –  not ALL done but I’d say 80% – 90% of what I did is gone, replaced by email and websites – model portfolios, lab results, pre-production magazines.  The money back then was alright but I’d imagine a lot worse now, and I would not fancy trying to cover the ground I did back then with pedal power.  No basic, paid per drop only so no work=no income and when money was shjort, some dangerous riding to do as much as possible.

    Then again, hanging around outside the modelling agency was an ok way of not earning money

    Did it in London about 15 years ago. One of my favourite jobs. Get paid to ride your bike essentially.

    The point about being in the hands of the dispatcher is a good one. Especially when you get paid per drop, but if you are consistent then you will get the work. Also over time you will get to know the regular customers and drops, which gives you an advantage.


    I did it for a while. Echo what everyone else says. Young persons game. Though, TBH, reckon I’d jump back to it like a shot if I could afford to earn virtually nothing. And then, just take it easier, less risks etc.

    If you don’t do it, next best thing, pick up a copy of Emily Chappell’s what goes around. She give a good description, albeit from a bygone time, and has a really engaging writing style.

    /What-Goes-Around-London-Couriers/dp/1783350547/ <-on amazon

    Watch Quicksilver for research. 😉


    Never done it, known a fair few, partied with a lot.

    Most loved it but the money was shit and unreliable, it’s a lifestyle as much a job. Oldest l Knew was about 46, but there where a few early 50s on the circuit. I think it really needs to be in a big city though to make the most of it not sure if Leeds really count as that but maybe ok with f it suits you.


    Key to stability is being employed by a company and doing their work on a fixed monthly wage, eg: media company in Soho with numerous local contacts they need stuff moved between.

    I did it for a couple of years in London in the 90s . I also have to say it was my favourite job. The day went so quickly as you’re always racing against the clock and if you were reliable you got more  jobs. On crap winter weather days the company would give the lion’s share of the jobs to the cycle couriers to keep them warm so even though it was pretty miserable riding around in the cold slushy conditions it was pretty lucrative.

    My other riding suffered though as I had no interest to go riding at the weekend after being on the bike for 40 hours in the week and <span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>I can’t imagine there would be that much work these days with the digital age .</span>

    He’s trolling, I know he’s trolling, he has to be! 😉

    M Wyer

    Yes, I do this in Cambridge. Started about a year ago at the age of 51. Have survived so far.

    The days of sprinting across cities on your own bike are long gone. These days it’s parcel and package delivery. We use Cargo bikes and Electric assisted Trikes. I average 3 days a week (by choice) and 5 – 6 hours a day although I sometimes do extra evening deliveries on my own bike. It’s part of my semi-retirement so I fill in with other work. I commute in and back a further 13 miles each way. You don’t rush about, route planning and accuracy are more important. We subcontract for a couple of the large Courier firms plus local work delivering veg, printing, exam papers, DX post, Council post and so on.

    I would say it’s a great job for older riders who don’t need to earn that much and want to pick and choose their hours. Most of our team are around my age with the youngsters managing the office full time. It’s likely that you will be offered a zero hours contract rather than piece rate per delivery.

    I’ve not been knocked off in a year of work although I’ve had a couple of close ones commuting. It’s obviously great for general fitness but rubbish for racing fitness. You are outdoors in all weathers (so good and bad) and there is plenty of variety. Stress free, if you make a mistake it’s done and dusted that day, you don’t take problems home with you.

    Friday night reminiscing about the job. Pick up from Julian Opie’s studio (painted the Best of Blur album cover). The lovely receptionist at Acupuncture shoes (remember them?), who tried to get me to do a job for a packet of Walkers crisps. Getting knocked off my bike by a pack of photographers trying to pap someone coming out of court. Jeff Brazier’s showreel across London (those tapes were heavy, and I had no love for the Jade Goody sideshow).  Eating like a king if you were near a Benjys at closing time (everything with a Best Before of the next day went outside in a green bin bag by the front door). Figuring out where the cleanest public conveniences in London were (outside the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand was good, however the lady toilet attendant chasing the cottaging gentlemen out of the ones in Carnaby Street with a broom shouting “get out you animals!” was highly amusing). The cool bikes that couriers used to knock about on – was always amazed by the Pace RC100. Tinnies outside the Duke of York on a Friday evening.

    It was great. I was poor but happy.

    Those were the days eh torsoinalake? I used deliver loads of dodgy packets usually containing charlie from the media centres in the West End to film locations around London. Also had to take a cheque from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s company to the tax office and hand it over the counter and get receipt. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw it was a cheque for nearly 2 mill!!!😮

    Tinnies outside the Duke of York on a Friday evening.

    I worked next door in the late 90’s. We were always in awe of you lot hanging about with your bikes!


    A friends dad is a cycling journalist. He did a stint as a deliveroo rider (he might still do it?)

    I know courier is different but it might be interesting reading?

    Premier Icon doom_mountain

    I was a courier for 18 months in manchester, after graduating.

    I was lucky as I had retainer with a print firm, so got a basic wage and then topped up if it was busy.

    Great fun and my fitness was brilliant, I was a machine! I got knocked off a few times, nothing too serious. One of my fancy solicitor clients helped me with an injury claim, I bought a cotic soda 😋

    I enjoyed it but have no desire to do it again. If I was looking for that kind of work I think a driving delivery job would be a better call, supermarket maybe?

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy

    Might be OK on an e-bike, not sure I’d want to do it at my age on a normal bike…


    You are outdoors in all weathers (so good and bad) and there is plenty of variety.

    Cambridge is the driest place in the country, so pretty cushy as outdoor jobs go.

    Saw a guy doing deliveries on a cargo bike in Leeds looking like he was struggling to hold it up with the weight of parcels in the rush hour traffic. It didn’t look like fun. Pm me if you want to know the company name.

    <span style=”font-size: 0.8rem;”>Could you give it a go for a couple of shifts around whatever work you are already doing?</span>

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Pros: you get pretty fit and you get to really learn a city.

    Cons: You trash all your kit and your bike and you sort of have to know the city already to actually get round it within a reasonable timeframe. Also, you end up super stinky at the end of a day, especially if it’s been raining!

    This is worth a read:


    I did it in London for 5 years late 80’s/early 90’s. It’s changed a lot with people from Eastern Europe working for a lot less money so riders earn a lot less now. I was reasonably fit when I started, it took me around 6 months to get fit enough to work 10-12 hours a day with a 10 mile commute at each end of that. I went to a fixed wheel quite quickly, there were only two other riders in London using them at the time, riding all day eats gears. With a fixed running a front brake only I could get 12 months out of a front rim and drive train. People don’t like working in the winter, wet winter days are where I made most money. Be prepared to sit around earning nothing, there were days when I earned £5, days when I earned £200, over a year it was OK money. I only had 2 big crashes which resulted in hospital visits and 2 saddle sores (again hospital trips to get them drained). Looking back I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t do it again and wouldn’t recommend it as long term career.


    One of my best mates is a director/part owner of a courier company.

    He tells me that the cycle couriers work very hard for not a lot of money.

    Depends what your driver is really (no pun intended)


    Watch Premium Rush for a totally (un)realistic view of what it will be like

    Where is that worst films ev-ah thread again?

    Premier Icon angeldust

    When you say ‘less money’ I suspect you might actually need to be in’doing it for fun’ territory.

    Premier Icon jamj1974

    Did it for a while at the end of the ‘80’s.  First in Brum and then Nottingham.  Balanced it out with a bit of PI and security work.  It was alright – got into a few scrapes because my sometime business partner was a bit of a dick.  The young lad I had working for me was a bit thick too – but had a heart of gold.

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