Motorized Bicycle Messenger?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by Parah_Salin, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. Parah_Salin

    Parah_Salin Member

    OK, so, I was thinking, would you get totally looked down on/spit at/not get hired as a bike messenger if you had an electric or gas motorbike?

    I'm wondering because, while I'd be perfectly able to become a bicycle messenger on a regular bike, using a motor would make that job a lot easier.

    Speaking of which, how does one become a bicycle messenger? I've looked at several Boston bicycle messengers websites and there is nothing on employment. I know the city well, am fit, being 19 have no fear of death by cages, and am resistent to cold, dehydration, pain, etc... and love trying to get from one point to another as fast as possible. So I'm thinking bicycle messenger would be a good job for me.

  2. My guess would be to pedal down to their office and apply for work.
  3. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I was a bicycle messenger way back when. It was a great, great, great (!) life for a twenty something with no dependents. You should definitely go for it.

    motorbikemike's suggestion would make sense. That's how I found my job. There were several companies around. Just ask a messenger who they work for and where they're located. Those companies were always hiring back then. I've gotten the feeling, though, that in the age of electronic communication there might be fewer messenger companies out there. Maybe it's not quite as easy as it used to be. You'll have to look into that.

    Hard-core messengers might look down on motors the same way that "roadies" do in the leisure bicycle community. Too bad for them. I'm afraid, though, that you'll likely not be able to carry enough battery for an electric bike to do you much good. You'll ride a lot of miles in a day. Gasoline would seem to offer more promise. But the cops are notorious for being very hard on messengers. The engine might give them an excuse to hassle you even further. Also your bike would be that much more of a theft target with either motor.

    You might be best off just using a pedal bike. You won't be sorry. One tip; you'll have to spend a bit more on food than you are used to. You'll eat like a horse. But you'll also be built like superman.

    You'll also be very glad to be acquainted with the girl messengers. You'll be amazed at what this job does for's a wonderfull thing.
  4. Al.Fisherman

    Al.Fisherman Active Member

  5. augidog

    augidog Banned

    inner city mb's...

    i do NOT envy you folks.

    before moving to washington state, i lived in chelsea (yes, chelsea...rizzo's place...right over the produce stand on bellingham square ;);) nudge-nudge) because i wanted to be close to the center of boston...i spent every day downtown (by bus) for 2 years & never once wanted a bicycle, tho i admired the cyclists who braved that chaos...

    and i really still do love boston :)

    my take on your idea: you'd need something clean & discrete, a small 2-stroke for quick-rpms' but fully muffled w/catalyst...not a full-suspension even though it's tempting, build like a tank w/suspension fork. stay off the sidewalks at all costs while motorized, i know mission-impossible, but the law will stomp you bad otherwise. and, you have to be able to securely stash the ride during delivery...gasoline (and sometimes batteries) is gonna stop you from bringing it inside a lobby anywhere...

    i've tried to sell local pizza joints on using motorized trikes, so i'm definitely not a nay-sayer...while i'm tickled to see more of this inner-city awareness & effort...i'm also really worried for you, because i really know beantown.

    but, all said, i vote "go for it"...good luck & keep us posted...:idea:'s & :helmet: for safety.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  6. sjackson

    sjackson Member

    There are plenty of snob messengers out there, so you may get some grief. Bear in mind, you'll be hired as a private contractor and paid per run. So your motor is going to give you an advantage over the other messengers, and they might not like that. Expect some confrontations. Especially in Boston. I know a guy who used to be a messenger there (he does piercing for a living now) and he was all business.

    My roommate in college was a bike messenger. He said that it was pretty cut throat. It takes a certain mentality to throw yourself in front of buses and taxis every day. It certainly toughened him up, that's for sure. This guy used to say "I almost get killed at least a dozen times a day, why should I be afraid of anything else?" Needless to say, he got into a lot of fights.

    So those would be the people you'd be working with.

    As for finding a job with a company, you need to show up on a bike and ask. Don't expect to be hired right away. There are a lot of people who want to do the job, and a limited number of openings. This is why the messenger companies don't need to advertise. The turnover is pretty high though, so just be persistent and it will pay off. Winter is definitely the best time to look, because a lot of fair weather messengers quit when the snow starts to fall. Plus, the demand for messengers goes up because people are less willing to deliver the packages themselves.

    Also, most of your deliveries are going to be within a few miles of each other. The motor might not even be necessary. Consider doing it under pedal power if you can. You're 19, you should be able to handle it. You'll thank yourself for it.
  7. Happy Valley

    Happy Valley Active Member

    Established courier companies won't have anything to do with gasoline.
    Besides, in tight urban environs, you don't need it.
    Most messengers are riding fixies for maneuvering in traffic, lightweight enough to hump up stairs and in and out of buildings.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009
  8. Parah_Salin

    Parah_Salin Member

    Sounds fun :)

    I do have a good pedal bicycle, I'll probably use that. If I get a job with a private company I'll consider dropping in a tiny 2 stroke (like a non-nitromethane RC motor). Or maby just upgrade the bearings for less rolling resistance.

    I've made the trip from watertown to Massart (near the MFA) by bicycle fairly regularly. It's not that bad, but it will probably be worse than that. Even so I can probably take it. I'm thinking now would be a good time to start applying, because I think with winter coming and such the population of people wanting to be bike messengers will be smaller.

    Now, as for getting into fights and such, is it like "Just be prepared to stand up for yourself and/or run like crazy" fights, or "Take krav maga and carry around a stun gun and colapsible baton" fights? I'm fine with either, I just need to know weather or not to order a stun gun and take some self defense lessons.

    EDIT: Just asking, how much money do bicycle messengers usually make per week? Since I probably will be eating alot more, and on my bicycle messenger days I'm gonna want to switch from cigarettes to nicotine gum (which is more expensive than smoking), and I'm going to need to put more money into reparing my bike, will I still have cash left over? I know I'm just going to use refillable water bottles for my water so I don't waste all my money there
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  9. Slackbiker

    Slackbiker Member

    I thought i might take a little grief motorizing a tour bike, but none at all. On the other hand i go on the occasional "alleycat" race, and they seem kind of petty, even on the fixie/single speed "difference" (do you really NEED to coast??). Supposedly, the bike messengers, don't even want non-messengers to use THEIR alleycat word.
  10. Parah_Salin

    Parah_Salin Member

    Did you race them with the motorized bike? Because I could see them getting ****ed at that from a fairness point of view. I mean it would be like showing up to a fencing tournament with an AK-47. The guy's with foil's would be ****ed.

    The fixie thing to me seams like they need to feel like they are the best bicyclists on the face of the earth.
  11. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    thinking that if you did get the job
    and drop a motor on the bicycle thing
    there would be more in no time doing the same
    rather than carry up stairs
    I would just lock to a solid pole

    not a loose pole as shown on TV
    the bike thiefs after you are gone just life the pole out and steal bike

    I hate that kink of thing !!
  12. Slackbiker

    Slackbiker Member

    No, i ride a single speed bike in alley cat races. I have participated in a critical mass ride with the motorized bike, didn't use the motor, no problem. I have raced non-motorized bikes a couple times. Was near Silver City travelling out to the gila wilderness and passed a group of racers training for the up coming Tour of the Gila race. The two best riders turned it on and passed me and beat up a hill, we all thought that was hilarious, "John Henry" was referenced. Then all the racers stomped me on the downhill. Also raced some BMX kids in Silver around a plaza, they collided with each other in the first heat, a pack fell off my tour bike in the second, sort of inconclusive.