Work for Food Delivery on a Motorcycle

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I have side hustled for WOLT (European version of Uber Eats) for 1 year on my Honda CB500X and here is what I learned.

I was working mainly during the highest demand hours which are lunchtime from 11:30-14:00 and evenings 18:00-22:00. These are times when there are most orders and higher base rates.

I averaged 7-8 Eur per hour delivering 2-3 orders per hour. This is before all expenses including taxes, fuel, and motorcycle servicing. In terms of distance – 100 kilometers is approximately 13 orders and will pay Eur 50-60. Of course, there were hours when I made 15 Eur and there were hours when I was sitting waiting for a task and earned zero. 

As you can see from the screenshot – I have delivered 1407 orders. I was paid 6 thousand Eur within a year and did 10616 kilometers. That is 4.3 Eur per delivery on average and the average delivery distance was 7 kilometres.

What are the Costs?

The primary expense is fuel, followed by general motorcycle maintenance and taxes. My Honda CB500X consumes 3.5 l/100km in the city, which costs approximately 6 Eur. However, there are also “delayed expenses,” which include tires, engine oil, chain and sprockets, brake pads, air filter, spark plugs, fork oil, wheel bearings, and general motorcycle depreciation. As a general rule, set aside an additional 10 Eur for every 100 kilometers. This amount will cover your future motorcycle servicing expenses. Moreover, I did all the servicing myself, except for tire changes. At this income level, you can’t afford to pay a mechanic for oil or brake pad changes. It’s financially wise to do as much as possible yourself.

Thus, the profit after expenses and taxes is approximately 35-40 Eur per 100 kilometers or 6 hours of work on a motorcycle.

Is it worth it?

Decide for yourself. With a motorcycle, you can expect to earn 4-6 Eur per hour after all expenses. Also, note that working for 8 hours straight is physically demanding, especially under unfavorable weather conditions. During good weather, there are fewer orders since people prefer to dine out at restaurants themselves. This means you’re often working during poor weather, be it rain or extreme heat. Imagine having to climb up to the fifth floor multiple times a day, wearing full motorcycle gear and carrying a heavy bag.

If you plan to work full-time, it’s wise to take a 1-hour break during less busy hours, usually between 14:00-17:00. 

Also, it is wise to take breaks during peak traffic hours, even on motorcycle, it still requires a lot more attention and effort wiggling a motorcycle between cars adding to the overall fatigue. 

And do not break any speeding or “left turn” rules, one little fine can quickly obliterate 2-3 days income just like that. Getting the order 3 minutes faster to the client is not worth it.

Are there benefits to using a Motorcycle for a delivery job?

 Using a motorcycle for a courier job offers several significant advantages.

The first benefit relates to parking. Motorcycles can legally park on any sidewalk near a restaurant or a client’s house. This is a massive advantage compared to car couriers, who often have to park further away and walk the remaining distance. If there is no place for parking, car couriers are forced to leave their cars with hazard lights on the road or on the sidewalk. By doing so, they risk receiving a parking fine, potentially losing their entire day’s earnings. Additionally, the walking distance can accumulate up to an extra 5 kilometers throughout the day, which not only consumes time but also reduces the delivery rate per hour.

The second advantage is lane splitting. Motorcyclists can navigate through traffic jams by riding between cars, leading to quicker deliveries. In my area, motorcycles are also permitted to use public transport lanes legally. This is another considerable advantage as it speeds up delivery times, allowing for more deliveries per hour.

The third benefit, though it may vary, is related to fuel consumption. The efficiency largely depends on the specific motorcycle. For instance, my Honda CB500X averages 3.5 l/100km, which is 2-3 times more efficient than the typical car that consumes 7-9 l/100km under the same conditions.

But not all motorcycles are good for a delivery job. My friend gave me his Yamaha Tracer 900 GT for a few days. While the bike was amazing – it is completely unsuited for a courier job. The ground clearance does not allow you to get on and off the sidewalk curb without hitting the engine sump. Also, the bike used 6 l/100 km in the city making it too expensive to use for the courier job.

It is best to use lower-capacity motorcycles with low fuel consumption (300-500cc). The only exception is the Honda NC750X or S which uses 3.7l/100km and has a trunk that can fit smaller orders making it one of the best courier motorcycles in my opinion. 

What about working with a car?

Making deliveries with a car makes sense during the winter when the extra comfort of a heated seat and protection from the weather is much appreciated. However, you are often stuck in traffic jams for hours and end up spending half of your income on fuel and car maintenance.

Additionally, in the area where I live, roads are treated with salt during the winter. This salt corrodes cars rapidly, accelerating their depreciation. I spoke with a fellow courier who used a car all winter. He earned 4,000 euros in profit over 4 months but later had to spend half of that on repairing his car’s suspension and corrosion to pass vehicle inspection and get road allowance for another year. He was basically working for food.

It is no surprise that most car couriers buy “junkyard” cars. The only requirement is the road allowance. They never service these cars and give them to the scrapyard on the next mandated road allowance certification day. 

What about delivering with a bicycle?

A bicycle is arguably one of the most efficient choices for couriers. Not only does it eliminate the need for fuel, but it also has almost no servicing expenses. Your euro/hour rate will be less; however, all of that money is profit (apart from taxes). Also, you don’t risk incurring any parking fines. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much you earn but how much you keep.

The first two months of couriering with a bicycle will be challenging as your leg muscles adapt to increased daily physical activity. But with time, your muscles will get stronger, and the job will become easier.

Eventually, all bicycle couriers upgrade to either electric bicycles or monowheels, which offer couriers unparalleled flexibility. Unlike motorcycles and cars, which are bound by strict traffic regulations, e-bike riders enjoy more freedom on the road. They can pass through parks and pedestrian pathways, and make left turns in places where cars and motorcycles are forced to drive another 3 kilometers just to make a U-turn. This efficiency and agility lead to quicker deliveries and a higher level of satisfaction for customers. Moreover, electric transport is cheaper to run, greatly increasing a courier’s income.

What equipment should you get?

While it is not necessary to buy any extra equipment to work as a courier. There are tools that will significantly simplify the courier routine. For motorcycles, these are handlebar phone mount and USB phone charger. Additionally, you can get a tank bag to put your personal items like water bottle and maybe some snacks. 

I was also thinking of buying some extra large tail bag that would fit a courier bag that car couriers use and use it instead of the bicycle/motorcycle courier bag. While a motorcycle bag is not that bad once you get used to it – it still adds to overall fatigue throughout the day so I would prefer to get this weight off my shoulders.  

Bottom Line

To sum up, it is possible to earn money by making deliveries with a motorcycle. As a full-time job, it isn’t worth it. However, it’s a great side hustle if you want to work 2-3 hours in the evenings.

This will cover fuel and motorcycle servicing costs and even provide a few extra bucks to buy accessories for your motorcycle. If you’ve financed your motorcycle, you can use this job to help pay it off.

If you’re considering becoming a full-time courier, it’s better to opt for an electric bicycle or a monowheel, as this will significantly increase your profits while greatly reducing servicing headaches and “fine anxiety”. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s not about how much you earn but how much you keep.

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